My work takes me around the country, which allows me to mix with people who support a wide variety of football clubs, not just Newcastle United.
I find it refreshing to mix with people who follow teams who some may regard as “unfashionable", but believe me, those that follow the likes of Carlisle United, Inverness and Burnley are just as passionate about their team as we are.
We make a lot out of taking six thousand to Preston and Barnsley, and rightly so, but is it not just as impressive that Carlisle take 500 to Dagenham or that three thousand hardy souls are prepared to stand in the coldest stadium in Britain, to watch Cally Thistle take on Hamilton? Now that’s commitment .
Or they should be committed. One or the other .
Something else that I have noted amongst the support of these clubs, is the amount of couples who attend matches. It’s not something I have come across a lot in my time following Newcastle but that may simply be down to the company I kept. There weren’t that many women on the terraces in the eighties!
Anyway, it got me thinking about what it must be like to be in a relationship where both partners are as fanatical about the club as each other. Very expensive, no doubt.
Unfortunately, getting my partner interested in this football club was something that was never going to happen, due to two utterly miserable experiences back in the day.
The first time was way back in 1981. We were living in Germany and coming home on leave. On this occasion, I took the ferry to Hull instead of going via Dover, because it allowed me to drive straight to Barnsley on the Saturday morning. This is something that I had somehow forgotten to mention to new wifey until we pulled onto the motorway in our Ford Cortina, (complete with go faster stripes).
This was not a good idea. The journey was done in complete silence and it took all my pleading to stop her spending the entire afternoon in the car park, while I went to the game.
“You will have a great time pet, trust me".
A miserable day was then made worse by the game being a rank 1-0 defeat, a set of skinheads standing behind us using every swear word known to man, and then one of them punching her in the eye after Bobby Shinton contrived to put the ball into Lincolnshire from 6 yards out.
Our fledgling relationship very nearly ended on that day and was only saved by an expensive visit to Eldon Square and a shop that I think was called Sgt Peppers, down near the market.
It took two years before I could convince her to try again. This time, it was to be in the much more civilised surroundings of St James Park. The match against Huddersfield was brilliant, United winning 5-2. Wifey actually seemed to enjoy watching our wonderful frontline of Keegan, Beardsley and Waddle. Or was it that she just fancied Peter?
And then I went and blew it.
At the final whistle, as the crowd did its usual pushing and shoving to get out of the Gallowgate corner, I somehow forgot that I was with her. It wasn’t until I got to the Strawberry that I remembered I was meant to have a wife in tow.
I knew there was nothing I could do but simply stand there and await my fate. Ten minutes later the crowd has dispersed and walking down the steps towards me is five feet nothing of utter fury and rage. Suffice to say, that was the end of her relationship with Newcastle United.
It’s fair to say that she has got to accept the third member of our relationship better as the years have gone by. That’s been helped by the gradual reduction in my blind devotion to watching a bunch of blokes in shorts kick a bag of air around a field – but also her increased understanding of just why people like us do what we do
For all the grief they bring, thank God for Newcastle. The thought of having to spend your Saturday nights just discussing who should be booted out of X Factor or Celebrity Big Brother is too hideous to contemplate.
There is no real logic to being a football fan. It brings far more bad days than good, but without it , your life would have a bloody big hole in it
Just like those fish who eat stuff out of a shark’s mouth, Newcastle fans know this is a stupid thing to do, but now and again a season comes along where you actually enjoy it, so you happily put your head back in again .
There are far to many occasions when I wish this wasn’t the case but the truth is…
I need Newcastle United.
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])