As the season winds to a close we thought it best to check in on our lovable mascots and see if any light can be shed on the current stuttering form from the pages of Delilah's diary. When we last checked in with the oversized feline's life was good, O'Neill had just been installed as manager, Samson had become something of a Bond Villain's pet, spending his days perched awkwardly on the bosses' lap and morale was upbeat around the training ground.
So what have our furry friends been up to in the meantime?
The turn of the year was one full of optimism and hope, well not in Samson's case, it was one shared with Jon Stead, the toilet bowl and the groans that can only be the result of a New Years Eve bender that Andy Carroll would be proud of. Samson was greeted by a knowing shake of the head from Mr. O'Neill as he stumbled into the Stadium ahead of the visit of Manchester City and was directed to the away dressing room's stalls to further exorcise his shame. "You're a genius gaffer" mumbled Samson as he proceeded to heave up some disturbing substances
across the visiting team's bathroom. Mr. O'Neill's mind games seemed to work, as the lads put in a brilliant performance rounded of with a goal from the silent one.
The poor lad returned to the dressing room shell-shocked following his last minute winner and if you think the kiss he received from the stands was bad, it wasn't nothing compared to Samson's amorous post match display towards the young Korean. So much so that we received a long distance call from Ji's mother the next day to inform us their son was "ill" and wouldn't be in for training, poor lad.
The training ground was bouncing in February and Samson was gripped with Cup Fever. It was nice to see him happy for once. The turnaround in his mood since Mr. O'Neill's arrival has been staggering. Gone are the boozy, hate filled Saturday nights locked in the boot room with Jon Stead, replaced by refined Saturday evenings sat in the bosses' office, the pair in matching smoking jackets, a bottle of red to accompany a fine cheese board whilst laughing the night away watching Match of the Day and Lawrenson's shirts.
You can therefore imagine the scenes following the 2-0 win over Arsenal in the Fifth Round. Sam was as happy as a Mag at a Sports Direct half-price sale. "We NEED a cup song" he declared. Hoping it was nothing more than excitable nonsense whilst caught up in the euphoria of the win I simply smiled and replied with a "that would be nice dear", little did I know how serious he was.
Mr. O'Neill was furious on Monday morning. Fraizer, Marcos and Ahmed had all disappeared from training. I then realised that Samson had been away for a while as well, and then it dawned on me, he wasn't joking about that bloody cup song. I eventually tracked the "group" down to one of the storage rooms at the Academy, or as Samson had scrawled across the door in marker pen "Recording Studio".
What was even more disconcerting was the level of effort the boys were putting in, well apart from Elmohamady who looked completely bewildered but at the same time happy to be considered for a role at the club rather than just collecting the cones and bibs. The lads sharp made tracks however when I informed them of the boss' mood,
whilst Samson exclaimed that I could explain to Mr. Cowell why the single would be late.
Sam's mood took a turn for the worse going in to March. Don't get me wrong, I get as nervous as anyone ahead of the Derby but Sam takes it to another level. It doesn't help matters that Newcastle refuse to revoke his lifetime ban he received many moons ago for failing to use the litter tray provided in the St. James' board room. In fact Sam
locked himself away in the boot room on the Friday morning, along with Marcos who has taken quite a shine to Sam since they formed their boyband. Actually the Argentine has taken his new career a little too seriously; I've even caught him adding the lads to the posters for the summer gigs as a headlining act. I could barely hear the game over the crashes and bangs from the boot room during the game as Samson kicked every ball and threw himself
into every challenge along with the lads. If you were wondering how Marcos is permanently injured, now you know.
The Argentine was pleading for mercy by the time Sessegnon had seen red and had to escape via the window following Ameobi's last minute equaliser exclaiming he was quitting the band and going solo. The inevitable
silence from Sam following the game was only broken by the unmistakable pop as he cracked open beer after beer. It was going to be one of those nights.
As the team were unceremoniously dumped out of the FA Cup, Samson's dreams of Wembley and success in the charts were dashed. It was probably just as well as tensions in the "Band" were running high as they squabbled over who would be the front man. Fraizer and Marcos decided to go solo and having simply been left with Elmohamady and his tambourine, Samson decided to shelve his dreams of pop stardom till the next cup run.
Mr. O'Neill was in a terrible mood throughout April as he tried to motivate the lads for the remaining fixtures. Matters weren't helped by the fact that the majority of the squad were turning up to the training ground in Hawaiian shirts, sandals and sombreros with stacks of holiday brochures scattered around the dressing room.
Try as he might O'Neill was more often than not only joined by Jack Colback in the rain on the training field as the other lads frolicked in the swimming pool with Wham's Club Tropicana on Lee Cattermole's mix-tape. The joke may be on them however as the gaffer slowly patrolled the pool, clipboard in hand drawing up his hit list for the summer.