What German Fans Know About Newcastle United
On a recent trip to Germany with a small group of lads, I took in an international game in Cologne and I thought I would let you know what I found out.
On my flight over I started chatting to a German and his hispanic girlfriend and they were interested in footballm so instead of just assuming that they had heard about and knew about Newcastle united, I started asking them a few questions in relation to our club.
The lad said yes he had heard of them but he really didn’t know anything else apart from watching the movie Goal as they both loved that movie about the young Mexican player going to England & said can remember the scenes of the beach (Tynemouth). They then seemed interested as I told them a little bit about the movie, such as how they got the actors onto the pitch quickly at full time because they hid behind the hoardings etc.
I asked other questions such as did they know where Newcastle was in England, did they know what colours they played in, did they know any players – but that was all they knew about us even though they liked their football. She said she watched LA Galaxy before Beckham came and then it all changed, now can’t afford it but did finish by saying all her uncles knew a lot of things about the Premier League &amd they talk a lot of English football.
The questioning theme continued in Germany whenever I got a chance, I gradually got to ease my questions into the conversations. I met some families and they asked where we lived but I am afraid there wasn’t a response like ‘Oh Newcastle, that’s who Shearer played for’ or some other kind of fact, it was simply a polite acknowledgment so I take that as not really knowing us. However, some individuals said yes we have heard of Newcastle United but don’t know where you are In England, though some did guess north north and one said is it near Scotland which pleased me. In respect to colours many knew we played in our distinctive black and white. I kept plugging away asking these German football fans have you heard of Bobby Robson, Alan Shearer or Jackie Milburn and I’m afraid it was only Shearer’s name that was recognised. Most fans had heard of Newcastle United but basically any further information on the Toon was zero, or limited to knowing our colours apart from the one who even knew our nickname was the Magpies.
It was pointed out to me that yes they get the premiership but it came across that they were only aware of teams such as Man United and Chelsea, however, I was curious to find further people who associated Newcastle United with the movie Goal. Do we thank Freddie Shepherd for this putting us on the European map? Only one fan said ‘yes you played in the Europa league last season’ which makes me think that, if you are not in a European competition or you have not played a German team, then it’s likely we won’t be known.
Having been to quite a lot of German cities and football matches since Euro 88 this was my first international game and yes they do things different to us such as allowing beer onto the terraces, no flags to be displayed along the side of the ground by fans (only behind goals), excellent stewarding even though I was in the home end, companies putting up tents advertising their products such as sports cars, credit cards, mobile phones, merchandise stalls, food stalls etc on walkways leading up to the ground and of course the most expensive ticket was 37 euros which is excellent if comparing it to Wembley. I even had a mix up with my disabled ticket because I needed plenty leg room & remarkably they found me another seat & printed me a different ticket off within 10 minutes.
The subject of Newcastle united and marketing has been mentioned on many occasion on this website over the last few months and this experience and what I found out about NUFC, tells me many things, many of which a lot of us already knew. As a club we have a lot of work to do to put, and then keep, Newcastle on the European map.
Of course from the owner’s perspective, being in the forefront of media exposure will help in many ways bringing in extra pennies to our club but all this can’t be done unless we consistently win games and are challenging for cups. At present all we appear to be doing is selling the SD brand instead of our own brand. Perhaps on my next visit I will hear the dreaded words Sports Direct associated with Newcastle United when I ask those same questions on my next visit to Hamburg.
I feel it’s very important that a vibrant successful Newcastle united is known throughout Europe and the World for great support, excellent stadium, passionate and welcoming people and a fabulous area to visit.
I would go as far as to say we are ambassadors for our area and in our own way can do a little bit of work for our local tourist board.
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