It may seem like a distant memory now, but Dwight Devon Boyd Gayle – or, Dwight Goal, if you please – was once a Newcastle United number 9.
With a paltry 11 goals for the Magpies over the past five years, it’s easy to forget that he was once a bit of a goal machine.
Gayle served Newcastle incredibly well during his first two seasons; initially playing the role of talisman as we achieved promotion from the Championship, and then nobly ploughing a pretty lonely furrow up front when we consolidated our position in the Premier League.
He’s never been a world-beater but you’d better believe he’s scored some important goals for this club. So as he now departs, we take a look back at ten of his best efforts for NUFC.
Not necessarily renowned for his heading ability, first up on our list is the bullet header against West Brom, which happened during the soulless behind closed doors season.
Connecting with a delightfully whipped cross from Jacob Murphy, Gayle met the ball with a vicious header which beat the goalie. Perhaps a little bittersweet for our man, who’d enjoyed an excellent season on loan at the Baggies a couple of season's prior.
This turned out to be Gayle's last goal for the Toon.
Another header coming in at number 9; but this time it’s more for the occasion than the quality of the goal itself. The last match of the 2017/18 season was a humdinger as Antonio Conte’s listless Chelsea were hammered 3-0 at St James’; Gayle’s close-range header getting the ball rolling after 23 minutes.
An altogether glorious, sunshiney day on Tyneside as a summer of promise awaited…
This one’s in for the comedy value; not least because it was against Leeds, but moreso because of the nature of the goal itself.
When Jack Colback sent an aimless ball forward, it seemed inevitable that former England custodian Rob Green would gather it easily. However, the veteran keeper fumbled it and Gayle was on hand to volley in from a yard out.
“Dwight Gayle, he scores with no teeth…”
After a ropey start to the season with defeats against Fulham and Huddersfield, Gayle was instrumental in getting our season on track. One such occasion was away to Bristol City before the end of August, when our man converted the only goal of the game with a superbly taken effort.
Diame’s lofted pass was taken down expertly at pace by our number 9, before instantly whacking the ball past the oncoming goalie with his next touch. The Ashton Gate faithful had been giving him some stick so the cupped ear celebration was particularly satisfying.
Maybe this season wasn’t going to be a disaster after all.
Half-way through the promotion hunt, Newcastle faced a difficult encounter against Brentford at Griffin Park, coming off the back of a couple of dispiriting defeats against Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn Rovers. It was also midway through the January transfer window so, you know, anxiety everywhere.
Gayle very much adopted the role of talisman this season, though, and often contributed goals on the way to crucial wins. This was one of them, and it was one of his best individual efforts which set us on the way to a 2-1 victory.
Scurrying away down the left wing in the 20th minute, he entered the box and hit a ferocious effort which beat the keeper at the near post. Pressure off a bit…
The day we secured the Championship title was memorable for lots of reasons. That celebration was one of them.
Sunderland are down and the Mags are going up.
Gayle cemented himself as one of the most deadly poachers in the Championship during the promotion season. His conversion rate perhaps could’ve been better during some spells, but give him more than one chance and you’re going to get punished one way or another.
On this occasion, it was via a backheeled flick in front of an ecstatic away following. Our most reliable striker setting us up for another crucial away victory, this time at the Brewers.
The home game against Norwich is remembered for being one of the most dramatic comebacks in recent NUFC history. Two goals in injury time sent the place into raptures as we turned around a horrendous defeat at home to the Canaries.
Gayle’s second goal in this game seldom gets a mention, given it wasn’t one of the injury time crackers. But it was a brilliant goal. A trademark long-ball forward from Shelvey was brilliantly controlled by Gayle, before he beautifully slotted it past the oncoming keeper into the Leazes End net. Twenty minutes to go…
Gayle’s first goal in our colours was following a rebound from a scuffed penalty at home to Huddersfield in a game we lost…
If it’s alright with everyone, we’re going to remove that from our memories and pretend that his first one was the sumptuous free-kick against Reading in a game we won 4-1. It was a spectacular free-kick, made all the more special by its uniqueness. Why he never took another one is anyone’s guess.
Thanks for the memories, Dwight Gayle.