It was around 1999 and I was walking down Newgate Street about half an hour or so after a home game ended, Duncan Ferguson had been playing, and was substituted in the second half. Even with an early finish on the pitch Duncan had performed miracles in getting changed, out of the ground and into the town by twenty past five.

Like most fans, I thought Ferguson was a great player and for the eighteen months he was with us he put in some brilliant performances. This day, however, had not been one of his best in a Newcastle shirt.

I was determined to tell him what I thought, so I crossed the road and confronted him. “You are not fit to wear the black and white shirt!” I shouted. “You are utterly useless and I never want to see you playing for Newcastle again. Get yourself back to the ground, pack your bags and make your way back to Merseyside.”

Ferguson responded timidly (I’m calling him by his second name as you can see, that’s how angry I was) “Oh! I see. I guess you’re right. I’ll go back for my stuff and head off. Thanks for the advice.”

And off he headed, back up Gallowgate, with his tail between his legs.

Now, as some may have already guessed, not all of this story is true. Yes, we did bump into him in town about twenty past five. He had been playing. He had performed a quick-change miracle, but the confrontation….? Nah! It didn’t happen.

How many people would slag off a six foot odd centre forward to his face? Not very many. No matter how unhappy they were, even after repeatedly bad performances by the player (not that Duncan Ferguson fell into that category), they would pass the player by with nothing more than a smile, an “alreet” and a possible “can I have your autograph?”

So how can we explain the online abuse some of our players got after the Burnley game on Wednesday night? I don’t mean indirect comment, in conversation, I’m talking about straight forward insults direct into the player’s timeline.

Would those same people have given the player a piece of their mind face to face? No they wouldn’t. Well the odd one might, but overwhelmingly, fans would pass up on the opportunity to directly insult a player immediately after a game.

What makes people think they can hurl abuse online and say stuff they wouldn’t dream of saying face to face?

And by the way, this isn’t about people talking post-match about how bad somebody played, or that they should never have been signed. That’s part of being a fan. I’m talking  about the online version of the Duncan Ferguson ‘confrontation’. The in your face, direct, finger jabbing attack.

‘But you can’t compare some of our current Newcastle players with the great Duncan Ferguson’, some will say. Fair enough – but that’s not the point.

It’s about supporting players who wear the black and white shirt. Treating them as human beings. That’s the support Rafa Benitez is asking for. He chooses who is in the team, every week he asks the fans to support the team. He knows he gets more out of the players when they feel the fans support behind them on and off the pitch.

It’s the support Sir Bobby Robson and Kevin Keegan asked for.

Not blind, unqualified support, devoid of any criticism, but the kind of support that draws the line at targeted online abuse.

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  • Leazes.


    • Peaky Magpie


  • Leicester Mag

    If you confronted the Hoss and he tried to hit you he’d miss

    • Dillon Tovak

      Hahahaha my god

    • Haitchdee

      Only with his feet

  • ghostrider

    First and foremost nobody needs to be insulted online or anywhere to the point of it being way over the top.
    A few digs is more than enough for any rational person to get the message across and for that message to be understood.

    If you pay good money to watch your team then you expect your team to give you the best of their ability on that day and be told to pull their socks up if they’re slacking.
    However, that’s why a manager is employed, to make sure that slackers and underperformers are taken out and told, leaving the fans to at least get effort as a given and entertainment as and when humanly possible depending on who they’re up against.

    However, this also applies to the thousands that spew bile at the owner through online chat and also in the ground, home or away and also in the street, etc.

    In an ideal world where roses come out and bathe in the mild breeze under the sun whilst being tickled by the buzzy bees who saunter around, plus the whistling birds in the trees making nests and feeding their young among the tranquil countryside, with passing families all dressed in summery outfits carrying picnic baskets, smiling and happy whilst nodding politely at like-minded families all partaking in a perfect everyday occurrence, where the only wrong words spoken were an “oopy I’ve dropped my dainty sandwich…..gods food.”

    Unfortunately it isn’t quite that yet but in a few decades when 1984 becomes more realistic, we’ll just have to take it as it comes. lol

  • Dillon Tovak

    I once went up to a guy and asked him where a certain turnstile was, midway through asking him I realised I was asking Kevin Gallagher. He looked very amused about the whole thing.

  • Chunkymonkey

    Good point made to educate some “supporters” It is unreal how many of these people sit and throw verbal abuse at these players, who try their best. You’d think these people had played at the highest level. It is easy to watch and say this and that. I turned to one irate fan and simply said ” if you want to watch football as a supporter, get behind your team, good and bad” It is ironic and hypercritical that these same supporters sing from the rooftops when a slated player does something of merit. Frankly it can be embarrassing hearing some of our fans.

  • Peter Stabler

    Keyboard warriors hiding behind pretend names – not to be taken too seriously.

  • Paul Patterson

    Probably wise not confronting Duncan, the same guy that caught a burglar in his house and ‘detained’ him until police arrived.
    As for online abuse, criticism is all fair and above board, petty insults are not required.
    However Joselu is just plain awful.

    • Albert Stubbins

      He actually assaulted him with a bottle up the rear end and the lad was taken to emergency care not that I’ve got an ounce of sympathy for him. The law on reasonable force was severely tested in this case.

  • TheFatController

    In fairness to Joselu, he isn’t a goal scorer – he’s a target man. An average one.

    He does win a fair few headers and does put himself about, closes down etc. I know some won’t want to hear about his good points, but that’s just addiction to superiority blinding them.

    What let’s him down in addition to his own limitations finishing is that we have a midfield who couldn’t conjure a goal if playing against ten men. Imagine being a target man with no one around you with pace, a dribble or a shot in them.

    Anyone questioning that last paragraph should just ask why a non-match fit Chelsea reserve can come into our MF and look more dangerous in 60 minutes than anyone else has done most of the season? Hit the post, win a penalty and send in an assist from a corner in 60 minutes. Dream stats for the rest of them.

  • Jimmy Wilson

    well said there are plenty of keyboard warriors out there who have not got a clue what they are talking about.

  • Bowlsey

    This is the place for us to vent spleen not on an individual player’s social media account. Joselu isn’t good enough, we know that, he tries his best and Rafa keeps backing him but it’s just not going to happen. He doesn’t need personal abuse leveled at him by Newcastle fans. Looking at his body language after the Burnley game he was looking pretty sick and he knew that he was to blame for not getting the three points. No point in rubbing it in his face. Rafa and the lads need our support now more than ever. We all know exactly who is to blame for our weakened squad but the players we do have, whether good enough or not, still need our support.

  • kingfisher

    Good comments Rob ! I’ve said along the same lines regarding Sunderland fans! Of course healthy rivalry and good natured banter is fine, but when you see some of the hatred between some of the fans, you realise that it’s gone beyond football.
    I have a family member who has been a Sunderland season ticket holder for years and a nicer lad you could’nt hope to meet !

  • relaxed

    From the BBC news
    Newcastle United have extended an investigation following allegations of bullying and racism at the club.

    An inquiry was launched after claims were made against the side’s under-23 coach Peter Beardsley in January.

    Chief executive Lee Charnley is leading an investigation and is expected to speak to other members of the coaching staff.

    However, there have been no allegations about any other employee.

    Former England and Newcastle player Beardsley, 56, denies the allegations and has taken a period of leave during the inquiry.

    Initial allegations against Beardsley, who has been in his role since 2009, were made by 22-year-old academy player Yasin Ben Al-Mhanni – who claims he was the victim of non-racial bullying.

    Findings from that inquiry – including reported claims that Beardsley used racial language against several African players in the academy – were expected to be made public a fortnight ago but have not been released.

    • Gareth Marshall

      It’s all very worrying and indeed believable. Except of course for this bit:

      “Chief executive Lee Charnley is leading an investigation and is expected to speak to other members of the coaching staff.”

      The only thing Lee Charnley has led or is indeed currently leading is the line at the Vodafone shop where Mike gets his phones from.

      If that utter pleb is leading the investigation than Pedro will likely get a promotion.

      “Peter, I have concluded my investigation and it appears as though you have besmirched the club far better than even myself or Mike have been capable of doing in recent times. Well done, you’ll be made Head Coach at the end of the season when Rafa finally gets the hint and quits. Cheers”

  • hetonmag

    It’s not just the abuse of players on this forum, it’s the vile abuse by other posters who when they can’t put an argument together turn to nastiness in a disgusting way. They know who they are they use different name’s, I don’t like blocking anyone but that’s become the nor on here.

    • GToon

      True. I don’t resort to personal insults but it didn’t take long during a discussion with a certain statistician on here before he was calling me a moron and a dunce etc. funny eh. Me and my family all had a look and a laugh at his comments.

  • Peter Stabler

    Sammy Lee, every time I see him I remember the Friday night game v Liverpool when KK was a player, they got a throw in in front of the massive away support, Sammy Lee came over to take it and with one telepathic voice all 16000 were singing ” Sammy Lee is a p*ff” – you could see his face turning red.

  • 1957

    For years I didn’t believe the stories about how Duncan reacted the next day to Gullit’s comments after the Sunderland match I was recently told that it was broadly true though. He was there early and Duncan thought Gullit was hiding behind the locked door to his office (he was) and kicked it open. Gullit never got a word in between Duncan going in a leaving and the corridor was full of people staring open mouthed, they had never heard anything like it.

  • GToon

    A few years ago I pulled up in a car park and this shortish bloke gets out of his flash car. It didn’t take me long to realize it was a certain sewpa centre forward from our mates down the road. All those years I’d thought if I ever see …. I’d ….. but he just gave that half smile face as he walked past me and that was it.
    On another occasion I was out training on a long bike ride with my mate through the back lanes when he said “stop, stop”. I pulled over outside some large iron gates in front of a massive house. I thought he had a bike problem. It was about half past seven on a lovely Sunday morning. He then let out a volley of abuse lasting a good few minutes at Steve Bull who he later explained, lived there. My mates a WBA fan. He then sped off leaving me in hysterics as I tried to get back on my bike and catch up with him. Happy days!

    • TheFatController

      I saw Steve Bull at the horses a few years ago, he gave a polite nod at me as we both stood at the bar, I think he had his father in law with him.

      I said to his father in law ‘tell him i’d nod back but when you’re hung over on New Year’s Day early 90s the last thing you need is him scoring four goals at St James’ Park….’

      He laughed and said ‘weren’t they all in the second half ?’

      ‘ possibly yes, did your hangover get shaken off in the first half then?’

    • Peaky Magpie

      Good story….I take it it’s ‘Rat Boy’ Phillips you’re talking about ?

      • GToon

        Cud be! I was with my school. Didn’t dare tell any of the kids who it was as they are kids excluded from main schools and they don’t hold back with comments if you know what I mean.

  • Peaky Magpie

    The 3 of them look like something from “One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest”…..Fat Sham,Drunken Duncan & Sammy ‘Charlie Drake’ Lee….

  • Tony English

    One confrontation that did happen…

    I brought my cockney mate up to Newcastle a few years back, he’s a Hammer, and to picture him, think..Ray Winstone.

    Clubbing in the Quayside a bunch of lads at the bar were being obnoxious doing Hitler salutes at the lad behind us..the lad behind us was an injured Michael Carrick (then of West Ham) and the lads were all Leeds players (who’d played against the Boro that day) mainly the Irish contingent, Robbie Keane, Ian Harte, etc they were there with Shay Given, Steve Harper and a few other Newcastle players, they had Rio Ferdinand on the phone presusumably directing the Hitler salutes…

    …anyway my cockney mate had a good long chat with Carrick, and Cona Hislop Shakas brother, but detested Ian Harte after he’s got 2 players sent off at their place and gave the terraces a few sly hand gestures.

    At closing time about 6ft away from Harte my mate start singing, clapping his hands over his head…”oh Ian Harte Harte Harte…”

    Hartes face lit up and he gave him a big double thumbs up….”oh he’s a can’t can’t can’t!!”

    Cue bodyguards holding Harte back and my mate standing his ground laughing his head off.

    Pre internet.

  • Philippines

    My son who has lived out of UK since 1975 met Alan Shearer at a party maybe 15 years ago. After chatting for a while he asked Alan what he did for a living. It was a bit like when the Queen asked Eric Clapton the same thing at Buckingham palace.