Miles away from home: Making waves against Mexicans brought back Keegan memories

editorial image
Share this article

I’ve never liked Mexican waves.

Even less so after THAT game against Athletic Bilbao at St James’s Park 21 years ago.

Kevin Keegan’s Newcastle United were 3-0 and seemingly cruising when the first wave went around the stadium.

Then everything changed.

Bilbao pulled two goals back and went through on away goals after winning the home leg 1-0.

Maybe it was no surprise that there were attempted waves during Newcastle’s friendly against Mexican side Club Atlas at Milwaukee’s Miller Park on Tuesday night.

Thankfully, they were nothing more than ripples around the cavernous arena.

That said, it was warming to see the sheer number of black and white shirts inside the 41,900-seat stadium.

I bumped into Newcastle fans who had travelled from across the USA – and even Canada – to watch their team.

The game, a 2-1 defeat, wasn’t much of a spectacle, but the occasion itself was quite something.

***************************

News of Damien Duff’s signing for Shamrock Rovers brought back memories of Newcastle United’s pre-season visit to the Tallaght Stadium six years ago.

Back then, the newly-relegated club was in disarray.

Newcastle, with Duff in the starting XI, won 3-0 in Dublin, but the victory couldn’t hide the problems off the pitch.

The players didn’t hold back when interviewed after the game in the tunnel.

Not surprisingly, there weren’t so many of them made available to speak to the media over the following weeks.

Back to Duff. The winger, likeable off the field, never lived up to his billing, in part due to injuries, on the pitch.

And maybe we’ll maybe never know if he and the others that left that summer regretted their haste to get out of the club.

Others stayed to right the wrongs of Newcastle’s relegation season. To me, the likes of Kevin Nolan and Joey Barton did the right thing.