When I’ve spoken to older fans, they say supporting Newcastle United hasn’t been any different to what it’s like now; the only exception over the years being when Kevin Keegan took a hold of the whole operation by the scruff of the neck and dragged it up to within a whisker of winning the league.
Years of mismanagement throughout NUFC’s history has seen us tagged as a ‘sleeping giant’. Kevin Keegan’s entertainers gave us a glimpse of what could be if the Club was managed in the right way, only for PLC, corporate hospitality and greed to get in the way.
I enjoy listening to the perspectives of those who have followed Newcastle for years; I’m very much of the mindset that when experience speaks, you listen. Many a conversation regarding NUFC which develops into near hysteria, is simply brought back down to sanity with a simple ‘well that’s Newcastle for you’.
Does that make the current situation we’re in, any easier to digest? Well, no, not really. There’s a crumb of comfort in that following NUFC is a shared experience, and that people are able to empathise with you when you’re venting your spleen at the latest debacle.
For every near miss in cup campaigns or surges up the league, rather than a good situation being built on, it’s taken for granted, and usually followed up by years in the wilderness. To think that this has pretty much been how it is for the majority of the Club’s history makes the number of fans that still support it nothing short of astounding.
I remember the season we went close to winning the league and the conversations with the older fellas amongst our support going along the lines of ‘enjoy it while it lasts’. Now that may appear as being negative but looking back it’s just the opinion of a fella that had seen many a false dawn before.
I must add though on the flip side of that, I was standing outside the back of the East Stand waiting for my Dad & Uncle, as I often did after the last match of season, following the 1-1 draw with Spurs in 1995 and a fella of similar age as I’ve described, comes up to me, grabs my forlorn face and exclaimed “don’t worry son we’ll win it in your lifetime” – I’m still waiting, but the fella seemed canny so I believe him.
I’ve met some top characters through the association of going to the match, even when there hasn’t been a match going on, NUFC is never far away from being a conversation with a stranger.
There was this fella called John who I’d often bump into on the 306 bus. John carried a notepad with lists of Newcastle players past and present. We’d talk through the latest question that had been set by one of the lads in the pub, great fun. I was always chuffed when I was able to supply him with the answer he was looking for. Due to traffic or a break in quiz questions I learned that he had been a tailor in Burtons since the 60’s with many a story to tell, a great bloke.
Another fella Les – I used to bump into in the 3 Bulls on Friday night after work, totally by chance. What a guy! He’d tell stories of Jim Iley, Supermac, the Fairs Cup, and the importance of singing the Blaydon Races at the right time, name an away ground and he’d been to it, his stories brought the history of the Club to life.
The Club without its people is nothing; these types of characters are what I associate with following NUFC, not the clowns currently running the Club. The recent outcome of the Jonas tribunal further proves what classless cretins we have currently running our club at the moment.
The parallels between this season and our last relegation season are scary. Being taken to court by a club legend/fan favourite, building a team full of mercenaries and reacting far too late to make amends, odd signings that smack of agent favours…the list goes on. The fact that we are repeating mistake after mistake year after year shows them up as having no idea how to run a football club, utterly clueless.
It was only a year ago we boycotted the Spurs game, and promises were made by the one guy able to change things, that things were going to change. I reckon he’s had more than enough opportunities to make amends but the Club reeks of failure from top to bottom. Tribunals, inquiries, malpractice, all things associated with S***** D***** are now becoming synonymous with NUFC and that’s down to one man.
I’ve tried to remain philosophical when it comes to following NUFC, maintaining that the current owner is just the latest incumbent to make a hash of it in the long run. In the past we’ve managed to have some fun along the way in spite of the goings on at board level. This incumbent is different, due to his actions, or lack of, the character of the Club and joy supporting it is being sucked right out of it.
There’s little pride in wearing the current shirt around town, on holiday or wherever. I’m not just on about the design. I recall a time when whole families would be wearing the latest shirt and it wouldn’t even be a match day!
Spotted with NUFC crest on your person you’re likely to be questioned about your sanity and why you support such a laughing stock, such a shambles of a club. Days gone by I’d defend the Club to the hilt but these days there’s an acceptance that things just aren’t right. We’re never more than a few months away from the next disaster and nothing in place to prevent it happening again.
I don’t want the current owner here, he just doesn’t get it, he doesn’t get football and doesn’t get our football club, surely even he recognises that this level of failure can’t go on.
Having said all of that I’m still going to the match. I’m still clinging onto the idea that we’ll stay up, we’ll get things right on the pitch and clouds hovering over St. James’ Park will disappear because that’s what we do, we play down our chances when we’re doing well and see a way of winning when the odds are stacked against us.
In Rafa I think we have a manager that, if given full control, could really pull the Club up by the bootlaces and get us going on the pitch again.
I think the supporters could help convince Rafa that this is the place for him in the long-term.
Whether he gets the opportunity to put his own stamp of things, based on recent history I’d guess not, but you never know, here’s hoping he does!
Howay me bonny lads!!!
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