Sunday sees us play Tottenham in definitely the most eagerly anticipated game for years. Derbies provide the nerve shredding prelude but do we actually look forward to them?

Judging by our record in the last ones it is more likely to fuel self-doubt, self-hate and resignation of relegation.

When was the last time you forewent the last pint at the pub and raced up to the ground in the actual childlike feeling of excitement?

Newcastle and excitement hasn’t went together for years but it’s about to change and though it might not happen overnight, I think people who said previously in middle age they didn’t expect us to win a trophy in our lifetime ,  might have to spit that out and get the bunting out.

I was trying to think back to when a whole supporter group was as excited as this .

Leicester as we won the championship in 1993?, Walking up looking forward to finally seeing off Manchester United and (cough )confirm the premier League title in 1996?

The walk past Chinatown, past The Trent , through Bath Lane , along  Percy Street must not could have gone quick enough for the people lucky enough to get tickets those days.

Yes now I feel lucky to have a ticket for Sunday when I couldn’t have given it away a month earlier.

The only game I can think of which feels like this in my Newcastle supporting history (post 1988 basically)  in many similar ways, is 8th February 1992 Newcastle V Bristol City.

OK, despite the horrible ambition crushing way Ashley ran the club, we were not in as much of a financial mess as what we were then. Hopefully we will never be again.

Division Three beckoned and almost certainly with that was bankruptcy . Everyone knew it, it was no secret, we had been on the borderline for years and a share issue was ‘ballsed up’ to the extent it was scrapped.

That was the first last throw of the dice, this was the final, final throw of the dice.

As he practiced his swing in Marbella , the last thing Kevin Keegan was probably keeping an eye on was the results of Port Vale, Oxford and Brighton but he would have been keeping an eye on his obsession, Newcastle.

An itch he just couldn’t scratch. He told reporters that if anyone ever heard he was returning to football they would laugh as much as he did. But Newcastle was his thing and he secretly cherished the idea of pulling

Newcastle from the abyss.

Abyss- meaning “a deep or seemingly bottomless chasm” Will that do? To describe United in the winter of 1992?

Middlesbrough on Boxing day when everyone went forward and Paul Wilkinson ran from the halfway line to score?

Southend United at Roots Hall losing 4-0 at 12pm on New Years Day when many fans would have had to start travelling just as the year kicked in?

Charlton at home ? 3-1 up and somehow contriving to lose 4-3 in injury time when despite heroically clearing off the line, O’Brien putting  the rebound into his own net?Oxford ? the final nail ? losing 5-2 in fog ? These were the darkest of days when Newcastle’s very existence was as foggy as the Manor Ground was.

No hope.

Again Newcastle are not as bad as that now, but the crushing lack of ambition of the Ashley era left me feeling that since February 1992 , this is the first time I can remember supporters having no hope.

Hope went under Ashley and maybe the correlation between the times is tedious to some, the club was on its knees up until last Thursday in a different way.

Kids didn’t wear the tops anymore, men and women who had been for years were forced out by the club and we (still) have a group of players lurching from one bad result to another.

In 2021 it’s a takeover by one of the richest consortiums on the planet, in 1992 it was Sir John Hall (Ashington’s only tory at the time) reaching out and getting the only man in the world capable of getting a capacity crowd in.

Six years after flying out of our lives in a helicopter and warning we needed 5 players to survive after winning promotion and being ignored(we lost 4 and the manager), KK in one fell swoop agreed to save the club and create mayhem in Tyneside and beyond.

Hall and the breweries had persuaded Keegan with a brochure which six weeks later KK said the job was nothing like. To be fair they had to tell some porkies as the brochure would have looked pretty rubbish if it had told the truth.

The videos of Keegan being unveiled in front of a walnut wooden front with stuck on Newcastle and Newcastle brewery badges will stay with me forever.

It was classic Hall, give the people what they want but it’s to his gain in the end.

Did the collective press know it was Keegan because looking on youtube even now, the collective gasp is obvious. To the point where it looked like a recently deceased relative had walked back from the dead.

Despite the furore and pomp , after a few days another realisation hit home for a lot of people who had seen this before. Could someone with no knowledge of modern or indeed second division football save Newcastle from certain death? The pre match press conference didn’t allay those fears either as he named ten players and left out Allan Neilson. The future would see this as a metaphor as we often looked like we had left a defender out.

We needn’t have worried, already Keegan had started a revolution. Painted dressing rooms at the training ground , got Terry Mac in and made players believe in themselves.

Tickets were like gold dust.

The previous home game when we combusted  against Charlton was watched by 15, 663 … the Bristol City game got 29,263. Overnight one man had given enough hope to 15,000 people that better times were ahead.

Now? We had to give away 10,000 tickets free not so long ago, we were playing games 12,000 short of capacity, its not that dissimilar to suggest that the same amount of people have now been given the same hope by PIF.

Even Hall and McKeag didn’t resort to giving away 10,000 tickets .

Walking up to the ground that day was different , I was only 13. Every game was a thrill but it seemed different. People were smiling and singing and before we had plenty of space, it felt very claustrophobic for me and a full lesson in how a proper match would unfold. Now ? that 13 year old that has got roasted at school by kids wearing a Man City top and hiding your toon top underneath will feel like I did that day. Newcastle were and are back.

The dug outs were roped off to stop the press getting near and I don’t think this happened to Ossie Ardiles as he lurched from one likeable calamity to another.

Keegan mania as the Chronicle named it ( they always said something mania . Mira -mania, Ranson -mania)  inspired Newcastle, the crowd was so fervent they blew the ball past a genuinely shell-shocked Bristol City keeper. The buzz was different to his first St James debut as a player. Now we needed him to survive and he made a good start.

David Kelly finally brought the house down in the 52nd minute after a corner was palmed out and diverted in after it was returned into the box. O’Brien soon bundled in after another keeper error and Kelly made it three all in the space of 7 minutes after good work from Peacock who was everywhere.

Come Sunday swap Kelly for Callum Wilson and St Maximin for Peacock and swap Joelinton for Terry Wilson(hopefully its his last game as well) and we are getting somewhere.

This is a blatant piece of chest bashing obviously and designed only to get the hairs on the back of the neck standing up.

The similarities of hope are sticking out in neon lights. Before we had none and now we do.

For 1992 read 2021. 

SCOTT ROBSON