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.

Mag 2

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

the mag

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)

Mag 17

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.

the mag

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.

Mag 29

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.

the mag

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.

Mag 49

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.

the mag

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.

Mag 65

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?

the mag

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.

Mag 71

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 mag

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.

Christmas Gifts - shop.themag.co.uk


  • fictional

    NUFCTheMag I’ve the old shoot and match magazines through the 80s, same dialogue

  • juliotaylor

    NUFCTheMag what a brilliant article!

  • Belfast Ali

    That’s the best piece I’ve read in The Mag for years. Brilliant!!!

  • howaymebonnylads

    It’s true that the modern football fan thinks the way we are treat is something new and disgusting.  When actually it’s just the same dressed up slightly differently.  You’re dead right that we have had some happy times but they are the rare occasions and I agree the Keegan era seems like it will be the best time I will ever have following NUFC.  That said, when I first started following NUFC 35+ years ago I never thought I’d experience Wembley and Europe and that’s where HOPE was always in our vocabulary.  Time will quickly tell if Ashley means what he says and this bit of history may become nostalgic too….

  • amacdee

    “Magazines in the garage”, “I’m not allowed to bring them in the house” “£500 to the Robber Baron ?? Hey JJ you’re not writing this from St George’s by any chance ???
    Just goes to show that anyone supporting this club over the past twenty years or more must be bonkers !

  • Alsteads

    Just brings a smile to my face. Just a nice read

  • LeazesEnder

    John Hall has got enormous hands!

  • Brian Standen

    Fantastic read. And some great points !

  • Jezza_NUFC

    Great memories. I was heavily involved with The Mag in those early days, selling it outside the corner of the Gallowgate and the newly constructed Milburn stand before every home game and even writing the odd article. Those were good times. Mark couldn’t really afford to pay us in those early days but he always used to buy us tickets for the seats. They were a really nice group of lads in whose company I enjoyed many a match day as well as a memorable New Year’s Eve celebration in Felling on the final night of the 1980’s.

  • Grumpyoldmag

    Thank you thank you thank you – this is the stuff I used to buy the mag for – stuff I could not write myself but gives a great feel of the ups and downs of football life. Please Mr jenson more of this and less of the Internet trolling rewteets

  • grahame49

    The city library has toon programs going back ages go to level 6 and ask for a season and have a good look at the adds and styles. In 99 for a fà cup 4th round tie it was 23.50 for a adult and kid in family end its now 24.50 a game for a adult and kid via a season ticket. It was 23 for a ticket in leases or gallowgate now 30 via a season ticket. Might me bad at moment but it is a cracking deal taking in 16 years of inflation

  • Mal44

    I coughed up £500 as well. Hope Ashley isn’t reading this as he will be getting ideas. Great article.

  • Sickandtiredstill

    howaymebonnylads 8 years has already proven what Ashley is all about.  The handling of the McClaren press conference has also proven he and his Board have not learned a damn thing.

  • MilitantGeordie

    Nice.I take my hat off Jinky Jim. You’re what i consider a true toon supporter and the type of person that all Newcastle fans should listen to. Respect and thank you for giving a fellow Newcastle addict some hope and great memories of better days.

  • IntravenusMP

    I have a similar collection, it’s actually in my parents’ attic which includes issue 1 ugh Gazza dressed in the tackiest jumper known to man accusing him of laughing all the way to the bank. Later issues show Ilan obsession that we should buy John Fashunu and some fantastic LAD Newcastle t shirts for sale as a take on BOY London that were big with ladies and the gay scene of the time.
    I was at the 2-1 win at anfield along with a 2-2 draw at St James in the same relegation season. Fanzines became massive that season & they helped soften the attitudes between supporters as fans would often buy each other’s fanzine and you’d find how they ticked. Sportspages off Charing Cross road in London used to have every clubs fanzine and it was almost obligatory to visit during away games in the smoke.

  • Jezza_NUFC

    IntravenusMP 

    Great comment. I too used to go to Sports Pages every time
    we were in London. It was great, I was never short of reading material on those
    long train journeys back from King’s Cross. Fanzines really did bring the fans
    together that season. Just reading other clubs’ fanzines really gave you an
    insight into how the fans felt and made you realise that deep down we were all
    the same no matter what team we supported. It was great to find out that fans
    of Preston North End or Brighton hated their chairman too.
    The other things fanzines did that season was to give
    fans a voice for the first time ever. All over the country fans were suddenly
    standing up and telling it how it really was rather than the sycophantic drivel
    you read in official match programmes. I once heard it described as “football’s
    Punk period” and that pretty much summed up the spirit of the times. That was
    the season I stopped buying programmes. I had been an avid collector till then
    but started buying fanzines wherever I went instead.

  • Happyharrys2011

    Absolutely fantastic article it makes me want to cry. Back then we had a local business man who ran the club a bit like Jabba does now (mckeag), just on a smaller scale. But we also had a local business man who wanted to make us successful and make money for himself (John Hall). He achieved this why can’t Jabba make money and make us successful surely it would be beneficial to all involved.

  • GToon

    Anybody know how the season ticket sales have gone? Have they sold any with the extended deadline?

  • toonmad1956

    Excellent read. I used to work as a typesetter on the production of the Mag in the early days and got to read the articles before they went to print. Best job I ever had.

  • IntravenusMP

    That’s true, I wrote a few article back in the earlier Mag days, the first one was only worthy of the letters page & bemoaned the lack of bite in midfield and in particular Davey Mac’s ability to lose the ball so often that his second touch was always a sliding tackle. My solution was perhaps a less intelligent observation / solution – we needed Vinnie Jones! Makes you wonder what the question was if he was the answer.

  • Geordie Zebra

    I bought the Mag for this sort of article too. Outstanding.

  • Gordonthetoony

    GToon Letters now sent out to those who haven’t renewed. Desperate measures?

  • Porciestreet

    GToon Aparrently, The deadline’s just been extended again.

  • LeazesEnder

    toonmad1956 Typesetting went out in the 1970’s what were they using wooden blocks or lead moulds?

  • LeazesEnder

    IntravenusMP You’re not Billy Furious’s Mum are you?

  • toonmad1956

    Typesetting continued until the late 80s when Apple Macs first came out. The type was flashed onto a photographic paper called bromide then run through a processor in a dark room. The paper was then stuck down into pages and the negs created to send to the printers – very long winded compared to today’s techniques

  • LeazesEnder

    toonmad1956 Sounds to me like a cheap primitive lithographic technique rather than intaglio (which is what originally typesetters did)?