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Tyne Talk

Newcastle United Lose One Of Their Greatest Supporters

7 years ago

It was with great sadness that I found out one of Newcastle United’s greatest supporters, Denis Cassidy, had passed away at the age of 81.

The successful businessman was born in Elswick and went on to enjoy a stellar career outside the north east as Chairman and Director of many publicly quoted companies, including Liberty and British Home Stores.

Denis enjoyed an eclectic mix of interests including both Cricket and Opera, however it was football and Newcastle United that was his one overriding lifelong true love and obsession, outside of his family.

Watching Newcastle United for the first time in 1943, Denis was hooked, and even though he spent almost his entire professional career outside of the north east, he took every opportunity to go and watch the black and whites.

Everything appeared to come together in 1997, Denis Cassidy was by then a very well respected figure in the business world with an enviable track record as a successful Chairman and Director.

Newcastle United were moving towards their Stock Exchange listing and needed credible people to make up the club’s PLC board, to give both the City and shareholders confidence that the football club would be overseen by people with integrity.

Denis Cassidy was an obvious choice and he became a non-executive director of Newcastle United PLC and then succeeded Sir Terence Harrison as PLC Chair when scandal hit the club, following a News of The World sting that exposed both Douglas Hall and Freddy Shepherd’s behaviour.

The pair agreed to step down from the PLC board but after an all too short period of absence, the pair forced their way back onto that PLC board. Chair Denis Cassidy and two other non-executive directors, felt they had no alternative but to resign with their positions now made untenable.

A great chance missed to drag the club into the realms of respectability, and the opportunity to build sustainable long-term success at Newcastle United, something that we have all suffered from ever since.

Denis Cassidy may have felt he had no alternative but to walk away as Chairman of Newcastle United PLC, however he remained a devoted fan, continuing to attend as many matches as his hectic business and family life would allow.

In recent years I got to know Denis very well and I’m proud to say he was a friend.

It is very rare to meet such a successful person, who yet still retains total integrity and can identify with all sections of society, even me.

I will really miss our telephone conversations and email exchanges, as well as face to face meetings where his advice was invaluable, and the shared love of Newcastle United was an endless debate.

Denis felt passionately that Newcastle United should be ran in a certain way that involved NUFC being held up as an example of how all football clubs should operate. Needless to say he was at his wits’ end with what Mike Ashley is doing to the club, despite originally wanting to give him the benefit of the doubt as most of us did. Believing back then that surely such a successful businessman would see what a great asset and football club Newcastle United could be, if given the chance and help to do so.

Maybe if Mike Ashley had surrounded himself with people such as Denis Cassidy and listened to their counsel, the Newcastle United owner could still be making a fortune out of the football club, but doing so in tandem with a successful team on and off the pitch.

Denis’ passion for Newcastle United and the region also manifested itself in print.

As well as writing about his childhood on Tyneside in ‘The Way Things Were’, there then followed ‘The Day The Promises Had To Stop’.

That latter title is an essential read for Newcastle fans, including detailing exactly just what happened at the club under the Hall & Shepherd watch, especially the eyewatering amounts of money the two families made via their association with the football club, both while running it and when Mike Ashley bought their shareholdings.

The updated version of that second book was published in 2012 and it was a proud moment as Denis chose this website to launch that new version.

Denis outlined exactly how he thought a football club should operate and used Newcastle United as his case study, by that time he’d accepted that there was little hope of things ending happily under Mike Ashley. Though that didn’t stop the author outlining just how easily things could transform into a positive scenario if only the owner would see the light.

It is a sad day when somebody you have so much respect for, passes away.

However, on this occasion it is also a great tragedy for the region and in particular Newcastle United, that the experience and ability of Denis Cassidy were never fully utilised for the benefit of us all.


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