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Children in need

7 years ago

Every generation of supporter, even at a club as steeped in failure as our own, should be able to remember the idols of their youth.

For me it was the likes of Nolberto Solano and Gary Speed; phenomenal players on the pitch and respectable guys off it.

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But for a child now making their way into following football, either through their own curiosity or the traditional guiding hand of a mentor (most likely their father or mother), there is little choice at Newcastle United of finding a hero to inspire their passion.

“I made a G today”

But you made it in a sleazy way. Selling crack to the kids.

“I gotta get paid,”

Well hey, that’s the way it is.

(Changes, Tupac Shakur)

If I was a parent, the only player at St James Park that I would be happy to have on my child’s bedroom posters, their replica kit or treasured sticker album, is Jonas Gutierrez. Now that he is gone, the entire squad seem to embody, one way or another, the ‘easy G’ attitude criticised in Tupac’s immortal words. They play for money, themselves and nothing else.

What connection do they have to the kid that glares wondrously at their icon?

I would hate for my offspring to desire to be the next Tim Krul or Moussa Sissoko.

Those individuals are not the devil incarnate but their riches are made in a sleazy way – even if it’s all above board and at the encouragement of Sky Sports.

Footballers were never perfect, nor do I ever want them to be, but it would be refreshing to look at them perform and be convinced their efforts were sincere. When did that last happen in NE1?

Not a single squad member at Newcastle – with maybe two exceptions – can look at their pay cheque from last season and say honestly that they deserved their salary.

It is almost as if sportsmen no longer exist in the real world, merely the fantasy land of Sky Sports TV.

There is such a disconnect between us and them that it is nearly impossible to care about who they are, how they play, and whether they faithfully respect this city.

Somebody desperately needs to reassure me that kids still understand players are real people. My last few visits to Premier League matches, where eager hordes clambered to the sides of barriers just for a brief glimpse of reserve goalkeepers warming up, were a concerning sight.

And yet these elite professional mercenaries are nothing compared to the rotten state of the club itself. Seeing an adult wearing the W**** shirt makes me angry. But seeing a young lad or lass, not knowing about the immoral misery-profiteer stamped on their clothes, is an undeniable tragedy.

As a cynical adult, I can make an informed decision to boycott all club merchandise and matches but the same cannot be said for the unyielding loyalty of youngsters.

Without being aware of it, these kids are slowly becoming corrupted into Ashley’s cheap world.

And what about the kids that are savvy enough to know about the true reasons for fan anger, including the realisation that a man is tearing the soul out of their city, their civic institutions and their inheritance as inhabitants of this beautiful place?

An eight year old will have lived knowing no different to the Ashley era.

Hopefully they don’t continue to grow alienated from their local football club into their adolescence or adult lives because of boardroom insensitivity.

To finish on another quote, as Reverand Lovejoy’s wife says on The Simpsons, “Won’t somebody please think of the children!”

(Thanks to Adam Barnsley for the image at the top of the article)


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