Matchday! A gloriously habitual, familiar recipe for so many.

Pehaps less so these days in the current brokenly bonkers Newcastle United cosmos, but generally kicked off with lashings of hope and anticipation, often with an indecently early start and scramble to get yourself a seat in a local watering hole.

(Emma is just one of 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)

Of course, you’ll need to toss in a few liveners and something greasy to line the old stomach, before charging off with a bunch of like-minded nutters in a sea of magnificent black and white, feeling like you and your team could take on the world.

Increasingly rowdy chants of local pride, heroes past and present and the obligatory defamation of wherever the opposition call home echo across oft-trodden streets. The excitement deepens and quickens, its flavour definitely intensifed by those 2 (OK, 4) pints you managed to neck in an hour. There’s definitely the unmistakable whiff of Greggs in the air, too.

Now, everyone has their own matchday rituals, and I’d hate to generalise what is a treasured and personal experience for thousands of fans and families. My point is, that – in my experience – there’s a certain comfort in the pattern and regularity of the day. The build up, the journey, the faces, the passion, the over-priced pints. Aside from whatever the hell we might be served up on the pitch, in general, there’s a sense of the expected, and of belonging.

Stay with me here, as I’m about to drop the F-bomb.

For a while now, I’ve been thinking about how to marry up the ingrained sort of behaviour I myself display on matchday, and just what my inner feminist would have to say about it.

Without getting all Germaine Greer on your ass, I definitely think of myself as a champion of gender equality and someone who calls out any misogynist bullsh*t whenever I come across it. You know: shouty builders, depiction of women in the media, representation in decision-making positions in business (actually, that’s a whole separate blog, isn’t it.) So, when I revert to a slightly different self whenever I watch my football team, there’s often a sort of embarrassed sense of….letting the side down, I suppose.

A lot of accepted football terminology – when really examined with a *seriousface* – does come off as inherently misogynist. Far be it for me to challenge whatever anyone wants to yell when they’ve paid good money to watch their team in the flesh, and nor would I ever want to do so.

Objectively, though, I do slightly cringe myself out when I catch myself hollering at ‘a load of big girls’ blouses’ or ‘f**king girls’. It’s not the sort of behaviour that will get me in there as Caitlin Moran’s bestie, is it?

Another traditional and to be honest, amusing, slice of matchday culture is the swearing. Oh, the words you learn. Let’s be honest, it gives all the best chants extra oomph and sometimes the raw rage that swells up at yet another appalling offside decision (watching back on Match Of The Day though, he was definitely a yard off, obviously) can only possibly be qualified with the most offensive array of expletives known to man. It’s standard, and in the heat of the moment, cathartic.

I myself will happily confess to having a right potty mouth. Not just on matchday – pretty much in most arenas. Sometimes, they’re just the only words that will do and my opinion has always been: as long as you have a reasonably rich vocabulary in play the majority of the time, no one can accuse you of being ignorant when turning the airwaves blue on occasion.

So why are my impulsively sweary rants often met with disapproval and even outrage in the match-going environment? I can think of countless examples of amused raised eyebrows to full on disgusted looks from blokes situated within my profanity radius. Surely I’m just as entitled to yell at that punch of pricks to get behind the effing line as them? Technically, but it always makes me feel a little bit silly, like an awkward 7 year-old being cut down to size by the teenagers whose game I’ve just tried to join.

Perhaps this is me being over-sensitive; I wouldn’t try to pigeon hole or slight our fan base for the world. I’m just trying to point out that it’s always a slightly different experience from an XX point of view, and not something the majority of punters have to concern themselves with.

The classic female fans truism is the frequently encountered ‘oh ACTUALLY know what you’re on about?’ look. Sometimes it’s more than a look, and it’s a patronising comment that people can’t seem to suppress.

I do understand that it’s not the norm, and I must say that Newcastle fans are genuinely the least guilty of this. However, it’s just another sort of uncomfortable feeling that passes over me on matchday; that I’m the subject of some bemused, suspicious scan.

This is much more prevalent on away days, and I once had to scurry back to my seat at the beginning of half-time after a bit of craic turned a bit too aggro, leaving my Dad on his own to down the 2 pints and 2 glasses of wine he’d bought for us. That day didn’t end well.

I really don’t intend this to come across as some sort of judgmental anti-fan crusade: it’s just me stating what I’ve found to be true, and raising a discussion on what it is about the tradition of the matchday environment that causes me to leave my feminist card on the turnstile. Perhaps it’s subconscious: when surrounded by a 90% majority, I guess human nature is to follow suit. Maybe I’m just a bit of a lout when I’ve had a couple of Carlsbergs.

I will say this though: Newcastle fans are a chivalrous bunch. They always let me in front of them to buy my Foster’s.

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

  • Sickandtiredstill

    Emma, it’s not just you, pet. The modern ‘supporter’ frowns on making any noise at all let alone swearing. I was repeatedly asked to stop swearing – sit down – stop singing even, by newer and newer faces who silently surrounded me over recent years. Until Ashley forced the divorce from my seat that is.
    If only you could  have experienced the Leazes End (or the ground in general), standing, swaying, surging, chanting, in full flow. Noise levels have steadily reduced as football grounds have become more gentrified and all seater.
    They need to bring back standing and most certainly singing sections at a minimum to counter that. 
    Now, run along and put the kettle on ;-)

  • RexN

    A good read, as one who has enjoyed taking my daughter (along with my son) to matches.

    She definitely knows what she is on about, having followed her father around to football matches and as a rugby referee in the past. She is no mean competitor herself.

    We have our rules – well one, what happens at the match stays in Vegas. None of our neighbours would guess that the staid father and the blonde, beautiful, shy daughter transform on match day.

    At the end of the day, apart from the posh seats, you have to accept that it’s a man’s world inside the ground, just as I feel alien going shopping.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    RexN Your lassie, Rex? She writes well too.

  • RexN

    Sickandtiredstill RexN Thanks for the comment and no, she’s not. I’m working on getting my daughter to write, mind.

  • NotFatFreddy

    “So why are my impulsively sweary rants often met with disapproval and even outrage in the match-going environment? I can think of countless examples of amused raised eyebrows to full on disgusted looks from blokes situated within my profanity radius ”

    Basically because football has always been a working class male inspired and male dominated sport and if you look at a picture of any crowd pre 1960’s it would be hard to spot a woman never mind a ‘lady’ amongst the gathering of fans.  Throughout the 70’s and 80’s it was the era of the hooligan and again you’d be hard pressed to find any lady on the terraces (aka survival of the fittest),especially a lady standing on the Leazes End barrier burning her bra, I mean Sunderland scarf freshly removed from the neck of some recently damaged makem.  Ask your Dad about the terraces, the wee in your pocket, the lit cigar deliberately put down the back of your neck, one of your shoes lost forever in the death crush behind concrete or metal barriers, the cattle shed toilets.  The Noise.  The aggro.  No place for a lady!

    By the time the stadium actually incorporated proper ‘seats’ in the Keegan era it was only those in a good profession who could afford to buy a season ticket for son or daughter, hence the more frequent appearance of the lady supporter and middle class fan base.  The working class young lads who predominately filled the Leazes End and later the Gallowgate corner no longer could afford the season ticket to go to the match.  Even those ‘sexist sid’ lads wouldn’t have wanted their own flesh and blood or girlfriend using bad language, even in the dark days of old!

    Aye, football was a pie and a few pints working class male sport, the craic in every working men’s club and every coal pit and shipyard and factory in the North east.  Now is it the tattooed lary lager fuelled ‘lady’ caught up in the male testosterone atmosphere (even if it no longer resembles a real match day atmosphere of old) aping the behaviour of men?  Now we have Ladies Football and the likes of Jill Scott sticking the nut on a fellow player, how lady like! 

    Thankfully even in these anything-goes-days no one wants to see their mam or daughter swearing (even at the match), maybe your Dad should be the one suitably ‘outraged’? 

    Despite your very eloquent article, I guess you really wish you had been born a man and on the St James’ turf wearing the legendary NUMBER 9 shirt. I guess a lot better than receiving a head-butt from Jill Scott playing ‘girls’ football!

    Of course ladies are welcome at the match as they know in their heart of hearts that women’s football will never take the place of ‘real’ football and is a second rate copy!

    The class of spectator has changed, maybe for the better with the introduction of so many ladies and their sons ‘Oliver’ and ‘Tristrum’, as hooliganism has almost gone for good.  More civilised hand clapping and a rare ‘rah, rah high pitched Newcastle’ jolly sing-a-long.  But the match day humour and atmosphere has all but gone with the demise of the working class council estate ‘Mad Harry’ and his progeny.

    I am all for ladies attending the match and bringing the next Alan Shearer to sample NUFC.  But swearing is always so unladylike, like!  Hence you now know why so many disapprove and maybe if you have children of your own you’ll understand why any real fan doesn’t want their 6 and 7 year old sat next to some fat sweaty swearing drunken male either!!!!  Bring back a singing end for the proper enthusiastic fans, but if it has terraces it will still be no place for any girls. Ask any male fans and you’ll find a broad agreement!

  • LeazesEnder

    NotFatFreddy Yes things have changed…. After the match we would generally hit a pub in order to listen to the post match comments, and more often than not some stupid sod would drown it out by putting the jukebox on… and was it Slade…. No it was ‘Take bloody that!…. Women and football aagh….. !

  • NotFatFreddy

    LeazesEnder NotFatFreddy 

    Yup!  Imagine having an expensive mobile phone in the Leazes End back in the early 70’s or the Gallowgate corner?  It wouldn’t last long.  It would be lifted out of your pocket or you’d be threatened to hand it over freely, or it would be smashed in the frenzy of the terrace push or celebrations when we scored.  To think of some of those Leazes Skinheads ‘wrestling’ with each other to take ‘selfies’ as they stood on the barriers…it has certainly changed alright!

  • Paul Patterson

    Nice article. But hang on, wine at a football match? What happened that day?

    I also approve of a different slant on the game.

    Plus, may I congratulate you on your performances in Much Ado About Nothing, (Quite apt in our situation) The Remains Of The Day (What to do after a match) and Sense And Sensibility (Trying in vain to make sense of it all).

  • LeazesEnder

    NotFatFreddy LeazesEnder I was a Greaser!

  • richard birs

    Good to hear another point of view ,we need more women talking if it’s only to shut the men up. Could we have your view on owner and management please? It might make interesting reading.