A year ago, Daryl Murphy was in the Ipswich Town side beaten 3-0 at St Andrew’s.
If someone had told him he could be scoring for Newcastle United at a sold-out St James’s Park 12 months later, he wouldn’t have believed them.
And the 33-year-old says the experience of scoring his first home league goal for the club was “unbelievable”.
Murphy, signed last summer, made it three goals from three games with a strike in Saturday’s 4-0 win over Rotherham United. The result took the club back to the top of the division.
The Republic of Ireland international was the beneficiary of a superb free-kick from Jonjo Shelvey and an intelligent first-team cross from DeAndre Yedlin.
Murphy did the rest. He controlled the ball, turned and shot past Richard O’Donnell in first-half injury time.
“It’s unbelievable,” said Murphy. “Obviously, I scored two goals the previous week, but I said to my wife and kids there would be nothing better than to score at home in front of 52,000 fans and that was definitely the case. It was absolutely brilliant.
“If someone had said to me a year ago that I’d do that I’d have laughed at them, I’d have thought they’d gone mad!
“But here we are, and thankfully the gaffer took a chance on me.”
The scoreline doesn’t tell the whole story. Rotherham – who man-marked Shelvey – looked like getting to the break without conceding.
As I said when I signed, it was an easy decision, because I want to be pushing to win stuff and play in front of 52,000 people.Daryl Murphy
But Will Vaulks, Shelvey’s man-marker, could only watch as the midfielder delivered his deep free-kick for Yedlin.
On his goal, Murphy added: “It was good timing, really – just before half-time.
“For them going in to concede just before half-time makes it a different team talk for their manager.
“I think the first goal is always important here, and in the second half we just kicked on, really.”
Murphy had to be patient after his move from Ipswich.
The former Sunderland player saw his opportunities limited in the first half of the season by injuries and the form of Dwight Gayle.
Murphy could only watch and admire the service that Gayle and Aleksandar Mitrovic got from the wide areas.
“The service is brilliant,” he said.
“You just have to be in and around the box and on the move, because when the delivery comes in, the ball can go anywhere.
“I try to place myself in the best position scoring-wise, and thankfully the ball dropped to me and I scored.”
Newcastle pushed on after the break. Matt Ritchie scored twice, and Ayoze Perez also fond the net.
“We couldn’t afford to sit back, and as soon as we were in front we knew we had to push on and get some more goals,” said Murphy.
“In the second half we did. We created a lot of chances. In the end, it was quite comfortable.”
Given the injuries to Gayle and Mitrovic, United manager Rafa Benitez left Murphy out of his FA Cup side last week.
Murphy said: “I was joking with the lads saying I’d waited six months for a game and I couldn’t even get one against Birmingham!
“But with the striker situation, the gaffer didn’t want to take any chances, and that paid off against Rotherham.”
The club’s focus is firmly on the league.
“As I said when I signed, it was an easy decision because I want to be pushing to win stuff and play in front of 52,000 people,” said Murphy.
“I just want to test myself really before I finish. I don’t think there’s a better club to come to do that.
“Our main ambition is to get promoted, but we want to win it.”
Benitez’s decision to sign Murphy was questioned by some fans last summer.
However, the deal that brought him to St James’s Park looks shrewder by the week.