Thousands of Newcastle fans have descended on Milan to watch their side end their decade-long European exile with a mouth-watering Champions League clash at the San Siro this evening.
The Magpies haven't been in Europe's premier club competition in nearly 20 years and have been starved of mid-week continental action since their 2012/13 Europa League campaign, which ended in a quarter-final defeat to Benfica.
Highlights of the run included wins over Club Brugge, Bordeaux and Anzhi 'filthy rich at the time' Makhachkala, and the entertainment wasn't limited to in-game action either, with two separate matches being halted by Newcastle-supporting streakers – resulting in UEFA slapping the club with a stonking great fine.
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21-year-old Steven Arkle pranced his way out onto the pitch during Newcastle's qualifying round tie with Greek side Atromitos, and even stopped for naked a chat with Toon defender Danny Simpson, while 35-year-old John Parkinson rushed the pitch against Bordeaux wearing nothing more than an England shirt and a single sock.
Both Arkle and Parkinson later appeared in court and were charged £300 and £500 respectively for their crimes, though Newcastle were left with a £13,000 bill for 'failing to control their supporters' and even considered suing the pair in the aftermath.
Will we see any streakers tonight? Let us know in the comments section below.
Speaking in court, Arkle explained his actions, insisting he ran onto the pitch because Newcastle were playing badly: "The lads weren’t doing very well – I did it for the lads. I love the Toon and I’ve been supporting them since I was young. They should have chased me."
Parkinson on the other hand was a little more remorseful, telling the court: "It was totally out of character for myself. It’s shocked family and friends … it won't happen again, it was a moment of madness."
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Newcastle have had a decent amount of success in Europe in the 21st Century, despite the long periods of absence. They reached the third round of the UEFA Cup in 2000, the quarter-finals in 2005 and the semi-finals in 2004, while their 2002/03 Champions League campaign ended in the second group stage after they finished third in a 'group of death' consisting of Barcelona, Inter Milan and Bayer Leverkusen.
Another 'group of death' awaits them this season, with clashes against Milan, PSG and Dortmund to come. But something tells me the Newcastle faithful wouldn't have wanted it any other way.
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