Newcastle United has had a very interesting history that’s been filled with some amazing moments, but also some heartbreaking moments. Today, while you might not want to hear about it as a Newcastle fan, we’re going to focus on the bad. Here are our picks for the five worst moments for Newcastle United fans.
Keegan’s Second Departure
Kevin Keegan came in at a time when Newcastle United needed him the most. The former star player for the club took over as manager in 1992, which was his first managerial job. During that time, not only did Newcastle bounce from the second division back into the Premier League, but they also contended for the title as they finished in the top three in three out of four seasons.
After coming in second place two years in a row, though, Keegan became distressed and resigned as manager in 1997. He finally returned in 2008, but Mike Ashley (more on him in a moment) wouldn’t give him the financial support that he needed. With that, Keegan left for a second time, with this one hurting much more as he managed just 22 matches. Fans were predictably upset that his second tenure was wasted by the front office.
Sports Direct Scar
St. James’ Park is known as the Cathedral on the Hill and has been the home of Newcastle United football since 1892. After Sir John Hall decided to sell the club in 2007, it was acquired by billionaire Mike Ashley, the former CEO of Sports Direct. The company is now known as Frasers Group, but Sports Direct was plastered everywhere after Ashley decided that St. James’ Park wasn’t “commercially attractive.”
With that, he announced that the stadium would be renamed Sports Direct Arena, and that was the start of a corporate nightmare for fans. During matches, fans would tear down any sign that they saw with Sports Direct on it as a ‘direct’ protest of the name change. Of all companies, it was a payday loan business named Wonga.com that bought the naming rights to return it to St. James’ Park instead of their own name.
So Close (Twice)
Newcastle United was once a powerful figure in the FA Cup, winning the tournament three times during the 1950s. Since 1955, however, the club has not won the tournament, and in two consecutive years came very close. The first was in 1998, with Newcastle taking on Arsenal in front of nearly 80,000 people at Wembley Stadium. Unfortunately, the club surrendered an early lead and lost 2-0.
The following year, Newcastle had a chance at redemption after defeating Crystal Palace, Bradford City, Blackburn Rovers, Everton, and Tottenham. In this edition, Newcastle took on Manchester United but didn’t appear ready to play. Edward Sheringham scored in the 11th minute to put Man U ahead 1-0, and Paul Scholes made it a 2-0 score that would hold up. For Newcastle, those two chances at winning the FA Cup have been the only tries since winning it all in 1955.
The late Bobby Robson managed a lot of clubs after his nearly two-decade-long playing career came to an end in the late 1960s. After managing Porto, FC Barcelona, and PSV Eindhoven, Robson took over Newcastle United in 1999. During that time, Robson was able to help Newcastle finish toward the top of the standings, which was something unfamiliar for years and even marked a return to the Champions League.
After a slow start in the 2004-05 season, however, the club decided to sack Robson, and that decision was met with a lot of controversy by fans. Even Sir John Hall, the club’s owner at the time, said he will never forgive the players who addressed the front office and said that Robson needed to go. “They were young people earning good salaries thinking ‘Who is this old man trying to teach us football?’” Hall said. “But Bobby knew everything…it was just disappointing when it all went wrong.”
The Relegation Match
Newcastle United has had multiple spells in the Second Division, but each one seems to hurt more than the previous one. Perhaps the hardest one to swallow came in the Premier League season. Between February 7, 2009, and the end of the season, Newcastle won just one match, and that came on May 11 against Middlesbrough. In the penultimate match against Fulham, Newcastle lost 1-0 to set up a do-or-die situation.
If Newcastle were to draw with Aston Villa, the club would avoid relegation by way of goal differential against Hull City. With a win, the club was guaranteed to avoid relegation as they would have had more points than either Sunderland or Hull City. Instead, the club got neither result. Daniel Cousin scored in the 81st minute for Hull City, and Newcastle couldn’t respond, thus giving them the loss and relegation to the Second Division thanks to just 34 points on the season.