Being a bit under the weather for the last few weeks meant I have not travelled away this season, however, now back in good health and I made the trip for Burnley v Newcastle, which turned out to be a very disappointing night…

I have been to Turf Moor many times over the years, in fact it is the first and only ground I was ever ejected from back on Boxing Day 1979. When as a juvenile I joined in a chorus about a certain Harry Roberts, right under the nose of a local plod from the Lancashire constabulary. ‘Out you go son’ was swiftly followed by a size 10 boot up my backside, then a lonely walk back to find the Armstrong Galley! (older fans will know what the Armstrong Galley was), memories from halcyon days of my youth.

Anyway I digress, this time I was staying over in a hotel which was said to be about 10 minutes walk from Turf Moor, it might have been that for Seb Coe but nearer 40 minutes for me!

A delightful stroll through the very clean and modern town centre and onto Turf Moor where the surroundings are both shabby and unwelcoming. Dark streets populated by a myriad of what looked like filthy kebab houses and a few pubs boldly displaying hand written ‘home fans only’ signs in the windows – policed by dodgy door staff with no ID badges, this place really is a throwback to the 1970s.

The only difference between the 70s and now is the aforementioned kebab shops, which really do outnumber the many boarded up shops that are in close proximity to Turf Moor.

Inside the ground the only change since my last visit was a sort of marquee beer tent that served cool bottles of lager and cider at the normal overpriced football rate. However, it was quick to get served and better than the over crowded concourse, it ticked my box!

Taking my seat I found myself very close to the home fans, which was not a problem until about 20 minutes from the end ( more on that later).

Years ago Turf Moor boasted ‘the Longside’, a huge covered terrace down one side of the pitch split equally  between home and away fans and it served up a cracking atmosphere, these days it has to be said, like most home grounds the atmosphere is lacking.

The match itself you will all have seen was a bit of a disappointment, both teams generally poor and one goal was always going to win it. I won’t ever question Rafa’s selections but it has to be said that one or two of them did themselves no favours, be interesting who keeps their place on Saturday.

I thought one or two played well without being spectacular, we did again look solid at the back, but like the games against Huddersfield and Brighton we just could not get back on level terms.

Anyway, about 20 mins from the end Burnley nicked it, this was the cue for very exuberant celebrations from the home fans to my left, which in turn bought a reaction from our own fans. The gap between home and away is about six feet, with a waist-high fence and a mixture of stewards ranging from pensioners to students – both male and female, and for the next 10 minutes it threatened to boil over.

Initial pushing and shoving from both sides meant the stewards were more at risk than a help, and punches were traded at one point. The obligatory hoods pulled up so as not to get caught on camera was a slightly amusing sideshow to it all.The police and BIGGER stewards did eventually arrive and it calmed down for a few minutes, but did blow up again minutes later when from where I was sitting. I’m sure I saw a Newcastle fan punched by a steward, this triggered a further reaction in the away end!

The final whistle came and while we did come close to equalising it was not to be, further verbal insults were traded between both sets of fans but nothing else occurred. I wondered if it would flare up again outside but on my long walk back to the hotel it was very quiet, almost tranquil!

Now Newcastle as a city is a whole lot bigger than Burnley, but the home fans only policy is a real bugbear to me, our city affords all visitors the best hospitality in the country. Establishments in and around football grounds across the UK need to wake up and smell the coffee.

This is 2017 not 1978, and while I have spoken about a little bit of trouble inside Turf Moor, it could easily have been avoided with more efficient stewarding and better organisation.

This is not just a Burnley thing as  in recent years I have seen the same at many grounds including White Hart Lane, Ashton Gate, Villa Park, to name but a few. It is outdated and discriminatory.

Incidentally, the home fans only pubs last night were sparsely populated only 45 mins before kick-off, whilst the bars in the modern town centre were busy and had opposing fans mixing freely.

Back to the football and we have a very good opportunity to put things right, Bournemouth have a very good manager at the helm, like Rafa a very likeable manager, but I do believe we will have too much for them.

What changes ? Obviously Rafa’s call but I would love to see Mitrovic back in the fold, he must be chomping at the bit, and if he can channel his frustrations in the right way, he might be the one to get us a goal or two on Saturday, here is hoping.

Away from SJP I have to mention our friends from down the road whose season hit a new low about an hour ago,  mind a 3-3 sounds like a cracking game!

When did they last win a home game? How many months? How many games? Would they like some tee shirts made?  Delicious my friends!

Simon Grayson getting his marching orders minutes after the final whistle against Bolton – interesting to see who they bring in next…

Have a great week!

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  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Was on the train that day and it took nearly seven hours and it arrived at half time
    only to see us lose three two. In those days there was always trouble after games
    and it was an interesting walk back to the station getting back in Newcastle near one in the morning as it was a limited train service talking in the delights of Blackburn, Manchester and York .

    • Davey drape

      my 1st away toon game in 79. the end was already chocka before you came in at HT i remember toon fans vandalising bus stops or anything else that could be destroyed

  • Oooh bobbi fleckman

    I was directly behind the goal and had assumed we had the whole end until Burnley scored. I must say, I didn’t see anything more than gesticulating.

    The Cricket club was a mixture of fans with no bother.

    • Brian Standen

      I been to the cricket club before but I was coming from the other way, there was of course gesticulating but also a little bit more as I pointed out!

      • Oooh bobbi fleckman

        A bit of a shame, I wasn’t as close as you but we really don’t want bother to come back.

    • Michael Dobson

      We were on the Back Page Coaches and were kept for 50 mins by the police before being lead into the town leaving us 55 mins drinking time! Then escorted straight into the ground. Only option was the tent cool/warm over priced bottles. Still atmosphere was really good in the tent. Got to say though the police and dodgy security to make up numbers was a bit over the top. Ps a didn’t see no fists just banter.

  • HappyToons

    There’s that nasty word again ‘discriminatory’-making or showing an unfair or prejudicial distinction between different categories of people or things, especially on the grounds of race, age, or sex.

    I remember Millwall in the old second division in the late 70’s when a couple of Geordies arrived late and asked the nice indiscriminating Policemen which was the away end. The Police in their wisdom put them in the paddock with the Millwall nutters, the home end for their hoologan ‘F Troop’. This was just after the Panorama 1977 exposure of these cut throats dressed in surgical masks. It was 90 minutes of survival pretending to join in with their operation game and noting a glinting meat cleaver and a chopping axe was enough to make any one pale faced.

    Of course that was a different era, the era of football hooliganism and of course it is for the best that it has largely disappeared altogether due to CCTV.
    At the same time whilst the edge has been taken away, so has a lot of the rivalry and hence the atmosphere; but even today no one in their right mind would want to be an away fan at Millwall sitting in their home end. I wouldn’t head to their main pubs either. I wouldn’t wear a toon shirt and walk into the Wheatsheaf for some friendly banter and then sit with the Mackems in their end as we batter them 7-0 in the FA Cup 3rd round.

    There is a line drawn in the sand. That is why most Cities have designated pubs for away fans. The biggest game in England is Man U v Liverpool. The banners on the bridges add to the sense of rivalry that probably only Rangers v Celtic and us v the mackems can rival for intensity.

    If they all mingled together in Manchester or Liverpool the hostility and intensity would disappear. There are plenty of pubs in towns and cities, but there is nothing discriminatory in having certain home pubs for home fans ‘only’. If we ever get back into Europe try wearing a toon shirt in any of the Ultras bars! ‘Home fans only’ in the Strawberry Corner or let’s not be discriminatory and let a few Sunderland or Man U in for a big game?

    What concerns me is that in the PC WORLD gone mad we already have feminists wanting equal pay for women footballers. The day is coming when we will be indoctrinated into watching ‘Emma’ in the number 9 shirt and ‘Brenda’ in goal. It has to happen because of that nasty word DISCRIMINATION. Possibly we might also have a one legged winger and a blind Centre back? A referee in a pink uniform and a linesman with a rainbow flag? I pull your leg, but is mixed football not around the corner?

    It isn’t discrimination at all to want to continue keeping the male tradition and historical reality that real ‘football as we still know it’ is a man’s game. Therefore keep it that way and keep the home pubs to add to the intensity of the whole match day experience or soon it will be football, but not as we knew it, and there will be no turning back the clock for even the good things that we take for granted.

    • Brian Standen

      We have had plenty one legged wingers and blind centre half’s over the years! Your point about Millwall in the 70s is fair enough but this is 2017 , the world has evolved! Tell me apart from when playing Sunderland which bars in NE1 are Home fans only? I can’t think of any and I use plenty! Colours and shirts are welcome!!

    • Davey drape

      it will certainly keep club security/stewards and police in a job/overtime going

    • anyobrien

      Times they are a changing

    • Albert Stubbins

      what aboot Wayne Ferraday and Jean Alain Boumsoung? howay man- weve never been discriminatory when its come to footballers with disabilities – i can think of dozens. We should have had an award for it or at least officially recognized for all the help we have given them over the years!!

  • Mrkgw

    Enjoyed reading this – many thanks. Have to say that the way in which our away supporters are treated (by comparison with the hospitality that we offer) is poor. But, we should continue to rise above them all – their loss at the end of the day.