Saigon Mags On Tour In New Zealand
Well after now being away from home for nearly a year after swapping Gateshead for Ho Chi Minh city (formerly Saigon) in Vietnam, I thought I would share my life following NUFC abroad.
After following Newcastle extensively over the years with many fantastic stories and trips (like most of us), including over 20 countries visited watching them abroad, I have finally become a Vietnamese armchair supporter and just formed the Saigon Mags.
The first thing I did when I arrived in Saigon (apart from work) was to find a bar where I could frequently watch the lads play. After jumping on my local vehicle, I managed to somehow beat the local traffic to locate and identify prospective bars to show the games.
This is a difficult task with most people wanting to watch the so called famous clubs, which if they kick off the same time as NUFC then the Vietnamese TV companies show those games.
However, after visiting 82 countries, I have always, like any other Geordie would, somehow always watched the match! Just like gannin’ to away games in the eighties and nineties when you travelled with no ticket, you always knew you would get in!
After much searching and drinking in various establishments, my local bar in Saigon, the Spotted Cow, is where I have watched just about every NUFC game, it is situated on Bue Vien in the backpacker area! The bar manger is a Newcastle fan and there is always a small number of Geordies in there watching the games – job done and that was me set up nicely for the rest of the season!
I found Watching NUFC on TV in Vietnam, rather than going to St. James’s just as exciting ( first half of the season), and as painful (second half of the season), as the love for the club remains the same regardless where you are in the world.
However, the big difference being over here in Vietnam is that you can drown your sorrows with cheaper beer (less than a quid a bottle) and you can get away from having to read and talk about the ownership of the club and the embarrassing gutless performances seen this year.
After promising friends in the USA I would visit them in the summer, I learned that the club had arranged a pre season tour in New Zealand. I thought to myself, I’ve always wanted to go to NZ and to watch NUFC there would be a dream come true. I tried to work out if my Vietnamese vehicle could get me there, but after a quick look at the map I took the decision to fly for obvious reasons!
I also knew that a friend and avid NUFC follower, Eddie Bilverstone, emigrated there 4 years ago. I have now arrived in NZ and I am fortunately staying at his house just south of Auckland for a few days on the way to Dunedin, via Queenstown on the South Island, to watch the first game! It’s amazing how small the world is and having both watched NUFC for many games and years, we are now currently in NZ taking Eddie’s sheep for a walk!
Neither of us expect much in the form of new signings or a great deal of passion from the tour, but a load of beer drinking, stories and meeting great people will definitely happen! If anybody is also in NZ and fancy meeting up please get in touch!
If you’d like to meet up with Kev in New Zealand or join up with the Saigon Mags, just drop an email to [email protected] and we’ll pass your details on.
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