Following my little problem earlier this year, the hospital advised that I needed to avoid stressful situations for the foreseeable future.

Well when it comes to Newcastle United, this is a pretty difficult thing to do. Whether it’s getting relegated, getting promoted or ownership soap operas, one thing  you can say about our club is that it is not Stoke or West Brom.

Although there have been plenty of times in the past ten years when I wish we had been.

There is only so much relaxing telly you can watch. So as much I have grown to enjoy Gardeners World, or C list celebrities travelling around the country in a motor home, recently it’s been time to watch the lads on Sky Sports again.

Lets be honest, watching Newcastle United in recent years had become a bit of a chore, with exciting times few and far between. Even last season’s promotion didn’t have the feel of 1993 or 2010 to it, however that seems to be changing.

Watching the recent  Liverpool game actually had my heart monitor starting to beep as I found myself really getting into the game again. I was willing them to hold on and get what was a very well deserved point.

I cared because it was very evident that the players cared.

And for me, that is the be all and end all of what I want from my football club.  Of course I want to see us win something, anything , even this cup competition we are playing the reserves in against Port Vale, but  you don’t always get what you want.

Actually If you are a Newcastle fan, you never get what you want.

I think we  are all fully aware that this is not a team full of Man City superstars but  it does seem like a team that is prepared to  put the effort in. You win nothing with just effort alone, but without it, you are heading for the Championship

It got me thinking about some of the so-called big time superstars that have “graced” St James Park in the past, who were very successful in their time, except that time wasn’t at Newcastle. There have been far too many to mention here, so I have just listed half a dozen.

Kenny Sansom

Classy Arsenal and England full-back who was the best at his job for a lot of the 1980s.  It didn’t include the season at Newcastle. In a terrible team, he was even worse than Ray Ranson and John Cornwell, and that took some doing.

Sol Campbell

Another top class player but he was completely washed up when he signed for us.

Ian Rush

What I said for Campbell, applies to Rush as well.  What a striker Ian Rush was in his time for Liverpool.  Sadly, even now, I reckon I could run faster than Rush did in a black and white shirt

John Barnes

Thought by many to be a world class player in his time, although I have to admit that I was one who didn’t see it. What I do know is that he was well on the way to being the toby jug  gentleman he now is when he pulled on our shirt.

Marcelino

One of the first to realise that you could sign for this club on a ridiculous wage for 4 or 5 years and then simply jack it in. I’m sure there must have been some talent in there somewhere but he hid it well.

Owen!

But in my opinion, the daddy of them all is little Micky Owen. Had his injuries all but finished him by the time he joined us, or did he simply join Newcastle because no one else was prepared to pay him an obscene amount of cash. I would  say it was the latter.

I appreciate that he scored  30 goals for the team but to only play 65 games in four seasons is a damning statistic.  Everything I hate about modern footballers is summed up by this five foot mercenary.

And that is why the current team is such a refreshing change. Skill wise, they don’t come close to matching the likes of Campbell, Barnes,  and Owen, but when it comes to commitment, they are streets ahead.

As I’m writing this before Southampton, there is the chance we will be tanked 4-0 on the south coast  and the team will hardly break sweat, making my comments look even dafter than they normally are.

That’s the joy of being a Newcastle fan. One minute you are reaching for the sky, the next you are at the bottom of a big hole.

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  • steve pearce

    A superb article Jim and I hope you are feeling well. You know you could take over from that boring [email protected] Graham Porter and we’d all be happy.

    Enjoy the match mate and all the best!

  • Grahame Johnson

    I noticed something had changed when lads and lasses were excited and had a bit of a spring in their step walking up to watch the Stoke game, then creating a cracking atmosphere. Palace sold out Bournemouth well on its way to being sold out I’m 52 and know what Newcastle do to your feelings alas I’m enjoying watching a team who seem to care. It seems thousands more are like me

  • Brian Standen

    Excellent article and my sentiments exactly- looking forward to today, hey me might lose, we might win as well but we know the effort will be there

  • Simon Ritter

    Spot-on, Jim. Many players don’t understand the fans’ mentality, they live in a bubble and rarely talk with typical supporters. Benitez seems to be ensuring Newcastle’s players appreciate what they have by, for example, asking them to volunteer at the food bank. The man is class.