Thursday, 20 September 2007

Seasons In The Sun

Here is a flashback to a memorable game at Newcastle in 2000. Harry Redknapp was down to the bare bones and was forced to give debuts to both Michael Carrick and Shaun Byrne. Trevor Sinclair operated as a lone striker, Igor Stimac hit his first ever West Ham goal and the Irons rescued an improbable point from the jaws of defeat. To leaven the joy, iniquitous Irish gobshites Westlife were number one in the charts with I Have A Dream/Seasons In the Sun.

Hammers hand Robson a youthful lesson
By David Hopps

Newcastle United 2 West Ham United 2 (January 03, 2000)

Nikos Dabizas may have had the honour of registering Newcastle United's first goal of the 21st century, but by the end all the attention was being lavished upon the nearest thing football has to a bunch of millennium babies.

West Ham, with 10 senior players injured, fielded three of last season's Youth Cup winning side, with another three staring starry-eyed from the bench. All this talk of a new era of youthful opportunity has clearly had an uplifting effect, for the Hammers scored twice in the last five minutes to steal a point that had seemed beyond them.

Nobody could have complained had Newcastle, with 15 minutes remaining, gone three ahead, when Kevin Gallacher, still without a goal for the club, responded in disbelief as Shaka Hislop turned aside his ferocious drive.

"Shaka has been an unbelievable free transfer," said West Ham's manager Harry Redknapp and as it was Newcastle from whence he came, the reminder was hard to bear.

Newcastle, perhaps crucially, had lost Rob Lee to a thigh injury soon after half-time. His replacement, Jose Antunes, is the sort who cannot make up his mind about his name or allegiance, being known as Fumaca in various other loan deals around the country.

Neither could he decide whether to mark Frank Lampard, who with great deliberation stroked a 25-yard shot wide of Steve Harper and in off the left post.

Newcastle were equally slack for West Ham's equaliser three minutes from time. Joe Cole, who had coped maturely with an unfamiliar role just behind a lone striker, Trevor Sinclair, was fouled 30 yards from goal. From Sinclair's free kick, Igor Stimac was left unmarked to head his first goal for West Ham.

"The kids did great," said Redknapp. "I was going to bring on a 16-year-old - Jermaine Defoe - as well but he's probably got school in the morning."

Talk of all these West Ham youngsters is a particular embarrassment for Newcastle. Successive managers showed disregard for youth development in one of the most fertile breeding grounds in the land and Bobby Robson has been left to address such stupidity. His recovery has been based on sound principles and seemed set to continue when Dabizas shot past Hislop, who was still reeling from Alan Shearer's challenge for Alessandro Pistone's hanging cross.

All thoughts of a West Ham recovery seemed to evaporate by the mid-point of the second half. First Harper dashed across his line to save brilliantly from Marc Keller after Sinclair had outfoxed Pistone. Then Newcastle scored a second. Solano jinked infield from the right and his low cross was met by Gary Speed's perfectly executed volley.

Newcastle, with victory seeming assured, then fell asleep. Well, it's been an exhausting week and only a bunch of teenagers would be too insouciant to realise it.

West Ham United: Shaka Hislop- Steve Potts, Rio Ferdiand, Igor Stimac, Scott Minto- Michael Carrick, Marc Vivien Foe, Frank Lampard, Marc Keller (Shaun Byrne 79), Joe Cole- Trevor Sinclair

Unused: Craig Forrest, Jermain Defoe, Ezomo Iriekpen, Adam Newton

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