At the end of the mayhem and atmosphere against West Ham, my son said:
“Wow, that was great! I’ve never been so nervous watching a football match but that was great.”
My reaction…rather miserably in retrospect – was to say:
“It used to be like that every week.”
And it did.
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As a 12 year old football fanatic who has been going to games since he was 6, my son is only bothered about the match. And quite right too. He’s enjoyed some of the games we’ve been to in that time, mainly the Championship and the 5th place season, along with the Benfica match.
But even he has found the last 2 years miserable and was quite happy to boycott matches since the win against Everton. As North East exiles living in Sheffield, we can only afford to go to 4-5 games a year but 12 year olds shouldn’t be boycotting anything.
On the trips to the games – taking in a stop off at Redcar to pick up his Grandad -I’ve bored him senseless with tales of when it was enjoyable to watch Newcastle.
The Cox/Keegan team in the 80s, the Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson Premiership years, even the two FA Cup Finals. Though I do tell him I never thought we’d win them and that miserable Kenny was, well, just miserable.
It’s no different from my Dad telling me about Jackie Milburn and Supermac, or my Grandad going on about Hughie Gallacher. That’s the point about Newcastle. It’s a family generational thing that’s in your blood.
Even my idiot Man. City supporting brother (Don’t worry, he’s not a glory hunter. I remember him as an 11 year old moaning about Alex Williams letting in 5 against our Holy Trinity of Keegan, Beardsley and Waddle in 83. I think he just liked the blue shirts for some reason) wants us to do well. And that is what has been put at risk by Ashley.
West Ham WAS what the atomosphere used to be like every week.
But it should not have taken looking into oblivion for the players to show they’re bothered. For Anita to go smashing into tackles. For Krul to vaguely remember how to kick a ball properly. For Sissoko to look even vaguely bothered.
For Jonas – the one person at the whole club who owes us absolutely nothing – to score a goal that made me smile and be glad to be associated with the club for the first time in years. It should not have to take that to get the atmosphere rocking and sounding like the mid 90s again. But it did take that.
I feel very strongly that it has been the concerted protests of the fans, the negative publicity and the absolute kicking he got by King Kev on Sunday morning radio, that forced Ashley to give that interview.
I am very cynical about it but at least he DID come out and speak. He now must stick to what he said. I’m not holding my breath. However, he was there on Sunday. He saw and heard the noise, atmosphere and passion of a United club. If only United for 90 minutes due to his dead hand ownership…but surely he saw what the club COULD be like?
Surely he, at the end, felt elated?
Surely he enjoyed it?
Because that is all we want to do in the end. Football is not life and death. Our scorer of the second goal showed that. But it IS meant to be an enjoyable and fun part of life.
Ashley has taken that away from the club in a deliberate policy of arrogant and total incompetence. It is very doubtful he can ever get any of it back, but if Sunday proves anything, it proves what it all could be like.
As I said to my son, ‘it used to be like that every week’, and it could still be.
Walk the walk now Ashley.