Why do we continue to follow Newcastle United? Why do we spend so much of our hard-working money following Newcastle United? Why do we spend days upon days travelling from Cardiff to London, to Lisbon, to Moscow, to see our team play? Why do we love Newcastle United?
That is a question, which I’m sure, would bring out a host of different answers from all Newcastle United fans. That is the beauty of the love that we share for our football club; it is a unique type of love. What is important to one of us will be of less importance to others. How I see our club, may not be how you see it.
If any of you have ever been lucky enough to step inside the Nou Camp, either for a game or a cheesy stadium tour, you will know of the club motto of FC Barcelona ‘MesQue Un Club’ emblazoned across the old stadium – “more than a club”. It would be fair to argue that this also applies to Newcastle United.
Since the day I was born, I was brought up to make sure that Newcastle United was in my blood. It’s a tradition that runs through both my parents’ family. Both my father and grandfather worked for Newcastle United, my mother regularly attended games with her Grandfather in the 70s and 80s. I was taken to my first Newcastle United game at the meagre age of 3.
My earliest memories of football are Newcastle United. An FA Cup third round tie vs Crystal Palace which saw Shay Given sent off after 10 minutes, standing in the pouring rain at the old Riverside training ground waiting for Gullit, Shearer and co. Although very faint, I recall a pre-season friendly at Celtic Park in 1999 in which Mark Viduka started for Celtic.
The famous kit with that combination of black and white stripes means so much to every single one of us. In my short life so far, I’ve seen many great players wear those colours; Beardsley, Asprilla, Shearer, Solano, Given, Robert, Owen, Coloccini, Cabaye. (As well as a few Marcelinos).
Being a Newcastle fan growing up throughout the 00s was topsy-truvy to say the least. Not only did we go from Champions League last 16 to Relegation in the space of 6 years, we also had to deal with the likes of the Graeme Souness and Sam Alladyce eras, with players such as Michael Owen, Albert Luque, and Damien Duff. All players who I’m sure at some points in their career achieved good things, but they all found the weight of the black and white stripes just too great. Then there was Joe Kinnear!
Now you may be thinking, “I know the history of the club” blablabla.
I am merely highlighting this period as it is important in my love for Newcastle United. I now know what it means to be at the bottom. That is why I can enjoy the achievements when we are in playing in Europe, winning at the Emirates and Old Trafford. As a supporter there is no sense of entitlement. That is what separates us from our foes. We do not take to the field and expect that we should win everything in sight. We understand the need to fight for the right to be better than an opponent. Whether it’s Alan Shearer shrugging off Marcel Desailly or Charles N’Zogbia charging through Sunderland’s back line, we recognise the effort, the spirit and the desire in each of them.
Supporting Newcastle United is arguably the greatest emotional rollercoaster. There are the good seasons and the bad seasons. The times of disappointment – relegation, derby defeats, or the sales of our cult figures. But then there are those moments that will live with us forever – 2-2 in the San Siro, 3-2 vs Barcelona or a 5-1 derby win. Regardless of what is happening with our football club right now, or even in the future, we will stay with our football club through the bad times.
I visit my friends in Lyon quite frequently. Between the 9/10 of us, we share a great passion for football and for our local team. A few years ago, Yoann and Etienne joined me on an away to Stoke, needless to say, we lost 4-0. One of them was wondering why, despite the fact that our team was visibly not very good and we haven’t won a trophy for over 40 years, do we still take 4,000 fans on an eight hour all round bus ride to Stoke on our day off?
I replied; “Supporting Newcastle United isn’t about winning trophies or being the best. Don’t get me wrong, we’d love to lift the FA Cup or win the Premier League, but win, lose or draw, it’s Newcastle United that we choose. The reason we travel in our numbers is Newcastle United, not the winning.”
I know many people will have completely different opinions all round. That’s the beauty of football and especially of Newcastle United.
Heroes come and go, some stay in our hearts forever, but Newcastle United is the greatest club in the world because of one thing.
It is the thing that lifted Albert’s chip over Schmeichel and threw Dabizas onto Robert’s free-kick. It made Clichy head that ball straight onto Tiote’s left foot and pushed Toldo’s save into the path of Shearer. And that vital element is you, me and all around us. May that weapon not only continue through the rest of what has been a difficult season but many thereafter.
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