Around about 10 years ago I penned one of my first articles for the Mag, it was entitled something like ‘players come and go, fans are for life’.

The reason I wrote the article was because the lad I had sat next to for 10 years had passed away very suddenly, we had played Reading at SJP in a December midweek evening game ( think we won 3-2), the next game he was not there. I asked the occupant of his seat where he was, only to be told the tragic news that he had passed away very suddenly after the aforementioned Newcastle United v Reading game.

His name was Tony and he was I believe from Cramlington, he was not someone I socialised with but I had sat with him for ten years or so, and sitting next to someone at the match is often how long friendships are formed!

Tony was only in his 40s and as I say, tragically passed very young.

Why talk about this in the wake of what happened on Wednesday night?

I think it just reiterates that fans are for life, whereas overpaid players, sub standard managers and arrogant owners come and go. We unfortunately can’t do that, we can’t transfer our allegiance to another club ( OK an Arsenal fan can), whether we attend games or not we will always be fans of Newcastle United.

Sunderland did not relegate us on Wednesday night, the blame for that has to be firmly placed in the hands of Mike Ashley and Lee Charnley. I can’t blame Steve McClaren because while he was completely out his depth, he was appointed by Charnley.  That said, his record was appalling and he should have been sacked at Christmas.

Mike Ashley is allegedly an astute and clever business man, so why appoint Charnley to oversee the club – do you think the senior management of his Rotten Direct empire have no retail knowledge? I don’t think so!

So why appoint a man with no top level footballing experience to run a football club, it is absolutely incredible.

So, what does the future hold? The only possible salvation is that we can recover and become stronger if Rafa stays, but why would he, he must know already that the Ashley model does not work for a football club. Without Rafa I am afraid the future is bleak, between 1978 and 1982 we were awful ( it was still fun going mind) and I can see bleak years like that ahead!

It is 26 years ago since Sunderland condemned us to another season in Div 2, this was despite us finishing 3 places, 6 points and 25 goals better off than them – the painful play-off defeat left us languishing while they went up.

However, that was a catalyst for change at SJP, Ossie tried and failed and KK came in and for 5 seasons we steamrollered all that got in the way, it should have been the building blocks for year after year of continued Man Utd type success.

I can remember bumping into Sir John Hall in a service station en route to Tranmere, he talked excitedly about the future, where he saw Newcastle United in years to come, he spoke with passion and feeling. Sadly it failed to fully materialise…..but we had some fun along the way!

Those days have long since gone, we now have faceless, brain dead, arrogant zombies running OUR club, with no feeling or passion for anything remotely football, it really is a crying shame.

We now have just two hopes.

One is the obvious one where Rafa stays and builds from scratch, using his own building bricks.

The other is of course that Mike Ashley sells up ‘cheaply’, because despite where we now are, we are still an attractive buy for any would be buyers. Far more attractive than Manchester City and their swathes of empty blue seats.

I hate Mike Ashley, I hate Lee Charnley, I hate all that they have done to NUFC,  systematically destroyed it from top to bottom, the greatest fans in the world are yet again kicked in the b*llocks.

So what for this Sunday? In the aftermath of Wednesday night I thought what’s the point, however in the cold light of day my feelings have changed to defiance.

We must back Rafa Benitez to the hilt, Lee Charnley has not a chance of hell in convincing him to stay. However, 50,000 screaming fanatics: pleading, imploring, loving him, might just swing his thoughts into giving us a go in the Championship.  If Rafa decides to go, I shudder to think.

One further thought I had regarding defiance, is knowing that no matter what I will always be proud to be a fan of Newcastle United. I will always be grateful that I chose this club or maybe they chose me…despite what others would have you believe this club has the greatest fans in the world. Others will lay claim to this but facts speak for themselves, no major domestic trophy in 60 years and no sign of that changing anytime soon.

So breathe deeply, stick your chest out that little bit further, wear your Black and White (non-wonga) with huge pride and always be proud to be associated with Newcastle United.

Because while presently there is little hope there is always going to be…

One City, One Club, One Love!