Next up is our annual visit to “The Theatre of Dreams” where it will be 31 years since our last victory there when a side containing the likes of Charlton, Best and Law were beaten by goals from John Tudor and Stewart Barrowclough only a week after the embarrassing F.A Cup defeat to Hereford in February 1972, ever since then we’ve had to endure some mostly miserable trips, albeit with a few credible draws along the way. Last season we came close to breaking our duck, leading three times with goals from James Perch, Johnny Evans (O.G) and Papiss Cisse on Boxing Day but being pegged back each time and eventually succumbing to a typically last minute Javier Hernandez winner.
We have had fixtures at Old Trafford in all of our Premier League seasons and in most of them came home with nothing, but we gained our first point in the league there when Andy Cole latched onto Nicky Papavassiliou’s slide rule pass to cancel out a first half free kick from Ryan Giggs. Cole was our nemesis two years later however, opening the scoring on his first game against his former side in the 95/96 season, with Roy Keane securing the points as The Red Devils sought about reducing The Magpies lead at the top of the table. Old Trafford was the scene of a goal bonanza in 2002, unfortunately it was the home side who came out in top winning 5-3 with Ruud Van Nistelrooy’s hat trick and some incompetent officiating helping to seal our fate. On a brighter note Alan Shearer scored a landmark 100th Premier League goal for us with a thunderbastard of a free kick. A few years later we were on the end of a 6-0 thrashing at the hands of Man. United under the temporary stewardship of Nigel Pearson with the papers on the morning of the match suggesting Harry Redknapp was poised to take over the hotseat, unfortunately we faced a side with Cristiano Ronaldo at a level not seen before or since in Premier League times, he scored a hat trick. Things may have been different had a wrongly disallowed Michael Owen goal stood on the stroke of half time with the scores at 0-0, probably not though. Fast forward 6 months and rather than Redknapp in the away dugout it was The King himself Kevin Keegan, Newcastle producing a performance at Old Trafford which was probably the best since the 1972 win, with Obafemi Martins scoring our goal in a 1-1 draw on the season’s opener.
We endured yet more misery on our travels to Manchester in the 1980’s with probably the worst being a 5-0 reverse in our first season back in the top division with Mark Hughes and Gordon Strachan getting on the scoresheet. Newcastle were also soundly beaten in a League Cup game in 1976 with a Gordon Hill hat trick helping Man United on their way to a 7-2 win over The Magpies, a game immortalised in the away day chant “Magpie Ranger. To find our last piece of cheer prior to 1972 we have to hark all the way back to 1950 when goals from George Hannah and Tommy Walker secured a 2-1 victory in front of 36,000 Mancunian muppets.