As Newcastle United supporters continue to debate the significance of Wednesday night's 5-1 defeat at the hands of Birmingham City, the search is on for the unfortunate centenarian who can clearly recall each of the Magpies' most humiliating FA Cup capitulations at St James' Park.
Only then can the true scale of a shocking result be measured. In 1914, a 5-0 third-round home defeat at the hands of Sheffield United caused upset and consternation in equal measure. Ten thousand fewer fans attended Newcastle's next home game and four weeks passed before the club celebrated a victory.
Fast forward 93 years and it would appear the Magpies stand on the cusp of a fresh crisis. Wednesday's 26,099 gate will be boosted by 25,000 when West Ham United visit St James' Park tomorrow but season ticket sales hide the mood of dissatisfaction. The Newcastle manager, Glenn Roeder, cannot allow history to repeat itself after overseeing the club's most crushing Cup defeat of the modern era.
After encouraging Premiership results against Manchester United and Tottenham Hostpur earlier this month, the optimists would suggest defeat against Birmingham was a blip. The realists insist injury-ravaged Newcastle, reliant on inexperienced youth, were fortunate to escape embarrassing drubbings in each of those League fixtures and that the City debacle was a disaster waiting to happen.
"Wednesday wasn't a game too far for the young players but it was a hell of a learning curve," said Roeder, who stands accused of indecision in the transfer market. "But it doesn't change our transfer plans. To let one lack of a performance change what my plans are over the next two weeks would be stupid.
"What it does, it reinforces the importance of being able to fulfil what my plans are over the next two weeks and we have four or five senior players back over that period. By the time the window shuts I am expecting to have four or five available and that will make a big difference."
Roeder is mooted to have a £10m transfer budget at his disposal with defenders his obvious priority. Manchester United's Gabriel Heinze and Birmingham's Matthew Upson are the higher profile targets being discussed at the top level but Newcastle are hardly an attractive prospect for potential employees. The Uefa Cup represents the club's only hope of success in 2007 - without it the Magpies' season would, effectively, be over. After Wednesday night many Newcastle supporters believe it already is.Reuse content