The day I took my heart from Newcastle United and gave it to North Shields FC.

My name is Stuart Mole; I’m 28 years old, born and bred in Battle Hill, Wallsend, Newcastle upon Tyne. I am a typical football fanatic. Played the game, watched the game, dreamt the game, coached the game and love this sport dearly. I know nothing else.

I have supported my club Newcastle United since I can remember; honestly I can’t remember not knowing Newcastle United being there. Wallpapered black and white bedroom as a nipper, posters of heroes from the 90’s era; Andy Cole, Peter Beardsley, Rob Lee, Ruel Fox, PavelSrnicek.

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Playing single and double cup’ers in the street, banging the ball off garage doors trying to replicate goals scored by Geordie stars. Dragging the family to the training ground, in awe of everything Newcastle related, chasing signatures and photos from the players.

Signing up to the Junior Magpies and hearing Kevin Keegan’s voice on the other side of the phone as a recording, believing he was inviting me personally. Attending the yearly Junior Magpie events allowing me to meet Beardsley at Metro Land, having my hair ruffled by a legend.

Collecting every single Black & White magazine and video & the ‘Pink’.

My dear late Grandma, queuing season upon season for the latest replica shirt, sometimes working a12 hour shift as a Nurse in the West End of Newcastle, then going straight to the club shop to wait her turn in line. An amazing woman, driving my obsession of all things Black and White, not to mention her fancy for ‘her Kevin’.

I have felt the agony, and I mean absolute despair – at the departure of Andy Cole to Man Utd as a 7 year old in my swimming trunks at Tynemouth Swimming Baths. Experienced pure ecstasy, with the return of everybody’s favourite sheet-metal worker’s son from Newcastle. A world record transfer at the time, something we were capable of doing as a club then.

Endured heart shattering lows, missing out on the title to Man Utd after a 12 point lead was squandered, facing successive FA Cup final defeats 97/98 & 98/99. UEFA Cup Semi-final defeat at the hands of Marseille’s Drogba in 03/04 and relegation in 08/09 to name a few.

Although no ‘success’ in terms of shiny trophies, there have been many highs I am proud of, moments and memories I will never forget. The moment we set the Premier League alight upon our return in 93/94, qualifying for Europe with quick, exciting football a flood with goals and chances.

The 95/96 ‘almost season’, at the brink of title success.

north shields

Newcastle 5 Man Utd 0 in 96.

Sir Bobby Robson’s return in September 1999 and the subsequent 8-0 victory in his first home game v Sheffield Wednesday, with Shearer grabbing 5, European ventures, Champions League nights, and many more high notes to mention!

Rob Lee’s hat-trick of headers v Royal Antwerp. The 3-2 victory at home v Barcelona, Asprilla hat-trick and a Gillespie wing play master class, losing our first 3 group games in the Champions League, then winning the remaining 3 to qualify with a Bellamy last minute saviour v Feyenoord in 02/03.

Trips to the San Siro, Nou Camp & Delle Alpi, and never giving up hope of making history.

Our immediate return to the Premier League in 10/11after a record breaking season in the Championship, dominating opposition with only 4 defeats, creating a winning identity and culture at the club.

There have been unimaginable goals. Beardsley magic, jinking between defenders with his hip feints and shoulder drops; Shearer’s volley v Everton, out powering a defensive great in Desailly and rocketing a thunderbolt from 25 yards v Chelsea and  breaking Milburn’s record v Portsmouth; Laurent Robert free-kicks from ridiculous angles and lengths; Hatem Ben Arfa mazy dribbles, only le wizard was capable of.

Draw dropping flashes of ability, that no fan on this earth appreciates more than a Newcastle fan.

I am proud to say I was there. I lived each moment, loved each nerve-wrenching high and low. We are Newcastle United, entertainment is what we want, and passion is what we are.

Nothing could break that link, between my beloved club and me, the years of bickering and making up, a painful yet magnificent relationship, could it?

4th of March 2015. Bouncing out of work at 17:30 and heading home, my thoughtful partner was busy trying to purchase a ticket for the Newcastle v Man Utd match for me as a surprise. Blissfully unaware, I was meandering around St James’ on my way back home, hoping to catch a glimpse of the BT Sport guys. I’d maybe catch them and grab a quick interview for the magazine – Hopeless Football Romantic.

Text comes through, “Stu, I’m trying to buy a ticket for you for the match tonight, but they are saying its £77, is that right?” Erm, No? It turns out she was calling the box office, and would be required to sign up to a season’s membership of £35, on top of the £42 cost of the actual ticket.

For a 1-off ticket as a surprise; £77.

Now, I don’t attend NUFC games as often as I would like due to a number of reasons; work, playing football, money, plus other responsibilities an adult has. However, I do enjoy selecting a few, maybe 2 or 3 games I can get to, so I can take in my team with my own eyes.

I have never been an advocate of the die-hard supporter (season ticket holder for 20 years, home and away travel) having more right or privilege to support the team as the average Joe that can get to what he or she can. Instead I applaud the loyalty, the enthusiasm and dedication shown, but you cannot determine ‘Love for Newcastle United’ on this scale.

north shieldsThe point I’m getting at, is the average fan, like myself, is being penalised for not attending every game. The simple fact is that I can’t. £77 to go and see the team you love is absolutely disgusting. Luckily I got home and explained this was ridiculous before my partner went ahead and booked. I will never ever pay £77 for 1 ticket.

So as I see it, I am being frozen out by the club. I am a commodity they can do without. They neither want me nor need me. I mean, why would they? Reportedly about to announce a huge operating profit for the last business year, something north of £50million is the unofficial figure currently circulating.

Why would they want a working class, lifelong Newcastle fan, from the immediate suburbs, whose family has most definitely put thousands of pounds into the club in my lifetime, who has supported the team through thick and thin, paid money to play on the hallowed St James’ turf, and watched thousands of games, talking fondly of my team, my club right around the world?

Collected hundreds of club merchandise items over the years, investing hour after hour to follow the club I love?

Unfortunately, my time is up. I have reached the end of my tether and have more important things in my life than Newcastle United, something I thought inconceivable; something that has never crossed my mind would be the case. £77 is 2 weeks shopping. £77 is a trip to Amsterdam on the ferry. £77 is 12.83 entries to North Shields FC.

29/03/2014 I attended my first North Shields FC home game. My friend had been going for a year or two previous and was a huge grass roots fan, from NE29 himself and had a broad knowledge across the region’s teams. The opposition that day was Chester-Lee-Street Town and the atmosphere was electric. The official attendance was 274, and the Robins had secured promotion to the Northern League Division 1, winning 3-0.

I immediately fell in love with grass roots that day. There was a familiarity with everything, although I had never been before. I could relate to the players on the pitch, the guile and effort was infectious. The crowd were buoyant and in celebratory mood, the crack was rife, and you could hear laughter and amusement from every angle. People were enjoying themselves, imagine that?

The manager Graham Fenton has created a unity at the club. The players play for him and the badge, they give their all every single game; hungry for success. Their attacking style pummels the opposition into submission, often scoring 3’s, 4’s and 5’s.

I have a particular reason to follow North Shields FC, my mate growing up, Kevin Hughes, captains the Robins. We had played together in our school team for many a year, and shared various lads’ holidays in our teens. He was always head and shoulders above any player in our year in terms of ability and commitment, and in my opinion if presented with the opportunities others in our regional year group had, would be playing at a higher level, because he wouldn’t have wasted it. Not in his make-up.

That was it. The deal was sealed. I loved North Shields FC. They followed me on Twitter, so they love me too.

My football drive and appetite had been whet; I had rekindled something inside of me that had been missing for years. It was a feeling of belonging, a pride in a collective effort. The bond between player and fan is uniquely strong;

I had cheated on Newcastle United for a club with more feeling and charm. And it felt good.

I am a Robin.

You can follow the author on Twitter @StuHFR

You can also visit his Hopeless Football Romantic website

“Special


  • Double Carpet

    This is the best article Inhave read on here for ages, possibly ever.
    Well done mate, I applaud you. I’m a season ticket holder and I’m not giving it up, but I know I’m fortunate to be able to commit to going to each home game and a few away.
    But a price of £77 is utterly scandalous and is on a par with the likes of Chelsea, Arsenal etc. I am genuinely appalled and disgusted.
    If I was in your shoes I would do the same thing. Living in Tynemouth the Robins are my local non-league team as well. You might have persuaded me to go down there when a I can.
    All the best.

  • amacdee

    Double Carpet Its not the price DC its the regime ! We’re all taking sabbaticals until Fatso is kicked out of Toon just like they’re gonna do in Glasgow !

  • GToon

    What a good article. Funny isnt it that Ashley chooses a game to charge you a membership fee to see, against a team he wont allow us to compete with. Who would want to see that?!!!! We’ve all been members of NUFC since we were born. Its only now that some scum bag has come up with the idea of charging us for the privilege. I’m spending much more time watching my local team too and limiting my trips to SJP to a couple a year. 
    Wait a minute. Just re-read your article. Your manager. Would that be THE Graham Fenton? Cos if it is i hope your team lose every game and go bust. Sorry but there are some things that just won’t ever be forgiven and he is one of them. Nice article though.

  • NufcToon

    Top top post, I’m exactly the same I even have nufc on my skin. My last match was Southampton at home it was then I realised this morgue is no longer my home. I make excuse after excuse, things will change this season, this window, this match will be the one where all will change my club will show me that these years of penny pinching and alienation have been for some other reason than making money. Perhaps the pipe dream is our owner is storing the cash to have one big throw of the dice in and if it fails we go back to penny pinching and balancing to do it again.
    I can’t help bit think its time for me to take note of the wise old advice of Einstein definition of insanity ‘doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results’
    I may very join you at a shields match it sounds like just what I need.

  • lupamac

    Great article Stuart good luck

  • newcastle7

    First of all its great North Shields are doing well and hope they win the Varse .Been to Wembley three times with Whitley Bay. Have been to round fifteen Northern League games this season and travelled forty miles round trip for Ryhope and Morpeth  on Tuesday with less than fifty in the ground .However cannot agree with your argument that you cannot understand the ones who go every week .If you cut my arms and legs off would still crawl to St James’s Park as there is nothing in life which can come near the experience.
    Lots of people flocked to Gateshead but now crowds have halfed since a few defeats.

  • Mark Wallsend

    28 years old? Are you kidding me? You are talking like a battle hardened veteran of the 70’s and 80’s but you have absolutely no idea how lucky you are. That period you describe is the most successful and entertaining in the clubs modern history and you were around to witness it all, without having to suffer the absolute misery and pain of previous campaigns. And now you are painting a tragic diatribe because one of the 3 games you choose to go to per season is too expensive for you? My heart bleeds for you mate, If you genuinely can’t afford it then that is another issue altogether but honestly, ‘at the end of your tether…? What utter patronising drivel. I’m sorry mate but you are the epitome of what the mackems would call  a 92’er.

  • NufcToon

    Judging by OP’s age I would reckon 92 era as you like to call it is about right for for his age No need to be a sanctimonious d ick about it, does that make him any less of a fan because he wasn’t in nufc WWII?

  • steveb43

    I too have given up the ghost. At the age of 55 ( nearly ) I have witnessed both good and bad at SJP. Until Cashley is removed from the Toon then I will never ever set foot in the stadium again. Non league football isnt as skilful as watching Premier league but one thing I will guarantee. You will never walk out of a ground complaining about lack of commitment and overpaid players. Vote with your feet my friends, support your local club whoever/wherever they are. Power to the people.

    ps  C’mon Shields in the vase

  • LeazesEnder

    Wallsend isn’t a suburb of Newcastle ?

  • SGM

    Footballs all about highs and lows and how you deal with it. Some people have the metal for it, others don’t.
    you will probably spend the rest of your life quitting the moment things get a little too tough for you.

  • newcastle7

    Double Carpet  The thirty five pounds is for a whole season and works out at less than two pounds a game.Furthermore you can buy six ticket. It’s designed to stop away fans buying tickets for home areas and also brings discounts. A great scheme every fan should be a member works out a little more than 60p a week a bargain.

  • newcastle7

    Further point is that your local team geographically is either Heaton Stannington or Benfield Bay Plastics
    supporting North Shields is a bit like supporting Sunderland when you live in Newcastle so back your local team not the glory

  • toonloyal

    two games a season you wont be missed.you grew up watching the “entertainers”and now you dont like the rubbish they re serving up.

  • toonloyal

    Mark Wallsend  well said Mark, I first went to SJP. in the mid-sixties ( old seconfd division)
    got to laugh,

  • toonloyal

    newcastle7  some great points, how do you decide your local team,do they have to be in a major league,

  • AP69

    I think some people have missed the point of the article
    Like myself I’ve given up on Newcast sorry Sports Direct United and started going to lower league games
    I don’t have a problem with anybody going to the games but at least if you do go either support the team vociferously or give the regime hell
    I thought if I managed to go back to St James for the 1990/91 season I’d never miss
    I never believed things could be as low as that
    But now under the Southern Tat Man the whole soul of the club has been ripped out and rebranded
    It’s cheap it’s nasty and he needs to know that’s not what Newcastle United is about
    If you still choose to go make yourself heard
    Some people on here think we are deserting Newcastle but we aren’t
    We are trying to save it
    Love Newcastle United
    HATE SDU
    Get out of our club

  • dan_urwin

    GazBainbridge StuHFR class that mate, great read

  • olly_the_egg

    GazBainbridge StuHFR its tremendous, i wrote something similar and slightly less good after the consett game http://gazze-e-pettirossi.blogspot.co.uk/2015/01/what-is-point.html?m=1

  • olly_the_egg

    i think some of the digs at this article are way off. He’s not trying to say he doesn’t support them anymore, or that he’d only support them if they are successful. I get the impression he’d support them in the conference if they still felt like his club, but they aren’t anymore. it is modern football at its worst. the club don’t care about us, he’s already making enough from TV for us to be insignificant to him. i don’t know stuart, but i also go to every week. You feel like you are part of the club, like they value your support and money. you also know that the players all give it their best, for the love of football, and they don’t think they are superior to the fans. They play for the badge every week. I don’t think Stuarts age is relevant at all or how many times a season he attended, he’s had enough, like me. Loyalty is a 2 way thing.

  • toonloyal

    re reading the headline again “giving your heart to N.Shields” was your heart ever really with the Toon?
    re.supporting local team,what if your from Jarra of South Shields nearer to mackem land than the promised land, glad im from Hebbin,

  • LaurenceTaylor6

    StuHFR brilliant article, you coming to Whitley Park tomorrow?

  • StuHFR

    LaurenceTaylor6 hopefully get down there tomorrow fella. You attending?

  • LaurenceTaylor6

    StuHFR yes

  • pat_thesplat

    StuHFR great article mate, I feel exactly the same. Prem has lost touch, I’ve not been to an arsenal home game in 7 yrs coz of the price!

  • Chemical Dave

    Top twenty fan alert!

  • B9WSA

    StuHFR Great article. U0001f44d

  • StuHFR

    B9WSA cheers Andy! Glad you enjoyed it. All the best for tomorrow.

  • StuHFR

    olly_the_egg canny ready Olly. We’re not alone.

  • StuHFR

    pat_thesplat we’re not required anymore. We helped build the clubs, with our hard earned cash, but advertisement deals and TV rights have..

  • StuHFR

    pat_thesplat made us redundant. They’d rather prevent us, than help us. Sad mate.

  • AndrewMcTernan

    CalumMc88 StuHFR great article. I had same feeling going to & supporting South Melbourne FC for years while living in Australia recently.

  • JMUS01

    StuHFR johncrowe86 – Great Article – pretty much mirrors my feelings too.

  • pat_thesplat

    StuHFR Couldn’t agree more. Can’t help but hark back to the days when top flight football was unfashionable tho. non league for now…

  • LeeHagan

    newcastle7 Double Carpet idiot

  • krisbillany

    Fantastic Article….I think sums up how a lot of us our feeling about the Ashley regime at the moment. I live round the corner from Hillheads and on a Sat free when I’d normally try for a match ticket. I’ve gone to see Whitley Bay instead. #ashleyout

  • Tony79

    newcastle7 Double Carpet Why is nufc press office commenting on here?

  • maidencitymag

    What a brilliant brilliant article. I never reply to things I read online, there are just too many negative stories out there, but this has put into words how I’ve felt these last 2/3 years. I’ve loved my club since I was a young lad in Newcastle but they have worn me down with their greed and total lack of respect to people who spend every pound and waking hours on Newcastle United. I now live in Northern Ireland so a match day for me means flights and hotels and quite often, due to sky, a holiday day used up. To then face the problems your girlfriend faced to get just 1 ticket, well that’s the straw to break the camels back. I’ll always love my club, that will never go away, but I can’t see me ever being back in SJP and that thought breaks my heart

  • Watsontotty

    The unfortunate fact is most clubs require you to be a member to purchase tickets and there are many reasons for this other than simply financial gain, this is there to prevent away fans purchasing tickets for game and to prevent crowd trouble.
    I would have thought however on ordering on the day of the match as long as you show your driving licence with your home address North East then where’s the problem so I agree fully on the points raised about the common fan, on saing that I’m not sure the club want the common fan these days it’s all about maximising revenues and not the die hard working class fan.
    The only point I have to disagree with is I could never take my heart away And give to another club it was born into me and that’s one love I’d never cheat on I just simply couldn’t despite the many years of hurt and suffering my head give up now and then but my heart is always there at Molineux despite me living in Northumberland and having season tickets at St James.

  • joncolman

    hwinder2203 StuHFR Excellent stuff and will strike a chord with many, I’m sure