Newcastle and West Brom fans remember Sir Bobby Robson

Mick Lowes has long been the voice of the Magpies on BBC Radio Newcastle, and every fortnight he writes an exclusive blog for nufc.co.uk. Here he touches upon the links between Newcastle and West Brom and explains why both clubs have proved to be Premier League pioneers...

On paper, West Bromwich Albion v Newcastle United doesn't look like one of the standout fixtures in the calendar but if you look at recent meetings between the sides there are in fact some interesting parallels between the two.

Both were in the Championship together a couple of years ago, vying to win promotion; then there's the Sir Bobby Robson connection and one or two firsts and lasts, so it's actually quite an interesting fixture.

It seems so long ago already since Alan Pardew took over the reigns but you have to remember that Chris Hughton's first game in charge of Newcastle United - proper - was against West Brom, and his last game as the Magpies' manager was against the same team at the Hawthorns last season.

And of course, he famously had to take the reigns one afternoon in the West Midlands when Joe Kinnear had fallen ill overnight and was rushed to hospital. So for one popular figure of the club's recent past, fixtures against the Baggies were particularly pertinent.

For another, Sir Bobby Robson, there was also a big link. He played for Albion between 1956 to 1962 and on the opening game of the 2009/10 season, shortly after his death, there was an absolutely fantastic atmosphere at the Hawthorns and an afternoon of remembering the great man from both West Brom and Newcastle supporters.

I remember the likes of Don Howe, Derek Kevan and Graham Williams, all great servants to West Bromwich Albion, being there to pay their respects to the late Sir Bobby and Newcastle's players doing likewise.

On that same day, we saw a star born in Tim Krul, who made his league debut for the club when he came on at half-time for the injured Steve Harper and had an absolutely wonderful game.

Later that season, there was an even better game on Tyneside which ended 2-2 and anybody who was there that night knew that they had seen the two best football teams in the division that year and that, given a fair wind, they'd probably hold their own in the Premier League the following year - and that's exactly what happened.

And of course, on the final day of last season there was an incredible 3-3 draw at St. James' Park, with a last-minute equaliser from Somen Tchoyi whose hat-trick led to Newcastle slipping major places in the table and cost them a great deal of money in the process, as well as preventing them from finishing as the North-East's top dogs.

So even though it looks like a plain Jane game, there are all sorts of reasons, some stranger than others, to put a ring in your diary around the West Brom fixture. It has thrown up plenty of talking points in the last few years.

In players like Chris Brunt, Jerome Thomas and Peter Odemwingie, they have good players and they're a very well-run club from a financial point of view, so there are still parallels with Newcastle even now.

And there is an argument that what Newcastle and West Brom have done over the last two years has set the yardstick for Norwich and Swansea this time around. They have both came up this season and both played the game properly, and as we saw from Norwich last weekend, haven't been overawed by the Premier League.

Maybe Newcastle and West Brom set that trend two years ago and now the likes of Swansea and Norwich don't come up to the top flight and get afraid about it. They now try to give it ago, and I think in 2009/10 the Magpies and the Baggies not only did a lot of good for themselves, but probably also for a lot of other football clubs as well.

Having said all that, I was pleased to see Norwich lose at Gallowgate last weekend because United needed that win. I said to Alan Pardew before the game 'must-win sounds a little strong,' but I must admit that I and an awful lot of supporters went to the match believing it was as close as close could be to a must-win game. And I think the manager knew that, and set out his team accordingly.

He wanted to win that game at all costs because he knew those three points were absolutely vital. In the run-in they could prove to be as decisive as any points all season.

Papiss Cisse got the goal and it was more evidence of what a good player he is. I heard somebody in midweek liken him to Andy Cole for the way that he seems to be an instinctive finisher, that he reacts that much quicker than anybody else to the chances that he gets, and there's certainly plenty about Cisse to admire.

I like the way he plays with a smile on his face, I like his workrate and long may he continue to score goals for Newcastle United because he could barely have wished for a better start.

But of course, last weekend was overshadowed by the collapse of Fabrice Muamba during Bolton's FA Cup tie at Tottenham. However, the great thing has been the fact that the football family has managed to put aside its differences and rivalries and just pull together for one cause and for one man.

It has been amazing to see the way players and supporters from all over the world have allowed Muamba to feel the love of the football community; little things like the Sunderland team bus pulling up at Bolton and the t-shirts worn by sides like Real Madrid just go to show that it was an event that put football into perspective.

Football is just a game. Life and death is much more serious than that and I'm sure everybody at Newcastle's best wishes go out to Fabrice Muamba, whose condition appears to be improving by the day and long may that continue.