“We have not won a domestic trophy in 67 years.” That is the blunt message Eddie Howe had installed on a TV screen at Newcastle United’s training ground upon his arrival on Tyneside. The purpose of such a cruel reminder was to serve as motivation for the Magpies to end their painstaking wait for cup silverware.
Whether that message will remain at the club's Benton base after the 2-0 defeat to Manchester United remains to be seen. But even though Newcastle didn't end the agonising wait for cup success, the players, staff and supporters have enjoyed a weekend that will long in the memory for everyone involved.
In some small way, it was never about the result at Wembley on Sunday. Simply the fact thousands of Geordies were given the chance to travel to the capital was enough. Many of the St James’ Park faithful who flocked down south on Friday, Saturday and Sunday were not even born the last time Newcastle reached a final at the national stadium.
READ MORE: Newcastle United vs Manchester United highlights
Parents with their children, groups of close friends making a weekend of it, veteran fans who were there to witness the many disappointments of yesteryear. Each of them with a new collection of memories to savour after drinking in the occasion at Trafalgar Square, Wembley and everywhere in between.
The scenes witnessed in the capital this weekend were unprecedented. Newcastle's Central Station overflowing on Saturday morning with eager match-goers and those who were simply travelling down to enjoy the festivities without a ticket.
Rewind a mere 12 months. Newcastle, languishing near the relegation zone, could not have dreamed that they were inches away from ending their 24-year wait for a cup final appearance. This was always the plan but much further down the road.
With more investment, time, nurturing, there will be more finals. You can be sure of it. Ever since he stepped foot through the door at Newcastle, the message from Howe has been clear; winning a trophy is extremely high on the agenda.
"I said when I arrived that my dream was to win something for this club,’ said Howe last year. "Without a doubt, that is a huge driver for me and the players.
"You want to leave your mark in a positive way, because Newcastle will live on for many years and you want to be remembered as someone who cared about the club and who left it in a better replace than when you entered."
Focus must now turn to the Premier League and getting their top flight form back on track. A huge task awaits on Saturday against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium.
The Wembley defeat will hurt. It will sting for a good while. But there will be time for a full debrief and an internal investigation.
For now, let us just enjoy the fact Newcastle United are 'back' as CEO Darren Eales told supporters before Sunday's final. There will be more opportunities, more dreams and more chances to drink London dry in the near future.
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