I’ve absolutely no wish to put a dampener on the ‘Team GB ‘ whole Olympic celebrations palava but hand on heart, I suspect that the organisers have been slightly disappointed at the attendances for the group games at St James’ Park. It seems that the attendances to date have generally been around the 15,000 mark, lower in some instances.
I work fairly close to the ground and the security is unbelievable, staffing seems to be 24 hour and there are gates stopping traffic from getting anywhere near the ground for 3 hours beforehand and 1 hour after the games. It certainly appears to be a bit over the top when you consider that the City manages to cope with 52,000 every other week during the season without much problem.
By chance, I had to go to Stanhope Street on the day of one of the games and had a walk past the ground, it was quite a surreal experience. Without meaning to sound disrespectful, the crowd did not seem to be your normal football crowd, more a crowd who were attending an ‘Olympic event’.
To be honest, the attendances come as no surprise to me. Just think back to the European Championships in 1996, the crowds at St James’ Park were only around the 25,000 mark, maybe a little more. Whilst the outside world has this entrenched opinion of the North East as the ‘hotbed of football’ (which it undoubtedly is) and Geordies as football mad loonies who will turn up to St James’ Park regardless, I think that the true position is that we are ‘Newcastle United mad’ who will turn up to watch Newcastle United! …the rest hardly matter.
From my own point of view I’ve never actually attended a ‘league’ football match that doesn’t feature Newcastle. I suspect that I’m not alone. I’ve no interest in watching any other team in action. I probably take it to the extreme in that I don’t have any interest in watching live Premier football, I’d rather watch a local game.
Super Sunday! No chance.
Newcastle United. The only one!