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I could have been a Mackem

5 years ago

I was flicking through the TV channels one night and came across a film that starred that lass who used to be married to Derby County’s Chris Martin.

It was entitled ‘Sliding Doors’ and the plot centred upon  how making just one seemingly innocuous  decision, can go on to have a huge impact on the rest of your life.

Like choosing to support Newcastle United

I appreciate that statement  may seem a pretty stupid thing to say if you were born in Byker, had a dad who bled black and white and who went to school with a class room full of like-minded little Newcastle United fans…

…but for many of us, this was not the case.

I was brought up in one of the ‘disputed territories’ and classrooms in Chester le street were split pretty much 50 -50 between us and them. So when you add in a Dad who had no interest in football, you can see how it would have been very easy to have swung either way.

While I’m here, I would just like to take this opportunity to say a massive thanks  to Rosie in 3C , who made the decision which way to swing, a very easy one to make.

But that’s another story.

Because there is Irish blood in the family, I had a liking for George Best and Man Utd. However, after being on the receiving end of too many cuffings from the big lads in the year above, I realised that a decision needed to be made. Was it to be Black ‘n’ white or Red ‘n’ white?

Some of the blokes who worked with my dad decided to help me make a decision, by taking me to a match at both grounds.

So, my very first football match was to be at Roker Park where I think it was Everton who were the visitors. For 90 minutes I stood on the exposed Roker end, being soaked to the skin, not being able to see the pitch while watching a 0-0 draw. It was an utterly crap afternoon and it nearly put me off football for life. Even at this tender age, I knew I was amongst some strange people.

Did you know that It’s a historical fact that our rivalry with this lot goes back to the Civil War, where Newcastle were Royalists, (flamboyant, educated, cultured) while the makems were Roundheads (dirty blokes with pudding basin haircuts, who liked to dunk any women who had a wart on their face in the lake).

Some things don’t change.

Sorry, I digress, back to the story.

The following week it was off to St James Park. This time I had a seat in the old west stand and had a  perfect view  of Newcastle beating Coventry 4-0. I spent the day watching Wyn and Pop scoring goals for fun  while all the time drinking Tizer and eating Tudor cheese and onion Crisps.

Then it was back home in time to see the Pink Panther on the telly, although in our house he was more of a light grey panther, because we couldn’t afford to get a colour telly from radio rentals for a few more years. This had been the perfect day and the decision was made. Newcastle United had to be my club from then on.

Now it’s fair to say that not every match experience since that day has quite lived up to the first one, but there have been just enough highs to keep me going to  get me through all the lows.

I have been racking my brains to think of  a way of describing just what its been like  supporting  this football club  for 40 odd years.

There have been some amazing days such as  the Spurs league cup semi back in 76, Keegan’s last game against Brighton,  Leicester 7-1 etc , but instead  I thought a more fitting anecdote to sum up being a Newcastle fan would be this one.

It’s Wembley 2000. Chelsea in the Cup Semi-final. I get up at 5am to drive us to London, spend the hours up to the match drinking diet coke while those around me get happily bladdered, finally taking our seats in the lower tier of the tunnel end 30 minutes before the start.

As the teams come out, “right here, right now “ blasts from the tannoy and the hairs on my neck are standing up because this is a day I am never going to forget.

Then it starts to rain on myself and Barry on what is a lovely sunny day. Except it’s not rain, it’s the upper tier toilets overflowing and somehow, out of 90,000 seats in the ground, we have managed to get the two directly below the toilet leak.  You just couldn’t make it up.

However, this moment is probably a perfect metaphor for being a Newcastle fan.

They have been peeing on my head since 1969.



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