Every match day Kath Cassidy lays out her treasured framed photographs at the home of the Magpies next to the collection of cups – the ceramic and polystyrene beverage containers that can be found on a bench in the corner of the press room.
There's one of Jackie Milburn, Kath's favourite from 43 years of serving the pen-pushing fraternity at St James' ("Wor Jackie" followed Newcastle United for the News of the World after bringing silverware to the club with his goals in the 1950s). There are also snapshots of Kevin Keegan and Alan Shearer. Now there's one of Alan Pardew, too.
For many on Tyneside the manager installed by Mike Ashley 10 months ago will never be their cup of the stuff that was brought to these shores by the Northumbrian whose statue stands in the centre of Toon, the Second Earl Grey. Bit by bit, though – win by win – there are signs that the Geordie nation is starting to warm to the one-time glazier from South London. Indeed, as his team of grafters dug a victory from the jaws of a disjointed performance on Saturday, the Toon Army even chanted his name. It was a changing of the guard moment, the first airing of "Alan Pardew's Black and White Army".
"Of course it's nice," Pardew reflected. "This is a hard public to please. For that to happen to me is just a nice personal thing – no more than that. I'm so pleased for the players tonight because that was a game we'll look back on and go: 'Well, that was a fortunate one. Just make sure we don't get ourselves in that position again'."
It was indeed a fortunate one for Pardew's players. For much of the afternoon they were second best to a Wigan side for whom Albert Crusat was a pint-sized totemic symbol, the 5ft 5in Catalan winger making up for his lack of height with a surfeit of dynamism. They would have been a goal behind at the break had Tim Krul not produced a stunning reflex save to deny Wigan's other influential wide boy, the outstanding Victor Moses.
As it was, the Magpies not only managed to save their wings from being clipped but emerged victorious courtesy of a fine right-footed finish nine minutes from time from one of their French midfielders, Yohan Cabaye. They remain fourth, unbeaten in 10 league and cup matches, and head to Blackburn for a Carling Cup tie tomorrow night on a rising tide of expectation.
"I think the excitement is understandable," Pardew said. "There's nothing we can do about that. All we can do is go to the next game and try and win.
"These games are really hard to win in the Premier League. In Spain and Italy and France you get games in which you can just roll teams over but you just can't here. It just doesn't happen. If I was Roberto Martinez I'd be very disappointed I didn't get something out of this game."
Booked: Newcastle Cabaye, Best, Simpson. Wigan Jones, Figueroa
Man of the match Moses
Referee N Swarbrick (Preston)
Attendance 48, 321.
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