Five Great Escapes to inspire Newcastle and Sunderland
There are very few footballing matters which Newcastle and Sunderland fans can agree on, but a shared desire to make sure the north-east is represented in next season’s Premier League is one of them.
Both Tyneside and Wearside are facing the prospect of the dreaded drop, with these two regional giants currently occupying the remaining two relegation spots following the end of Aston Villa’s top-flight hopes.
The mood at St. James’ Park and the Stadium of Light is, however, rather more optimistic after 3-0 wins apiece last weekend, with Newcastle also taking a point from Manchester City last night.
And these five memorable escapes will give hope to two sides looking to preserve their status at the top table of English football.
Fulham (Premier League, 2007-08)
Following just two wins from their first 24 league games, and without a first top-flight away win in well over a year, Roy Hodgson’s charges suddenly came to life in the final weeks.
The Cottagers seemed destined for the Championship with an hour gone on matchday 36. 2-0 down at Manchester City, they produced a stunning comeback, with Diomansy Kamara scoring twice to secure a sensational 3-2 win.
Brian McBride and ex-Man United striker Erik Nevland were at the double in a 2-0 victory over Birmingham, before a 1-0 win at Fratton Park on the final day secured the west London club’s Premier League safety, with Reading and Birmingham dropping down instead.
Carlisle United (Division Three, 1998-99)
Before the final day of the 1998-99 season, Jimmy Glass was a journeyman keeper sent out on loan by Division One side Swindon Town. He ended May 8 1999 as a hero of football folklore, the answer to a popular pub quiz question, and as the toast of Carlisle.
Going into the season’s last fixture, Carlisle United needed to beat Plymouth and hope that Scarborough failed to beat Peterborough.
The Posh kept their end of the bargain by taking a point against the north Yorkshire club, but the Cumbrians were also level heading into injury time.
Step forward on-loan ‘keeper Glass, who powered home a lethal close-range shot from a corner, to keep United in the Football League and spark an instant pitch invasion at Brunton Park. One suspects he’s never had to pay for a pint in Carlisle since.
Northampton Town (League Two, 2013-14)
The Cobblers have breezed through League Two this season, securing their place as Champions before any other Football League side has even had chance to ensure a mere promotion. But rewind two seasons, and things were looking drastically different for the Northants club.
Seemingly headed for the Football League trapdoor, the Cobblers suddenly hit form as April dawned, with the threat of their 92-year stay in the Football League ending.
Striking prodigy Ivan Toney (now on Newcastle’s books) netted twice in a 3-0 rout of Dagenham and Redbridge, which followed narrow wins against Accrington Stanley and Burton.
Those three wins in five games boosted the club’s chances of safety, and a 3-1 win over Oxford – combined with Bristol Rovers’ defeat to Mansfield – secured their fourth-tier status. Phew.
West Brom (Premier League, 2004-05)
Bryan Robson captained England 65 times, and won two Premier League titles as a Manchester United player – but arguably his most famous and impressive feat came in the Hawthorns dugout.
Bottom at Christmas, bottom as the final day dawned, and still bottom of the table at 4:41pm on that afternoon, West Bromwich Albion’s survival defied logic, and brought delight to the Baggies faithful packed into The Hawthorns.
Albion did their bit with a 2-0 victory over Portsmouth, but had to hope three other results went their way, to ensure Premier League survival. Incredibly, they did. Charlton, Crystal Palace and Norwich all failed to get their desired results, securing an incredible climax to the season for Robson and his charges.
Everton (Premier League, 1993-94)
While most of the above sides had difficult starts to their survival season, only to recover – Everton reached their final-day joy by a rather different path.
The Toffees were sitting pretty after winning their opening three Premiership (as it was then) games, and occupied mid-table in mid-December, before the replacement of fan-favourite Howard Kendall with ex-Norwich boss Mike Walker heralded a disastrous run of results.
Having slumped and slumped, the Toffees needed a final-day win over Wimbledon to ensure they would be playing in the top-flight the following season. Graeme Stuart struck twice, with Barry Horne grabbing the other in a 3-2 win.
Everton went on to win the FA Cup the following season, and avoid the relegation battle altogether. Newcastle and Sunderland fans will be hoping for a similar fate.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.