I live in Forest Hall, I have done all my life (apart from a few months in High Spen between wives), I grew up in Forest Hall dreaming of wearing the Black and White (or Green) of Newcastle United!
Last Saturday, having little interest in the EUROs, I was out walking my dogs on the field near The Fusilier pub. Although it is my closest watering hole I don’t use it very often, however I can assure everyone it is a friendly pub and well worth a visit, anyway I am digressing!
Outside the pub three young lads were playing football and a I overheard a small argument ensue. One of them says ‘I want to be Mitrovic’, his friend replied ‘no that is me, you can be Townsend’, this argument went on for a few moments until the owner of the ball won the day by threatening to walk off with it if he did not get his way! The smallest one of the three happily settled for being Ayoze Perez!
This took me back to my own childhood as we played football on ‘the green’ in Forest Hall using the ‘ball games prohibited’ sign as a goal post (what does prohibited mean to a 10 year old anyway?), but our argument always being who was going to be Supermac?
Everyone idolised Supermac and everyone wanted to be him, I have seen playground fights take place to see who got the honour, it did not really matter because underneath we all knew we were him, well everyone that is, apart from me!
You see I was not very good and always last picked, so I always ended up in goal, so while I idolised Malcolm Macdonald I secretly wanted to be Iam (yes Iam) McFaul! The man who wore the coveted green jersey with aplomb for several seasons.
My dad did not help, by once telling me that McFaul was limping before kick off and I might get called on as I sat on the concrete barrier in the A wing paddock. Glued to his every move, only one sub in those days and not a GK, I dreamt at every home game that the tannoy would ask for a volunteer goalkeeper. I finally realised that this dream just might not come true sometime after my 50th birthday a couple of years ago!
My real goalkeeping career got as far as Forest Hall Middle School and Wallsend Boys Club, yes I played three or four games for Wallsend Boys Club in the same team as Neil McDonald, who was very spotty and two years younger and I have to be honest, a really good player.
Alas, when you don’t grow over 5ft 7 and a HALF, your chances of making it as a goalkeeper are limited somewhat!
Back to the three lads playing football at the start of the article, the difference between them and when we were little is the numbers, we would end up playing 15 a side if enough turned up, and until there was no more daylight.
These days kids have so many different things to do, the digital age of iPads, X Boxes, play stations etc is ensuring this. My understanding is you can now be Mitrovic without leaving your chair, you can apparently even be yourself coming up through the ranks, why was this gaming technology not about 42 years ago when I wanted to be Iam McFaul? It would have saved a lot of heartache.
The human race is evolving, and in much the same way you hardly ever see bits of cars (exhausts etc) lying in roads, you don’t often see large groups of kids playing footie until the last shreds of daylight is gone.
If less and less kids are playing football it stands to reason that the standard of football in this country will drop somewhat, this is no doubt a problem all countries face…..or is it? Less affluent countries where technology lags may still see kids playing football for all hours when possible and there just may be a change in the pecking order in 20 years time.
Anyway, as I said at the start of the article if it’s not Black and White I don’t care that much so why write about it? It is just an observation really and in some ways it saddens me, in this day and age there will be no Alan Shoulders or Steve Carneys (RIP) coming into the game in their mid 20s, and back in the halcyon days they were the only players Newcastle could sign.
The biggest irony of all is that TV deals bump wages up, bump transfer fees up, with players able to earn obscene huge amounts, yet less and less British Players are making it through the ranks.
Like I say, my own dream died when I reached 50 – but then I looked at the injuries to Tim Krul, Rob Elliott and Karl Darlow – is that tannoy working at SJP, I’m still there waiting for THAT call…