Of all the visiting clubs that come to St.James’ Park, surely the most embarrassing is Stoke City.
Time after time their tiny pocket of supporters is hard to spot in the upper reaches of our stadium.
Last season saw the usual empty spaces surrounding the red and whites, only 600 made the trip and to be honest I doubted there was even that many when I saw the figure. What made it even worse was that the match was on Boxing Day, a day which usually sees even bigger away followings for most clubs, as most people are off work.
Anyway, I came across a mention of a red and white invasion on Sunday and obviously thought it was a mistake.
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I looked into it and sure enough, Stoke only have a handful of tickets left. They only took an allocation of 1,646 tickets but for them to bring around 1,600 supporters is like a normal club bringing twenty thousand.
Looking further into it, one big reason is that Newcastle United are using part of their away fans fund (in this three year scheme, every club gets £200,000 per year from the Premier League to encourage more fans to travel to games, this being the second season it has operated) to reduce the ticket prices, it is only £20 for adults and £5 for all concessions for visiting Stoke fans on Sunday.
It gets better though, on top of the cheap ticket prices, Stoke are also paying for free coaches for any supporters willing to travel, whether they are funding this themselves or using their own away fans fund is unclear. At the last count the club from the Potteries are putting on nineteen coaches.
Taking into account recent atmospheres at St. James’ Park, especially the shocker against Southampton last time out, we face the shame of being outsung by the red and white masses…
Are Stoke fans the biggest joke for you or is there another club that can compete with them when it comes to feeble numbers bothering to travel to Newcastle to support their club?