|Season 2005-06 Result|
|Alan Shearer XI||3-2||Celtic|
| A.Luque 70,
A.Virgo 92 (og),
A.Shearer 93 (pen).
| Maloney 80 (pen),
|Date: 11/05/2006 Venue: St.James' Park Competition: Friendly|
|Match Report||Submitted on 13/05/2006 by Greavsie|
|Come In No. 9, Your Time's Up .....|
That's how everyone seemed to be feeling on the bus & in the Sporties after the match. Everyone who was there is going to remember the night for a very long time, and so they should.
It started off just like a normal night match, with the bus leaving at 6.30pm. All the usual suspects were there, and for a change the sensible one from the Smith family decided to come along, although warnings of previous antics had led the police video cameras to be on standby.
It became clear when arriving in the toon, that it wasn't a normal night. The banners along St. James' Boulevard proclaimed the testimonial, and the thousands of Bhoy's fans drinking & signing next to St. James metro, certainly was far from usual. Despite whether you have left-footed tendencies or not, you have to admit they bring a large and vocal support with them wherever they go, and are not shy of having a beer or two.
|After sampling the delights at the Cosmic Ballroom, we headed up to the ground, making our way through the throng in hoops. The state some of them were in, they must have been drinking for a week!!. Many of them decided to try to ingratiate themselves with the locals by singing 'We Hate Souness more than you...". "Somehow, I don't think you do, bonny lad", can the response. Too true...
There was the usual melee at the turnstiles, with people wandering around not knowing where the hell they were going & Celtic fans trying to access the North west corner at the south east turnstiles - holy mother of Jesus, can ye not tell one end of the ground from the other !!
|Once inside the ground, adorned with my 'free' special 'shearer testimonial edition scarf, Shearer mask, sticker & black. card it was party time. The atmosphere was cracking, with the whole crowd seemingly decked out in black & white. All we needed now was the big man himself, and he duly obliged marching onto the pitch with his family through the guard of honour formed by both teams. The noise was almost deafening, & the black & white stripes, with the number 9 at the leazes & Gallowgate, & 'Shearer' emblazoned along the East Stand, looked fantastic, especially when I saw on TV later. Its just a shame most people in the ground couldn't see it, except for the Milburn Stand. The flame throwers looked positively lethal - impressive, but lethal.|
|So onto the game, the great man kicked off & left the field to rapturous applause, with most of us wondering whether he would be making a later appearance or not. Those of you at home watching on TV, obviously were let in on a not so well kept secret, that most of us in the ground weren't that aware of.
The first half was fairly drab, with not many chances created. The best of note was Charlie boy's run and blockbuster shot which had their keeper scrambling, but he managed to push it up and it bounced on the top of the bar before going over. Despite one or two dangerous looking breaks, and a couple of wayward long range efforts from Celtic, I don't recall Given having anything to do. Stevie Watson started the match on the right of midfield, but looked a bit out of shape, especially for someone who's still playing ( albeit not that well considering WBA's relegation).
|The second half started, with both sides making numerous changes & the atmosphere and noise level in the crowd picked up tremendously. With the old boys returning, such as Gary Speed, Rob Lee & Sir Les, a true party was on the go. Whoever decided to give the scarves out, was a genius. I couldn't see properly, but it must have been in response to the Celtic fans - it started underneath them, then the surge of black & white scarved twirling soon spread through the ground, what a sight - superb !! Constant singing for Shearer, interspersed with songs for the old boys, and wasn't it great to see Big Les back strutting his stuff on a pitch where he should never have left. Oh how I wished for a raking cross to the back-post, a soaring salmon-like leap and a bullet header from another great hero. Shame he couldn't manage to keep his legs going when almost clean through in the box. If only we could have kept Shearer & Big Les together...... & if only I could remember that song about him & Dani Behr.....|
|All we needed now, was a goal to round things off, but it didn't look like it was going to happen, despite a good effort from Matty Pattison, who brought another good save from Marshall. However, a great cross from Ramage towards the far post, found Luque in the box, who smashed home a volley from about ten yards or so - whey hey !! Everyone went wild, as you'd expect, and the singing just kept getting louder. However, not that long later a lunge in the box from Ramage (I think), brought down Maloney, who picked himself up and scored from the penalty. He could have missed the miserable bugger. Then shortly after that, Hartson out-jumped Boumsong and headed a second to put Celtic in front. Now this is where, you really start to get p!$$ed off with old firm fans. Why oh why do they always think that going in front against an English team means they are on the same level as us and should get to play in the Premiership?? We only had two or three players on the pitch that would actually get in our first team plus three old timers no longer at the club, for Christ's sake !!! OK, so you can do not bad in one-off games against English premiership clubs, but bl00dy hell, so can first division clubs in the FA Cup - its the same thing, you raise your games against us. There's only one side that thinks its a big game and needs to raise their game!! (anyway, I'm sure that applied more to the fans than the team last night)|
|With most of us desperate for at least an equaliser, and time ticking away, a mazy run by Big Les to the by-line, leaving the Celtic defence in his wake, with an attempted shot/cut-back-across-goal ended up with the ball in the net courtesy of some defender I've never heard of and have no care to find out about. Get in !! What a player !! (OK, I know no-one tried too hard to tackle him). Into injury time, a mix-up in the Celtic defence, completely unplanned of course, saw another burst into the box by Big Les, and a heinous foul from another unknown Bhoy, saw the ref immediately, and correctly, point to the spot - how he didn't get red carded, I'll never know... Then suddenly, the not so secret, secret was out. The board went up, and the man of the moment was stripped and ready for his last hurrah. On he trotted, to rapturous applause once more. Surely he wouldn't miss. The ref at this point was engaged in conversation with Celtic keeper Marshall - obviously instructing him to stay on his line until the penalty was taken - it couldn't possibly have been anything else.
The tension mounted, the ball was placed on the spot, the crowd hushed in anticipation and Shearer strode purposely back to the edge of the box. The keeper was like a star struck little boy staring at the grand master of penalty takers. Shearer turned, waited for the whistle, then attacked the ball on the spot like a black (& white) panther, waiting to see the white of the keeper's eyes before attacking. A masterful strike into the bottom right sent the keeper the wrong way & the crowd erupted. A perfect ending to a perfect night.
Presentations were made at the end for Shearer's record tally of Premiership goals from the FA Premier League, another to represent his achievement for England from the FA, and another from the club to mark his record goals tally and ten years of devotion to the cause. The mix of cheers and boos, as the presentation party was announced was quite amusing, as was the 'who are you' chants at little Ant & Dec (they can't have been the real ones, they were tiny !!)
Once more round the ground for Shearer to acknowledge the acclaim of the adoring fans, and he was gone. I'm told there was a fireworks display at the end, but I'd gone by then. I'll have to catch it on the box.
So, a fantastic and monumentous occasion for all that were there. A sell out crowd to pay homage to a true Geordie hero, who just had to come home when it really mattered to him. It just wouldn't happen anywhere else, nor is it likely to happen anywhere again - at least not for a very very long time.
What a night, What a man !!!!