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Having a heart attack has put football…and Newcastle United, into perspective

4 years ago

I have had the pleasure of doing  a monthly Newcastle United piece for the Mag for nine years. I appreciate that it may not have been much fun for you but I have enjoyed it.

Well for the last few months I haven’t sent anything in, despite there being plenty to write about, but I think my excuse was  a fair one.

I  had a bloody heart attack.

My wife has joked for years that my obsession with this club would kill me, but I don’t think getting beaten by Fulham at home in March, was the real reason for my attack a couple of days later.

So before I get onto all things Newcastle United, if the editor will indulge me, here comes a sermon to all you 40 and 50 somethings out there.

When you are lying in bed with pains in the chest that go into your shoulders, do not put it down to the Greggs corned beef pasty you had for lunch. Do not think that drinking a bottle of gaviscon will make your pain go away, and do not do what I did and refuse to go to A&E because “it’s just indigestion.”

By the time the hospital saw me, the blockage had killed off the lower part of my heart and there is nothing anyone can do to rectify that.

So take it from me please. Don’t be a hero / dick.  If you start to get any symptoms, get your backside down to A&E.

Being strapped up to machines doesn’t half give you a sense of perspective though…

When Steven Fletcher scored that second goal at Hillsborough, I was remarkably calm about it, although that might have been down to being full of funny substances at the time.

Whereas you were living and breathing every twist and turn of the run-in , and no doubt getting high blood pressure as a result, I found myself watching the events unfold from a very detached perspective.

If we go up , we go up.  If we don’t , we don’t.

Everything I have felt for the past 50 odd years suddenly didn’t seem right.

It turns out, getting promoted is not a matter of life and death. Keeping that piece of muscle beating in your chest is!

Don’t get me wrong, The way it all turned out on the last day of the season was enjoyed and celebrated  by me just as much as those in the stadium .

Well that’s not quite true. I don’t think too many who came out of St James Park that day, spent the afternoon drinking Lucozade and Milk. But I was in the town that day in spirit, if not in body.

So will next season bring more days like that?

Lets hope so – but lets also be realistic. Breaking into the top seven would seem to be out of our reach at this time.

However, with there being nothing between eighth and seventeenth (six points), with a few decent signings we should be able to hold our own.

I have a feeling the coming season may well include one or two drubbings from top five teams, but I hope  the fifty thousand who will be watching from the stands will have sensible expectations, and won’t be calling for Rafa’s head when Chelsea or Man City put four past us.

After all, whether you are a Rafa disciple or not, when it comes to the Premier League, there is no arguing that he has the pedigree to succeed…. providing he gets the backing of course.

Anyway, lets see what the summer brings.  We will know so much more by August.

Personally. I think we need at least four proven Premier League signings. The likes of Tammy Abraham are potentially very useful acquisitions but the important word in that sentence is potential.  It would be a big risk to rely only on potential .

What are you expecting from the coming season?  As always, a top ten finish and a trip to Wembley would do for  me, but then again I’m old school.

Finally, I just want to put in writing my gratitude and admiration to the staff of University Hospital Durham. From the porter to  the consultants but especially the amazing nursing staff on the critical care ward.  You made me realise just how unimportant my job  is. You people do a real job and you do it bloody well.

There is something sadly wrong , when the 15 people working that ward, keeping people alive, earn less collectively each week than Emmanuel Riviere, but  I guess that is the world we live in.

So whatever happens next season, lets try and enjoy it and not get too obsessed about the odd bad result.

Football really isn’t that important.

Ps Sorry for the self-indulgence in this piece. Normal service – wittering on about the 1980s, will resume next month.

(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])


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