No time for all this weeping and wailing

Nick Donaldson is grateful for the memories but says it was time to go
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The Independent Online
Saturday morning wasn't so different from the countless others which had preceded it. The world still spun, the sun still rose and Newcastle United still had a football match to play. This meant that I still had a wife that could not see the sense in me spending another match day away from my loved ones.

The train journey to Birmingham was as full of optimism and drink-fuelled laughter as any pre-match trip. It is quite rare that we share the same opinion on events at Newcastle, arguing over everything from the sale of Andy Cole to what colour is best for an away shirt, but on Keegan's departure we found ourselves agreeing.

There was surprise and sadness at Keegan's resignation, the phone lines between us humming for most of the week. But not to the weeping and wailing extent that had been in the press. That had annoyed us. "The same buggers who cried for Sky TV last season man," said Pete. Twed, a man who, if cut, would bleed black and white, had driven his van past St James' on Wednesday and berated the football-shirted youngsters posing, head in hands, for the benefit of photographers.

Quietly we had begun to question Keegan's judgement. The Arsenal game was a pivotal point, Arsene Wenger's 10 men controlling the game with a disciplined, well-drilled plan which was completely beyond a clueless Newcastle.

The feeling was growing that perhaps Keegan had taken the club as far as he could and that last step towards actually winning something may have been beyond him. The talk in the pub had been that, yes, the last five years had been the best we had ever had and for that, we can thank Kevin Keegan. But our chances of winning the Premiership are better than they were this time last week.

The shockingly normal atmosphere at Villa Park bore this out. The first half was a tribute concert. Old Keegan songs rang out, but as the match progressed "Walking In A Keegan Wonderland" turned into "Peter Reid Has Got a Monkey Heed", which in turn led to "Terry Mac's Black And White Army".

This isn't to say we all want the permed one to be manager, it's just that whoever does the job will get the support. As someone said: "Christianity didn't die with Jeezas, ya knaa". That particular club was taken forward by a man called Peter. I wonder if he had a monkey's heed?

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