It’s been a couple of weeks since the world nearly came to an end and I’m not talking about that bloke with the pudding basin haircut setting off his missiles. I’m obviously on about the transfer window.
The fallout from some fans on these pages would suggest that we are heading for oblivion, while the blind faith of some others, can border on that shown by followers of one of those dodgy cults in America.
So here are a few paragraphs from someone too close to being 60 years old, trying to see things from both sides.
For what it’s worth, I don’t think this Newcastle United transfer window was the worst we have ever seen, although that is faint praise indeed. The bar isn’t exactly high. I believe the transfer window has simply been the final straw for many and has been the catalyst for those fans to blow a fuse.
Sadly for many of us old farts, we have seen it all before. The current debacle reminds me so much of the 1988 -1992 period.
I vividly remember standing on the Goodison Terraces with 7,000 others for the first game of the 88/89 season. Full of drink and full of optimism for what was ahead. The game kicks off and I turn to my brother and mumble of few incoherent words in his ear. We have a big bear hug and then hear a roar. I look back at the pitch to see Tony Cottee running off to celebrate his 30 second goal. Optimism wiped out in less than a minute. Only at Newcastle bloody United.
By the time we got to the end of October, we were rock bottom with one win in the first eight. This included being 3-0 down at home at half time to Coventry, the atmosphere inside St James Park was toxic.
I’m now ashamed to say that I was one of those in the new Milburn Stand who left his seat at half time to stand over the tunnel in order to hurl dogs abuse at the likes of Cornwell, Brock and Tinnion as they came out for the second half.
I now realise that any last bit of confidence they may have had, was wiped out the minute they stepped back onto the pitch. What kind of supporter was I, doing this to people who didn’t earn that much more than the fans and would end up selling insurance or running a pub. (Unless you know different, these lads didn’t end up as Millionaires, like the mediocre squad numbers do now).
I was sick, tired & angry and had reached the end of my patience. After yet another false dawn, I wanted to see change. I wanted to see a board that had the same passion for the club as its fans.
However, not everyone felt the same. Fans turned on each other as the season headed for its inevitable conclusion, culminating in punches being thrown amongst the 14,000 who bothered to turn up at the last two home games.
I remember being trapped in the toilets by two very angry old blokes (probably about 40) – ‘What are you still doing here if you don’t want to support the lads. Take your moaning to Sunderland, you bloody mackem’.
I told myself that this was the end , that I wasn’t watching them in the second division again, and I wouldn’t return until the regime changed. For what it was worth, my season ticket was theatrically thrown on the pitch after the Millwall game.
Of course commitment to my boycott lasted 12 weeks. The lure of Leeds as the first game of the season saw me heading up to the ground, along with 24,000 others. The club was back in Division 2 but getting virtually the same crowds as before (down by a thousand). Does that sound familiar?
So why did the John Hall takeover succeed a few years later? In my opinion, the major difference between then and now is that it took the club to be on the verge of oblivion before change occurred. For all our problems at the minute, we are nowhere near that position today.
Now if we had not come back up last season and had seen a second season end up like that of Aston Villa, then I do believe 20,000 plus would have voted with their feet and quit. This would have led to a half empty stadium , with little media exposure and much less revenue coming in, and this would have brought about change.
Because the owner would have wanted it.
The sad truth is that as long as this club is hanging onto the bottom branch of the Premier League money tree, nothing is going to change.
Ironically, I think the strongest and most fervent my support has ever been for this club was in the 92 season, when we plummeted towards the third division. I was close to being unhinged at those iconic games with Portsmouth, Derby and Leicester.
My support was certainly a damn sight better then, than it has been during the past ten years.
Therefore I’m not going to judge anyone on the stance they are currently taking, because I don’t think it’s as simple as “happy clapper” or “anarchist”.
I will leave you with a quote, which I think comes from an 18th century philosopher called Voltaire.
“I disapprove of what you say but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”
Or was that Joey Barton on Talksport?
(All contributions from Newcastle fans welcome, send articles (as well as ideas/suggestions) to [email protected])