I love summer me.
My mind has been thoroughly occupied in recent weeks with the Stone Roses, the EU referendum, rain at the Hoppings (natch), England thumping the Aussies at rugby, the new series of Game of Thrones and of course, the ongoing Euros, all with a liberal dose of barbecues and cider. It’s great having the longer days, lighter nights and plenty going on to make you feel alive.
Then comes the reminder.
The fixtures come out, the letter comes through for the Magpie Mover and the realisation kicks in. Oh yes, it’s back to supporting Newcastle United soon.
This year it’s different though, as the lingering pessimism of previous seasons has dissipated at the prospect of a Rafalution. Yes, we are relegated, but like many I believe we will build towards being a stronger Premier League force in a year’s time.
The good feeling about the place for the forthcoming Championship season is completely at odds with the sense of misery that preceded the last few Premier League campaigns.
The publishing of the fixture list gave me a bit of a jolt though, with September looking like an incredibly tricky month in spite of our lower league standing (QPR, Villa and Derby away) and thoughts creeping in that this couldn’t possibly be as straightforward as last time. The upside is that if this month is negotiated strongly, we should have a platform for promotion before the nights start drawing in.
That is hopefully where the Renaissance will hit home.
Contrary to the long, happy summer days, far too many winter weekends have been torpedoed in recent years by the arsehats running the show at SJP. I am grateful that I have an amazing young family, great friends and an active social life, but it’s still completely possible for a miserable surrender at home to Watford or Bournemouth to ruin an otherwise upbeat week-end.
I wish it wasn’t true but it was, as what feels like half the daylight hours are wasted away watched a shower of unimpressive mercenaries meandering towards their big fat wage packet. This has been our lot for too long, and it has been illustrated by the absence of the hordes of disillusioned.
I have not yet joined the hordes, never seriously considering the end of the season ticket despite how fervently the option has been endorsed. I wonder how many of those that chose to cut the cord will be seeing now as an acceptable time to get back on board?
Mike Ashley is still there, but in empowering Benitez could have finally reversed his biggest mistake of allowing unsuitable clowns to run the football operation. It remains to be seen who comes in (and goes out) and how much is spent on them, but cautious optimism seems to be the general feeling.
Is there potentially a way back for the current owner with the Newcastle fans? If a best case scenario was to happen and United rocket back up, finish in the top 6 and continue to invest, would people really care that much. If the FA Cup was being paraded around town in an open top bus would people stay away if they thought Mike Ashley would be onboard?
I would say it’s possible to be wary of the past indiscretions of Mr. Sports Direct and still keen for him to sell up to more appealing types, but feel fully engaged in getting behind the current direction of the club.
I earnestly hope that anyone returning to St James who has stayed away on grounds of principle, is not made to feel in any way awkward for wanting to come back in spite of the regime still being in situ.
Brexit-style divides have been obvious amongst fans for some years now and if Rafa can succeed in uniting everyone behind his project (as he has so far) then that is a huge step achieved.
Having said that, I would also respect anyone’s decision to stick to their guns and follow from afar until Ashley has left, and would hope the majority of fans would think alike.
So, it’ll be here before you know it and the excitement was kicking in before a signing had even been made. I’m even wishing the summer away a bit.
While it’s quite acceptable to spend a Saturday in the summer getting pi**ed on at the Hoppings, it had become excruciating to spend your Saturdays in the winter getting pi**ed on at St James.
Here’s to better times ahead.
Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf