On this day in 1999: Shearer hits five in Newcastle rout

Shearer scores for Newcastle

Today marks 17 years since the Magpies claimed their record Premier League win as they smashed eight without reply past a hapless Sheffield Wednesday

 

Shearer scores for Newcastle

Newcastle United in the late '90s was not a happy place to be. Kevin Keegan's 'Entertainers' had been dismantled by Kenny Dalglish; the vibrant, attacking and exciting team that came so close to bringing the league title to Tyneside was replaced by ageing players with their best days firmly behind them. Ian Rush, John Barnes and Stuart Pearce all wound down their careers at St James' Park and fans became used to mid-table mediocrity after the exhilarating second place finishes in the middle of the decade.

The nadir came during Ruud Gullit's ill-fated spell in the Newcastle dugout. The Dutchman did take United to an FA Cup Final, but a nightmare start to the 1999/00 season meant the writing was very quickly on the wall for the former Chelsea midfielder.

Gullit was finally put out of his misery after a dismal derby defeat to Sunderland, in which he famously dropped both Alan Shearer and Duncan Ferguson in favour of young striker Paul Robinson. Not a man to take being benched lightly, Ferguson reportedly reacted by kicking the manager's door down at the training ground the following day.

Ruud Gullit Newcastle

In such circumstances, who would take on such a challenge? Enter Bobby Robson (later to become Sir Bobby), returning to his native north-east after a glittering managerial career which had included European glory with Ipswich, a World Cup semi-final with England and numerous continental honours with Porto, PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona.

Taking the job at his beloved hometown team was the perfect way for Robson to finish his career in the dugout, and despite being rooted in the relegation zone and without a win all season his arrival brought a much-needed feelgood factor to the club and the city.

Robson's first home game saw Newcastle welcome Sheffield Wednesday to St James' Park. Since the Sunderland game, the Magpies had been thumped at Old Trafford and defeated at Chelsea, meaning they were second bottom with just one point from the first seven games when the Owls came to town.

Fans website NUFC.com claims that the reaction from the crowd to Robson "compared very favourably to the welcome afforded to Dalglish and Gullit" and "the warmth of feeling being showered on Bobby was something special as the cheering and applause kept lapping like huge waves at the toes of the new boss."

Bobby Robson Newcastle manager

As a man who had grown up watching Newcastle's famous number nines - Jackie Milburn was identified as a childhood hero - Robson understood the importance of the shirt, particularly when it was occupied by a local lad. Shearer was back in the starting XI, alongside Temuri Ketsbaia, whose combination of being Eastern European, goal-shy and completely mental prepared Newcastle fans for the arrival of a certain Aleksandar Mitrovic nearly two decades later. 

In games such as this with a raucous capacity crowd, a new manager and a team with a point to prove, an early goal often arrives. This match was no different, but it came from an unlikely source when Aaron Hughes found the bottom corner with a header after just 11 minutes. The second came from a more usual suspect, as Shearer got in front of his man to poke an effort into the net on the half hour. Just three minutes later, the same player netted from the spot to put Newcastle three goals to the good.

Aaron Hughes scores for Newcastle

At this point, the visiting Wednesday players would have been aiming to simply get to half-time without further punishment. They couldn't even manage that, however, as Shearer completed a first half hat-trick in front of the Gallowgate End to complete a perfect first 45 minutes for the new boss. 

Whatever Owls manager Danny Wilson said to his shell-shocked players at half-time, it didn't work. Less than a minute into the second half it was five, as more shambolic defending allowed Kieron Dyer to head in from close range. A trademark thumping header from Gary Speed made it six with 12 minutes still to play, and perhaps fittingly it was Shearer who had the final word. Hapless goalkeeping gave Shearer his fourth and Newcastle's seventh, and the skipper then completed the rout from the spot after Paul Robinson was fouled. 

Gary Speed Newcastle

It was a day where records tumbled on Tyneside; Newcastle's biggest top flight win since 1907, the first time the Magpies had scored eight at home for almost 50 years and the first player to ever score five for the club in a top division match.

Robson described the match afterwards as "beyond my wildest dreams", and many of the 36,619 supporters probably also left rubbing their eyes in disbelief at what they had just witnessed from their side, who racked up as many goals in one afternoon as they had managed in the previous seven games combined.

Robson went on to take Newcastle back into the Champions League and ensured the Magpies dined at Europe's top table in 2002/03 - somewhere they haven't returned to since. He was sacked two seasons later, and Graeme Souness set about mimicking the work of his former Liverpool teammate Dalglish almost a decade earlier as he dismantled a successful side and turned them into mid-table cloggers.

Kieron Dyer Newcastle

That day in 1999, however, saw Newcastle fans dreaming of the good times returning. In Robson and Shearer the fans saw two of their own, a duo they could believe in - the fact that both now have statues outside St James' Park serves as testament to the impact that each of them had on the club.

Ultimately, however, a trophy remained elusive and that remains the case nearly 20 years on. For the first time since Robson, however, Newcastle now have a truly world-class manager the fans can believe in; the Geordie faithful now hope Rafael Benitez is set for a lengthy and successful spell in the dugout of the like not seen since Robson's departure.

A statue of Sir Bobby Robson unveiled today

Where are they now?

GK - Steve Harper - Now back with Newcastle as an academy goalkeeping coach after retiring from the game in the summer aged 41.

RB - Warren Barton - Works as a television pundit in the US covering the Premier League.

CB - Alain Goma - Ended his playing career in Qatar, last seen working in property development in south-west London.

CB - Aaron Hughes - The only member of the side still to be playing, the Northern Irishman is now turning out for Kerala Blasters in India. Played at the European Championships at the age of 36 in the summer.

LB - Didier Domi - Works as a pundit for beIN Sports in the Middle East having finished his playing career in the MLS.

RM - Nolberto Solano - A cult hero on Tyneside, Solano is now the assistant manager of his native Peru following spells at Hartlepool, Newcastle Benfield and as a trumpet player in his band 'The Geordie Latinos'.

Solano and Speed Newcastle

CM - Gary Speed - Tragically passed away in 2011 after taking his own life aged just 42. The subsequent success of the Welsh national side is in no small part due to Speed's influence from his time in charge.

CM - Rob Lee - Ostracised by Gullit and not given a squad number, Lee was brought back into the fold by Robson. Now works as a pundit and has two sons currently playing professionally.

LM - Kieron Dyer - After a career blighted by injuries, Dyer made a spectacular return to the nation's consciousness by appearing on 'I'm a Celeb' in 2015 and forming an unlikely alliance with Lady C and Chris Eubank. Also involved with coaching Ipswich Town's academy.

CF - Temuri Ketsbaia - The Georgian has forged a successful managerial career and is now in charge of AEK Athens after spells with Anorthosis, Olympiakos and the Georgian national team.

CF - Alan Shearer - Not such a successful managerial career - eight games with Newcastle which ended with the Magpies getting relegated - Shearer is nonetheless a regular on Match of the Day and on the golf course. 

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