Monday, 2 March 2015

Peterborough Away 1992

I had an hour to kill between connections and Peterborough's railway station didn't seem a particularly inviting place to stay.  "Aren't football grounds boring when there's nobody there?" my girlfriend asked, uncomprehendingly.  The week before, on a bus that twisted and turned through the streets of Salzburg, I got talking to a Queen of the South fan who was at Peterborough v Newcastle United on 26th September 1992. "I was on a course in Corby with a Geordie mate.  Boiling under that tin roof.  Manic support, but.  There was a guy in the pub with a guitar belting out songs beforehand. Don't think the locals had ever seen anything like it."  Back in Britain, it was 15 minutes with my bags from the station, walking the same direction John Hall had been serenaded along by hundreds of jubilant Newcastle fans 22 years before...

You are there, 7,000 Newcastle, late-summer sun beating on your heads. The pubs are closed by one o'clock.  Straight off the supporters' bus and into the shortest queue. Black and white everywhere you look.  Spilling off coaches and trains and transit vans.  Scarves in car windows. "Newcastle United will never be defeated!" you chant, nudging through the turnstile. "The biggest game in our history," the home manager says in a programme you read over shoulders as you wait for the teams to run out. 

The terrace is rammed, each and every movement dicatated by the surge of the crowd.  Seeing and not seeing.  Robert Lee stumbles through a tackle, Kevin Sheedy collects the pass and sand-wedges his shot over the goalkeeper's head.  You land four steps down. "Sheedy! You beautiful Welsh-Irish bastard, you," screeches a wiry bloke with no top on swinging backwards from the fence.  Delirium. The momentum unstoppable.  "And now you're gonna believe us," the entire stand bellows, "we're gonna win the league."  And you do.

It's the most exhilarating season you'll ever have.

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