“The old believe everything: the middle-aged suspect everything: the young know everything.” – Oscar Wilde
Yesterday I was 13 years old, standing at the front of the Gallowgate, resplendent in my best Chester le street market gear.
This consisted of a blue jumper with three stars on the chest, a penny collared shirt, brown sta press and a pair of tasselled loafers . Just how cool could a five feet nowt, spotty faced adolescent be? (Not cool enough to get Elaine to meet me behind the Garden Farm chip shop, but that’s another matter).
And for my 40 pence entry free, I got to watch my football team winning everything in sight. Well that’s if you regard the Anglo Italian and the Texaco Cup as ‘everything’. Hard to believe that forty years on, that’s as good as its got.
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The question that comes up in my mind over and over again is just what on earth has stopped Newcastle achieving success in these past four decades?”
Is it all simply down to rank bad ownership? Well it’s as good a place to start as any. The club’s finances have been in a worse state than my daughter’s phone bill for the majority of the past 40 years, which has meant we have lurched from one crisis to another. But now that the finances are supposedly sorted out, we have a billionaire owner that doesn’t want to spend any cash. You could’t make it up.
Is it because of the succession of bad managers? When you look at the likes of McGarry, Charlton, Dalglish and Fat Sam, we sure knew how to pick them.
Looking back I can make excuses for the utter tripe that McGarry served us up, because he had a transfer budget of 10 shillings and some Panini football stickers to work with, but just what excuses did King Kenny have for Barnes, Rush and Andreas Andersson.
For me though, Jack Charlton’s masterstroke of playing Reilly and Cunningham up front instead of Waddle and Beardsley, is a low that hopefully I will never see surpassed
Was it down to the many many big name players we have signed who turned out to be so unbelievably crap? Again this is undoubtedly true, but hasn’t every club had its share of Marcellinos and Vianas? It’s just a fact of life that unfortunately some players will settle and prove their worth, while some will not.
Which brings me onto whether our geographical location is also a factor? It’s fair to say we are a fair few miles from the bright lights of London, which seems to have had an adverse effect on a number of money grabbing Frenchmen in particular. Sign on the dotted line, tell the press that you have always wanted to come to Newcastle and then complain that the City is cold, wet and 300 miles from the Capital.
And so I get to the bloody great elephant in the room.
Is it the fans? In the not so distant past, we have heard managers use the fans as a reason for their failure and we have certainly heard many a pundit spout off about our ‘unrealistic expectations’.
It depends on which side of the argument you are on I guess. Support the club through the bad times, or stay away to try and force change.
Personally, I don’t think things are that simple. Turning up in our thousands won’t bring the club success and staying away won’t get rid of Ashley either.
Maybe I am looking too deep. Maybe we are simply a cursed football club. Damned by all those bad lads who were swung by their neck until they were dead on the Gallowgate hill all those years ago. it just might be our fate to be the nearly men of English Football. ‘What if, what if, what if?’
What if Macdonald plays the 74 cup final with his feet instead of his mouth?
What if Peter, the red nosed Dane, keeps goal like a normal human being, rather than as some marvel superhero to defy us singlehandedly in March 1996
What if Bellamy doesn’t get sent off within first five minutes against Inter.
What if we had held on to our 2 goal advantage with just 30 minutes left of our EUFA Cup quarter final?
I have come to the conclusion that if you allow yourself to think about just why the likes of Swansea, Birmingham and Middlesboro can win a cup and we can’t, it will drive you to drink and an early grave.
We are, what we are. A truly unique English Football club, who have been through worse times than these during the past 40 odd barren years.
It may be hard to believe but Ashley will move on, the self-proclaimed greatest league in the world’s gravy train will come to an end and just like Doctor Who, Newcastle United will regenerate and take its place in the new world order.
I just hope I am still alive to see it. I am running out of seasons.