The invasion of the football club snatchers (or: ‘my last season as a Newcastle fan’)

Any science fiction fan will recognise the plot. A race of aliens replaces human beings with exact duplicates, or a virus turns them into zombies. At first glance they walk and talk as normal, but they’re devoid of emotion and only concerned with complete domination of the host planet.

(To feature like Ian, send in your articles for our website to [email protected] – all views are the author’s own etc etc)

It’s easy to see why we’re disturbed… the emotionless, relentless advance that doesn’t care for human hopes and aspirations. And the paranoia, desperately hoping you’re not the only one who sees the truth. The constant questioning of what is real. Everything from ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ to ‘The Matrix’ has played on these fears.

You might see where I’m going with this.

In the centre of Newcastle there’s still a football ground, a great cathedral of the game. Every other week, fifty thousand people still file through the turnstiles.

Outside, there’s still a club shop that sells shirts and scarves. In local, national and social media, pundits and fans still debate the merits of this player or that, this manager versus the last, and who the club might sign in the coming transfer window.

But Newcastle’s body has been well and truly snatched. The zombie virus has taken hold, and there might not be a cure. The club has been hollowed out from the inside, possessed by a parasite.

You might catch yourself in a debate – for the love of God, what does Gouffran have to do to be dropped? Why was Colo’s ready-made successor sent to Roma for a few Euros? Will John Carver prove worthy of the manager’s job? (He’s a Geordie you know.)

Then it hits you, these are questions that only a football club can answer. That thing that Newcastle United used to be, a sporting organisation that makes decisions based on progression and achievement. In the current context, all of these questions are pointless.

As I write, the lads have just succumbed to a ball-achingly pathetic defeat at Everton. There are 27 points left to play for, but the club doesn’t seem interested in collecting many of them. A draw or two, or a single win, will be enough to keep the host body alive to sustain the parasite for another season. Why bother to do any more, when survival is enough? And how can the players perform on a Saturday when mediocrity is embedded at every level of the organisation?

Looking forward, the club and the local media (powered by an influential PR man) are deep into a farcical campaign to prepare the ground for appointing John Carver full-time. Everyone from Steve Howey to Bob Moncur wheeled out in support. All this, despite the man himself doing absolutely everything possible to prove he’s a million miles away from capable.

What might happen next season? We’ll finish lower to mid-table or worse, get ourselves out of the cups as quickly as possible and make absolutely sure we don’t qualify for Europe. We’ll boost the profile of Sports Direct and stockpile the TV money. And the seasons after that? You get the idea.

So what is a fan to do? Discussing on-field matters is pointless, since there are no on-field objectives. Discussing the new manager seems pointless – Carver has already moved his collection of signed Bobby Robson memorabilia into the office. Discussing ways to get the club back seem idealistic at best, when St James’ Park is still full to capacity and matchday revenue is dwarfed by the TV deal.

The answer is as obvious as it is heartbreaking. When your Granny’s body has been snatched, you can stop popping round for tea. When your football club no longer exists, find something else to do with your time.

  • CladderJack

    Probably one of the best articles I’ve ever read on this sad situation … Let’s hope a national picks it up!

  • Bornunderabigbluestar

    Totally agree, well written. A sad situation indeed

  • Demented_Man

    It seems to me a lot of people are coming to the same conclusion – ie supporting the club with its current regime is utterly pointless and perhaps even destructive.
    Mind you, I thought the same last season and the one before that.  Maybe Ashley has found a way to clone supporters to replace those who no longer go to the match.

  • Toon69

    I made a point the other day that why would another billionaire want to buy the club from Ashley when there are at least 6-8 other clubs they could try to buy for way less than what Ashley would take, that point was proven when I saw an article in one of the crap-loids saying that an american billionaire was llooking to buy Crystal Palace for £100m, a club who’s already quite free flowing with it’s funds, who even paid us for the privelage of takeing Pardew off our hands & is looking to buy players like Remy etc in the summer… so I ask again, what sane billoniare would want to fork out approx £260m on the Toon because thats exactly what it would take for Ashley to leave, I mean, I read it’ll cost Ranger around £27m to get him out of Ibrox & he only owns a little over 8%, so circa £260m for the Toon is probably the least he’ll want for our beloved club & I can honestly say after nearly 30yrs supporting them, my will is wanning towards watching them, even on TV!!!

  • JohnyH

    Spot on. Putting loyalty to one side we’re paying our season ticket money to support our team and to see us compete. That’s our side of the ‘contract’. Ashley’s side of the deal is to enter the club into the Premier League to compete on our behalf. When it becomes this obvious that he isn’t interested in the spirit of competition, he is taking our money but failing to fulfill his part of the contract.
    The authorities don’t have the appetite to do anything about him bleeding the club dry, so the only course of action left for us is to keep our money and avoid being ripped off.

  • Porciestreet

    Extraction of finances under false pretenses.  Just made that one up but I’m sure a decent brief could make something of it..

  • Jail for Ashley

    I lost faith in Mike Ashley when he sold James Milner out of spite but there are still many who think he will do the right thing, this summer is a win win for the likes of me, if he spends those huge profits on a team capable of pushing for the top places then happy days. If he apponts Carver and muddles through again then hopefully it will be the turning point that incites the masses and we can finally try to get the ball rolling to get rid of this disgraceful parasite.

  • Chemical Dave

    How long before a sanctimonious cretin pops up to say “support the club through thick and thin me” etc

  • centrepaddock

    The problem is most of us have an addiction. We’re trying to give it up but it has us in it’s clutches.

  • Conman

    A good read Ian. It’s not too bad at all of of it though. I watch various non-league football and often watch Newcastle in the pub with mates. It really isn’t as bad and until the rest get their heads sorted and walk, we will continue to boycott all home games.
    We have walked but unfortunately we have been replaced by clones in our seats and therefore we still get more than 50k every home game. It’s such a shame that fans need to do this. It’s our city and our team no matter who owns it and it really hits me that some southen fcb is just taking the cash out of it.
    I still feel that we have struggled with organising any kind of boycott. That had to be done by supporters figure heads like this website and The Mag. I know it’s a bit much to ask but look at rangers. They had seen what had happened to us I grant you but they were not having any of it.
    Best of luck and don’t worry, we’ll be back, if we can get a seat when the fcb heads home for good.

  • Paul Patterson

    It’s been a slow build up to the point where I’m switching off my interest. There have been too many incidents where you look at the club and wonder how it ever came to be so shabbily run.
    It seems like every season just lurches from an incident, to a mystifying decision, to a mini crisis, to a depressing four months until it finishes.

    Take Keegan v Wise, Joe Kinnear, Treatment of Alan Shearer, Treatment of Chris Hughton, Alan Pardew, Selling Andy Carroll and not replacing him- writing off the rest of that season, selling Demba Ba without replacing him- writing off the rest of that season, Renaming the stadium, Wonga sponsorship, The Cup policy, Not strengthening on a 5th place finish, Only signing players in 2012/13 when relegation looked possible, Mismanagement of Hatem Ben Arfa, Joe Kinnear Part II, Yohan Cabaye is sold and not replaced- writing off the rest of the season, John Carver, Santon/M’Biwa sale . . .

    These are not the actions of a football club anymore . . Just a business centred circus . .
    For what it’s worth, my own personal snapping point this season was, Leicester in the FA Cup. We know the clubs policy, but to hold back players for a game we stood little or no chance in (Chelsea away) at the expense of beating a Leicester reserve side that only wanted Premier League survival, was quite frankly unforgivable . .

  • Conman

    Like any addiction, you think your enjoying at the time but it’s actually ruining your life. Once you give it up and go elsewhere, then you see what life is about.

  • Conman

    Nobody is forcing anyone to hand over any cash. You do it completely out of habit but once broken ….. its better on the outside. Wait this vulture out and then we can get our club back.

  • Jarra MIck

    It’s interesting to compare our situation with the Mackems, as you can see direct action does work , it took one mass walkout to get rid of the manager. So all those cnuts who keep on about supporting the club through thick and thin are the ones Ashley is relying on. I know you can say the Mackems are the ficklest bunch of bar stewards you are ever likely to meet but their collective action worked. Unfortunately just about everyone who would walk out has already done so and there are just those wonga wearers left so we are never likely to see any collective action at St James’.

  • SGM

    Jarra MIck Nowt to do with fans walking out. look at their results.

  • Grumpyoldmag

    Not many stayed to the end of Liverpool 6-0 had zero impact on Ashley. Smbs sacking poyet is directly related to director of football being mates with advocaat and winning his power struggle with poyet. Oh and you may have noticed short hasn’t put them up for sale.

  • NotFatFreddy

    1990 sack the board video above (Kill the Board) protest after the final match, BUT it wasn’t long before the Magpie Group and John Hall were to rescue the club.  Many had plenty to say against the last major protest at the Hull City match, pity it didn’t snowball at the time because boycotts and hostile (not violent) protests do work.  Ashley needs to be embarrassed weekly and he’ll protect his other business interests SPORTS DIRECT, ‘cos bad publicity is never good even for a hard shell like him.

  • GR1125

    17th minute applause then everyone walks out. Nothing to support or play for. Let’s embarras the club.

  • radgiegadgie

    Jail for Ashley alas, it will be something in between.  The club will buy a few half decent players and get a so-so manager in, there will be mild optimism in August followed by the realization of another season of mediocrity.  I don’t see either of the extremes happening.

  • magpie9

    NotFatFreddy Even though we all know he is thick skinned the one thing fatty cant stand is public ridicule . Remember his reaction to the FCB banners the singing section & the banning of the press who reported the protests against him. All the mugs who go to any remaining games should have a few banners to display on t.v. A few well placed signs dropped in front of the S.D. billboards would make his ground gestapo work overtime. Anything that will make him lose money is like a dagger to the heart & maybe speed up his departure

  • Maximus Moose

    i wouldnt watch that shyte for a lottery win

  • Stonesy

    Last paragraph says it all. Nothing to add. For once.

  • PhilYare

    Paul Patterson well said, and all off the ‘wonga wearers’ came out with total and complete BS everytime one of those despicable decisions were made as if there was ever any benefit to the club. Mike Ashley is the poison but the wonga brigade have helped him all the way, I don’t think they know what Newcastle is.

  • Nicolaus Copernicus

    The fiasco that was the ‘Pardew Out’ campaign gave a stark reminder that the rank and file Newcastle supporters aren’t going to be easily manipulated into not going to the matches anymore, regardless of how much the bloggers on this site may implore them not to. The many who turn up proudly wearing their W**ga shirts are testimony to the stubborn resolve we have to not only keep going to the games but to buy into all things NUFC.
    I fear it will need not only poor football, it will also need relegation for folk to see sense and stop going.
    I for one will gladly accept dropping down a league if it means we can get our soul and our football club back.

  • partworntyres

    how about a 17th minute walk-in – let them start the game with an empty ground – make better telly news. walk-outs dont work.

  • CMRowley

    Toon69 Going forward Ashley is likely to make 50 million / season at least with NUFC.  The 260 million you talk about is nowhere near what he’d ask for to sell up.  NUFC is a going concern now, the selling price isn’t just going to be the title deeds and the playing staff, it’s the potential profits as well.  

    We are stuck with this cretin until he’s had enough I’m afraid.

  • vyperus69

    CMRowley Toon69 Ashley won’t be making 50mil + season for very long the way he is running it because if he continues on the road he has put the club on we will be relegated to the championship within the next 2 seasons, which will most likely halve his profits, then if he still doesn’t change the way is run or sell up we will be reduced down to just surviving in the championship until we are then relegated (for the first time in our history) to the 3rd tier of English Football (league 1) which will again halve (atleast) his profits meaning that the club will only get 50+ mil a season for atmost 2 seasons

  • NotFatFreddy

    What has the club learned since the last relegation?  Nowt! As posters have wisely stated the embarrassment is testimony to a fat greedy regime, but those wearing those shirts need some serious help.
    No one can defend Ashely.  He has millions and could invest so much that we would at least challenge the top 6 and he would still be in the top rich list.  How he can run a football club with his own direct sponsorship and not seek to achieve a cup win or have a team of entertainers is mind boggling.  The better NUFC are as a team the better his brand.

    In the olden days even Westwood knew that the supporters thrived on excitement so there would be ‘signings’ to grab the fans attention.  Eve later in the bad old 2nd Division days we managed to sign Peter Withe!  Look at his one season on youtube, then examine what we have to watch today.  Listen to the noise from the fans and we were c**P!

    I would settle for top 10 IF we played exciting football where we might win at home 5-1 then lose at Man U 4-0.  IF we took a risk on one or two of the best championship players rather than so many mediocre foreigners.  IF we gave the domestic cups a good go.  IF we had a decent honest manager!  IF we had a singing section.  IF…If….If.  To think I used to moan at ‘John Tudor’ when we had Supermac, Tony Green, Jinky Smith, Terry Hibbit, Stewy Baraclough, Bob Moncur, David Craig etc. and Alan Kennedy and Nattrass coming through.  Even Tudor would be a legend in the current modern era as would Gowling.

    I am an old grumpy man, but this is as bad as it gets.  I thought Souness was bad enough, but
    Carver after Pardew?  Whether we like it or not, having Andy Carroll up front at least made me look forward to the match!!!

  • CladderJack

    Your right about one thing NFF …. You are a grumpy old man but can’t argue with the sentiment