Are Gateshead Destined To Be The FC United For Newcastle Fans?
Manchester United fans who were disenchanted with what was happening at Old Trafford, formed FC United, a club which has achieved wonders from a standing start in 2005.
With Mike Ashley squeezing the life, ambition and an remaining hope out of the Newcastle fan base, the question has occasionally cropped up as to whether something similar could happen on Tyneside.
I doubt that there would ever be the desire by Newcastle supporters to form a totally new club from scratch, particularly when the north east has such a strong non-league scene with a lower level club on your doorstep if you live in the region.
However, things may be changing, even if it is only ripples at the moment.
Gateshead are only a poorly executed set-piece away from St.James’ Park and as the seasons of both Newcastle and ‘The Heed’ came to a close, there was subtle but noticeable shift in a number of fans’ perception of what a club like the one based at the International Stadium could offer.
A trickle of Newcastle fans have drifted to Gateshead (and other non-league clubs) over the years but the bitterness and resentment over Mike Ashley’s handling of Newcastle United, has now threatened to turn that trickle into a stream, which subsequently could turn into…
Those Newcastle fans going to watch Gateshead this season, even for just the odd match, have almost unanimously came away with a positive outlook.
The regular words I’ve heard have been expressing relief that there is more to (football) life than just resenting the fact you feel compelled to turn up at St.James’ Park and watch the soul-numbing dross of the last five months.
Can this turn into something more substantial for Gateshead…and Newcastle?
Well a massive shift occurred with 8,144 turning up for the play-off semi with Grimsby, then a similar number travelling to Wembley for the near miss final.
For a club who can only count their regular crowds in hundreds, those people came from somewhere.
Both from personal observation and common sense, the answer to me is that these extra 7,500 people didn’t just take an interest into going to a match. I would bet that something like 80% or more who went to that Grimsby semi or the Cambridge match at Wembley, will have been to watch Newcastle either regularly or at least the odd match.
If pressed they would all still describe themselves as Newcastle fans but with a soft spot for Gateshead.
Last season, Newcastle fans had a few quid knocked off at Gateshead if they showed their NUFC season ticket.
It will be interesting to see if Gateshead can capitalise on the unrest at Newcastle United and create a second viable league club on Tyneside.
Those fans who do walk away this summer, I urge you to consider Gateshead – surely it beats golf or the Metro Centre any day?
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