A March For Ambition
Passionate pleas from a number of fans to arrange some action against the Ashley regime led to a coalition of fan groups and individuals forming the Time4Change group.
The first big step in this campaign was the March for Ambition staged prior to the Liverpool game. The significance of this game cannot be lost on the majority of fans who chose to attend.
Newcastle and Liverpool have staged some of the greatest encounters the Premier League has ever seen back in the day when we were both ambitious, challenging outfits. Marches by the SOS (Spirit Of Shankly) Group were a successful tactic in their drive to regain the direction of their club.
No one was under the illusion that Ashley would walk due to a number of “rebel” fans demonstrating their displeasure at the ownership. The march was a symbolic beginning that shows we do have a voice. It was a chance to show the fans in a positive light and showcase to potential investors that the club can be commercially viable.
Although there were marchers criticised in cyber space for wearing “Wonga tops”, there were a lot wearing older shirts, retros or no colours at all. Unhappy fans are an untapped resource with regards to merchandising and ticketing. The sweatshop hoardings are also a visible example of lost revenue streams to the club.
Depending on whose reports you read, the marchers numbered between 300 (source: Evening Chronicle) and 800 to 1000 (source: Northumbria Police), others sources quote numbers of 500 plus. Anyone wanting to question these numbers may want to search the march videos on YouTube, there are particularly good videos around Eldon Garden and the Milburn Stand that tell their own story on numbers.
Thanks must go to the Time4Change organisers for giving us an opportunity to reclaim our pride. This was highlighted after the march when I heard a father say, “well we’ve done our bit today Son”. It shows the March was not just about the present but also the future of NUFC, do we really want future generations of fans to suffer a legacy of no ambition?
The success of the March can also be attributed to the Police and bystanders with their positive reactions to proceedings. The Police tweeted ‘As expected, the #NUFC protest passed safely and peacefully and was good natured with those involved now dispersed #Newcastle’. Walking past the Milburn Stand silently waving hankies was a stark contrast to the toxic atmosphere of the previous protests seen at the ground which hopefully gives the campaign more credence amongst the undecided and the doubters.
The March has divided opinion amongst Newcastle fans and there may be a long struggle for Time4Change to succeed in the battle against Ashley. It seems apt to quote a passionate moment in Newcastle’s history that divides opinion, some cringe, some remember it with fondness as someone with ambition giving it a go, “I will love it if we beat them – LOVE IT!”.
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