Newcastle fans are currently relieved they have managed to pull seven points clear of the relegation zone, but were reminded today that things used to be much different.
On this day 17 years ago, Newcastle were pulling off the miraculous feat of qualifying for the second group stage of the Champions League, after losing their opening three games – the first side to do so – with a last-gasp win at Feyenoord.
Having lost away games at Dynamo Kiev and Juventus, with a home defeat to Feyenoord sandwiched in between, qualification never looked likely.
But following all three defeats with wins in the reverse fixtures, Newcastle achieved the impossible, and made it through.
Craig Bellamy scored in injury time in the first half and Hugo Viana grabbed a second four minutes after the break, to put the Magpies in command.
But they conceded twice to leave the game, and an unlikely qualification, in the balance.
Bellamy, however, repeated his first half feat, by squeezing in a low shot from a very narrow angle in the 91st minute, to send the travelling Toon Army delirious.
Memories of better times for many Newcastle fans
Proof that footballing miracles do happen, and even though they eventually finished third in the second group phase, behind Barcelona and Inter Milan, it was a campaign that would live long in the memories of fans.
And memories are all those Toon fans are left with. Reminiscing about greater times, when ambition and hope were in abundance on Tyneside.
Ambition has been replaced by survival, and hope has become disillusionment and protest. It was a fact many fans were quick to point out when the club’s official Twitter account posted a reminder of that great night in 2002.
Here are some of the replies:
God if only them days could come back miss them days
— 𝐌𝐢𝐜𝐡𝐚𝐞𝐥 𝐌𝐚𝐫𝐫 (@mickey_marr) November 13, 2019
What a night that was. Then the wait for Dynamo/Juve result to see if we qualified.
At a time when we dared to dream.
— Greyshrike #boycottsjp (@greyshrike2) November 13, 2019
Shame under our current owner it’s all about finishing 17th at least
— Liam ⚫️⚪️ (@LiamNUFC1998) November 13, 2019
Best game of football I’ve watched as a fan. Not for quality, but keeping you on the edge of your seat drama. Nearly hit the roof when Bellamy put that away.
— Dean (@Bix1985) November 13, 2019
Pre-Ashley when it wasn’t about marketing SD tat, it was about the football and the hopes of a city.
Great memories when we had a club to be proud of.
— The E Wing Paddock (@speedypete68) November 13, 2019
My favourite game of all time. I miss the champions league
— Jordan Weatherhogg (@jordanw1988) November 13, 2019
Depressed now. Used to look back on these posts with fond memories. Now it’s just a contant reminder of how far we’ve fallen. Could be worse, could be in league 1
— Khansie ⚫⚪ (@kh4nsie) November 13, 2019
Ahh the days before Mike Ashley.
— Robert (@_RobAtkinson) November 13, 2019