So wee Bernie Slaven is the latest in a long line of ex-pros to brand us ‘eternal underachievers’. Jimmy Krankie’s love child was wide of the mark often enough in his career (on the odd occasion he could stay onside) but stats would unsurprisingly bear out Bernie’s bombshell.
We’re the 13th best supported team in Europe on average attendances and that 13 sure is unlucky for us, because the dozen above us have reaped no less than 332 trophies (domestic league, domestic cup or major European) between them since Jimmy Scoular climbed the Wembley steps in ’55.
But keep your peckers up, because in amongst the depressing stats, there is a club with a whopper 70,000 seat stadium who have been and still are as bad as we are, but have nevertheless managed to fill their trophy cabinet. Enter Hertha Berlin!
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Hertha are 8th in the European attendance table with an average of a whisker off 52,000 and they found a fiendishly simple way of giving their fans that winning feeling and (according to Wiki at least) it’s kosher in terms of achievement.
They forgot about the other towns and cities in Germany for a fair while and set up….The Berlin Cup.
Now poor old Hertha were still pretty pants and only managed to win it 5 times between 1906 and 1950, but they weren’t deterred. They made a further minor yet devious amendment and came up with…. the West Berlin Cup instead – (just to narrow the field a bit).
In fact, hapless Hertha could still only win that version 5 times in 41 years, till The Berlin Wall came down and normality resumed, but at least they gave their fans a few occasions for merriment. They even had an Oberliga Berlin so they could have a realistic crack at the double!
Good things don’t last forever do they, and since things got boringly national again, Hertha have returned a paltry (but still better than us) 2 League Cups, so the local way certainly worked best for Hertha Berlin.
So maybe we should adopt the German methodology ourselves. They needed a nationalistic political lunatic and a great big wall to make it work, but we’ve got the wall in NE6 and I don’t think Alex Salmond is up to much these days, so we should be ok.
Imagine the headlines….’Newcastle United lift the West Newcastle Cup’ and the (quite short mind) open top bus tour to follow. Imagine the hangovers. We’d even be spared the expense of getting to Wembley for the final.
Then again, back to reality. We’d likely suffer once again from that mysterious one-week pandemic that afflicts the squad every January and our reserves would be beaten in the first round by Hazlerigg Victory.
Back to the drawing board and (of course) Ashley Out!!!