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Top 5: Pre-Season Friendlies

The pre-season period is vital for every team, whether for confidence building, or to build up player fitness after the holidays, every team strives for a good set of pre-season friendlies. Here we will take a look at the top 5 pre-season friendlies that Newcastle United have taken part in.

5 – Darlington 0-2 Newcastle, 2011 -This match will go down in Geordie folklore, but not because of a last minute winner, nor a spectacular goal. No, this game will be remembered for its pitch invasion, which was sparked by a crowd chant. The Toon, sporting their new orange away kit for the first ever time, were 1-0 up through a Joey Barton strike, but that will probably never be remembered in comparison to the remainder of the game. With a variation of the song about brother Shola Ameobi, the 6,000 + Newcastle fans at the Northern Echo Arena were continuously chanting “If Sammy scores, we’re on the pitch!”

Well, as fate would have it, with a little over half an hour to go, Ameobi duly delivered with a gem of a strike, causing the Newcastle fans to live up to their promise. A mass invasion of the pitch soon followed, and Sammy Ameobi became an instant hero. This incident was also the catalyst of Derek Llambias deciding that away tickets will not go on general sale anymore.

4 – Deportivo 0-0 Newcastle (3-5 on pens), 2010 – Once again, not a great football match, but it was a cup final! The mammoth sized Teresa Herrera trophy was decided at the Riazor Stadium as Newcastle were looking to become the first English side to win the trophy. Former Depor players Fabricio Coloccini and Xisco were making their first return to the stadium, and the Newcastle side held strong against a very good Deportivo La Coruna side. The game finished 0-0, and Newcastle scored every one of their ensuing spot kicks, and after Andres Guardado missed his kick, it was the newly moustached Joey Barton who slotted away to secure the trophy.

3 – Newcastle 2-1 Braga, 2012 – Sticking to the same theme, another trophy win! This time a 3 – team league format tournament, with Newcastle, Olympiacos and Braga. Once again, Newcastle were looking to become the first English side to win the trophy. After a 1-1 draw against the Greek side, Newcastle knew a win would get them the cup. This match was important for many reasons. Firstly, Demba Ba looked back to his awesome best, which is bad news for many Premier League defenders in the coming season. Secondly, there was a large chunk of next season’s expected first eleven in the team, and there was some very impressive link up play, which is always a promising sign. And lastly, Ryan Taylor scored an absolute belter of a free kick, which is always good!

2 – Newcastle 2-0 Juventus, 2007 – It wasn’t very often that attractive football was played under the reigns of Sam Allardyce, but it has to be said, Newcastle played European giants Juventus off the pitch on this day. The Italians had a star studded team out, which included players such as Gigi Buffon, Andrade, Pavel Nedved, David Trezeguet, Tiago and Iaquinta. In addition to these, there was also a certain Jean-Alain Boumsong on the bench…

Despite these big names, Newcastle’s young team of players like Peter Ramage, Paul Huntington, James Milner, Charles N’Zogbia and Andy Carroll completely outplayed them that day. Not only did an 18 year old Carroll score, he also caught the eye of legendary goalkeeper Buffon, who stated;

“Carroll played like what we call in Italy a paintbrush striker, he was there to add the finishing touch.

“He will be an asset because he can find the players around him in different ways and has already shown he has great awareness.”

Another positive of the day was that Albert Luque managed to get on the scoresheet.

1 – Leyton Orient 6-1 Newcastle, 2009 – While the sun was shining at Brisbane Road, it was a dark day on the pitch for Newcastle. Chris Hughton played his strongest XI (Krul, Beye, Taylor, Colo, Enrique, Gutierrez, Smith, Barton, Nolan, Duff, Martins), a team that should have wiped the floor with their opponents. However, in one of the most lackluster performances that a Newcastle team has ever produced, Leyton Orient managed to smash in six goals, to leave a humiliated Newcastle United side on their knees.

Now, you may be wondering why this would be included in Newcastle’s best ever pre-season friendlies, well, it was what happened after the match that is so significant to the club. In the dressing room, there was apparently a heated and passionate team meeting which filtered out which players actually wanted to fight for the club, and which players didn’t have their heart in it. After that, a wave of players left the club, but what was left was a group of determined fighters, and arguably the best team spirit that Newcastle have ever had.

Since the first day of that season, Newcastle have progressed so much as a club, and never looked back.

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