FEW Newcastle United fans will forget where they were – or how they felt – on the afternoon of May 24, 2009.
A miserable season came to a painful end as Aston Villa provided the final nail in United’s coffin, condemning them to relegation from the Premier League.
I remember the reaction of their fans after the game, and that stays inside. That will never go away.John Carver
Damien Duff’s own goal was the difference between the two teams, and Newcastle dropped into the second tier for the first time since 1993.
Among the home supporters on the terraces at Villa Park, that was a moment to savour.
A series of banners were unfurled in the home end, with several fans well prepared for the occasion.
Among them was one which read, ‘Who’s your next Messiah, Ant or Dec?’
Another simply said, ‘Sob on the Tyne’.
Villa’s supporters revelled in Newcastle’s misfortune, and as fans of a club which had just finished sixth in the Premier League, with a popular manager in charge and a host of young, exciting players, it appeared they were safe enough to do so.
However, their actions have not been forgotten by those associated with Newcastle, including head coach John Carver.
Carver had been away from the club for almost five years when United suffered relegation, and had just left his job as Toronto head coach.
The day Newcastle went down remains etched in his memory, though, as does the reaction of Villa Park.
Carver’s Newcastle side will hope to push the Villans closer to the Premier League trapdoor themselves tomorrow when the two sides meet at St James’s Park.
Tim Sherwood’s side go into the game sitting second-bottom in the table, and Carver says the pain of 2009 will be “in the back of his head” when he stands on the touchline tomorrow.
Speaking about the day Newcastle were relegated, Carver said: “Let me tell you, I never spoke to anyone for an hour after the final whistle went. That really hurt me.
“And I wasn’t with the football club, but it was my football club and that hurt me.
“Every time you come up against Aston Villa, that stays in there.
“I remember the reaction of their fans after the game, and that stays inside. That will never go away.
“Every time we come up against Aston Villa that’s in the back of my head. Definitely.”
Newcastle were promoted back to the Premier League after just a season away, and their first home game of the new campaign ironically saw Villa visit St James’s Park.
An Andy Carroll hat-trick helped the Magpies to a thumping 6-0 win, and a buoyant home crowd took the opportunity to revel in Villa’s misfortune this time.
Chants of ‘You’re not laughing any more’ echoed around the ground, but for many – including Carver – scores have not yet been settled.
There appears to be an attitude of what goes around, comes around, and with Villa visiting St James’s Park in the thick of a relegation battle tomorrow, Carver is expecting it to act as an added motivation for his side – and the crowd.
When asked if it could spark the crowd, Carver – who is set to include Jonas Gutierrez in his squad for the game after the winger beat testicular cancer – added: “Yes, that could be one, Jonas could be another.
“How they reacted to the way we got relegated wasn’t nice. It could spur the fans on.”
Newcastle go into the game sitting 11th, with the only target left realistically available to them this season being to finish in the top 10.
Villa, though, are in severe danger of dropping into the second tier for the first time since 1988, and it appears Carver will not be shedding any tears for them if they do fall through the trapdoor.
When asked if there was ‘no love lost’ with Aston Villa, he said: “Absolutely not.
“(Relegation) happened to us a few seasons ago, and it wasn’t nice.
“It’s funny how things work out in life.”