Newcastle's first friendly of the season at Darlington was marred when several hundred supporters invaded the pitch following a Sammy Ameobi goal in the 54th minute. Ameobi, the younger brother of Toon mainstay Shola Ameobi, had just been substituted into the game two minutes prior, and according to Lee Ryder, the fans were chanting his name:
It's a funny chant, to be sure, but not one that should be followed up on, especially not in a preseason friendly. The announced attendance for the match was
9,731 9,721, just below the allowed capacity at The Northern Echo Arena, with an estimated 7,000 6,183 of them being Newcastle fans. (Thanks to johnjmurphy17 for straightening out the numbers for me.) The Darlington supporters, outnumbered and watching their pitch being swarmed, understandably reacted in a less than positive way. Lee Ryder has more on the events:
So to sum up. Sammy scored, they went on the pitch. The Darlo fans joined them. Then there were a couple of fights. The Toon fans returned to their seats. Some of the Darlo fans followed. Then it kicked off again,
Then the players were told to leave the field with the ref signalling the game was over. Barton and Smith tried to clear the pitch. Then Pardew and Carver went over to Newcastle fans to ask for calm.
Apparently, the referee actually called for an abandonment of the match, but to their credit, Alan Pardew and John Carver were able to restore order and the rest of the match was played.
More on the pitch invasion, as well as the match itself, after the jump.Yes, the two sides did play football as well. The final score was 2-0 to Newcastle. Sammy Ameobi scored the second goal, as mentioned, by all accounts a rocket off of his left foot. Hatem Ben Arfa, Yohan Cabaye, and Haris Vuckic (!) were all given glowing reviews, and Forster earned a clean sheet, though he was hardly tested. In the bad news department, Danny Guthrie and Shane Ferguson both received injuries, though neither seemed serious. Joey Barton tallied the first in the second minute, assisted by a Leon Best header. The goal prompted the away end to sing about Ashley signing Barton to an extension. Unfortunately, that won't be the most memorable chant from today's events.
And that's the shame of it, needless buffoonery aside: We were expecting to be able to talk about football for the first time in a while, but instead we've got more off-the-field shenanigans to worry about, all because a small segment of the fanbase can't hold their beer or understand the difference between a joke and real life.
I don't think I can say this strongly enough: The fans that ran onto the pitch are what Joey Barton would call "helmets." Did they really think singing about disrupting the match gave them license to do so? What good has ever come from a pitch invasion? It's certainly not going to impress the new players, who must have been wondering what they had gotten themselves into. Most of the time, when Newcastle is the butt of jokes, it's Mike Ashley's fault, and we can explain it away by saying that he's not a true Geordie or something similar. Now, when a player joins the side and says it's because Hatem Ben Arfa told him how great the supporters are, we've all got to be skeptical. Mike Ashley didn't do this. The Toon Army did. This day was supposed to be a celebration - the return of football to Newcastle for a new year. Instead, it's an embarrassment.