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Please don’t clap for me

5 years ago

We almost got away without the usual 17 minutes applause thing on Wednesday night, something interesting happened in the match and the usual Newcastle fans who still participate were momentarily distracted.

However, after a 10/15 second delay, the 17 minute thing did happen, with also the then ritual booing of the away fans for not joining in.

Although having said that, QPR brought so few fans that it was difficult to make out whether or not they were actually joining in the minute’s applause or not.

As you will know, the first half was atrocious on Wednesday once Jonjo Shelvey had given us that excellent first minute lead.

So with the crowd back to their usual near silence in that opening half, I was then puzzled when some five or ten minutes after the 17 minute applause, there were a few people around me stood up and clapping. Absolutely nothing was happening on the pitch so I didn’t have a clue what that was all about.

It was only when in the pub after the game that the topic came up and it turns out it was the latest minute’s applause for another recently departed Newcastle fan, with appeals on social media for us all to join in with a 20 something minute round of applause.

Now whatever I say here is not meant in any way to diminish anybody’s loss, we all appreciate how upsetting it is when you lose a loved one.

However, it is your personal grief and sadly there are countless numbers of Newcastle fans dying every day of the week and every one of them is a special case – no more and no less than yours.

When John and Liam passed away, it was the nature of the event that produced the minute’s applause, probably rightly so.

Two Newcastle fans innocently caught up in a world event as a passenger plane was blown out of the sky due to political/war reasons that were nothing to do with them.

Such a public tragedy almost certainly needed to be marked and it was a great thing when the minute’s applause happened on 17 minutes, the only problem being when it was repeated the next match.

It should have been a one match only thing and their families left to grieve in private. Instead we now, two and a half years later, still have this event each match, when thousands of Newcastle fans still get to their feet on 17 minutes without most of them really able to explain why they still do it, apart from maybe the fear that somebody will have a go at them for not doing so.

I was at Brentford for our match last month and that happened to be their one game of the season when they remembered all the fans they had lost that past year. Since then I have read that lots of clubs do the same, pick one home game when all the supporters can remember all the fans that have departed, including maybe somebody particularly special to them.

If you are in any doubt, here is some simple maths.

If you take for round figures that we will all live to be 100 (and still not see us win anything…).

Plus, assume that we have roughly 25 home games in a year.

50,000 Newcastle fans that go to games – means on average 500 of them will die in a year – that equals around 10 a week or 20 (25 x 20=500) in between matches. So on average, 20 fans lives should be remembered each game.

100,000 Newcastle fans (a realistic figure of people who take an active interest and go to games regularly or have done in the past) – that would mean on average 40 Newcastle fans to be remembered every home match.

250,000 Newcastle fans (a realistic figure I think of at least the number who would call themselves Newcastle fans if asked, many of them having gone to at least the odd game) – that would mean 100 Newcastle fans to be remembered every game, on average.

You see the problem, we are running out of minutes.

We need the club to take a lead on this and say that like these other clubs, Newcastle United will pick one match each season and that will be when all of us who are still here, remember everybody who has gone, in the past 12 months and beyond.

If this doesn’t happen, then the biggest tragedy of all is that any minute’s applause becomes devalued, resented by many and losing any kind of meaning for countless others.

So please, don’t clap for me after I have gone.

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