Sunday’s win over Norwich made headlines for all the right reasons, Newcastle fans at last able to enjoy the afterglow of a win – and a stunning one at that, by the final whistle.
The defence was a bit ropey to say the least but when you have seen your side score six, who cares!
I couldn’t make the game myself as I had to work, though I watched the full thing on Sunday night after I recorded it – without knowing the result!
As well as the end to end basketball style open nature of the match, I was also struck by the number of empty seats.
When the crowd figure of 47,006 was announced, it was disappointing but still much higher than I would have guessed by the visible gaps where Newcastle fans should have been.
However, that 47,006 figure is of course the number of tickets sold and not how many actually turned up.
I was offered free tickets by a number of season ticket holders beforehand and I guess quite a few of those ended up being empty.
Talk about regrets afterwards!
The crowd figure prompted me to look at what had happened so far this season and there has been a very worrying trend.
So far the crowds at St James Park read:
49,710 v Southampton (48,460 home fans, 1,250 away supporters)
50,388 v Arsenal (47,188 home fans, 3,200 away supporters)
47,806 v Watford (45,556 home fans, 2,250 away supporters)
48,682 v Chelsea (45,521 home fans, 3,161 away supporters)
47,006 v Norwich (44, 890 home fans, 2,116 away supporters)
As you can see, the season started with 48,460 Newcastle fans inside St James Park but with each passing figure that has become lower and lower.
By the time we reached Norwich on Sunday, there were 3,570 less United fans in the ground as compared to that opening day.
considering attractive matches such as Arsenal and Chelsea have already been and gone, the ground has surprisingly never been close to being full, even though both London clubs brought more than 3,000 fans.
Especially when you take into account over £50m worth of new signings.
For most clubs these kind of attendances would be more than satisfactory but for Newcastle fans, a full St James Park has become a badge of pride, especially when the lack of success on the pitch becomes ever more pronounced.
The next couple of home games are against the likes of Stoke and Leicester, not on anybody’s list of must see matches at the start of the season.
It will though be interesting to see just what effect the 6-2 win and whatever happens at Sunderland, has on the crowd at the upcoming home games.
Over five thousand empty seats is a horrific sight at St James Park, can goals and good football bring those people back, or is the Mike Ashley factor too big a hurdle for some people to overcome?
As for the unthinkable, what happens if Norwich proves to be only a blip on the downward trend…?
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