Steve Bruce is determined to take Newcastle back to Wembley in the Carabao Cup 44 years after watching them lose there to Manchester City as a ball-boy.
The then teenager was one of six members of the Newcastle Schools’ squad chosen to sit on the touchline for the 1976 League Cup final, and could only look on in despair as Sunderland old boy Dennis Tueart fired City to a 2-1 victory in acrobatic style after Alan Gowling had equalised.
Asked if he had been there that day, 58-year-old Bruce said: “I was there, yes. I was a ball boy, I think, at Wembley.
“I was selected. I was with Newcastle Schools’ and there were six of us drawn out of a hat, and I was one of them.
“It was not a happy time, I have to tell you, when he did that. It was a great goal, mind you, but I wasn’t very happy at the time.”
The Magpies have been back to Wembley since, most notably for the 1998 and 1999 FA Cup finals, but they are without a major trophy since 1969 and have not claimed a domestic prize since 1955.
In recent years, the club has made no bones about its focus on the Premier League, but Bruce has insisted since his arrival in July that the cup competitions would be high on the agenda once again.
He said: “The cup competitions for any Premier League team – I learned this a few years ago – you only have to win four or five games to get there.
“We saw Watford get to the FA Cup final last year. It is something we will take seriously, so let’s see if we can get through.
“If Hull is capable of getting to a final and maintaining its Premier League status, then a club like this can too, surely?”
However, Bruce could be forced to make changes with six players – Jamaal Lascelles, Fabian Schar, Allan Saint-Maximin, Christian Atsu, Miguel Almiron and Joelinton – having emerged from Sunday’s bruising 1-0 win at Tottenham with injuries.