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A utopian vision of St James Park…

5 years ago

Much has been made of the atmosphere at St James Park this season.

There’s probably been more noise made outside the ground about the atmosphere than inside at times…but I felt we did set a marker down at the last home game against Derby.

Did it compare with memorable games of the past? Probably not – but in my opinion it was certainly the best there’s been since the dramatic win v Norwich.

The day of the last home game, for three reasons, had a general positive feel-good factor about it and for me personally, it made me feel proud to be a Geordie.

First off there was the NUFC Fans Food Bank (@nufcfoodbank) collection outside the ground opposite NINE Bar. A fantastic initiative helping those who have fallen on hard times in our region. That this happens here in this day in age is another matter but I think it is a good cause which I felt duty bound to donate to.

I understand that the collection point will be there again for the Bristol City game where the hope is to beat the 3 tonnes that were donated before the Derby game, get yersel along and donate what you can.

Secondly, the Gallowgate Flags (@gallowgateflags) team of volunteers were busy setting up inside the ground so we got ourselves in early and got to see first hand the effort that goes in to setting everything up.

My seat is in the Strawberry Corner of the ground and it was fantastic to see what’s possible in such a short space of time. The lads ought to be commended for the graft they put in to setting up and organising what was a great display. I’m really looking forward to seeing their future plans come to fruition.

Thirdly, after the match I went to Low Fell’s answer to Woodstock, FellStock. A bill of local bands/acts coming together to perform with all proceeds going to the Sir Bobby Robson foundation. There’s hope of making it an annual event so keep an eye out for that.

The game itself was good, the lads’ application on the pitch matched those making the noise in the stands. All this with a few beers throughout made for a pretty good day. There we have three examples of what we are capable of as a community when we are United, I’m sure that it’s just the tip of the iceberg.

I’ve read calls for those in ‘The Corner’ that don’t stand and sing to vacate their seats so someone that does can have it. Although I see the point, as someone that has a seat in the Corner I can’t say a fully agree with this. I’d rather energies were directed into getting a safe standing section in St James Park. I feel that is a better way to get the like-minded together to generate some atmosphere.

It has to be accepted that there is a faction of the St James Park crowd that will simply go to the game just to see their team play. I don’t have a problem with that; I’d rather that than the trigger happy moaners and abusers ready to shoot down the first misplaced pass or un-won header.

As much as I want there to be raucous, unrelenting atmosphere, I don’t think people getting aggro because they happen to be sitting in a noisy part of the ground and just because they’re not singing, is going help things. Shouting down the negative gobshites might though.

The utopian vision of St James Park where everyone sings and everyone agrees with one another just does not exist and won’t ever be a thing. We can’t even get the Blaydon Races right at the minute but getting behind the Gallowgate Flags initiative is a massive step towards getting the atmosphere back to what it once was.

Rafa puts a lot of value on the support of the fans. When playing against one team he shouldn’t need to ask for it is Aston Villa.

Aston Villa fans for some unknown reason seem to have something against us. This was no more apparent than the fixtures down there that have seen us relegated. Their bed sheets poking fun at our so called demise.

We stuffed them 6-0 up here on our return to the Premier League but we could’ve beaten them 6 nowt every time since and it wouldn’t make up for their behaviour towards us since that day in May 2009.

As fate would have it we were in a very similar predicament May 2016, where their manky old bed sheets were unfurled yet again. The same ones used back in 2009 were amended and used again; I mean how sad is that! Where it has been all this time I dread to think.

I’ve always known them to have a reputation of booing the away side rather than support there own. They have developed an unhealthy obsession with us to almost mackem levels that I’ll never understand.

It would be easy to get involved and poke fun at their current plight. We do not need to get involved in that as that would only be us sinking to their lowly level. The Championship league table and their owner/chairman on twitter both do a good enough job of that.

When things were going badly for them last time in the Premier League: fan unrest, protests and the like were going on, yet they still found the time to ignore their situation long enough to celebrate our relegation.

Luckily we’re better than that, when Villa arrive they will see how a football team should be supported. They will see a magnificent display by Gallowgate Flags, a total class above any bed sheet. They will hear songs about our manager, our team throughout.

I’m really looking forward to seeing the big surfer in action, the design looks great! I remember being under the last one when it made its way over the Gallowgate End, it was standing then so I’m guessing around 1994/5 was the last time.

I remember there being two giant surfer flags. The Black and White ‘Newcastle United Toon Army Champions 1992/1993’ which I associate with Harry Palmer singing on the pitch and old Toon fan Stevie Charlton stood next to the Newcastle bench.

There was the larger flag that featured two magpies either side of the blue star that ended up draped over the Three Bulls on Percy Street at one point. Although I might be wrong I’m sure I’ve seen pictures of that one on our UEFA Cup trips to Antwerp and Bilbao, great, great times!

It would be great to get back to that type of fervent support once again. If you’re proud to be a Geordie clap your hands, wave your flags & scarves, and sing your hearts out…

Howay me bonny lads!!!

You can follow the author on Twitter @lyon1892

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