I returned to Kent late Sunday evening following a hugely enjoyable weekend in Newcastle, which I had organised for friends (non-Newcastle fans) from work.

Staying at the Sandman Hotel opposite St James, the scene was set from the word go.

A Cramlington lad, I love Newcastle intensely and am highly proud of the area and my football club.  Working from Kent (in Northern France), colleagues are made up predominantly of those following the likes of Arsenal, Spurs, Chelsea to name but a few.

Of course, it can work for me when Newcastle play at White Hart Lane for example, albeit we were trounced there some weeks ago.  On that occasion, I sat in the Spurs (home) end but it was heartwarming to see the away support for our club – the noise was constant, even when 4-0 down.

Which takes me back to my trip and the purpose of this piece. My friends (some of whom had never been to our City) were impressed. With some fantastic upmarket bars, clubs and restaurants, they couldn’t fail to be.

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Sunday however, was something of a complete let down. St James, which as you know is a magnificent and imposing sight, was atmospherically flat. From Nine bar (as we all know to be Shearer’s) to the stands themselves, our long suffering supporters just looked thoroughly down-trodden.

One of my group, himself a Charlton supporter, remarked on the fact that he could not believe that St James as he aptly described it, ‘the Cathedral of football’, was so quiet. Another, a Carlisle lad and Arsenal supporter who had visited St James throughout the 80s, 90s etc could not believe it. Despite his having no real allegiance to our club – he was staggered by it all.

And then ironically, the away support began to sing, ‘this is a library’, of which it’s impossible to disagree.

I was far from impressed with the pre-match screeching sounds coming from that big screen – obscured from the view of many, nor efforts to create hype by waving huge touchline flags on scoring of goals – it just appeared false.

And of course, this themed shrine to the ever tacky Sports Direct just doesn’t work one iota. I cast my mind back to the days of Sir Bobby Robson, Keegan…the club really had distinct class. It generated its own special atmosphere. The supporters felt a certain hype about the place and there was certainly a feel good factor. Sadly, on evidence of Sunday, that has gone. Absolutely flattened.

I have seen sufficient in recent years to hold the firm belief that in Mike Ashley, our club will go absolutely nowhere other than tread mediocrity.

newcastle fansDespite claims to the contrary from within the walls of St James, I believe him to be milking the club for all that its worth, and it shows, from playing staff, to the decline of attendances, our stadium and the proud name of Newcastle United. The ‘glitz’ which ordinarily surrounded the club has gone and it’s scandalous, an absolute travesty.

I do wonder regularly why Mike Ashley chose our club. He has no affinity to the club, its supporters nor does he seemingly care one jot for the area. Otherwise, things wouldn’t have come to this. I also wonder whether Sir John Hall had any inkling that Mike Ashley was a complete footballing novice with intentions of using the club as a mere cash cow when he sold out.

The Mag (an article) reported on Sunday that the NUFC club shop (online) are selling some Rangers merchandise. What a cynical and provocative move that is. We have no allegiance to Rangers and this serves only to add fuel to the rumoured theory that Ashley intends to wind down our club to either move things in their entirety north of the border or, that we become a feeder club.

I believe that Ashley’s tenure has been a calamity. Most recently, I worry that this obsession with the Head Coach rather than an out and out Manager will never reap reward. Carver is not the man for the job, nor is Charnley the figure head with the dynamism that we crave to take the club forward.

My question is ultimately this, do you see any way out for us at Newcastle?

Or, is this long time suffering of our very faithful supporters likely to continue for the foreseeable? Mike Ashley clearly takes some shifting and I only wish that he would sell up, or perhaps a consortium  can rescue the club from obscurity and restore it to its former glory.

We really do live in hope!

  • mickrj19761

    Did Sir John Hall have any inkling? I think he knew EXACTLY what Ashley was all about as he is quoted saying:
    “I was told that the man behind the deal was Mike Ashley and I sat with his representatives over 3 days thrashing out a deal. I was keen to know why they wanted the club and they were quite honest. They wanted to market their sports goods in the Far East and would use the club to help do this.”
    See more at: //www.themag.co.uk/2014/05/sir-john-hall-makes-clear-mike-ashley-bought-newcastle-united/#sthash.8LfCBotW.dpuf

  • Sickandtiredstill

    mickrj19761 That doesn’t exactly mean anyone (Hall included) had the idea he would turn us into a bargain basement SD store does it?
    Perhaps he thought just like all of us – that the 272nd richest man on this planet -would use that experience and money to market his other business interests in the best way possible. 

    Like by having a successful football team splashed across worldwide tv screens and not just the SD billboards..

  • Demented_Man

    Good article.  I think it’s outsiders who haven’t visited the area for a while who can see how far things have really gone downhill at SJP.

  • mickrj19761

    Sickandtiredstill mickrj19761 I’m not saying that he knew the extent to which Ashley was willing to abuse the club and supporters, but he made it clear the he’d use the club to promote his own interests. When I said EXACTLY, I was kinda getting a bit carried away. I meant more that he knew it was as much about personal profit.

    And I’ll be honest, I genuinely don’t believe that the current situation is what Ashley set out to achieve. After the initial honeymoon period and the Keegan/Wise fiasco, I think he realised that he may have to spend a bit too much for his liking and decided to just run the club as the profit making excercise which it is today… Totally bereft of soul, passion and ambition.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    mickrj19761 Sickandtiredstill It would be hard not to agree that Ashley got himself into something without having a clue what that actually was.
    I personally believe his first negative experience of football/owning NUFC was his own fault – by appointing Jimenez and Wise who were close friends of his. 
    And despite my utter contempt for how he runs the club, I have said many times that it would not take very much at all for him to change that all around. Even now.

  • mickrj19761

    Sickandtiredstill mickrj19761 That is precisely what makes it worse! We’ve seen that we can get decent players in for very little investment. Just a few more each season would bolster the squad to the point where we could actually be up at the business end of the league. Couple that with a decent manager and he’d keep the fans, and his already bulging wallet, happy.

    But, I think he took offence when he was personally targeted with abuse by the fans. Abuse you really should ignore when involved in football.

    Thick skin is a prerequisite, and personal feelings shouldn’t enter into decisions made when owning a football club. 

    Unfortunately, with soaring fees for TV rights, he can sit back and reap the rewards to the detriment of the club and fans

  • Sickandtiredstill

    mickrj19761 Sickandtiredstill The man likes to be in absolute control, which is what we are seeing now.
    I think that largely to be because Jimenez and Wise ripped him off and turned him into the hate figure he has become because of it. He sided with the advice those two gave him and bought it hook line and sinker.
    Unless there is some major change in direction this Summer, which judging by Charnley’s ‘statement’ is very unlikely, we are just going to be subjected to more of the same.

  • Phildene

    Sir John Hall couldn’t have cared less what Ashley wanted the club for as all he wanted was his £130m for the club back. Sir john was told quite openly the reasons and still agreed to sell the place. Sir John has proved how his allegiance has changed when he let those big NUFC gates rot to rust and neglectively covered in grass on his property, when the gates shouldn’t been stored indoors properly. Plus ashley has always wanted this club for promoting his SD brand as he knew about its worldwidely reknown name, even though he doesn’t know anything about football and never intends too.

  • No Brainer

    I agree the place is depressing  but it was well before the days of Bobby Robson that the rot set in for footballs atmosphere. I remember being on David Mellors phone in after a winters saturday game against Sheff wed whatever season that was complaining how flat the place was.

    We need all seater stadium rules changed and introduce the rail seats of germany.

  • SusanCommon

    my visitor from gelsenkirchen wasn’t exactly impressed with the atmosphere either

  • SusanCommon

    Sickandtiredstill   agree in some seances about turning it around maybe on the pitch but think we are so far behind even if he turned it around 2moz it would still take a minimum of 5years to catch up with many others on and of the pitch

  • Sickandtiredstill

    SusanCommon Sickandtiredstill Koeman has shown ‘on the pitch’ can be positively affected, with the right man and his own staff allowed input to players bought of course.
    If we really are in good shape financially etc, then I don’t see why that at least is not achievable.
    Hey who knows, maybe that’s why we now have a skeleton squad  remaining and the Summer is going to shock us all!
    Ah damn. I’ve just read Charnley’s statement again ;-)

  • dav_art

    what decline in attendances do you mean?  I agree the atmosphere is flat but I can’t see how attendances have declined under Mike Ashley’s tenure.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    No Brainer Are the majority of ‘supporters’ today the same type who would take up the standing places of old and ‘rail’ seats though?