Tuesday night and 7.30pm I was straight out of the door, having arranged to meet a few of the lads to watch West Brom v Newcastle.
Had an early 5.30am start for work this (Wednesday) morning so couldn’t make it to The Hawthorns and had sold on my ticket.
I love any away match but maybe West Brom on a cold, wet, rainy Tuesday night in late November isn’t the worst one to miss, if I have to.
Anybody who has been there before will tell you it isn’t the best away destination, drinking establishments almost non-existent as it is next to/part of an industrial estate.
So anyway, stepped through the door of my local with just over 20 minutes to go to kick-off, worrying whether we’d get some decent seats or have to stand, only to have a bit of a bigger problem…
The first clue was the tumbleweed blowing down the length of the bar, rather than the ‘eager’ hordes waiting for the match to start.
Only two punters in the whole place – Hmmm.
Turns out my local wasn’t showing the game, apparently they had been fined recently and so had stopped showing the games via foreign TV.
With getting to most matches and if I miss the odd one, then they have been on Sky, this had somehow passed me by.
They’d obviously had a few coming in expecting to see the game as the two resident barflies were able to point us in the direction of a bar that was showing the game.
Thankfully they weren’t wrong and we got to see the game, though would have been handy missing the first 55 minutes or so….
However, chatting to others in the boozer, it turns out that my local is only one of a fair few that had been done recently.
At one time pretty much every pub in our suburb of Newcastle showed the matches on the ‘dodgy’ foreign TV but apparently not any more.
The 10 or so that used to, has shrunk to one or two, with no doubt every chance of them having to throw in the towel as well if getting a ‘visit’/fine.
For so long, years and years now, this had become an established part of the overall Newcastle fan experience but apparently it is now a rapidly diminishing one.
I can only assume this is replicated elsewhere, as one of the blokes in the bar was telling me that he’d tried finding somewhere in Newcastle city centre first, and couldn’t find anywhere that West Brom v Newcastle was on.
Not sure how I feel about it overall. Obviously I want to see the matches on TV when I can’t make it to the actual game but I do find it a little bit tedious that in recent seasons we have had this phenomenon of expert pub goers who never go to a match but want to lecture you on everything.
I can understand the 3pm on a Saturday thing when 90 or so clubs are playing around the country and you don’t want fans of other clubs sitting in the pub watching Man Utd/Liverpool for nothing, rather than paying to watch their local team.
However, West Brom v Newcastle on a Tuesday night, you’d have to be a bit of a masochist to be a neutral wanting to watch that!
Newcastle fans bought up the away allocation ages ago for The Hawthorns, so who would it be harming if I was sitting in my local watching it back on Tyneside?