For two decades Dave Allen has been a familiar face for thousands of Newcastle fans who get the Metro on a match day.
That’s because a striking photograph of Dave in full voice at the 1998 FA Cup Final remains a stand out feature of St James’ Park’s iconic Metro station.
This evocative image – one that captures the passion of the world famous ‘Toon Army’ - has hung proudly above the escalators since St James Metro station underwent its black and white revamp in 1999.
But most match-goers never knew who the face in the photo was – until now.
Dave, 57, of Wallsend in North Tyneside, has just taken early retirement and it is through that process that Nexus, the public body which owns and manages Metro, was able to track him down, when his colleagues asked about obtaining a copy of the photo for his leaving do.
As a gesture of goodwill Nexus has presented him with a special framed copy.
Dave, a lifelong Newcastle fan, has recounted the story behind the photo, one that was taken by a pitch-side photographer on a sweltering Wembley day when Newcastle saw their cup dreams dashed by Arsenal.
It was to be a day where, as Dave puts it himself, he gained his ‘claim to fame’.
He said: “My abiding memory was that the picture was taken when the players were coming out to do their warm ups on the Wembley pitch.
“The Newcastle fans started getting into full voice as they emerged from the tunnel. As everyone can see from the photograph I was certainly fired up for the big game. To this day I am stull gutted that the team didn’t have more of a go and bring the FA Cup back to Tyneside.
“I’d got the cup final tickets with my brother, Les. We had stayed over in London and then we had gone to the game.
“I had no idea that the photo had been taken. I also had no idea whatsoever that it was going to be used as part of the black and white revamp of the St James Metro station.
“A few months later I was in the social club to meet my brother Les for a drink before the first game of the season. He came in and said ‘you know how they have done St James Metro station out, well you’ll never guess whose photo is there’. I said ‘yours’, and he said ‘no it’s you’.
“I went down to have a look and there it was above the escalators. I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a lovely surprise. I was really proud, and I still am, to this very day.”
In the years that followed Dave has always keen to talk about this small but significant contribution to NUFC folklore.
He said: “It’s my claim to fame. It immortalised a moment in time when Newcastle United fans were loud and proud. It’s a very fond memory, even though we didn’t win the game.
“I even got recognised. I was on holiday in Benidorm a few years later and some Geordies in a bar kept looking over. Eventually one of them came over and said ‘you’re that bloke whose photo is up on the wall at St James Park Metro station’. He was right!”
Director of Finance and Resources at Nexus, John Fenwick, said: “It’s great that we have been able to track Dave down after all these years.
“His photo is a popular feature of our NUFC branded Metro station at St James Park for so many years. It’s a brilliant picture, one that captures passion of Newcastle United supporters at one of the biggest games in the club’s recent history.
“I was delighted to present Dave with a framed copy of the photo. Let’s hope Newcastle can get to another cup final so he can have a chance to recreate that photo all over again.”