Newcastle United – Singing Our Hearts Out For The Lads?
Back when Chris Mort was Chairman of Newcastle United I had the pleasure of meeting him on a number of occasions, at times as part of a group of NUFC fan magazine/website people, other times by myself.
One of the things that I brought up with him and discussed over a period of time was the idea of a ‘singing section’, which he then became interested in exploring as a way of improving the atmosphere.
To my amazement, the away fans were moved to the back of the Leazes towards the East Stand and the prime location in the corner of the Leazes/Milburn was given over to a singing section, result!
Credit to Chris Mort and Mike Ashley, spending time and money on an idea which at least to accountants, wouldn’t have any obvious financial return. Oh but it does, as younger people (not necessarily kids in the family enclosure with their parents) get as much hooked by the atmosphere when they start coming to matches, as they do by the actual football.
Yes going into a ‘singing section’ isn’t for everybody, just as in my youth when I started off as a wary kid in the old Leazes End before moving to the Gallowgate Corner when the Leazes was demolished, that wasn’t for everybody either. If you wanted a quiet life you went into the West (Milburn) Stand side of the Gallowgate End or the West (Milburn) Stand Paddock. Or the seats obviously if you had money!
Anyway, the most definite result of the Mort/Ashley initiative was an improved atmosphere, from the least attractive to the most high profile matches.
Even in the relegation season and the Championship year you were guaranteed some atmosphere, almost exclusively started by the singing section.
Fast forward to Norwich last Sunday, United won a tight match to go five points clear of Liverpool and only two behind fifth placed Chelsea. The loudest the crowd ever got were with the moaning and groaning when Williamson lost the ball, or some other player didn’t live up to unrealistic expectations.
No blind support of the team and the ironic thing with Ashley getting rid of the singing section is that I have little doubt he lost revenue on Sunday and at other matches. There were less than 46,000 Newcastle fans there against Norwich, our average in the Championship was not much below that.
We all know that it was because of anti-Ashley chants that the singing section was dispensed with and to be honest you can say on that basis he has succeeded.
However, it has also got rid of any assistance to the atmosphere and we are all, including Mike Ashley, paying the price for that short-sighted move.
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