Newcastle were already relegated when they faced Spurs at St James’ Park for the final game of the season in 2016, and remarkably, the 5-1 Toon win was not the biggest story.
The result belied the gulf in league placings between the two sides, as Newcastle hammered third placed Tottenham, and did so playing the last quarter of the game a man short, after Aleksandar Mitrovic was sent off.
But the main takeaway from the match was the Newcastle fans’ public, emotional and unequivocal backing of manager Rafa Benitez.
Their Spanish hero’s name was sung by the vast majority of the 52,183 crowd from the minute he took his place in the dugout, to when he left the pitch, after applauding the fans at the end of the game.
Goals were cheered, but one man’s name was continually chanted
Two goals from Georginio Wijnaldum, and additional strikes from Mitrovic, Rolando Aarons and Daryl Janmaat, were celebrated in style when they arrived, but it was the Rafa chants that were continually belted out.
There was little doubt to the intentions of the fans’ singing, and in case anyone had not realised, they were informed bluntly with the “Rafa Benitez, we want you to stay” rendition that was almost continuous for the 90 minutes.
Even a mischievous banner trailing from a private plane, paid for by gloating Sunderland fans, was roundly ignored by everyone in the ground, as convincing Benitez he belonged on Tyneside was the only order of the day.
It was an incredible atmosphere, and despite dropping out of the Premier League, it was one most Newcastle fans in attendance will never forget.
Every day until Christmas, Geordie Boot Boys will bring you another incredible Newcastle moment as we countdown the 25 most iconic Toon moments of the decade.