Kevin Nolan got Newcastle's Premier League promotion party started as his superb strike clinched a 2-1 win over Sheffield United on Monday. Chris Hughton's side were preparing for the United match when news filtered through from the City Ground that third-placed Nottingham Forest had been held to a 0-0 draw by Cardiff.
That sparked jubilant scenes among the 48,270 crowd at St James' Park, although it looked as though the Magpies' celebration was going to be a damp squib when Richard Cresswell headed United in front in the 22nd minute. But Peter Lovenkrands equalised for the hosts with a penalty on the stroke of half-time after Chris Morgan fouled Andy Carroll.
Fittingly it was midfielder Nolan, the team's most impressive performer this season, who got the festivities going again when his spectacular volley sealed the points in the 73rd minute.
"This is a wonderful achievement and we are absolutely delighted," Hughton said. "That we have secured promotion with six games to spare is testament to this set of players and how good a season they have had. This is what we have been building towards all season and I'm delighted for everyone associated with the club."
Hughton's team have cantered to promotion after spending most of the season in the top two. After losing 3-0 at Derby on 9 February, Newcastle embarked on an 11-match unbeaten run, a sequence including eight victories, which was enough to end their brief exile from the Premier League.
Even a reported training ground fight between striker Andy Carroll and long-serving defender Steven Taylor, which left Taylor nursing a broken jaw and Carroll a damaged hand, wasn't enough to derail Newcastle's promotion push.
Locally-born Carroll was key to Newcastle's success as the England Under-21 forward scored 16 goals, including the winner at Doncaster just days after the bust-up with Taylor.