On 13th March 1976 my life changed forever, as I walked with my dad and brother to see my beloved Newcastle United play for the first time.

We were a couple of little lads adorned with brand new black and white scarves that my grandma had given us early for my birthday, as she knew how excited we were. She was in hospital at the time fighting a losing battle with leukemia but she wanted to make sure we had our scarves for the game before my birthday, which was a week later.

As we walked through the streets on that clear day in March, we took in the smells of the pubs and breweries, and the sight and sound of the crowds making their way up to Gallowgate. I remember the queues and the steps up to the top and then that view. The view we all fall in love with, as one of our famous family of supporters once said.

My dad was a quiet man, didn’t drink much, didn’t swear or smoke, but I saw a different dad that day. He became something different, something special. He lent down and told us what the fans were singing about Mickey Burns, he swore when West Ham took the lead and I saw utter joy on his face when Tommy Craig’s penalty went in off the post for the winner.

When the whistle went he was delighted that we’d seen our first win. We rushed down through the streets to Central Station and back to Darlington on the first train. Everyone seemed so happy. All the smiling faces.

I was over the moon on the way home. I’d done it. I’d seen the lads. I’d seen Supermac. But above all I’d forged an unbreakable bond with my father. My dad had told me stories of Jackie Milburn, of beating Sunderland 6-1 away, and of the cruel end to the career of Tony Green. He loved Newcastle.

Naturally, all I had ever wanted to do was to play for the lads, but as my dad put it “I tackled like a girl and had no chance”. He was right unfortunately but as the years rolled by we shared more trips to SJP experiencing the highs and lows of supporting our club.

Unfortunately, as the onset of Alzheimer’s took hold of my dad, the trips from our new home in Nottingham became less frequent, but I will always remember the game against Everton in 2002. The scoreline of 6-2 was fantastic but for me what was special, was that my first son was there too. Three generations of my family. The continuation of the love affair with all things black and white.

The day we play Burnley is the anniversary of my dad’s death. Although he is no longer with me now, there will always be a bit of him at SJP in the Leazes End, up on level 7. I made sure of that when I scattered some of his ashes. He would have liked that. We won the game and I got him in for free!

To me this is what supporting our club is all about. It isn’t about money, the transfer window, or who owns the club. It’s about passion, belief, joy and sadness, and the continuation of our shared love affair with Newcastle United.

I have always said to my kids that I don’t mind who they bring home, what their political views are, or what their religion is, but they WILL support Newcastle. And it’s worked! My two Midlands born and bred boys are black and white through and through. My daughter also loves football and the middle name of ‘Shearer’ that I gave her will ensure that she doesn’t stray from the cause when she marries.

I can never thank my dad enough for that day 40 odd years ago.

(There were two things that prompted me to write this article. One of those was obviously my dad – but the other was my wife. She is a dementia care worker and said that there is a man she is helping who is a Newcastle supporter, so she wore her shirt for him yesterday and it made him happy.)

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  • Jezza

    Wonderful article.

    • Kev Newcastle England

      Ditto.proper support.

  • Tony Mann

    Lovely, lovely article, lovely sentiments – Hitting home here as well.

  • Cockneytrev

    That’s the second brilliant article today,,
    It does my heart good reading things like this,,God Bless Your Dad,,,

  • toonterrier

    What a wonderful family. So many good memories that will stay with you forever. No doubt in the future your kids will be talking about you as you have with your parents.
    Best wishes and thank you for a well written article.

  • Danimal

    Brilliant stuff. You got in a couple of years before me. I missed Supermac and turned up just in time for the 77/78 relegation season. My late Dad took me to eight games that season and I had to wait until my second season to find out what a win felt like. He either hated me or he was a bloody good bloke (the latter of course!) because he wasn’t from Newcastle but believed I should follow my home team. Thanks for reminding us what it should all be about. It will be again, eventually…

    • Rich Lawson

      I was a surly teen and a stroppy early 20’s,my dad was 40yrs older than me and we agreed on little,apart from our football club. My mother got me to go to the club with him one Sunday lunch and it became a regular thing ,even after I left home I would still come back on a Sunday and drink with him and discuss the match.It was a proper bridge builder and I still think of him every time I go back to that club.

    • kingfisher

      I can’t understand why anyone would support any other team rather than their home team.(except Manure of course).By all means have a second team like Newcastle were to a lot of people when we were “The Entertainers”,but your home town team should always be your number 1

      • Danimal

        Definitely.

  • Davey drape

    excellent

  • East Durham Mag

    What a great article, thanks GToon.

  • Paul Patterson

    First game was in 2000, last game of the season, we beat Arsenal 4-2 with Sir Bobby, Shearer and Speed on the scoresheet and yes, it was with my dad. Remember it quite well.
    Have a glance at Kevin Keegan’s autobiography, he mentions the same sorts of things about being introduced to football through his dad and talking about ‘the Geordies’.
    I remember great moments from my times going to watch Newcastle without seeing anything tangible, moments like Shearer’s last competitive home goal and then Testimonial and the Championship win in the last minute. But that’s all we have up here.
    It’s a family affair football, shame there’s been nowt to get excited about in the last ten years, but the difference between the last ten years and those that preceded them were we actually went out to win things and even though we failed in the end there were still moments where we went close.
    A new owner would do well to get connected with the history and what supporters hold dear to them, not screwing history over with the aim of making a fast buck and destroying everyone’s hopes and expectations.
    Fantastic article by the way.

  • anyobrien

    Great stuff.. A story so many if us can relate to… Me, my son and my dad all attend now it’s what it’s all about. Hwtls

  • NUFCLX

    Good article. Never had the same experience with my old man but still remember walking into the Popular end for my first game as a 8 or 9 year old and just felt a buzz, been hooked ever since. I did not go for a few years during the Keegan/ Hall era due to shortage of cash and season ticket availability but I remember first game back up in level 7 and I got the same buzz.

  • Leazes.

    You called your daughter ‘Shearer’……… What does she think of that?

    • Mitros gotta start

      She isnt fussed….her 1st name is sheep

      • GToon

        It’s her middle name.

    • GToon

      She loves it mate. My two boys are gutted. Their mums gave them their names and when my daughter was born I said I’d never named any of them, middle names or anything so my wife said why don’t I choose a nice middle name. Couldn’t think of a better one than that!

      • Cockneytrev

        👍👍

      • grantham mag

        I nearly called my son Malcolm Macdonald, I changed my mind when putting pen to paper, A week later he signed for ARSENAL.

        • Brian Standen

          Wow. Love that one. However greatest centre forward in my eyes

    • Guest 2

      She loves the size of her thighs apparently… no offence meant ;-)

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    The best ever article I have ever read on here or in a paper one of my great mates the number one supporter John Alder gave his life supporting Newcastle. Its not about winning cups and leagues just supporting the team and if your family are with you on the day great as them memories will never fade. The anti Ashley and Pardew brigade bring shame to the club and the city you have my up most respect god bless if only John could go today .

    • FatParosite

      Give over Keith.

    • Kev Newcastle England

      Bringing Ashley and Pardews name into this article.You clown.

    • Cockneytrev

      Do you ever give it a rest?

    • Guest 2

      Only you could spoil J Adlers name and memory with a shout out to Ashley and Pardew.

      I seriously believe you have a mental illness. Ashley is a parasite and Alan Pardew keeps proving how inept he is as a manager everywhere he goes.

      You still fail to grasp reality. Are you institutionalised? If so, I want to know why my taxes are going to provide you with internet access. You need more injections, not more internet.

    • MichaelMaximusMoose

      Idiot

  • hetonmag

    Great post, Ashley may have dented our hopes and aspirations but one thing’s for sure he can never destroy our memories of this unique club.

  • MichaelMaximusMoose

    a poignant article from a true fan, it was my grandfather who took me to the matches & he`s also passed, he never did see the Ashley era, thank God.
    we`re now into the 11th year of the Scumbag, let`s hope he`s gone in the summer.

  • Gareth Marshall

    R.I.P Senior GT Toon. A lovely article that reminds us that football is more than what Ashley has made it. I hope to share the same experience with my sons in a few years and keep the tradition going!

  • Peaky Magpie

    Brilliant mate.Sad,heartwarming & reflective.Well done.

  • Tony English

    Nice.

  • Guest

    Monk mag = helmet

  • Brian Standen

    Absolutely brilliant read and something I and many more can relate to. 1970 my late dad took me to my first game and that was thst – hooked forever!
    Odd thing was he was a southerner who settled in Newcastle after meeting my mum but while he became an adopted Geordie his team always was Brighton! I’m so pleased he never pressured me to follow them however! My love affair with NUFC was cemented in the following years , Supermac, Jinky Jimmy, Terry Hibbit and of course I was lucky enough to see the brilliant Tony Green. Players owners managers come and go, fans are for life!

    • GToon

      Think I sat next to you at a game once with my wife and eldest son Brian. Do you know Dave Greaves?

      • Brian Standen

        Have to be honest I don’t , but if you remembered the match for sure I would recollect

        • GToon

          Wolves away in a friendly. We won 2-0. Pre-season game. There was a bloke with light coloured hair that I thought was Brian.

          • Brian Standen

            Well I was at the game, funny thing is pre season games were a big thing for me! However light coloured hair sort of shrouds it as despite my handsomeness my hair sort of declined quicker than Mike Ashley’s popularity! However I am sure our paths have crossed but if not I hope they do because you my friend epitomise all what is good about the supporters of NUFC.

    • HappyToons

      The same season Brian for me, first game v Forest 1-1 and Jimmy Smith nut megging first Ian Storey Moore twice in a couple of seconds and then Henry Newton (both England internationals). Never missed a home game for years, but probably the players you mentioned above are the ones that resonate the most, especially Tony Green who was quicker in movement and more skilful than the great Peter Beardsley; yes Tony Green was that good! Super Mac was immense. My Dad finished when we had to queue for Forest tickets 74 quarter final and be charged by Police horses when doing nothing but stand in a very long line. At least his last game was memorable 4-3!

      • 1957

        I loved Jimmy Smith but Tony Green has been the stand out player since I first started going in 1967.

        If he had played on better pitches, in an era when physical assault wasn’t the norm he would have been spoken of in the same terms as the Silva’s and Hazaard’s and worth a fortune in today’s transfer market

  • kingfisher

    Excellent nostalgic memories GToon.I don’t have any kids myself,but I can imagine the pride in first your Dad ,then you ,taking your sons to “the match” for the first time.I’ve said in previous posts that it’s not just about the actual game and winning Trophys, it’s things which happen in the lead up,during and after the game which make the good memories. All the best 👍👍👍

  • Philippines

    Nice story.

  • Coble’s Return

    Superb story. Thank you. Brought back immediate memories of the last game I attended with my Dad before he passed – the 1-0 win at Old Trafford. He was disgusted with what was happening to the club, but for 90 minutes, we were on top of the world.

  • GToon

    Thanks for all the kind comments. Spoke to my mother tonight on the phone and she was thrilled with the kindness of the fellow fans. She reminded me of being eight months pregnant with me in her tummy standing on the Gallowgate and being told to get down near the front in case I came out!

    • Tony Mann

      Now THAT is a proper supporter !
      “Waters broke love?” – “Yeah, but I’ll be OK unless we score again”.
      What would it have been like to have been born on the Gallowgate?
      Cheers GT.