Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tale of the Century May Have a Happy Ending

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Tale of the Century May Have a Happy Ending

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

It was an evening of wallowing nostalgia for those of us with a treasure trove of glorious memories from an age long gone.

I sat in a state-of-the-art stadium with 52,000 seats last night to witness Newcastle United's 100th game of European football.

Just as in 1968, fresher of face and optimism, I resided in the crow's nest on top of a rickety old wooden stand ( a death trap requiring only a dropped cigarette butt to spark disaster ( and witnessed United's first Euro match against Feyenoord.

Yet, while much had changed, nothing at all was really different. Newcastle won 4-0 both then and now in matches so one-sided they could have been stopped on the grounds of cruelty to humans.

Feyenoord were stunned and routed by four clear goals with a fresh-faced youth named Geoff Allen temporarily ruling the left-wing roost.

That very season United went on to secure their one and only European trophy. Dare we muse about a repeat 36 years later now that a quarter-final place in the UEFA Cup has been so easily sealed? United may well be the Nearly Men but of course we can. Geordies do so by their very nature.

Last night, the Greeks of Olympiakos came bearing gifts. Already 3-1 down from a suicidal performance in Athens, they meekly surrendered once United showed their intent and went ahead.

Mind you, the opening goal was worthy of a milestone night. When a Laurent Robert free-kick, wound up off a long run, saw the ball spin in the air on the edge of the box, Lee Bowyer headed across and inside the Olympiakos last line of defence. In collecting, Kieron Dyer ended up with his back to goal and keeper Antonois Nikopolidis breathing on his neck.

Without a moment's hesitation, Dyer back-heeled the ball into the net for surely the cheekiest goal in United's 100 European expeditions. …

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