Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Don't Waste Great Chance

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Don't Waste Great Chance

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

You pop out to Casablanca for a touch of alternative culture and what do you find upon your return?

Newcastle United have backed up a removal van and hijacked the FA Cup, that's all!

I mean a must-do victory over Yeading and a home draw against Coventry. Does the sun shine in Morocco? Does Humphrey Bogart live on in Casablanca? Is the belly dance a shakin' success?

An expected win over Peter Reid's former charges from a division down and United, without silver for 35 years, will be three steps from the FA Cup final. God has suddenly been kind.

I'd flown via Paris to Casablanca with my great buddie Glenn McCrory to prepare a book to the backdrop of one of Hollywood's legendary films. A six-day exploration in a land of contradictions, of mystic and exotic splendour, of a culture far removed from ours but totally captivating.

McCrory, once a world boxing champion, is now a potential film maker ( two scripts are poised to go before the cameras ( and has led an extraordinary and diverse life also including being a documentary maker, actor and TV broadcaster.

In a land of mosques and macho where vastly different worlds collide almost street to street, we found a natural passport in football. The Moroccans love it and chants of "there's only one Alan Shearer" often drifted on the night air from the Petit Taxis we used to ferry us round the city at breakneck and suicidal speed, veering across two lanes of heavy traffic without warning. No wonder Casablanca is amongst the top three countries in the world for road accidents.

We naturally made arrangements for United's cup tie with Yeading to be transmitted to us as soon as possible during our working day, which on this particular Sunday afternoon happened to be in Rick's Bar in Casablanca.

Of all the towns in all the world, when Newcastle won I had to be in this one. …

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