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I was destined for better things in life – I know this to be true because my mam told me

4 years ago

Back in the middle ages I passed the 11+ exam, which meant that in September 1971 off I went to Grammar school, complete with a very smart side parting haircut, an oversized blazer which I could grow into…and a pair of Clark’s Shoes that had the animal footprints on the soles.  This was to be the first step on my way to Oxford and a job in the City.

It didn’t happen.

Six years later I found myself running frantically around the North Yorkshire moors, trying to shoot holes in some cardboard cut outs.  Luckily I was assisted in this task by a very nice man shouting encouragement into my ear

“Get your scrawny backside up that hill, you little Geordie scrotum before I remove your plums with a penknife.”

He had such an eloquent way with words did Sgt Nelson.

So how did this happen?

Well, as I said last month, Alcohol and Girls didn’t help, but more than anything it was Newcastle United.

The sum of my ambitions by the time I reached 15 was to be accepted as a member of our local bunch of delinquents  (C.A.B ), but as I was the size of Dennis Wise, it was never going to happen. The best I could hope for was to be adopted as a mascot.

However, this didn’t stop me hanging on to their Crombie coat tails at two o’clock on  a Saturday afternoon, when they took their place on the Leazes terrace, in a prime spot in front of a crash barrier.

There we would stand, protecting our patch, until one of the top crews from Walker or Denton would steam in. After a bit of gesturing, shoving and shouting, we would have to give way.

Seriously, David Attenbourgh could have done a documentary on the goings on of 1970s terrace culture.

But I loved it. That was me hooked, as much on my fellow fans camaraderie and humour, as Hibbitt, Macdonald and Jinky Jim tied me to this football club. It’s never left me.

I may not be able to remember the score of every game I’ve been to but what I can remember, are dozens of daft moments involving our support, as if they were yesterday.

It is 2009 and Newcastle are at Sheffield Wednesday. The game is playing out when a bit of a fracas breaks out in the home end. The blokes in yellow jackets go in to sort things out and eject a bunch of Geordies who bizarrely are dressed as the cast of Beetlejuice .

You can just hear the conversation between these lads before the game. “How can we get away with watching the match from the home end?  I know, lets dress up as a bunch of undead people,  we will fit in perfectly.”

Derby County away.  Another brilliant turnout, with the lower section being ridiculously overcrowded. Newcastle score (I don’t remember who) and one of our bunch runs on to celebrate with the team.  Except he trips over his own feet and falls face first into the pile of mud that passed as the Baseball Ground pitch.

As he struggles to his feet, he turns around only to  be tackled by a copper and down he goes again. The Police then escort a 6 foot pile of dripping c… from the ground.  And he never got to hug Gazza.

Shrewsbury 1982. A massive crowd of about 4,000 are at Gay Meadow to see the mighty mags, with half of them coming from the north east. This market town, similar to Hexham, has about six “Heartbeat” coppers to look after our very boisterous bunch and inevitably things get a bit out of hand.

The ground was next to a river where nice people would go punting in little boats at the weekend, so before long the six boats had been commandeered by our lot and very drunken individuals were going up and down the Severn river, trying to knock each other out of the boats with the oars, in a very surreal  “it’s a knockout” type game.

I could go on and on but I appreciate these anecdotes mean a damn sight more to me than you.

While we all  desperately would love to see the club have its moment of glory, odds are it’s probably not going to happen, so  it’s just as important that the people who devote their time and money watching  Newcastle…actually get to enjoy it . At least now and again

I had a good friend come up from Southampton for last week’s game and we found ourselves in Shark’s bar before the match. In comes this fella with his 8 year old son, whose eyes were coming out of his head. You could see him struggling to take it all in .

And so it begins.  The lad will now be  hooked and in 50 years time he will have his own  bank of daft  memories, to bore people with.

Poor bugger. He doesn’t have a clue of the pain coming his way!


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