Saturdays Should Unite All Newcastle Fans
I was 7 years old when I moved to Newcastle in 1974 and Newcastle United were then unknown to me.
I’d been kicking a ball since the day I could walk, but following a team religiously was new to me. Fast forward to February 28th 1976 and Newcastle United walk out at Wembley against Manchester City. I sit down to watch the game on TV and my love for Newcastle begins.
My father was never much of a football supporter but lucky for me I had school friends whose fathers supported the Toon and I was soon to find myself standing amongst a sea of black and white in the Leazes end.
Thus began the battle with my parents to let me attend St. James’ for each home game, despite the constant, “you’re not old enough to go on your own.” Help was at hand when I befriended a classmate at school whose mam went to every home game. She would take her seat in the old east stand each Saturday while we would both headed into the Gallowgate.
Supporting the Toon in the late 70s was a rollercoaster ride, yet despite all the politics, we took our place on those terraces each week filled with hope and dreams. Every week we’d turn up without fail, expecting the Lads to come through. Some weeks we’d go home elated and others we’d trudge home deflated, wondering where it had all gone wrong.
1982 came and I received the worst news a boy could ever hear. Kevin Keegan has signed for Newcastle…but, “we’re moving to Bristol son cause your dads got a job there.” The one thing I lived for, my one joy in life on a Saturday afternoon, was coming to an end. The move seriously hindered my support for the team I loved but I’d attend away games (didn’t need a membership for away games then) that were close to home. I’d get back to Newcastle as and when I could, even giving up the chance of a trial with Swindon Town to attend a game at St James’.
As the years passed my attendance at games dwindled due to the travelling and work commitments, but was revitalised during our season in the championship when I became a member. I found myself attending 5 or 6 home games a season and 3 or 4 away games on top.
Clinching the Championship at Plymouth was an amazing night which I am glad I was part of. The following season I was witness to Hughton’s men thrashing the Mackems 5-1 and life seemed good. St James’ Park was rocking but the end was nigh.
Jump forward to the present day and we’re back in the dark days of the late 70s, only this time the belief is no longer there. Similarities remain; we have an owner we don’t want, but the unity amongst fans and the belief we can achieve anything, has gone. We have a split loyalty for a manager whose popularity is fading, yet there still seems to be those who will go with the flow.
In my 38 years supporting the Toon, never have we seemed to be so fragmented and willing to accept mediocrity.
We are Newcastle, yet we are anything but United these days, and until we stand together for the greater good we will never experience the highs of the Keegan era again.
If we don’t deserve a Newcastle United worthy of our support, then surely our children do. The kids of tomorrow deserve to have the same hopes and dreams as I did as a lad, and they will be deprived of those dreams, until Ashley has gone.
You can follow Ian on Twitter @NUFCToonNews
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