The meeting had already started when he opened the door. He tried to enter the darkened room without being noticed but it was to no avail.
The leader looked at him and beckoned .
“Come in. Please join us.”
Reluctantly he shuffled towards a chair near the back and sat down.
All eyes were now fixed upon him as the leader continued to speak.
“Friend, we all know how difficult this must be, so why don’t you introduce yourself to the group.”
The broken man looked up from the floor, sighed and began to speak.
“My name is Jinky Jim, and I am a Newcastle Fan.”
He heard the room gasp and could almost feel their pity flowing towards him.
“That’s a very serious addiction friend, why don’t you tell us how you have ended up in this state.”
Jinky took a few moments to compose himself.
‘Well , I suppose it all began way back in 1974………..
‘It’s fair to say that I wasn’t turning out the way my dad wanted, due to spending too much time with an undesirable bunch of friends who dressed in Miner’s jackets, shiny trousers and big red boots.
My Dad was not a football fan. He was the only Scotsman I have ever met who had ‘nae interest in fitba whatsoever’ but he felt he needed to bond with his lad. So he decided to take me to my first away game. He chose West Brom in the 5th round of the FA Cup.
Off we went in a car that was held together with string. It was similar to the one Fred and Barney had in the Flintstones, where your feet went through the floor.
It’s a long long time ago but I can still remember the atmosphere on that day. It was like nothing I had ever experienced. Newcastle United were utterly brilliant and Jim Smith had arguably his best ever game in a black and white shirt.
Even my Dad was totally swept up in the occasion, so much so, that he took his tie off. He never took his tie off. I think he even wore it in bed.
On the long drive home, we were buzzing and he promised that should Newcastle get an away tie in the 6th Round draw, we would go.
Of course fate (and 1000 parka clad scallywags) was to take a hand, and our match with Nottingham Forest went to another replay, after a draw at the City Ground, this time at neutral Everton
Once again the away support was phenomenal. So many were on the terrace that once you were in , you weren’t getting out any time soon. These days I wonder just how everyone got to Liverpool that night, because public transport was terrible and there wasn’t that many cars on the streets of Chester Le Street back in 1974. I guess there must have been a hell of a lot of work transit vans go missing from the building sites of the North East.
For me the most remarkable thing about the night wasn’t the football , it was the sight of my mild mannered Dad coming to blows with a bloke standing behind us, who had began to pee on his shoes. It’s hard to believe but It’s just what people did back then.
As we travelled back through the night in our British Leyland design classic (an Allegro I think), a realisation began to dawn on me. The lad who previously quite liked Newcastle United, was now a complete Newcastle United addict.’
This would lead to years of putting the club before work and family. Not attending weddings and birthdays if they clashed with a ‘big’ game. Travelling through the night from Germany to watch a crap second division side get gubbed by the likes of Millwall and Wrexham. You know the type of thing.
So I guess it’s fair to say that the reason I am the emotional wreck that you see before you today, is completely down to my dear old dad.
But you know something? I wouldn’t change a thing.
Well apart from: Dennis Tueart’s overhead kick, Graham Fenton being conceived, Eric bloody Cantona, Gus Poyet at Wembley 2000, Drogba in Marseille 2004…