It’s amazing that there are certain lines of commentary that still give you goose bumps years after they originally happened. With the International break leaving a football void in my life for at least a couple of nights, I wanted to pull together my top 10 moments of Newcastle United commentary from TV and radio down the years. I was born 1988 so a lot of these are modern, though I have dug into the archives for a couple.
10) “…and touched in by Shearer! It might as well be the Gallowgate end!” – Peter Drury (Inter Milan 2 – 2 Newcastle, March 2003)
It might not be the most famous line from our Champions League campaign of 2002/03 but this was probably one of the peak moments of supporting Newcastle in my lifetime, purely in terms of the level we were playing at. The Champions League was in a silly two group format back then, and this was our 5th match in the second group stage – effectively the last 16. Peter Drury, who has become a bit of a cult commentator in recent years, captured the mood perfectly as Shearer put us 2-1 up in the San Siro. Italian clubs are known for their (sometimes overly) passionate fans but this was a night where our fans were loud and proud in one of the most iconic stadiums in European football and what’s more, the team on the pitch matched that commitment. There’s no doubt Drury queues up lines like this but frankly who cares – he was right. We might not have won the match but you can’t help but feel immensely proud of the side Sir Bobby built and I only wish we had gone on to have more nights like this the following season.
9) “It’s a hat trick! A hat trick for Asprilla! 3-0! Wonderful stuff from Newcastle” – Brian Moore (Newcastle 3 – 2 Barcelona, September 1997)
How could I possibly exclude this? We went 3-0 up against Barcelona in our first ever Champions League group game and it was broadcast to the entire nation on ITV. Brian Moore had a wonderful turn of phrase and a proper “old fashioned” commentary voice so I get a proper kick out of him describing Tino’s hat-trick goal. If somebody as calm as that is getting excited you know something big is happening. It’s such a shame the 97/98 season is remembered as being a massive fall from grace as this is one of the biggest results in our history.
8) “It’s Alan Shearer…that’s the way to finish it! Ooooh that’s how he dreamt it last night! Alan Shearer sends Newcastle United back to Wembley. We’ll be lucky if they’ll be able to kick off again, the celebrations have started! – Clive Tyldesley (Newcastle 2-0 Tottenham, April 1999)
As an FA Cup lover, any good memories I can cling on to, I will. This is of course the second goal in the FA Cup semi final between Newcastle and Tottenham, during the largely wretched Ruud Gullit era. It obviously helps that it is a wonderful strike from Alan Shearer but I remember feeling physically sick during this match as a 10 year old and then the utter relief when this goal went in. I don’t think watching us usually drove me to that level of worry but I guess that’s just what the FA Cup used to do to me. Tyldesley is restricted almost exclusively to International football now that ITV have no European rights so it almost feels unusual to hear him on an NUFC game, but you can feel his appreciation for how good the strike is at such a vital point of the match, not to mention the relief the fans in the stadium and those watching at home were feeling.
7) “Cheik Tiote…OH! OH! OH! Boom! Boom! Cheik Cheik the room! What a strike! – Justin Lockwood (Newcastle 4 – 4 Arsenal, February 2011)
I have a lot of time for Justin Lockwood. The problem is nowadays he has the thankless task of hosting the half time entertainment whilst hosting breakfast radio during the week. But in the early 2000s he replaced Mick Lowes at Metro Radio so it was his voice that took 13 year old me through one of the most enjoyable seasons of my lifetime and subsequently into the Champions League. By 2011 Justin, alongside Bob Moncur, was providing NUFC commentary for Century FM, as a sort of less formal alternative to BBC Radio Newcastle. Don’t worry, Mick will get his moments later in this list, but for sheer enthusiasm Lockwood’s description of Cheik Tiote’s stunning volley to bring Newcastle back to 4-4 has a safe entry onto this list. Sure, it’s one of the corniest lines you will ever hear but the purity and emotion with which it is delivered was very in keeping with the way the match panned out that day. Utterly crazy and beyond explanation. What a day.
6) “Asprilla, could this be the minute? Timouri Ketsbaia!!! Ketsbaia for Newcastle United! Has surely now won a Champions League place! – Jonathan Pearce (Croatia Zagreb 2 – 2 Newcastle, August 1997)
This is a bit of a left field choice but I love it. It’s 90s football encapsulated in one ridiculous night. Firstly, a Champions League qualifier on Channel 5? I’m in. Secondly, it’s an absolute rollercoaster of a night where Newcastle threw away qualifying in 90 minutes which caused extra time and then seconds away from penalties, Ketsbaia gets us home. Jonathan Pearce though is in outstanding form. Throughout this match he sounds like Newcastle’s progression in the Champions League is the single most important thing in his life so the sheer joy in his voice when Ketsy gets the winner is a wonderful thing. We’ve had some canny European nights on Channel 5 and whilst John Helm and Joe Royle were good, they weren’t in the class of Pearce on this particular night.
5) “Kelly in on goal, David Kelly, can he stay on his feet? KELLY! OOOOH What a goal! He stayed on his feet and David Kelly has sparked unbelievable scenes here!” – Mick Lowes (Grimsby 0 – 2 Newcastle, May 1993)
I only heard this commentary recently during the Radio Newcastle tributes to Mick Lowes, who retired in 2016. This was of course the goal that secured us promotion to the top flight and it was apparent that Kevin Keegan was building something pretty special on Tyneside. A young Lowes is clearly ecstatic and being swept along by the Keegan rollercoaster, as we all were though in my case not for a couple of years after this event. Mick’s impact on my following of NUFC cannot be understated – the True Faith podcast interview with him summed it up perfectly when they said that in the 90s, with little TV coverage you were really relying on Mick to guide you on who was performing, how the team were doing and any other little incidents that took you closer to the club. To me, he is the voice of Newcastle United and I’m sure over time that feeling will be replaced by Matthew Raisbeck, who is doing an excellent job, but in many ways it needs the club to perform to get the best of a commentator. This goal is clearly a key moment in our history and it’s almost as if Lowes knew what was to come over the next few years – this was really just the beginning of the ride.
4) Gutierrez! Can there be a more popular goal scorer? The man who knows the true meaning of survival! – Rob Hawthorne (Newcastle 2 – 0 West Ham, May 2015)
Football scripts rarely follow Newcastle United around but this is as close to cinema as we might get – in a good way, anyway. In a match Newcastle needed to win to guarantee staying in the Premier
League, Jonas Gutierrez took aim from the edge of the box and made it 2-0. Step up Rob Hawthorne to deliver one of the most perfect lines of commentary I have ever heard. Jonas Gutierrez has battled cancer successfully and made his way back into the first team picture and he had played out of his skin all afternoon against West Ham. The story goes that the higher ups at the club had tried to force Gutierrez out during his illness, which probably explains why Jonas cupped an ear towards the directors box after his goal, but what a moment. My wife, who is not from the area and only maintains an interest in Newcastle to keep me happy, rang me on my way home from the game and told me she had cried at this line of commentary. For that reason alone, I think this will always stick with me.
3) BELLAMY! IT’S IN! – Jon Champion (Feyenoord 2 – 3 Newcastle, November 2002)
Our second visit to the Champions League campaign of 2002/03 and it’s Jon Champion this time delivering the iconic line. I’m sure you all remember the scenario – Newcastle had lost their opening 3 group games and if they were to become the first team to advance after such a start, they’d need to win the last 3. Two victories had followed so a win in Rotterdam would be enough, but this is Newcastle United and a 2-0 lead had become 2-2. With the game ticking into injury time, Kieron Dyer broke through and his tame effort was saved by the goalkeeper. At this point, Champion’s voice lulls in disappointment at the chance that has gone begging but he soon picks up as Bellamy lashes the rebound low and hard from a tight angle that goes in off the strewn goalkeeper. Champion’s “IT’S IN!” sounded both exhausted and delighted – try watching this lot every week, John. Nevertheless it summed up the occasion perfectly, totally chaotic but the right result. Just.
2) “On a day where Newcastle would have taken 1-0, here they are looking for number 5 with Philippe Albert…oh! Absolutely glorious! – Martin Tyler (Newcastle 5 – 0 Man Utd, October 1996)
One of the most iconic moments of the Kevin Keegan era, giving out a 5-0 drubbing to his old foe Alex Ferguson just months after the mind games, the meltdown, whatever you want to call it. Martin Tyler will be the voice of football to many, certain those of a younger generation, but he’s had surprisingly few standout lines for such a long career. I guess a lot of league games don’t have the emotion as say the World Cup games we’ve heard Barry Davies, John Motson and some other greats describe over the years. Anyway, he’s a brilliant commentator and what I like about this line is that you can almost feel his appreciation for just how good Philippe Albert’s chip is. The fact he’s a centre half, the fact it’s big Peter Schmeichel the ball is sailing over, the fact the champions are getting stuffed 5-0 – it’s all summed up perfectly by three words: Oh! Absolutely glorious!
1) “Here’s Nol Solano for Newcastle…and he’s made it 4-3! Bobby Robson does a jig of delight on the touchline and then remembers he’s nearly 69!”- Jon Champion (Leeds 3 – 4 Newcastle, December 2001)
For my personal favourite moment we’re heading back to 2001, a season I’ve already explained is embedded in my memory. This is during the era where ITV got the highlights and “The Premiership” came to our living rooms at the much earlier time of 7pm until they finally realised that was a bad idea. The setting for this match is almost perfect – we’ve just ended our London hoodoo to go top of the table and in order to stay there for Christmas, we’ve got to win at fellow top 4 rivals Leeds. From 1-0 up we’re 3-1 down, it’s a crisp December afternoon as we fight back to 3-3 and, as the snow starts falling, Dyer bursts through midfield, plays in Nobby and the rest is history. Jon Champion
showed just how good he is at the World Cup this summer and as he was on ITV in this era we have his dulcet tones over a number of our games. It’s the line about Bobby that gets me though. He was just a big fan inside and in a strange way I think that managing us made him feel younger, even if they doubtless drove him up the wall at times. We were all doing a jig of delight being top at Christmas, playing some sensational football in the process and having a club to be proud of.
Unfortunately, there were some great lines that missed the cut. Roger Thames and the famous “Liam O’Brien over the wall” moment probably being the most famous. Spare a thought for John Motson’s description of Ginola against Ferencvaros and the incomparable Barry Davies describing a Malcolm MacDonald wonder goal against Burnley in 1974. It is also with regret I couldn’t find Mick Lowes’ description of Shearer’s 206th goal for the club against Portsmouth, that would have been a certain inclusion but without being able to hear it again it’s quite hard to write down!
I’m sure there are many more which I’ll be happy to hear from you on Twitter – @CM9798. Let’s hope there are some better moments to come in the not too distant future.
You can catch this weeks true faith podcast on youtube here: