My Toon.

I am a 57 year old living on the Gold Coast in Queensland Australia- perhaps as different a place to Tyneside as you can imagine, and all through our hot summers, my early mornings and late nights revolve around watching my Mags in their struggles and more recent triumphs on the other side of the world.

Sitting on my couch I throw arms in the air in disappointment at misplaced passes, have involuntary foot flinches when mishit passes and shots gone astray, and my cheers yesterday woke the house just after 6am when Matt Ritchie hammered that Newcastle United winner in past Cech .

Here in Australia, if you pay, you can get most of the matches on TV-and it’s money I‘ve always considered well spent and provides one of my weekly highlights.

There are not many Mags here- the so called Big 6 get the majority of the support, although I do see a guy in the full Brown Ale kit- socks and all at the local beach on weekends.

Back in the 70s when my family moved to a small town in Central Queensland, the only teams supported by my mates were Man U, Liverpool and Arsenal, and no one could understand why I was a Mag. The only football was an hour long highlights package of 1st division games that must have been flown out from England and was shown on Tuesday night at a late time, that I needed permission to stay up and watch on a school night, and would watch hoping Supermac knocked in a few.

I was born in the North East and my Grandad installed in me a love of the Black and White. I could not fathom that any of my schoolmates did not support our local lads, and would beg Grandad Ted to take me to matches.

We would stand behind the goal and I have a memory of kicking a ball back to Willie McFaul when it came to the hoarding and watching MOTD to see if I was on TV, I wasn’t.

The last game Ted took me to before we emigrated to Australia in 1970 was our 5-1 win over a Man U team with famous world cup winners, although my memory is wrong in that there was no George Best as well, according to the records. Love to have seen him and as Ted pointed out, Bobby Charlton who got their goal was one of us anyway…and I will never forget the choruses of Blaydon Races when Pop Robson got his hat trick.

I started backpacking around the world in the 80s and saw a team with greats of Waddle, Beardsley and Keegan get thumped by Chelsea in 2nd Division while I was living in London, a sad day.

In 1984 I was travelling through the Middle East, and while in Israel, saw in an English language paper that we were top of the 1st Division- early season but looked like where we belonged, and that was an excuse for lots of beer and celebration. That was the first time I realised that we are most people’s second team because I had no shortage of fellow celebrators.

From 1986 to 89 I lived in Madrid within earshot of Real Madrid’s stadium (they are my second team – I wish we had had their success but then everyone would wear the Black and White and not just the passionate). The English papers would arrive a couple of days late and I’d be at the kiosk bright and early to see the match reports – we were not breaking any records and I was gutted when another relegation came along.

And then the glories and ultimate despair of 96. I was making my second trip through football mad South America and all the European results would be in the local papers but no reports, so I knew we were going well and scoring almost at will, until one day in Columbia the front of the National paper had a full page photo of a Mag player with Tino Asprilla’s head superimposed, along with the news he had signed for us (I still have a belief that all Columbians love NUFC from that time, and one day a Falcao or James will follow their hearts and not their wallets and join us).

For the next 2 months in Columbia there were full match reports, but after flying up to Central America it was back to a dribble of information until I bought a tape deck with a shortwave radio and would spend the weekends trying to find BBC world service’s frequency, which seemed to change in every region and would drop out at the vital moments, but kept me praying it was going to happen.

I arrived in Mexico City and for the first time had a TV in my hotel room, I always travelled on a budget, and turned it on as soon as I checked in and lo and behold the second half of Mags V Man U had just started. What a coincidence and what a horror when a French seagull feeder scored the winning goal.

You all know how the rest of that story finished.

For the rest of the 90s I lived in Sydney, and in pre pay TV days the only free to air matches were the midnight kick off FA Cup Finals, which were always a gathering of the boys drinking lots of beer until kick-off and for 2 years in succession, one very pi..ed and teary Mag among the soulless supporters of the usual suspects – Man U and Arsenal as I recall.

Will our time come now with the Rafalution?

I hope so and every season I believe, but even if it’s not in my lifetime, I will keep getting up at the crack of dawn to watch and feel the passion of The Toon.

I have something that has been with me for as long as I can remember and has taken me on an emotional rollercoaster, and as a wise man once said: “it’s is better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.”

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  • Monkseaton Magpies

    So was it worth it giving up a life of supporting Newcastle to hop around the world I think not. However each to their own. If my parents had tried to take me away from St James’s Park to Australia Id have slept rough in Leazes Park.

    • Peter Graham

      Of course you would Mr Ashley.😉

      • Monkseaton Magpies

        Never miss a game never will lived in London, Manchester, Leeds
        so would never desert St James’s Park on a match day.

  • Charlie Dickens

    It’s COLOMBIA not Columbia. Embarrassing.

  • Coble’s Return

    Ignore the nit-pickers mate, I am often amazed by the efforts that some exiles go to keep up with progress (or lack of) of the Toon and remember chatting to a father and son who I bumped into in the Newcastle Arms a couple of years ago. They were from near Morpeth originally, but had moved out to New Zealand just before Keegan took the helm. This was their first visit back since they stood on the open Leazes terraces and as we walked up to the ground, they were speechless.

  • Rich Lawson

    Good article,well done mate.and not a single mention of the Mackem’s,Ashley or Mitro !

    • Blackburn1066

      That must mean no mention of SH-T

  • Philippines

    Nice article. Unlike Michael, I had no Geordie connections before I went to Newcastle Univorsity in 1964. I had been a Man U supporter before that. I started to attended the NUFC games and became hooked by the atmosphere and the craic. I was there when Supermac made his home debut. I watch matches on my laptop here in the Philippines…. mostly the feeds are OK. My wife laughs as my feet, propped up on a pouffe, move left and right to take part in the game. What a great season we have had. Last weekend I was in Hong Kong and rushed back to the hotel to watch the game, only to see the last few minutes. I had not checked that it was an early kick off.

    • Leazes.

      Univorsity….what were you studying?

      • Coach Clagnut

        Geordie Phonetics?

      • Peter Graham

        That’s pathetic.

        • Leazes.

          I thought it was humorous, can’t please everyone.

      • Philippines

        Larn yersel Geordie.

  • LA toon

    Great article. As an expat from Forest Hall and now living in the US, I visited the UK with Stacey my US bride. Of course I ensured we were able to see the Toon play at home. It was 10 minutes before kick off and Stacey said “I thought you said the ground is always packed”, they are all having a drink pet. Sure enough at 2.56pm the ground was full of cheering Geordies and Stacey thoroughly enjoyed the atmosphere and the result, 3-1 against Stoke. I am visitng again in August, sadly Stacey is unable to get time off work. No bloody holidays in the States unlike in the UK!

    • Brian Standen

      Bet you miss forest hall, I moved out for 8 months but only got as far as high spen – so moved back!

      • LA toon

        I don’t miss the weather…..82F and sunny here. I do miss the area as a whole however get my fix by visiting every year!

  • Jonathan Drape-Comyn

    back-packing for 15 years!? life of riley man!

    great article. but where were you when Mitro scored 2 against Preston?

    • Leazes.

      Editing the Mag…. just a hunch!

      • gold coast mag

        I wish-I’m a painter with more thumbs than fingers

  • Sing in the Leazes

    Brilliant tale of a love spanning decades…
    All those great memories…
    and you get spellchecked by the same people who have as their favourite chant ‘ We are the loyallest’…
    Being a Geordie is about loving NUFC
    You don’t have to have skinny fingers that never hit o instead of i or eagle eyes to undo auto correct Apple from thinking you’re on about the River or the University.
    When are you coming over here next?

    • gold coast mag

      Thanks mate-first time I’ve submitted anything.I’ve been bringing up my son as a single dad for last five years and he’s just about there-but not a fan despite my best efforts-young ones don’t follow sports like my generation. Just started travelling again took my boy to India for a month over Christmas-it;s changed a bit since the 80s. Now the bug is back I’d love to come back to Europe and a home game will be high on my bucket list-Michael

  • Cockneytrev

    Brilliant brilliant article,, loved it, supporting Newcastle is nothing if not a roller coaster of a ride,,but more troughs than peaks,,

  • Chris

    I’ve watched the lads in bars all over the world – US, Brazil, Germany, Dubai, Singapore, Australia and Indonesia to name a few….and the atmosphere is always fantastic.
    Most recently, I watched the 1-0 Manure game with 15 members of Jakarta Mags..

    • Leazes.

      Do you know Charlie Fried Bananas?

  • G Doon Unda

    Hey Michael, am on the Sunshine Coast, and saw a car with the rego NUFC a few weeks ago. You are not alone … just need to unite all us expats.

    • Desree

      I live in Sydney and I in noosa next week. Lets smash the place!

  • Desree

    PMSL my 6 year old daughter just saw a pic of Sam Allardyce and asked ‘Daddy, what’s wrong with his head?’