Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Toon Fans Have History Hope

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Toon Fans Have History Hope

Article excerpt

Byline: DAN WARBURTON

MAGPIE fans who made a 1,600-mile trip across the continent today called on Alan Pardew's men to end more than 40 years of hurt.

Thousands of supporters have made the trek to Lisbon as Newcastle prepare to tackle European giants Benfica in the club's biggest game in more than a decade.

Now they are urging the Tyneside club to take a massive step in securing their first major piece of silverware since winning the Fairs Cup back in 1969, when they beat Hungarian team Ujpest Dozsa.

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Tonight they face Benfica for a place in the semi-final of the Europa League.

Among those to witness Newcastle's triumph at St James' Park more than four decades ago was Ron Hodgson, 54, from Low Fell, Gateshead. Now the civil engineer has made the trip to Portugal with his 19-year-old son Phillip, an economic student at Newcastle University, and his pal Brian Chambers, 52, a research scientist.

He said: "The omens are good. I was at the Fairs Cup Final at St James' Park and it was snowing - Ujpest had never seen snow before. We beat Lisbon on the way to that final and we beat Benfica in 1971 when Super Mac made his home debut.

"This club has a proud history and it deserves to be at the top of European football."

More than 1,200 fans have already arrived in the Portuguese capital with another 3,000 expected to land today.

Yesterday supporters thronged the city's historic and decorative Rossio Square as they prepared for tonight's fixture at Benfica's Estadio Da Luz - translated as the Stadium of Light.

Among those to sample the sights was super-fan Jamie Marshall who hit the headlines after forking out PS1,700 to see the Toon play in Ukraine earlier in the Europa Cup. He roped his dad, Ian, 42, into making the trip to Portugal. NHS record keeper Jamie, 17, from Bedlington, Northumberland, said: "I've been to the away fixtures and I won't stop until it's over - but I want the team to go all the way. …

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