Newcastle travel to Bramall Lane to face Sheffield United on Thursday, and fans of a certain age are sure to recall memories of a previous classic encounter between the two sides.
Ironically, the game that will spring to mind for most, took place at neither side’s home ground, but instead was played out in the North West, at Old Trafford, who hosted the 1997/1998 FA Cup Semi-Final between the two sides.
A crowd of 53,452 was crammed into the home of Manchester United – with over half of them travelling 145 miles from Tyneside to be there – for Newcastle’s first FA Cup Semi-Final since 1974.
It was definitely not a classic encounter, but none of the Toon fans in attendance were the slightest bit concerned about that.
The atmosphere created in the Newcastle section was so boisterous, you could literally feel the Old Trafford stands shaking as nearly 30,000 Geordies bounced along to their full repertoire of songs.
The Newcastle lineup that day contained some ‘blast from the past’ names, such as Swedish striker Andreas Andersson, Stuart Pearce, John Barnes and the late Gary Speed.
Shearer broke the deadlock to send Newcastle to Wembley
After a goalless, and somewhat dour, first hour, as was the case so many times during his Newcastle career, Alan Shearer was on hand to break the deadlock, and send the Geordie hordes into ecstasy.
A pinpoint cross from Barnes saw Shearer climb above the defenders to head the ball towards goal. Blades keeper Alan Kelly parried the goal-bound effort, but Shearer followed up his own header to slam the ball over the line from half a yard out.
Delerium broke out in the stands, as arms and legs of celebrating Toon fans went in all directions, as fans’ dreams of a first Wembley Cup Final since 1976, were becoming a reality.
Having played in the Charity Shield at the start of the previous season, the win over Sheffield United would see Newcastle return to Wembley, and would be the first of three FA Cup visits to the famous stadium in as many years.
Thursday’s game at Bramall Lane may not see quite that number of travelling fans, but Newcastle have sold out their allocation, and will be backed by 2,865 fans – an impressive turnout for a midweek game.
And you can be sure, if Newcastle win, the atmosphere will be equally as raucous and celebratory as it was that famous day almost 22 years ago.