Elsewhere on The Mag you will find a match report written by me on Saturday’s game at Old Trafford…and some people will think I’m mental.
Me, a father of two young children with a wife and a mortgage, shelling out £47 (plus £1 Ashley tax!) and travel costs to watch a game that we never realistically had a hope in.
Terrible stuff and the panel of Loose Women would surely tear me to shreds for the sheer audacity.
For the record, my reasons were (relatively) sound.
A mate from Manchester has recently had a bit of a tough time and I said I’d get over there at the earliest convenience for a few beers. When the fixture computer was kind enough to throw up an early journey for my team to play his team, the words “it would be rude not to” came storming into play.
Add in that, a couple of my crew had never visited England’s biggest library/day tripper attraction and it was all set for my first visit to Manchester since the Stone Roses reunion gig in the heady summer of 2012.
Luckily for me, I’ve long since made peace with a fundamental of following Newcastle away from home: don’t let the match get in your way of having a good time.
Over the years I have seen many corners of this great country and had some very memorable trips, in spite of the fact that Newcastle’s away games record over that time is what you might call…dogshit.
There’s always a lull after the game to dissect a poor performance, but the healing power of a few pints soon gets you back in the tourist mood to explore your temporary surroundings.
I can tell anyone willing to listen that Wigan is an unexpectedly cracking night out, West Bromwich is definitely not, and an overnight stay in London is well worth it as you can visit Sherlock’s house, or the Natural History museum, to walk the beer off the next morning.
Of course, I also appreciate this has come with time.
I have been through the stage where I want to be there every week, and it’s not feasible to be doing this, as a full weekender for most people in terms of both time and cost.
I have had some miserable bus trips, lonely train journeys and sober drives back from various places in my time.
I remember the exuberant stage of youth where you are so immersed in all things Newcastle United that the recovery process takes that bit longer. For anyone developing these scars in the last few years, this must have hit double hard compared to my own Keegan-era initiation (although the infamous Graham Fenton game at Ewood remains my worst ever NUFC experience to this day).
So, travel broadens the mind and use i to your advantage says I. Then there’s another part of me that says balls to all that.
Finding a silver lining in a team that are ritually underachievers is all very well but is it not about time the underachieving stopped?
Any trip that can be enjoyed following a defeat is a guaranteed amazing experience if United do get their finger out and turn someone over on their own spot. I’ve been to Wembley (old), and I’ve seen NUFC play in Europe, but they are isolated incidents or far off memories. Why can’t this club strive to hit these targets on at least a semi regular basis?
There is much hope that the recent influx of positive signings is a statement of intent. Hopefully this is the start of a renaissance, because we need a consistent series of transfer windows where the squad is strengthened, not a one-off spree buying players with potential sell-on value and by God we still need another defender.
If the rebuilding programme continues and if Steve McLaren rises to the challenge, we could be looking at greater things in the near future.
On any trip across the M62 there is the inevitable tragic sight of the day trippers flocking in from the corners of the country, Man Utd scarves flapping from the back windows of their cars.
Some exiled Mancs perhaps, but in the main a procession of plastic supporters attaching themselves to someone else’s team for the association of success.
When ‘their’ side wins one of its steady stream of cups they will mostly celebrate by putting messages on Facebook before switching the Xbox on and returning to the existence of a lonely glory supporter.
Should our day ever come the celebrations will be something else, a return from Wembley or wherever to a city bursting at the seams, the elation will spread into the homes of Tyneside.
Until that day ever comes, keep enjoying those bars.
You can follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf