Just when it seemed that Graeme Souness might be in danger of lapsing into the past tense at St James' Park, it was his captain and - for the time being, at least - his saviour who was history.
With a stab of his right boot in the goalmouth at the Gallowgate End, where he used to stand and worship Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer dispersed 80 minutes of mounting resentment against his manager, broke Mansfield Town's highly spirited FA Cup challenge, and joined Jackie Milburn as the all-time record goalscorer for Newcastle United - if, that is, you ignore the 38 goals that Wor Jackie bagged in war-time football after joining the black-and-whites for a £10 signing-on fee and giving his mother half of it to spend on a new dress.
Ten years after Keegan signed him for £15m from Blackburn, Shearer had his 200th goal for his home-town club, dedicating it to his watching mother, Anne, on the eve of her 60th birthday.
The veteran striker has carried his goals to Newcastle but, unlike Milburn, a three-times FA Cup winner with the Magpies in the 1950s, he has yet to bring a trophy back to Tyneside.
Just five more wins in this season's FA Cup and the 35-year-old would have some silverware to parade at his farewell party come May. "Hey, stranger things have happened," Souness mused. Not that the Toon Army will hold their breath about the prospect of glimpsing a trophy tied up in black and white ribbons.
Having seen their team largely outplayed and outfought by a team standing 88th in the pecking order of English football, they will be more expectant of sighting a squadron of porkers over the Tyne. Then again, "The flying pig" - as Kevin Pressman was cruelly christened in his Premiership days - was in airborne action at St James' yesterday.
Not that the 38-year-old had as much to do as he had for Sheffield Wednesday in an 8-0 defeat on the same ground in 1999. Shearer hit five past Pressman that afternoon. But the one he managed yesterday might just have saved his manager's bacon.
"My first reaction was relief that we'd got through," Shearer said. "It's an honour to be up there with a great name like Jackie Milburn. I was brought here for £15m to score goals but never in a million years did I think I'd be up there with Jackie.
"Unfortunately, I never met him but I have met his family. He was a man of the people and no one has a bad word to say about him. It has to be right up there with everything else I've achieved - and to do it here, in the FA Cup, which meant so much to Jackie, and at St James' Park, at the Gallowgate End, in front of my family... It's my mother's 60th birthday tomorrow."
It was an indictment of Newcastle's stuttering play yesterday that it took them 75 minutes to test Pressman seriously. Until Michael Chopra had a first-time shot brilliantly parried, the goalmouth action was restricted to the other end, where Alan Russell and Adam Rundle drew fine diving saves from Shay Given.
The Toon Army were getting restless, jeering when the Mansfield fans chanted: "There's only one Graeme Souness".
Then, with 10 minutes left, Nolberto Solano slid the ball into the Mansfield box, Albert Luque back-heeled it and Shearer cocked the trigger of his right foot. The rest is already history.Reuse content