Plymouth rocking to the Magpies title tune
THOUSANDS of Newcastle United supporters celebrated hundreds of miles away in Plymouth last night by holding a title party on the Home Park pitch. With the Magpies' Local Hero anthem booming out of the sound system, almost 2,500 supporters invaded the Devon turf to congratulate Chris Hughton's Championship champions. A 2-0 victory over Plymouth Argyle, courtesy of two goals inside eight first half minutes from Andy Carroll and Wayne Routledge, earned Newcastle the result which guaranteed first place in the promotion race. And now Newcastle will be handed the Championship trophy they last won in 1993 after Saturday's match with Ipswich Town at St James' Park, when a win will take them through the 100-point mark. Last night, however, it was not about what was around the corner, it was the celebration of making sure that one of the most supported clubs in the country will be heading out of the second tier of English football as champions. And didn't the Newcastle fans show it. Hughton said: It's an incredibly proud moment for me, it's been a long and tough season but nights like that make it worthwhile. It's a very strange thing to say but winning the title is almost as important as going up. Because of where we have been all season it would have been a major disappointment in that dressing room if we had not gone on to win it. I couldn't be any prouder than I feel right now but it's not about achievement from me, it's about a group of lads who set their stall out from day one to get promoted. That win summed us up. We always wanted to win at the first opportunity and it was great to do it in front of a fantastic support at Plymouth. Now we're looking forward to going back to St James' Park in front of all of our fans and celebrating with them. If we can do that, and win the game, we will have achieved our last two aims getting over the 100-point mark and finishing the season unbeaten at home. If Newcastle can avoid defeat against Ipswich they will have gone undefeated on home soil for the first time in 103 years; a indication of just how successfully they have adapted to life outside the Premier League. It also represents an enormous turnaround to the fallout from 11 months ago, when relegation from the top-flight was followed by a tense preseason in which owner Mike Ashley tried to sell the club and reduce the wage bill significantly. Now, with Ashley still at the helm, Newcastle are planning for the big league again and Hughton was grateful to Plymouth, who allowed Newcastle to party despite a defeat that confirmed the Pilgrims' relegation to League One. It's a proper football club and that showed us. We were made to feel very welcome by them we had a couple of tough battles with them in the FA Cup, said Hughton. We certainly wish them all the best in their remaining games and for next season. Hughton, meanwhile, revealed he will assess the condition of midfielder Kevin Nolan, who was sick during the first period and at halftime last night but played until the 71st minute. He was OK before the game but he wasn't very well he was sick in the first half and at half time, he said. I think he was alright after the game when we were celebrating! But no, he wasn't well. It was typical of Kevin that he played on, he's a real man and a great individual that has done fantastic for us. United will give fitness tests to Jonas Gutierrez, who missed the game with a thigh injury, and Fitz Hall, who was taken off in the second half.
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