Life was pretty simple as a teenager. That’s because it basically revolved around four things.
Beer, Music, Girls and Newcastle United.
What else did a young lad from the North East need.
However, as the years have passed; these four ingredients of life began to disappear.
From that first half pint of McEwans during school lunch break and being shoved into the snug by the barmaid, to being able to handle five good sessions over a weekend, Beer was central to everything.
How things change. I’ve gone from that, to not being able to drink five pints in one go without turning green and my head exploding.
Music really mattered to my generation.
Being the first to buy ‘Born to Run’ or ‘In the City’ gave you a lot of kudos with the gang.
Those of you with a brain will have kept their vinyl in good condition.
Those of us without a brain were at the local tip chucking their albums into a skip at the very moment Mirandinha was scoring in front of the Kop in 1988, because I thought Vinyl was dead, CDs were the future.
I reckon £500 went to recycling that day. What a prize idiot!
As I trundle toward 60 years of age, one look in the mirror reminds me that those days are long long gone. I can accept that getting old is part of life, but it still hurts when the young lass in the office listens to your conversation, and then says: “my grandad told me about that.”
Some nice memories though of innocent times spent behind the youth club and down the park.
To be honest, the devotion to the club has also diluted over the years. As the last 10 years have passed, each year has seen it become a little bit harder to summon up the passion and devotion that was there in the past.
It would be very easy to blame the owner for that (so I will), but if I’m honest, I’m not sure that it’s entirely down to the club. I think a lot of my discontent is with the game itself.
Sanchez being paid up to half a million a week just to put on a pair of shorts and kick a bag of air around a field is beyond a joke .
You may argue that it doesn’t matter whether the top players are paid 100k a week, 250k, or 500k, because they are all obscene, and you would be right.
However, the disconnect that there is now between the ‘stars’ of the game and the fan, has killed the devotion in so many of us.
I’m not saying we should go back to the days when our centre half (Pat Howard) lived in a 3 bed semi in Birtley, but it’s now at a stage even at Newcastle, where Jamaal Lascelles could probably buy the bloody town.
For 10 or 12 clubs in supposedly the best league in the world , the ambition to succeed has gone. It’s simply about staying up. Finishing 15th is the Holy Grail for the majority of clubs in England.
But if you check the history books you will see that when I started supporting this club back in the 70s, we finished 15th in 1974, 15th in 1975 and 15th in 1976. Despite the club being also-rans back then, my passion for the club has never been greater than it was at that time.
I wonder if the massive difference between then and now is …
WE GOT TO TWO CUP FINALS
Just like now, we had no chance of competing with the big boys back then (Liverpool, Derby and Leeds), but the cups (in the seventies) gave us hope of some glory and they so nearly delivered.
And that is the issue for me. From a purely business sense, I can actually see why the likes of Ashley don’t even try to compete, because compared to the owners of some of the top clubs, the man is a (relative) pauper, but I’m not an owner worried about my balance sheet, I’m a fan of 50 years.
From a fan perspective I just want our team to have a go.
I’m afraid I don’t see much changing any time soon. If we are lucky its more seasons of 15th for us and sadly without any cup glory along the way.
I really shouldn’t care anymore but I do. That’s because the club is in my DNA. The fact that you visit The Mag despite all the rubbish going on at St James Park, would suggest that you do to.
As a teenager, another album I bought was Hotel California by the Eagles. The title track could have been written about our club because “we are all just prisoners here, of our own device.”
So with apologies to the great Glenn Frey and Don Henley.
“Relax said the fat man.
“I am programmed to deceive.
“ You can check out any time you like….
“…but you can never leave.”