I was born in South London and my Grandad and four of his sons (my uncles) were all football fanatics. Grandad would take me to all Tooting and Mitcham home games until he took me to see Fulham v Newcastle.
It was a 1-1 draw but that day was my football turning point- I idolised Jackie Milburn and tried to emulate him in my role with the school team. From that day and for as long as I live, I always have and will be a very passionate supporter of Newcastle.
In the early days and with a friend, I used to get on a trolley bus, 10/13 years old, to see Newcastle every time they came to London. Fulham and Chelsea were easy, Arsenal, Tottenham. West Ham etc. more difficult to get to but I did it on occasions. My favourite memory, apart from seeing the Jackie Milburn era, was at Fulham, 11 years old and joining the Toon supporters. I was bought rosettes and programmes by wonderful Geordies who took me under their wing – I couldn’t understand a word they said but boy were they good to me.
I have seen some very memorable games – against Barcelona, home and away, the FA Cup Finals against Arsenal and Man U, the Charity Shield match that followed. This was a wonderful period and my favourite times were seeing the Shearer/Ferdinand pairing, Beardsley, and Speed.
For a long while I had a friend who was a Premier League Linesman and I’ve had the privilege of meeting the players in a number of tunnels, and talking to many of them incl. a chat with Kevin Keegan as their manager.
I’ve witnessed the bad times as well, I was there to see them go down against Aston Villa. I was also feet away from Bobby Robson in 2004 when we lost 4-2 at Villa that day and could see the hurt on his face, he was sacked two days later. I’ve been in danger as well. I was at Old Trafford for Newcastle’s visit in 2002, A Man U friend got me a ticket so I was in the wrong place, at the wrong time, especially when Alan Shearer scored and I leapt from my seat – the rest of the game wasn’t very comfortable!
Now living near Cheltenham, we saw the visit of Alan Shearer and the team in the cup and each year see them when they play in the Midlands. The most memorable game of all will always be the Bobby Robson “farewell” game in July 2009. My wife and I travelled up from Cheltenham and donned our Black and White stripes to see the brave Bobby together with my hero, Alan Shearer.
On the train on the way home, we read the special edition of the Evening Chronicle and of the many photos of the event there was only one crowd shot and who was in the middle of it – the two white-haired oldies, my wife Jenny and I , in their black and white stripes.
Every day since Jackie and his skills made NUFC my club, I have started from the back page of the daily paper in search of news of Newcastle, I watch every TV match I can, including many from bars around the World. I’ve often said it is easier to see Newcastle on TV abroad than it is here in the UK. My study is a shrine to the team.
I can’t wait to read the Mag every day, to those behind it and those who contribute, a very big thank you, it’s high quality, insight and overall interest is superb.
After such a terrible period in the history of the club I now live in hope that Rafa will turn things around, I only hope he reads the Mag and in particular, the Mag’s ratings of his players and most importantly, he takes note! (perhaps he did with the rating of Matz Sels)