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Imagine going all the way to Lanzarote and bumping into Sunderland’s No.1 fan…

5 years ago

I’m sitting in Lanzarote airport awaiting a flight back to Newcastle, having had seven welcome days in the sun.

Airports are boring, so as I have my last couple of beers I am reflecting on the previous seven days – not on the enjoyable holiday or my bronzed Adonis like tan, but more the football and in particular Newcastle United FC. I should mention that as I met Sunderland’s number one supporter, who oddly enough can’t find his way to the SOL, they might come into my thoughts too.

I wrote a piece a few days ago following our impressive win against Derby, another solid ‘Rafa knows best’ performance, little did I know what was to follow.

But I am rushing ahead…I had to return to the pub to watch Sunderland v Everton. This time the pub was quiet: a few scousers, me from Newcastle, a few local ex-pats who watch all the football – but nobody from Sunderland.

Where was the number one Sunderland fan, you know who you are – Mr Sandancer security guard at Nissan!

After a very boring first half, Everton upped it a bit and ran out comfortable winners, still no sign of him who I mentioned above though. So we decided to head back to the hotel bar where I always seemed to see him, where countless times he reminded me of which division we are in, plus of course the obligatory six in a row. The hotel bar was small and he was bi,g so I could not miss him, but oddly enough he was not to be seen. I can only assume he was watching elsewhere or had a touch of Spanish flu.

Disappointingly we had to head back to our room after just a few more drinks!

Next morning my mind was wandering toward QPR away. Would we win? Could we win? When he suddenly appeared and wait for it…proceeded to ask me what the score the previous night had been! I revelled inside as I told him, wildly exaggerating as I extolled the virtues of Everton while telling him his team looked sh*t and doomed. Except I wasn’t exaggerating, it’s how it was.

His retort was the same gumph from every previous meeting, even the missus spoke up and questioned his sanity. Anyway, why was he not watching the game given that he was the self-proclaimed number one SAFC fan? No response as he slipped away, while we sat like immature giggling kids.

Matters in my head were now back toward our own game, knowing it was not being broadcast the best plan being go back to same pub, watch a bit of Champions League and be glued to my phone – texts and sky sports app being most reliable, except what is this…

Periscope TV, a new app that enables live filming on a phone to be shared, a mate sent a link and within 15 minutes the most grainy of start/stop pictures appeared on my phone from behind the goal at Loftus Road. Pic quality was poor but sound was very clear, and I saw enough to know we were winning 2-0. Internet quality was not good so I settled for text info in the second half as we whooped and cheered at regular intervals.

Locals enquired as to what I was watching and a Chelsea fan seemed genuinely pleased Rafa was doing so well, the sole Man City fan had a face like David Moyes as his game had been called off due to a bit of drizzle in Manchester.

So what is going on, each team Rafa picks I have a small sense of internal disappointment: why has he left X out, why is Y playing?

Why am I such a fool for ever doubting his genius – nobody could foresee what happened at QPR, least of all the Fat Eddie Murphy sat in their dugout (that will teach you to cheat like you did playing for Boro a few years back), revenge is always sweet.

Back in the hotel, him from the Deep South was back in his usual place at the bar and was duly informed of our score – but he was more into telling me how Kone was the world’s best and that Didier Dong (Dong? Really) was better than Pogba!

I’m heading back and I can’t wait, there is no better place to be than NE1 when NUFC are on a roll. Wolves on Saturday, like all other potential banana skins are there for the taking, this is Rafa, not Mr Smug or Tufty, another 3 points would go very nicely.

Wolves again 3 days later, at £10 and £3 for pre-sales it has to be a bargain, get along and give the lads waiting in the wings the support they deserve.

I am always the eternal optimist but I have not felt like this since Kevin Keegan set us off on a thrilling five year ride, where (almost) anyone who got in the way was smashed to one side with an arrogant swagger.

Happy days, get me home.



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