I have had the pleasure of doing  a monthly Newcastle United piece for the Mag for nine years. I appreciate that it may not have been much fun for you but I have enjoyed it.

Well for the last few months I haven’t sent anything in, despite there being plenty to write about, but I think my excuse was  a fair one.

I  had a bloody heart attack.

My wife has joked for years that my obsession with this club would kill me, but I don’t think getting beaten by Fulham at home in March, was the real reason for my attack a couple of days later.

So before I get onto all things Newcastle United, if the editor will indulge me, here comes a sermon to all you 40 and 50 somethings out there.

When you are lying in bed with pains in the chest that go into your shoulders, do not put it down to the Greggs corned beef pasty you had for lunch. Do not think that drinking a bottle of gaviscon will make your pain go away, and do not do what I did and refuse to go to A&E because “it’s just indigestion.”

By the time the hospital saw me, the blockage had killed off the lower part of my heart and there is nothing anyone can do to rectify that.

So take it from me please. Don’t be a hero / dick.  If you start to get any symptoms, get your backside down to A&E.

Being strapped up to machines doesn’t half give you a sense of perspective though…

When Steven Fletcher scored that second goal at Hillsborough, I was remarkably calm about it, although that might have been down to being full of funny substances at the time.

Whereas you were living and breathing every twist and turn of the run-in , and no doubt getting high blood pressure as a result, I found myself watching the events unfold from a very detached perspective.

If we go up , we go up.  If we don’t , we don’t.

Everything I have felt for the past 50 odd years suddenly didn’t seem right.

It turns out, getting promoted is not a matter of life and death. Keeping that piece of muscle beating in your chest is!

Don’t get me wrong, The way it all turned out on the last day of the season was enjoyed and celebrated  by me just as much as those in the stadium .

Well that’s not quite true. I don’t think too many who came out of St James Park that day, spent the afternoon drinking Lucozade and Milk. But I was in the town that day in spirit, if not in body.

So will next season bring more days like that?

Lets hope so – but lets also be realistic. Breaking into the top seven would seem to be out of our reach at this time.

However, with there being nothing between eighth and seventeenth (six points), with a few decent signings we should be able to hold our own.

I have a feeling the coming season may well include one or two drubbings from top five teams, but I hope  the fifty thousand who will be watching from the stands will have sensible expectations, and won’t be calling for Rafa’s head when Chelsea or Man City put four past us.

After all, whether you are a Rafa disciple or not, when it comes to the Premier League, there is no arguing that he has the pedigree to succeed…. providing he gets the backing of course.

Anyway, lets see what the summer brings.  We will know so much more by August.

Personally. I think we need at least four proven Premier League signings. The likes of Tammy Abraham are potentially very useful acquisitions but the important word in that sentence is potential.  It would be a big risk to rely only on potential .

What are you expecting from the coming season?  As always, a top ten finish and a trip to Wembley would do for  me, but then again I’m old school.

Finally, I just want to put in writing my gratitude and admiration to the staff of University Hospital Durham. From the porter to  the consultants but especially the amazing nursing staff on the critical care ward.  You made me realise just how unimportant my job  is. You people do a real job and you do it bloody well.

There is something sadly wrong , when the 15 people working that ward, keeping people alive, earn less collectively each week than Emmanuel Riviere, but  I guess that is the world we live in.

So whatever happens next season, lets try and enjoy it and not get too obsessed about the odd bad result.

Football really isn’t that important.

Ps Sorry for the self-indulgence in this piece. Normal service – wittering on about the 1980s, will resume next month.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])

Rafa Personalised Gifts  - shop.themag.co.uk


  • Brian Standen

    Lesson to us all, always an articulate writer, truly hope you are well on your way to full recovery –

  • HappyToons

    Glad you are on the mend! But what if you had died?

    This is from a former football hooligan who spent time in prison for football violence. Football was my ‘god’, NUFC tattooed for all to see. Football is part of our culture, but it is no longer my god. When I was imprisoned NUFC made a statement disowning me, even though I was innocent. I later came to know the God of the Bible, and He never disowns those whom he saves! So which God should I follow with all my heart?

    Bear with me …

    Most folk don’t like to think about death and joke about the one appointment we will all keep, yet most people chose to be atheistic and put their faith in boffins and billions of years, trusting their own confidence that faith in boffins theory’s is the only answer, and tend to find a substitutionary ‘god’ to follow instead, like a football team. Sunday worship is the match; the hymns are odes to our football ‘gods’ etc. Most folk are highly critical of Christianity without any idea what it actually is; very few have read a Bible or even have a child’s understanding of the Protestant Reformation and know what ‘Justification By Faith alone’ as taught in scripture, see the 39 Articles of Religion of the Church of England. Today the C of E is liberal, ecumenical and apostate with only a few Ministers still following their very own church articles.

    We have lots of religious cults, some knocking on our doors, denying the Trinity and the substitutionary atonement of the God manifest in the flesh, Jesus Christ, who Himself with the authority of Deity claims to be the only way to Heaven.

    We also have Islam. You needn’t be a history boffin to realise that this is a barbaric religion with no less than Winston Churchill warning against its dangers. In the second world war the King called a national day of prayer…look it up and see how it was answered and our troops delivered. Then a national day of thanksgiving to Almighty God for victory. Many of the commanders of the US and British troops had firm Bible beliefs. Our Country had a sense of moral decency. The BBC were even founded on Christian values with a Bible motto, google it!

    Roll on just over half a century and we have lost our identity; children confused whether they are even male or female; no moral absolutes, anything goes as atheism seeks to silence the gospel . The Politically correct BBC are afraid to use the term Muslim or Islam in any negative way, or critique the Koran. Yet they ridicule Christianity and blaspheme Christ, but no not never Allah. Think it through. Islam despises many of our Christian values. Denies the Trinity. Denies the gospel of good news, saving grace to undeserving sinners, through Jesus Christ alone-the God man. They deny His Deity. Deny His physical death and bodily resurrection. They tear out the gospel of John (which proves Christ is God the Creator) and any other scriptures that show Islam for what it is, a false dangerous deception, mixing paganism, Christianity, Judaism and the strange alleged visions of a false prophet centuries after the gospel had arrived in Arabia. Ask a converted Muslim (a Christian) what it is like to live in an Islamic country and what they think of the west. Even in Pakistan those who have converted to Christianity have been murdered, some crucified in certain Islamic countries.

    Forget Roman Catholicism (Popery) and the crusades, as much has nothing to do with bible Christianity. Think: ‘Thou shalt not murder’ and ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’ and then look at the history of Roman Catholicism even in our own country (Bloody Mary). The look at the love of Islam?

    Islam is a religion of works and merit. Same with Roman Catholicism and the cults. You earn paradise in their systems by ‘good works’. So a Muslim who is weighed in the balances and finds his bad deeds outweigh his good and knows that he can never be good, what does he do? He hears the Puppeteers of the Koran say kill the infidel and you will enter paradise. That is the reason for most suicide bombs and attacks. What will cut the puppets strings?

    Britain has no answer. How do you stop an Islamic terrorist, even one as in Manchester or three and a van in London? What would have happened if there were 10 vans and 50 terrorists all heading to different areas at the same time? 500 vans? Islam will not be stopped as Sharia Law is their aim and to convert or overpower the infidels. Peaceful Islam will have a different face in another few decades when it becomes a majority, just read history and look at Sweden.

    60 years ago we had a resemblance of Christianity which would never allow Islamic falsehoods to prosper in our land. Politicians who were well read on the subject. Now we hear the sound of silence. Think it through before any attack me for writing this. What Politician has any answer to Islamic terrorism or dare speak about Sharia law imposed in suburbs of London? Our greatest era was the Protestant Reformation. Who was William Tyndale? What about the beauty of the Authorised Version which brought the English language to its prominence. The Bible made us great.

    The Bible teaches all have sinned. God’s law is perfect. We have broken His perfect law in thought and deed. If we all were able to obey God’s 10 commandments then there would be no murder, no lies, no theft, no adultery etc.; no crime and perfect peace, but due to the fall and original sin Man is inherently a law breaker-a sinner. No law breaker can enter paradise-Heaven. Law breakers are punished in this world, so all of us in the next world. Prepare to meet God. Yet no good works can atone for our sins for the wages of sin is death. So how can a man be right with God? All religion is salvation through personal merit and good deeds except the Bible. The Christian message is the sinner (law breaker) can never be accepted by God until He is saved through Sovereign Grace alone. This is good news, for even the worst sinner can be saved and that without a suicide vest or any good works. The sinner can never earn a righteousness before the thrice Holy God. Christ came into this world, the God man, to live a perfect life, and voluntarily die a substitutionary death on the cruel bloody cross at Golgotha, on the behalf of guilty lawbreakers (sinners). His death and shed blood and perfect righteousness is the only merit acceptable to a Holy God, never our own. If we trust the Lord Jesus Christ and believe upon Him and ask Him to save us from our sins, we will receive His perfect righteousness AND KNOW IT. Saved for all eternity from the judgement of hell. If you don’t believe this is the good news of Christianity, look up those 39 Articles of the Church of England.

    So there you go. Stick to your own atheism or what ever you think soothes your conscience, but what about death and the day we die? This is written so we can think about what we believe and why? Why hate the Bible and Christianity if you have never even studied the gospel of John? Why do Muslims jettison that gospel? Why do the cults refuse to believe John 1: 1-18? What does John 3: 16 have to say to the Muslim and to all of us? Can we know in this life John 5: 24 and 6: 47? John 20: 28 and John 1: 1-5, who is Jesus?

    Why is the gospel written 20: 31? John 6: 37?

    Does Jinky know, do you? At least know what Christianity teaches and you need to read the Bible first to critique it. Too many of us are influenced by the thoughts of others without reading the evidence our selves. Be sure we know what Christianity is before we reject it. Why does Islam and the cults attack the person of Christ and His Deity? If Christ is not who He claims to be in 2017 AD, then why are those atheists who claim He doesn’t exist spending most of their lives hating and attacking Him? Why hate the perfect man who died for the imperfect sinner?

    May Jinky be sure of his eternal destiny. I am the last person one would think could become a Christian, but Christ came to save even me I Timothy 1: 15. So there is hope. Don’t let Islam confuse the average man about our own Christian heritage, read it for yourself. Read Bunyan’s Pilgrims Progress and his own autobiography ‘Grace Abounding To the Chief of Sinners’ and see what Christian conversion is!!!

  • toonterrier

    Been there, survived. Stay positive, lots of exercise and keep the weight off. Best wishes.

  • grumpyoldmag

    Best of luck with the recovery jinky- always enjoy reading your crack more like the spirit of the old print mag