Newcastle United are sometimes thought of as a sleeping giant, and that when we win something, all happy hell will break loose. We’ve been having a bit of a lie-in for a while now.
There are clickbait websites and tenuous books dedicated to the study and interpretation of dreams. Explanations include the processing of the events of the day, and the sub-conscious dwelling on problems; now I’m no expert, but I reckon that they’re the brain’s way of telling you to go for a wee.
Despite my misgivings about nocturnal narratives, I have a recurring dream in which I’m playing for Newcastle United. I can’t be the only supporter who has football dreams.
This isn’t one of those dreams where you try to run but the road has turned into treacle; it isn’t one of those dreams in which you’re falling and when you land you kick your wife in the leg, rudely waking her up to question what the hell that was for, before you sheepishly explain you’d fallen off the roof. No. In this dream, I’m utterly brilliant.
Really. Every first touch is sublime, fooling my marker and creating space before I ping a genius pass through the eye of a defensive needle, roared on by a vociferous crowd who cannot believe that such a pass was even thinkable. Of course it bloody wasn’t. I’ve been asleep for two hours.
And in this dream, I’m wearing the kit from the ‘so close’ season. But with the white socks of the Bukta kit, with two very vivid black hoops on the turnover. My original, pristine white Bukta socks were wrecked in a flukey penalty save from my brother’s ferocious strike during the Easter holidays of 1980.
I dived to my right, saved the shot, shook my now stinging hand, and looked down at the delta of blood gushing from my knee. Glass, a stick, a stone… we’ll never know. But the sock went pink in the wash. Biotex couldn’t save it. Yet in the dream, the socks are whiter than white can be.
I’m wearing Adidas Copa Mondial boots. Everyone is wearing them, or Puma King. The black bits are none more black and the white bits are perfect.
And every time, we’re playing Holland. Freud could possibly explain the socks, but not Holland.
I wake up when I notice a glass walkway across the top of the stadium, apparently connecting the Strawberry corner with the Leazes/Milburn corner. I think to myself, what a wonderful ground, but that’s not really there. And you’re not a brilliant footballer. And you need a wee.
For a while, I also trudged back to bed thinking, Newcastle don’t even play like that anymore. It was all a bit depressing, remembering that you’re a forty-three year old teacher, rather than a twenty-three year old creative midfielder. It was worse knowing that Newcastle United were going backwards and didn’t thread Lee Clark-esque passes to Les Ferdinand. Against Holland.
But now, my pre-season positivity, which after the first two matches was making me wince, is turning into belief. And maybe, given the plaudits from other teams, confidence. Not expectation: confidence. We can beat teams, and in some cases, comfortably. Players who were used to losing are enjoying winning. The new players are playing for the Newcastle United of a few, expectant years ago, not the nightmare of last season.
Rafa Benitez doesn’t ask for twenty matches in dreamland to fix a problem; he calmly sorts it out.
Gouffran is a different player under Benitez. Matt Ritchie isn’t so much hungry, as ravenous. Lascelles is willing to learn.
Five games on the bounce is good. I think we would have taken that during the Fulham and Huddersfield Town matches. I’ll happily become a forty-four year old teacher in November; I just don’t want the glass walkway, or Bukta socks.
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