When I decided to move abroad in 2015, as a Newcastle fan I certainly didn’t expect my love of our beautiful club to grow.

There would be no more match days; no more winding up through town, no more sticking a cheeky first goal scorer on, no more dancers in City Vaults, no more steak and onion sarnies and as I’d moved to the Middle East, there wouldn’t be too many £2 pints.

But, 18 months later, I write this as an excited fan. For the first time since Sir Bobby, we have the chance to build something. Something huge, something we need, something special!

In the summer of 2015 we signed Gini Wijnaldum, Chancel Mbemba, Florian Thauvin and Mitro amongst others. These were young, talented players with their best years ahead. The future looked bright.

I arrived in Bahrain and my first act was to try and find a bar with the Man United away game on. After walking for 15 minutes in 45 °C heat I stumbled upon a hotel bar with the match on.

By this stage my toon top was drenched and had stuck to my skin, akin to any shoe on the floor of Idols. I subsequently got a pint, converted to GBP, realised I’d paid about £9 and began to watch the game. Counting the price of every single sip.

Now this wasn’t one of the worst performances (0-0 draw) of the season but it was evident that something just wasn’t right with the team. The Arsenal game followed, in which Mitro got one of his early baths, and over the next couple of months the passion for watching my beloved team dwindled.

My only ‘Home’ game of the season was the draw against an appalling Villa side. It seemed that at this stage, we needed a change. Fans were crying out for it but, as per usual, the Geordie public got slated in the media for not giving the manager time.

I watched the Bournemouth game and I actually cheered when they scored their 2nd and 3rd. Something I never thought I would do but things had become that much of a joke! So out went Schteve and in came Rafa.

Never did I think that we would have someone of Benitez’s ilk in charge of our club, especially considering where we were. Fair enough, he’d be on a lot of money, but you pay for the best. Relegation was inevitable, when it became two from three, the mackems were always going to perform their escape act. They have for the past five years! As much as I dislike that club, they need to go down. Sometimes it’s the best thing to happen.

It has been the best thing to happen to us!

We got rid of those who want to use our club as a ‘stepping stone’ and bought players who want to wear the famous black and white. I’m not going to critique every player but Gayle, Shelvey, Yedlin, Clark and Hayden have been fantastic from what I have seen of them.

As I write it’s deadline day and the rumours are swirling as they always do. I wouldn’t get rid of anyone but I would dearly love Townsend back (the grass isn’t always greener). To have him and Ritchie down both flanks would be superb to watch.

Anyways, come 10.45pm tomorrow, I’ll have my toon top on, drinking a fairly well priced £3.20 lager, eating a shawarma, humming ‘Local Hero’ with a group of likeminded expat Geordies. No dancers mind, although that’s not necessarily a bad thing!

Thank you Rafa for bringing back the passion and heightening the love, no matter how far away from home life leads.

“For this is a mighty town, built upon a solid ground, and everything they’ve tried so hard to kill, HE will rebuild!”

Mic Houghton

Season ticket holder without the seat.

(This excellent article is Mic’s debut writing for The Mag, join him in writing for the top Newcastle United independent website, send all article to contribute@themag.co.uk and share you thoughts with thousands of black and whites around the World – from Byker to Bahrain)