While the early season fixture list was kind to Newcastle with no Man U, Man C or Chelsea to play, when it came to the Newcastle fans who travel away, they have been faced with  trip after trip to the other end of the country .

On a Sunday afternoon.

Nevertheless, we have seen the full allocation at every game taken up, despite the inconvenience these intrepid travellers have faced. Sitting on the sofa watching these games, I found myself looking at our 3,000 fans and asking the question …

Who are you ?

That may seem to be a pretty stupid question to ask but stick with me for a few paragraphs. Back in the day, when I belonged to the away game brigade, that question was very easy to answer.

White, blue collar, age 18-25, living local, virtually all single and virtually all male.

Oh, and far far too many mullets on show.

The benefits of the 1980s were that you could choose to go to an away game at last orders the night before, usually after the 7th pint of snakebite.

Who fancies Rotherham tomorrow? No problem, Jed has the works van, so be at the market place for 10am.

No 100 points were needed  in order to buy the ticket four weeks in advance and as virtually every game was on a Saturday afternoon, you didn’t need any time off work either.

The down side  was that as you sat in the back of a transit van that was held together by the rust, you were looking at a driver who had also sunk seven pints of snakebite just a few hours earlier.

Talking of which, does anyone travel to the match in a transit anymore?  On the one or two away games per season that I get to these days, the car park is full of company car Audis and Passats.

Anyway, back to my original question. Who makes up the away end?

How many are still in the 18-25 single male category?

How many used to be…but are now the middle aged dad taking his kids?

How many exiles, whose work has taken them elsewhere, but still making the effort to follow the lads?

How many females make up the group?  You certainly are more visible these days but are we as enlightened as we think we are? Do you still suffer from “shouldn’t you be at home making the tea” comments?

And finally, how many non-white Geordie followers do we have?  It still looks few and far between. If you are reading this as a first or second generation immigrant to the area, was it an easy choice to follow Newcastle? Choosing us certainly shows you are not a glory hunter.

I hope you are made to feel welcome because back in the 80s, if you had walked up to St James Park it  would have been a very brave choice.

In 1984, I was in Catterick on a course, with a lad who was a big Leeds fan, so when Leeds were playing at St James Park one Wednesday night, I invited Dev to join me.

The fact that Dev was Asian, never crossed my mind as being an issue, so at 18:30 that evening, we walked into the Labour club under the shadow of the ground.

The piano stopped.

It felt like every pair of eyes were upon us. Correction, every pair of eyes was on Dev. Even the reception he got from the lads I was drinking with was muted. If I remember rightly, we won the game, but our time in the Gallowgate corner wasn’t pleasurable, so much so that we left after 75 minutes.

As I said at the start, to be part of the gang in ’84, you needed to be a clone of those around you.

In 2017, regardless of who you are, it’s a massive undertaking, as Brighton, Swansea, Southampton graphically illustrated. When you look at the stats, you are hardly guaranteed to see a win either. In our last couple of Premier League seasons, it was a grand total of 5 wins out of 38 matches.

The away match gang  all share an amazing commitment. The planning, the money required, the time sacrificed.

And thank God you do, because you are a massive part of what the club is all about. What makes you do it ? Is it as simple as ‘I’m a Newcastle fan and it’s in my DNA’?

I have a feeling that it is, so in the words of a bloke I would listen to on the radio, traveling in our transit van to Rotherham.

Same as it ever was.

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  • Leazes Ender

    …. hmm…. yes… contemplation…. its spelt Ged.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Good article started going to away games in 1976 and never stopped some of the same guys still going every week but only a handful. Sadly our number one supporter died on a trip to New Zealand but all his mates still go to every game to this day. I can name the top fifteen supporters great fans who have dedicated their lives to Newcastle United.

    • Leazes Ender

      Go on then…..

    • anyobrien


      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Yes he is one, that was my bus to Millwall by the way we went to the Globe at Borough market at six in the morning great times but Millwall was never the friendliest of grounds.

        • anyobrien

          Aye that’s the one they called last orders at ten in the morning I ended up in the foresters arms old Kent road…. I went with titch, Glen and a kid Strachan. We met a local called Vincent and he took us round his.. “manor”… Great days…. Guru’s buses and there still going.

  • anyobrien

    Remember going to Millwall away after a Friday night out in whitley bay and getting on a bus at midnight night outside the black horse in Monkseaton…. 91 I believe it was the weekend Eubank finished Watson.
    As for now get to about 3 away at most one always a London trip but by train and staying over…. How times have changed.

  • Wor Lass

    I know this isn`t “away” but who remembers the little guy who used to sing “Little White Bull” in the Gallowgate – I think he was called Tommy (or am I getting mixed up with Tommy Steele? Or was he dubbed Tommy because it was Tommy Steele`s song?). It was quite surreal to listen to a big crowd of young lads singing that song while empty bottles (proper glass ones) and lumps of rock were being launched between the two rival sets of supporters.

    • Brian Standen

      Oh yes. And he was often at the Away games!

    • Monkseaton Magpies

      He was called Tommy and he worked in the green market for his match day money although the bender squad rarely charged his bus fare to away games.

    • MotownRob

      He was called Tommy Craine passed away 2 years ago.He was giving a brilliant send off my the regulars of the Clock,and his reef was a little white bull.

      • Wor Lass

        Thanks for that! Happy memories.

    • Grahame Johnson

      Tommy was once giving evidence on a Monday after an away game once done he said to the lads on the way out I didn’t tell them you wrecked the bar, he was a canny bloke who was loved as he was a character

      • Wor Lass

        ha ha! That would have been a good one for the Likely lads.

    • Kev Newcastle England

      Aye he was called Tommy and worked in the market

  • Brian Standen

    Great article! I’m 53 and my first away was Boro in 76 ( great introduction and should have put me off forever, instead it hooked me), I don’t go away as much these days, the lads I go with prefer B & Q to away days! But I still get to as many as I can.
    The away support has evolved, not so many characters, but that takes nothing away from the boys and girls who spend their hard earned cash following NUFC!
    Back in the day some of the tales emanating from away games are legendary and I love both reading and writing about those experiences!

  • Geordiegiants

    I remember my first away game was Blackburn away with the junior magpies, I sold 2 video tapes on the Friday night to finance it. I never told my mother, I was about 14/15, me and my pal just went down the ground, paid a couple of quid, and got on the junior magpies bus. I think we won 2-1.
    I went home and told my mother, she nearly took my face off as she hadn’t had a clue where I had been all day.

    • Leazes Ender

      ….or where ‘The Sound of Music’ had gone.

      • Geordiegiants

        Ha ha it was, the man with 2 brains and the longest day.

  • Steve Pearce

    Jinky – be prepared to be inundated by the name and life story of EVERY away supporter – you did say “Who are you now?”

  • pedrodelgardo

    Queuing up on the stairs in the Bridge to get your mug shot for your supporters club membership – trying to look hard at 14.

  • Grahame Johnson

    I went on buses in the 80s full of lads 16 to 30ish from all over Newcastle, the thing I loved to see was the club bus, if it was from your part of the toon you knew most of them and it was usually a bus of to be polite of dubious characters. The bloke with a bit of his ear bit off the old boxer with a flat nose, young and old Dave, big pat old pat, the one always on the rob the bloke who new you dad and said your mam was a canny lass but don’t tell your dad etc you will have your own that you fondly remember, man u away in 1984 sums the bus up for me, after a few skirmishes and been knocked down, a bus pulled up the police tried to say wait for a escort after a few got off the just said walk up, one of the lads knew them, it was a bus from north Kenton social club and alas their was a bloke 60ish with half a lug, it was safer then walking to the ground I was 19

  • Stephen

    Am I the only one to notice that our away fans stop singing when we go 1-0 down?

  • Rich Lawson

    Can’t think what the game was, but I do vividly remember driving back into Newcastle along the A1 and there being a very old,very large lorry (possibly borrowed from work ? ) in front of me with an open back with a couple of dozen blokes stood up,hanging on for grim death,and taking turns to p##s out the back !

  • HappyToons

    11 year old 1973 Man U away wearing a 12 ft scarf and my dad decided to have a look at some monument outside the ground nearer the Stretford End. I quickly learned how to survive on away trips and do a magic trick making the scarf disappear right before 100 spotty loud mouthed scruffy mancs and blend into the background of the rest of the parkas!

    By 1984 you had older punks, mods, those of us who were a lot cooler with flat tops and shopped at Cruise. The stereotypical look at me trainered mullet heeds who all looked the same. You had the denim suited long haired heavy metal types. The Donkey jacket and crombie skin head was just fading out.

    The late 70’s it was denim, duffle, donkey and death!

    When I look today every one has a look-at-me-I am-a fashionable-individual beard, along with 75% of the other lads! Watch me gelled hair and eye liner and I need some face cream on if it is windy and cold; just and hope me lips don’t get chapped. Everyone looks the same.

    It is a different match day experience and where did all those characters go? Jimmy Nail in the Haymarket, he was some fearsome looking bloke and as funny as owt!