My dad has bought me a book. It’s for my birthday. I’ll be 43, so it’s not a landmark celebration, but I’m looking forward to the book.
It’s Michael Walker’s ‘Up There: The North-East, Football, Boom and Bust.’
Last week, I took the hobbling wreck of my dad’s knees to see Walker talk about it with the writer of one of my other favourite football books, Harry Pearson.
Pearson wrote ‘The Far Corner: A Mazy Dribble through North-East Football.’ Funny, heart-warming and proud, the book also has the dubious distinction of making me do a laugh-fart on a bus.
The evening, at the Lit & Phil library, revealed some amazing facts about North-East managers and players. I’ll let you read the book to find out the staggering statistics of how successful folk from our non-HS2 linked neck of the woods have been. Suffice to say, it’s even more than you think.
One of the interesting questions asked at the end was about the region and whether or not its location is a reason for our relative lack of recent memory success. Harry and Michael were talking more generally about the region, so it included both lots from down the A19 that what cannit even talk right, but the same conclusion was reached for all three of the major clubs: decisions at boardroom level over the years have been abysmal, and we spend years suffering the consequences.
I’m going to ignore the ifs, buts and d’you mind if I don’ts of SunnyDland and Seals Sands Rovers.
Now, years ago, many writers in The Mag pondered the disaster that would have befallen the club if John Hall had not bought the club and brought in Kevin Keegan. We all know what happened in 2009. But it doesn’t just lie there.
Think back to the forks in the path of Newcastle United over the years.
What would you change? Managers? Players?
We all know people who have never come to terms with defeat in the 1974 FA Cup Final. Let’s ignore the fact that life is lived in a straight line, and one thing leads to another and eventually every club has their day and then fades… what do you see as the pivotal bad decisions that could have been easily fixed or avoided?
If this sounds negative, it’s not really meant to be. It’s more a pub ‘if only’.
While my dad and his knackered knees have bought me a great new book, and I presume forgiven me for knocking over ornaments in the front room with the end of a snooker cue, he has never forgiven the club direction that led to the sale of Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley.
My wife could never understand why we sold David Ginola. She thought he was a canny footballer, too.
My uncle lost the faith when we sold Supermac.
Me? Sacking Sir Bobby Robson when we did. The model of being late for pre-season and being just a bit worse than the season before was born. Or resurrected. But in a way that made everyone on Football Focus think the club was horrible.
Surely it would have been a better idea to peddle Kieran Dyer.
Over to you. I’ll be having a pint and a bag of crisps while you rewrite history.
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