Harsh but true: I suppose all relationships are transactional in nature.

Even the deepest, most complex of connections of romance and friendship can be crudely boiled down into a very basic equation: is this worth my continued investment?

Am I getting out the equivalent of what I put in?

(Emma is the latest to join our ever expanding team of regular/irregular writers, send in your original articles for our website to [email protected] and share them with the world – all views are the author’s own etc etc)

If I examined any of my own personal relationships and found myself admitting that the transaction just didn’t seem to be paying back anymore,  the resulting decision would be difficult. At what point – periods of hardship and giving/receiving support notwithstanding, of course – does the relationship become untenable? If I ultimately decided enough was enough, I guess the options are:

  1. a) nobly and graciously decide to pull back from that relationship with an adult discussion around life being too short and me respecting myself enough to know I deserved more, or
  2. b) quietly and cravenly terminate all social media dealing and mysteriously become ‘busy’, forever more.

(It would be ‘b’ – I’m a bit of a sh**-house with confrontation, and we Brits tend not to be as emotionally open as, say, the cast of Dawson’s Creek).

But the essence is – although we may not always assess our relationships and the impact they have on us from this cold, transactional standpoint, we could pretty quickly sum up a gut feeling on whether they’re worth our while.

All you have to do is picture spending a night in the pub, one-on-one, with any given person and the instant feeling you get, will tell you all you need to know.

Husband – smiley, fuzzy, excited. (Sorry).

Best friends – giddy, and a bit fearful of the p-sec headache.

Mate who often flakes on you who you always do the running with? Bit pi**ed off, and increasingly disinclined to bother your arse arranging another awkward ‘catch up’.

In time, these feelings around the respective transactions should logically shape your behaviour: awesome friends are rarer than hen’s teeth and are to be retained at all costs; fair-weather friends gradually drift away to become distant figures who exist only in your past tense.

I do have a point to make, I promise. If we accept that the above is true, the question torturing me is this: WHY THE JESUS do I persist with the utter mind-torture that is Newcastle United? (Non football/ Newcastle fans, please don’t give up here – we won’t be moving into formation analysis and ruminations on the ‘false 9’).

Ignoring the mitigating factors around the obscene money and corruption in football and the coincidental fact of Newcastle United’s owner being a bona-fide tosser, my current beef with this ridiculous club is that I’m getting ZERO out of this relationship.

I’m locked in some sadistic emotional contract that seems iron-clad and totally unbreakable. I know we’re going to get beat before we start, every season is like Groundhog Day and there doesn’t seem to be any much-needed light at the end of the proverbial tunnel.

newcastle fans

Now, they say that all love is some form of madness, temporary or otherwise. And yes, the love for your football or sporting club – especially one that’s been handed down for generations and stirs that ferocious hometown pride – does indeed often inspire totally mad behaviour.

We Geordies get a bit of a hard time for being overly emotional, but look around pretty much any football ground on cup final, relegation or championship day, and you’ll without doubt see thousands of fully grown adults who’ve surrendered all control of their faculties.

Weeping, bouncing, hollering, brandishing small children like the trophies that induce this demented state…it’s all there, and just over a game. It’s tribal, it’s potent, it’s all-consuming.

When it’s good, it’s life-affirming, but when’s it’s bad (and it’s been overall pretty bad at Newcastle for much of my supporting life), it’s bordering on funeral. Above all, it’s not really logical, which I suppose is why the equation we apply to our other alliances doesn’t work here. And that’s what’s doing my head in.

Anyone who knows me will happily tell you I have zero common sense – but this footballing relationship is just bordering on nonsensical. I haven’t really been getting much out of it for some time; going to the match really isn’t what it was, there’s nothing to look forward to year after year, and the whole enterprise is bloody expensive. The weekly cycle of anticipation and collapse is wearing.

My Dad would be horrified at these adulterous thoughts; he was the one who made me fall in love with the noise and the passion over 20 years ago, but it’s not that club that captured me so instantly and completely anymore. And it’s not just that I was lucky enough to first encounter a team that was winning – the belief and the atmosphere has all gradually fallen away from those ‘heady’ days in the early 90s, regardless of results.

So, where does all of this leave me and thousands of other fed-up Newcastle fans?

Perhaps it’s unreasonable to ever think we could allow a decision taken by the head to cause us to rethink matters of the heart. Fan to football club, partner to partner – they may both be borne out of passion, understanding and exhilaration, but I don’t know how many perpetual disappointments I would tolerate in my personal life before I walked away. Certainly not decades worth.

Maybe another 5 or 10 years will be enough to stop me making any more emotional or physical deposits into the bank of Newcastle United. I just can’t shake a nagging feeling, though, that business logic can’t help me here.

I’m going to be in debt with this lot for the rest of my days.

Emma has also started her very own blog which you can visit HERE and you can follow her on Twitter @Jowse



  • Stevie Aces Renforth

    It went down the pan soon as Ashley got his hands on the club

  • LizLongstonePR

    NUFCTheMag SimonBird_ CaulkinTheTimes MsiDouglas that’s excellent Jowse. Really good stuff. I’m hoping NUFC will break up with me. ;)

  • Tony Mark Elsender

    Eloped with ambition

  • Lance_Bradley_

    NUFCTheMag Spot on. I used to go to a dozen or so home games a season (I live in the SE, so it’s a trek). This season it’ll be two.

  • kevba1971

    NUFCTheMag SimonBird_ CaulkinTheTimes MsiDouglas probably when nufc stopped being a football club and became a shitdirect advert.

  • decka1969

    NUFCTheMag SimonBird_ CaulkinTheTimes MsiDouglas followed #nufc since early 80’s. Had to jack in January just to keep my sanity.

  • LeazesEnder

    Love Actually with the Emma Thompson!

  • Seventy2

    A very nice analogy that pulls at the heart strings. Referring to ‘transactions’ makes me think of economical investment, however relationships are about unconditional giving and not ensuring a balance in funding is always ensured. MA has obviously determined that his economic purchase and ‘loan’ are far greater than the life time of emotional investment made by fans, but can not understand that whatever the size of the contribution a relationship works when both parties are equally happy.

  • LeazesEnder

    Seventy2 …and no money changes hands!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Nice, well written as well as maturely thought provoking. Well, for those of us who can manage a thought other than what a saviour Ashley is meant to be.
    Our situation is almost like battered wife syndrome. Afraid to leave because there is nowhere else to go. It’s either accept the abuse or move on, forever, and never look back.
    Or a throw back to the days when some blokes would put the housekeeping on the scullery table, always not enough, while retaining extra for themselves to go to the pub etc. Mrs. Housewife had to make do and manage, keeping the kids fed, content and dressed in whatever could be afforded while the gaffer came home pished, with a fish supper and snored contently in ‘his’ chair.
    Ashley is that bullying husband, or the miserly Dad, and we are the sorry, sad urchins suffering as a result.

  • newcastle7

    Been going for fifty years and love it as much as ever it’s still like Christmas Day when I was born.
    I love Newcastle been there during the days of six and seven thousand only for the rats to come back from the sewers when the glory days arrived.A TRUE SUPPORTER is their for life and will never desert.
    The article reminds me of why divorce rates are so high everyone wants to much out of life.
    Very sad article.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    newcastle7 Simon, lad, what planet are you actually on? When were gates EVER 6 or 7000? 1896, to be precise, was the last gate below 8000!
    Given that you have kid/s acting as mascots, I sincerely doubt you are 119 years old. Nor do I think you have been going to the match for 50 years. Where you born in a manger is the center circle?

  • Demented_Man

    Sickandtiredstill Yes, I see the analogy, but surely Newcastle fans have far more choice than the beleaguered wife.  If they suffer, it is because that is what they prefer.
    I’m rapidly running out of sympathy for the fans.  We’ve been waffling on about the same things now for nigh on 8 years and nothing has changed.

  • Demented_Man

    newcastle7 An even sadder reply, if that is what you really think and are not a Mackem mischief maker.

  • LeazesEnder

    newcastle7 Are you talking about Newcastle Town or Newcastle Jets?

  • HateAshleysBendyToys

    newcastle7 SMB

  • No Brainer

    Still here 100%

  • MarkRobson4P

    NUFCTheMag ‘I’m going to be in debt with this lot for the rest of my days’ Sad but very true!

  • grahame49

    Im stuck with Newcastle loving a club works that way,if you love your club watching Bradford or boro fans at Chelsea and man city would have mad you smile. Dark times even have bright spots, Chelsea at home is the type of game that keeps me going back.

  • magpiefifer

    Good article Emma.
    I ‘separated’ a few seasons ago, and will not be back at SJP until Ashley has gone.Like any long term relationship (61 years),it was a painful decision to make,but it is one I do not regret – despite missing the walk from the station full of hope!!!
    I really wish that fans would vote with their feet in big numbers,but I know it won’t happen!

  • Munich Mag

    @MarkRobson4P NUFCTheMag absolutely mental.

  • Munich Mag

    What we are all witnessing up on the hill has NOTHING AT ALL to do with Newcastle United. A zombie club ran by a money grabbing owner who has turned NUFC into a Sports Direct billboard. It’s amazing how grown up people can spend hard earned money on such drivel, the football, if you can call it that, is pathetic too !

  • Nicolaus Copernicus

    Nice tongue-in-cheek article, Emma, with strong analogies that certainly hit home

  • GToon

    Sickandtiredstill newcastle7 Didnt we have a gate of around 7000 when we went down in the late 70s. Was it Millwall or Norwich or somebody?

  • GToon

    Emma, thats a nice article but unlike people NUFC are different. Theres just something about it. Something special. There are plenty of times i really hate NUFC but will always love the club at the same time. The love hasn’t gone but the “hope” has.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    GToon Sickandtiredstill newcastle7 Who cares? 
    We’ve all been to games that have had far fewer attendances than normal matches, it doesn’t mean an entire season (or history) can be re-written in that way!
    http://www.european-football-statistics.co.uk/attnclub/newu.htm Provides all the info needed on NUFC average attendances by season and League.

    If Simon wants to pay that game I could post someones else’s observation – “The lowest Newcastle United crowd I have ever been included in was the Anglo-Italian tie in Lucchese, November 11th 1992. There were about 40 of us in a total crowd of 744”.
    Obviously in Simon’s 50 years of support he was not at that game!

  • Sickandtiredstill

    GToon And there is the answer to the situation..

    Sorry, mate, but NUFC is it’s people.

  • GToon

    Sickandtiredstill GToon newcastle7 I dont care. I was just answering the quesion about when our gates were ever that low. You are right the gate doesnt matter. The atmosphere does. Our 3 or 4 thousand away fans give a much better account of themselves than 50,000 at home. My kids ask to go to away games instead of SJP for that reason. I would love to take them but some scumbag has removed that opportunity from me unless i pay over £100 (which i cant afford) to become a member.

  • newcastle7

    Sickandtiredstill GToon newcastle7 My point was that some of the supporters were brought up under Keegan  and when the bad days came they ran away.Remember that game
    my mate John the chap hitch hiked there and the team gave him a lift back on the team plane.My mate Gary the road sweeper was not so lucky he took three days on the sick only to be spotted on the telly in a bar before the match.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    newcastle7 Sickandtiredstill GToon Still not making any sense whatsoever. 
    Fans ran away after KK?
    Lowest average attendance since we got into the PL and the ground was increased was actually in 2010. Ashley and relegation was responsible for that.
    If your such a super supporter, how come you don’t know any facts?

  • Sickandtiredstill

    GToon Sickandtiredstill newcastle7 I agree with you there.
    But as you can see here, there’s still people who believe Ashley is good for the Club and seem to construct their own ‘facts’ to convince themselves of that.