A knight's big reunion day is talk of the Toon

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It was announced on Thursday that St James' Park had been chosen as the setting for a Hollywood film directed by Michael Winterton, the man behind the celluloid adaption of Jude the Obscure. Apparently, Goal! will tell the story of an American Latino who comes to England to play in the Premiership - a sort of Julio Geordio meets the Likely Lads. Cameo roles for Sir Bobby Robson and Alan Shearer have been mooted. And Craig Bellamy could always be in charge of shifting the director's chair.

It was announced on Thursday that St James' Park had been chosen as the setting for a Hollywood film directed by Michael Winterton, the man behind the celluloid adaption of Jude the Obscure. Apparently, Goal! will tell the story of an American Latino who comes to England to play in the Premiership - a sort of Julio Geordio meets the Likely Lads. Cameo roles for Sir Bobby Robson and Alan Shearer have been mooted. And Craig Bellamy could always be in charge of shifting the director's chair.

Every week for Newcastle United is a living soap opera, if not quite a full-blown blockbuster. Toon the Obscure, they could call it. Last week's episode was typical.

It began with the (alleged) chair-throwing incident at Newcastle Airport, with the prickly Bellamy and the first-team coach John Carver reportedly squaring up to one another before the flight to Palma for the second leg of Newcastle's Uefa Cup fourth-round tie against Real Mallorca. "What may or may not have happened at Newcastle Airport happens every day in the school yard," Freddy Shepherd said, conjuring the image of Bellamy and Carver in shorts and blazers, squabbling over the outcome of a conker match. "We are all hommes du monde," the Newcastle chairman added.

Newcastle's manager happens to be un chevalier du monde and the bold knight deemed it less than chivalrous that the matter should have made the back page of The Sun on Wednesday morning. "If anyone can tell me how they found out about it, I will do a deal and I will discuss it," a tetchy Sir Bobby offered at his eve-of-match press conference. There were no takers and the subject was dropped.

The subject of Sir Bobby's future with Newcastle was raised, though, with confirmation that he had signed a one-year extention to his contract, despite lingering tension behind the scenes at St James'. It also emerged that Newcastle's defeat against Partizan Belgrade in the final qualifying round for the Champions' League had led to a drop in club profits of £7.4m, and that Alan Shearer had paid just £100,000 less than that fortune to move house, four doors down the same street at Darras Hall.

On Thursday night the game itself was as dull as the Mallorcan weather. It took the brilliance of Bellamy to enliven the occasion, the Welsh greyhound springing from the traps of the substitutes' bench to put Newcastle 2-0 up. With a brace from Shearer, and some glorious Shay Given saves, it was 3-0 at the final-whistle and 7-1 on aggregate.

Sir Bobby was left contemplating a quarter-final tie against one of his former clubs, PSV Eindhoven - with their South Korean hero, Guus Hiddink; their Chelsea-bound winger, Arjan Robben; their Tottenham target, Mark van Bommel; their Serbian goal-poacher, Mateja Kezman; and their giant-sized, giant-named target man, Jan Vennegoor of Hesselink. "It's marvellous how football throws up these equations," the Newcastle manager said. "I had three great years there. Fantastic club. Lovely people. I'm looking forward to going back. Let's hope we can knock them out."

First, though, comes a trip to Bolton this afternoon and the quest to qualify for next season's Champions' League qualifying round. The Magpies have spread their wings impressively in Europe this season, with four wins and a draw on their travels, but they have not won away in the Premiership since October. Still, if anyone can inspire them, the bold Sir Bobby is the man.

"Everyone is writing him off at 71," Mick Quinn remarked in the Setanta sports channel studio on Thursday night, "but Des O'Connor is 72 and he's having a baby." Now, that would be stretching it a bit too far, even for Toon the Obscure: the sight of the crooning Des, one-time Northampton Town reserve, actually giving birth.

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