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Sitting on a fence

5 years ago

Much has been written about Newcastle United’s opening weekend draw with Southampton.

Some saw it as a key indicator as to how the club has progressed, some saw immense positives in the way the team performed and the effort on show.

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Some cannot believe the hype and backslapping going on, over a draw at home with a club who we should be eclipsing in every imaginable way.

All these points have merit, there was much to admire in the organisation and effort on display, a good deal of hope can be taken from some individual performances. There was little evidence of the malaise which seems to have hung over almost every performance for much of the last two seasons, but it is still just a draw at home with Southampton.

Symbolically it was an important game, just as this is a season which carries more significance than simply competing in football matches.

The damage inflicted in the relationship between the club and much of the fan base has left an open wound that will take a long time to heal, even those who steadfastly refused to join any form of protest last season seemed to be mounting a silent vigil during games, as patience wore thin and the once lauded atmosphere of St James Park was nowhere to be seen or heard.

For many, breaking point arrived last year and from the protests and boycotts, from the media finally seeming to grasp what Mike Ashley was doing (or not doing) at Newcastle, we finally heard the owner speak.

What was said, whether it was meant and more recently if it has been followed through, becomes blurred through people’s individual perspectives.

A trio of signings coupled with the natural ‘new season optimism’ of football fans has seen the flames of hate quelled in many, for now, whilst for others (myself included) it is nowhere near enough after eight years of mismanagement and blatant profiteering.

In any mass debate (no double entendre planned), we tend to hear from only the most vocal on either side.

I have been extremely vocal against the owner but I know that my view is not that of the majority, others have been extremely vocal in their positivity towards what the club has done through the summer, hopefully these people also realise that they do not represent the majority.

It is natural for us, as people, to get caught up in our own hope or hate, it happens when we involve ourselves in any subject which we find emotive, but the majority will always take the middle ground, because that is our default position.

The majority, in this case, is not just the people in the ground, those who have given up their season tickets or even the population of The Mag.

It is Newcastle United fans everywhere, from Malaysia to Mablethorpe and everywhere in between, and it seems that the majority have taken up a position firmly on the fence.

Happy with the new signings, hoping there will be more, not forgetting last season and all that went before. Quietly hoping that a change of direction is happening and that the season ahead will bring them something to cheer, or at the least not hearing comments of pity from non-Geordies concerning your football affiliation.

Forgetting extremism in views (even my own), this is where the majority of the fan base currently find itself.

I don’t believe that many trust the owner as far as they could throw him (insert pun), and they are well aware that we could be literally around the corner from an action or decision that puts them back in a blind rage, but they like the signings and McClaren doesn’t seem as daft as they had feared.

I would go so far as to say that even those of us who express more radical views feel at least a bit like this.

The truth is that small steps have been taken, even I acknowledge that, but those could be cancelled out any minute by a man with a track record of snatching defeat from the jaws of success.

The reconciliation may still be a long way off but for many it is no longer an impossibility.


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