Who cursed Newcastle United – was it black magic that doomed us to a history of failure or just plain sod’s law?
Some years ago there was an exhibition at the Discovery Museum about the siege of Newcastle during the English Civil War.
A group of women were apparently executed for witchcraft by the old gallows gate. Perhaps in that moment, 360 odd years ago, one of those dying souls cast a curse upon our fair city, within sight of what would become our sporting home.
Such an idea has been on my mind for a while. It cannot just be bad luck, after all, that the modern history of Newcastle United has been one long continuous tale of failure, disaster and public humiliation.
Over the past 46 years every fleeting moment of fan optimism has been brutally hacked apart by one shoddy capitulation after another. I have seen saner goings on in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest than at St James Park over my relatively brief lifetime.
Even in our nostalgia-driven days of supposed triumph, the men in black and white have blown their chance at lasting glory.
The Entertainers couldn’t abate the ruthless professionalism of Schmeichel, Cantona and Ferguson. Robson’s team crashed and burned one night in Marseilles, whilst every other possibility of success has led to players bottling it on a titanic scale.
While clubs of all different shapes and sizes have their time in the sun, three pathetic visits to Wembley have come and gone for the magpies, a plethora of semi and quarter finals – both domestic and European – have gone up in smoke and NUFC remain further than ever from collecting a trophy.
But none of us signed up for silverware in the first place, so what does it matter if the mantelpiece at NE1 is without any shiny metal objects?
I would argue that no other club has had to put up with its demise being gloated over year after year by the national (by that I mean London) media.
I am sick to death of watching Ronnie Radford or Stan Collymore stick the ball in our net, a man of honour like Kevin Keegan being mocked for a rare outburst of honest dignity and emotion, and being branded by clueless commentators as ‘deluded’ for expecting a reasonable performance from the players that have their wages paid by 52,000 occupied seats every fortnight.
Then there’s the long gallery of rogues that have had their grubby hands on our football club. Ashley, Hall, Shepherd and all the rest are more than our fair share of boardroom charlatans.
Every year ‘Sack Wenger’ signs can be found amongst Arsenal crowds. Yet, in the time that Wenger has forged a football revolution for the Gunners with signings like Patrick Vieira, Thierry Henry and Alexis Sanchez, the manager’s bench at St James’ has been warmed by the likes of Graeme Souness and Joe Kinnear.
We, amongst all other fans of top tier teams, have the most right to complain.
Newcastle United, no matter what changes seem to occur, never strays from its path of doom.
Sod’s law or witches curse: whoever is to blame, they owe this beautiful city a damn good explanation.
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