I have a confession to make.
In my garage, behind the broken bathroom tiles and a set of brake pads for a car that I no longer own, are a pile of well thumbed magazines from the late eighties and early nineties.
I’m not allowed to bring them in the house, so every so often I go and sit in there with a bottle of Grolsch and indulge myself.
The magazines in question are editions 2 to 77 of the Mag…and what a totally marvellous read they are.
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A whole range of emotions come flooding back as I look at the covers that start with a grainy black and white cover of McKeag & Hall, with ‘Divided we stand’ above it, to a sparkling colour cover of Cole and Sellars celebrating yet another victory.
These magazines take me on a journey from a time of utter despair and desperation, through to what I sadly believe will turn out to be the happiest time in my Newcastle supporting life.
When I finally stop reading, my overwhelming feeling is that what goes around comes around. Again and again and again.
So at a time when we are devoid of hope, using old editions of the Mag, let me take you on a journey from a previous time when this club was on its knees, but in just five short years had transformed itself into a Keegan wonderland.
We are bottom of Division 1 (the proper division 1) and we have sacked our Manager Willie McFaul. Favourite to take over is the Preston manager John McGrath. That is the level the club is at. The club is in a complete mess, we are bottom of the league and The Mag is firmly supporting the fledgling ‘Sack the board’ campaign
On the plus side, despite having hardly taken a point all season, we have somehow managed to win at Anfield, with a goal from a mad Brazilian (Mirandinha). Only Newcastle can get relegated in a season when they beat Liverpool away. I don’t think that we have won a league game there since! (ED: 2-0 in 1994, Cole and Lee)
Fifteen issues later and we are now pushing for promotion from Division 2. There is a sentimental piece looking back at Kevin Keegan’s two years playing for the club, and a quote from the author saying that Keegan, Waddle and Beardsley are the greatest frontline that he is ever likely to see. Hard to argue with that.
There is also an article entitled ‘They unfortunately played for the toon’ with this month’s subject being Ian Stewart. Can’t argue with that either.
Just twelve issues later and things are getting really serious. The front cover shows the 2nd division table after 11 games. Newcastle are rock bottom. One article pleads for the young kids to be given time because the likes of Watson, Clark and Howey can become top players.
Despite the support for Ardiles, the feeling was that the club is heading for relegation and that we will be playing in the third division for the first time in our history.
There is also an article in this edition about a new TV Company called Sky. They are a minor outfit, so obviously don’t have any real football to show on their screens, just second rate zenith data cup matches involving second division clubs. The talk is that in the future they will want the customer to pay for their TV football? As if that could ever happen.
However, just twenty editions and a Keegan return later, things have been totally transformed. This Mag shows another 2nd Division table. This time Newcastle are top and the title is ‘Nee Sweat’.
The editorial warns fans of the price that goes with this success. It will be very likely that they will have to buy a season ticket if they want to watch United next season.
There is still a nervous feel to the magazine though, because if any club could blow such a big lead then it’s surely Newcastle.
This edition has a bunch of fans at the airport; under the headline ‘Europe here we come’.
In the space of just a few seasons, we have gone from basket cases to being the third best team in the Country. Of course, being Newcastle there has to be a down side. The Club have just launched a bond scheme at £500 a time. Now who would be daft enough to buy them?
Idiots like me I guess. Thank God it was way over subscribed and they only gave me £500 and not the life savings of two grand I asked for. What an absolute plum.
This is the last one in the collection.
It has Pamela Anderson in a bathrobe on the front cover. Now I am not sure just what that had to do with Newcastle but frankly who cares.
The mood of the magazine is just wonderful. Living the dream boys, living the dream.
Quite simply Newcastle United are a real force in English Football
If you were around at the time, you should try and track down old copies because they are wonderful nostalgia.
If you are a young buck, that is under 30, you should also read these magazines, because it may give you a little hope for the future when there seems to be none.
What these moth eaten old magazines have graphically reminded me of, is that when we get it right, we can be some football club.
We just don’t get it right very often.
You never know, maybe in 2035, I will be boring my grandchildren with stories of the time back in 2015, when the most glorious team in the history of Newcastle United was being assembled from the ashes of the disastrous Ashley regime.
If we can rise from the dead before, then surely we can do it again?
Then again what do I know. I’m the clown who gave John Hall £500.