Cast your minds back to 2008, specifically to the Arsenal away game. You know the one – Keegan was in charge, we lost three nowt, oh, and Mike Ashley treated the nation to the sight of him necking a pint of southern lager faster than Usain Bolt sitting on an exocet……

If you remember this, then you’d also probably remember that James Milner was sold to Villa the week before…..

I was at the Emirates for that game and who was sitting in the row in front of me, none other than the aforementioned Mr Ashley, accompanied by two henchmen. All three of ’em being of ‘brick outhouse’ proportions.

Anyhow, our illustrious owner was getting all kinds of venom, bile and vitriol hurled his way by assorted Mags in the away end, all due to sale of Milner.  Some might say he deserved it but to my mind the abuse was way over the top, in fact most of it was embarrassing.

You may also recall that, prior to Mike Ashley coming in, Sir John Hall said that we needed a Geordie Abramovich or something like that to take over the club. You may also remember there were rumblings about us being heavily in debt, something bourne out by the overpaid wasters we had on the books, and the amount of debt the new owner ultimately had to swallow.

Financially, and from a football viewpoint, things were not right. Worrying talk of “doing a Leeds” kept cropping up….

That’s why, I always thought that if I ever got the chance to meet Mike Ashley I would shake the guy’s hand, and say “thankyou” for taking the club over, because I honestly felt that we were heading for meltdown if Sir John and Freddie Shepherd had still been at the helm.

So that day, in Goonerland, it came to pass that I shook hands with Mike Ashley.  Straight away the guy just wanted to talk football, and at that moment I genuinely got the feeling that the bloke had the best interests of the club at heart. Call me gullible, or something worse if you must…….

He then pointed at the Emirates, and said:- “This is what I want for us (Newcastle)”, meaning a financially astute club coupled with a team of footballers playing entertaining football, which is what The Arse were doing at the time…….much better than we were.  He then added:- “But it’s not going to happen in five minutes – it’s going to take some time”. He spoke like he was in it for the long haul.

It came across to me that he had some sort of vision, which seemed to make sense and be for the right reasons.

As we all now know, things then turned sour, really sour.  Mike Ashley’s catalogue of crimes against the Geordie nation became boundless, with each new kick in the cobblers hurting just a little bit more……

Almost every day I felt ashamed, and almost hated myself, for shaking his hand.  This in itself is a stupid way to feel, but hey, football has a habit of doing that to you.

Now fast forward to last season and the present time.  Let’s not kid ourselves that everything in the garden is rosy, but surely we are in much better shape both financially and football-wise than we have been for years, especially considering the financial turmoil the whole country is in.

You only have to look at the likes of Blackburn, Birmingham, Rangers and Portsmouth to see how they’ve come unstuck.

“There but for the grace of Jackie Milburn it could’ve been us……”

Granted there are things that are still wrong, and will continue to be wrong, such as the naming of St James’, and lets not kid ourselves that every Toon player has his price, but ask yourself this:-

“How good did last season feel?”

If you would like to feature like Dave on our/your website, get writing, ‘The Blog’ is where we profile contributions from anybody who has something to say. Send in your opinions/hopes/fears/articles and we’ll put them up on the website for everybody to enjoy.

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  • Valle

    Great article mate… You should be proud! Its sensible fans like you that help stabalize our great club.

  • Jimmy

    I’m one Ashley’s fans I think he’s doing the right things, just going about them wrong but hopefully he’ll learn from his mistakes and do it right in the end. The only problem I have with this article saying Mike swallowed the debt is a bit misleading, it’s doubled and we still owe him it. Other than that, good read.

  • admin

    “How good did last season feel?”
    Well written. Totally agree with your article

  • roscoe64

    Great write up m8.I’ve agreed but mostly disagreed with Ashley’s running of our club(esp,renaming our ground).Back when he 1st took over and he started to fiddle with things my mates and i all thought we’re just a toy and he has’nt a clue about running a football club.Maybe that was right back then,how long is it now 6 or 7 years,and he’s still here.

    Go get em Ahs prove most of us wrong,make my mates and i eat humble pie and take our great club to heights most of us will never have seen(and im no youngster at 48yrs).Finally it looks like we have a guy who wants our club to be sucessful but is putting in place the infrastructure 1st.Take your time Ash but hey lets win something im starving for a taste.

    Again great write up and i wish one day that i could meet this guy and shake his hand when things really take off.

  • Alex

    Good report. That is, apart from pointing out how far Arsenal have fallen over the intervening period since you met him.
    I’m not comfy with the Man City and Chelsea way, but I don’t think saying that the ‘Arsenal Way’ is a good example to follow either.

  • brin

    again i say…5th in the table last year…over 50,000 gates and we regress this year…who have we brought in ? What a leap forward we could have had this year..with sensible investment. 2nd game of season and we have no strikers on the subs bench.
    How can you run a club when Guthrie is on £4,000 a week(way below the rest of the Premiership) is allowed to go…when he played half the games last season and never let us down…let alone Leon Best(not great but he was a sub) knows what he was paid
    We could be such a great club