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From the mouths of babes

6 years ago

I saw John Carver last week.

He was in the Central Station, at the East Coast information desk. I presume he was asking them for some information about East Coast trains.

I was in the station with my kids, mainly because the youngest, Tom, likes trains, and muffins from the café on platform three.

The eldest couldn’t care less about trains but would probably sell her soul for a muffin from the café on platform three.

The muffin fuelled afternoon got me wondering about two things as Mr Carver considered the possibility of a change of train at Doncaster:

Firstly, how impressed would Tom be if I pointed out the ex-manager of our club? After all, Tom gets excited going past St James’ Park on the bus, even when we have lost the previous day.

And secondly, and more importantly: how loudly would Tom say whatever he was going to say next? Because Tom has a seven year old’s black and white ideas on last season. His review of it is unfavourable.

He loves Newcastle United, and a bit like me at seven years old, simply cannot believe it when he sees someone connected to the club outside of the perimeter of the pitch.

I remember being in Fenwick’s with my dad when I was a young ‘un, and my dad said, “That’s Tommy Cassidy over there!” Well, you could have knocked me over with a white Bukta sock.

My astonishment that a former utility player in a fairly poor team might actually have to buy stuff was too much for my head to compute, and could only be voiced by a very loud “Where’s Tommy Cassidy?!” that Tommy Cassidy clearly registered but did not respond to. I mean, what was he supposed to say? Sorry we were a bit lacking in direction in the late 70’s but we did our best?

I know that Tom would have been amazed at the idea of John Carver getting a train. Now, I don’t think anyone seeking advice about a train needs any distractions, particularly the garbled opinions of a seven year old who sometimes shouts a bit when he’s excited.

And even more so when those garbled opinions are based, as kids’ opinions tend to be, on those of his dad and grandad. Tom thinks Malcolm Macdonald was brilliant but he’s never even seen a clip of him play. That’ll be grandad.

I dread the day Tom might meet Shola Ameobi. The chances are that Tom will tell Mr Ameobi that “My dad says you’re probably a really nice bloke but you couldn’t hit a cow’s bum with a banjo!” How we will laugh awkwardly! How we will not know what to say next!

So you see my predicament. Tom’s opinions on John Carver’s managerial skills might well have brought the jewel of the East Coast network to a standstill.

Any negativity Tom has developed about Newcastle United isn’t really his. My negativity usually surfaces over daft things like the litany of ‘if only’ times we’ve had over the years.

If only Stan Collymore… if only the two cup finals in the late 90’s were against pretty much anyone else… if only the mad minutes against Sporting Lisbon hadn’t been so clueless. But my dad’s pessimism is worse.

It’s based in the fact that he’s retired but was younger than Tom the last time we won a domestic trophy.

Our kids learn behaviours and attitudes from us grown-ups. Kids think everything will be OK.

That there are always muffins at the café on platform three.

That the train won’t be cancelled.

That the manager knows what he’s doing because he’s a manager, and the players will be good because they’re professional footballers.

Thankfully, Tom now has the pointless blind optimism I had as a kid. I don’t want to take that away from Tom just yet.

He’s got a lifetime of…Stan Collymore, lost finals and broken hearts to learn the hard way.

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