Are Newcastle fans up for Londoncastle United…or something even worse, if it means trophies?

I have just read a very good article here in The Mag about a conversation between a Mag correspondent and some Spanish agents.

In it, the point was raised regarding the reluctance of players to come further north than Leicester.  This has bothered me for several years, and for several reasons.

Firstly, I can’t see the attraction of London, it’s rubbish.  Then again, as a local lad, I can’t imagine any city being better than the toon, we have everything we need here, and as far as footballers are concerned -there’s a Nando’s and a Rolex dealership.

However, I can understand that with limitless money, it is possible to live like a king in the capital and possibly even walk down the street without being recognised, which I imagine must be nice.  In Newcastle though, for the same money as a 2-bed flat in London, they could own 50% of Northumberland.

It does frustrate me that these 18-36 year-old man-childs prefer the smokey human landfill to the beauty of the North East and all it has to offer (except Sunderland).  Then again, it is rare for anyone under 25 to appreciate the aesthetics of nature over the bright lights of 2-for-1 Jaegerbombs and Dsquared2 tank tops (I had to Google what kids are into these days).

Some footballers ‘get it’, namely Rob Elliot, who lives in Tynemouth, and Darren Peacock who used to frequent the Dyvells pub in Corbridge, Andy O’Brien used to drive a knackered old Saab despite his wealth and Olivier Bernard even bought a football team in the area (Durham City AFC); and some footballers are local, so know what they’d be missing by moving away (ask Gazza), but despite the strong history of players coming here and loving it, there still seems a reticence to venture north.

So, what can be done to improve the chances of attracting the players who get a nosebleed north of Stevenage?

Firstly, we can continue to say ‘f… ‘em’, if you don’t want to play for the greatest club on Earth and live in the greatest city on Earth, then frankly, we don’t want you.

But that might be cutting off our nose to spite our face, they may simply not know about the Toon, even those from other parts of England can have brown-tinted glasses when viewing , so one solution is to come up with a better brochure.

When KK told Rob Lee Newcastle was closer to London than Middlesbrough he (kind of) lied, I wouldn’t suggest going that far, but maybe a more informative info pack would do the trick.  However, if a stadium full of 52,000 fans, Rafa Benitez as your manager, wads of cash and instant legend status (if you’re any good) aren’t enough to tempt someone, then an inspiring picture of Bamburgh castle is unlikely to do it.

So, a third option could be to relocate the training ground.  This has been mooted in the past, and I’d be interested to see people’s views on it again.  If one problem cited is the ‘Goldfish Bowl’ (Jenas, 2005), then a London base would remove that issue and anonymity would be restored.  Do footballers really want that though?

Secondly, with the majority of games played in that half of the country, match-day travel time would be reduced.  The thing is though, every home game is at SJP (did you know that?) and so travel time would probably actually increase, which would only level things at home with the opposition, so that mightn’t work.

Thirdly, the bright lights, the draw of living in cosmopolitan London, the endless opportunities to do…stuff.  Yeah, okay, I can see that London is a millionaire’s playground, but they have money, they can visit, it’s only an hour by plane.

If footballers persistently insist that it’s a matter of location location location, and we are helpless to prevent them from disregarding (and disrespecting) Newcastle as a consequence, then we have to look back in at ourselves as fans.

We have to ask what we want. If it is guaranteed success, would we be happy for ‘our’ players to live down south?

What is it we crave?  Success?  Or a connection to the city and its people?

Personally, I get great satisfaction from hearing players talk about how much they love the city and the club, its fans and its magnitude.  We have a world-famous club after all.  If a player would rather sign for Crystal Palace (not naming anyone) than us based on location, then I would get little satisfaction from that same player then agreeing to play for us if he could stay away (*cough* Michael Owen *cough*).  If, like I believe we do now, we have a team of players who genuinely enjoy being here and feel pride in representing the Toon, then I honestly don’t mind if we don’t win another trophy in my lifetime (I say that as though the Intertoto cup counts as a trophy).

If we had a team of players with no connection to Newcastle other than the odd visit, but who won the league every year, I don’t think it would take long for the novelty to wear off.

I don’t think there’s really a debate here, but what would you stretch to in order to guarantee, or increase the chances of, success?

Can we achieve success regardless?

How can we attract those players who fear the icy industrial wasteland we (apparently) all inhabit?

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  • Wor Lass

    We seem to be making good progress under appalling financial constraints at the moment and have a squad containing plenty of young, trendy foreign players and non-Geordies and it doesn`t seem to be a problem. The lads we have now show absolute respect for our fans and the region and work their socks off to do us proud. I can`t see Rafa bringing in big time Charlies or tolerating part-time mercenaries. If we have a respected manager, we`re doing well (ie in Europe) and can pay the going rate then players will come.

    • TheNutJob

      Kenedy said he would be open to a permanent move here only a couple of weeks ago

      • Which could have been said to bait big clubs to make a move soon.
        You never know with these players but the lad is giving all he’s got on the field at the moment and that’s what I need now.
        If we can get him in the summer would be mostly up to if we are willing to make him one of our highest earners and pat 20m+ for him?

        • TheNutJob

          the problem will be Fatty, he wont be buying anyone

          • Viru leckworth

            Why do so many on social media call Ashley such appalling names? It goes no way towards getting him to sell; which is ultimately what most of us want. Ask yourself, if you were constantly called a slug, fatty and more, would you go along with their wishes? No one agrees with his policies, but as the saying goes: Names can not hurt.

          • Keeganontherebound

            Try working for Ashley in a S*** Direct warehouse and maybe you’ll have the answer to your question.
            I very much doubt he reads the Mag in any case. But just in case he does: P*** off Mike!

          • Viru leckworth

            He probably doesn’t but his minions will.

          • Keeganontherebound

            And you think his minions are going in to see him and telling him that people refer to him as ‘the slug’!!??

          • TheNutJob

            they have worked, he`s selling

          • Viru leckworth

            We wish

  • Rich Lawson

    Why can’t we have both ? I’m desperate to see us win a proper Cup again.The current manager is a huge incentive for players to come here. if someone prefers the night life etc of London rather than the chance to improve their game and play regularly I’d say we don’t want them anyway. Despite a post on here the other day,I don’t remember Keegan having any difficulty signing players from home or abroad based on geography even before he had got us playing properly ?

    • Viru leckworth

      You beat me to the KK analogy. Personally I would feel uncomfortable with their training Dahn scarf. Also I think it would detach us from the team. And North east is good enough for Rafa.

  • Paul Patterson

    Not selling the club as a stepping stone would be a start. Rafa won’t, so job 1 is keeping him.

  • NUFCDan

    If we offer players more money than a team in London they will sign for us. If we offer them less they won’t. I’m sure the location thing is just an excuse because the London clubs historically pay more.

    • Paul Patterson

      Yeah, try competing with £150k a week and upwards. Never going to happen.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      That makes no sense, I can earn nearly twice the salary in London but my overheads would go up. The same pay scales should apply to football.

      • Coach Clagnut

        That would surely go against your right-wing philosophy would it not ToryBlobbi?
        Pay scales is such a socialist concept.

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          Pay scales should be abolished, as outdated concept for the workshy incompetent public sector.

          Market forces should dictate that NUFC should get away with paying less on account of the lower cost of living.

          • GToon

            “Workshy incompetent public sector”?! What? Bet you wouldn’t dare stand up and shout that in the Gallowgate end. That’s not a nice view to have of the public sector. Can I assume you do everything for yourself and don’t use public services. Hopefully you won’t get ill and have to rely on some public sector NHS worker to treat you.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            I understand we need some public services but we don’t really need people to tell us the basics. Local councils have for too long been the employer of last resort and should be cut to the core.

            I wasn’t aware that the Gallowgate end was the home of Unison.

            It’s a quandary, I’ve always thought the brightest folk in the public sector are guilty of swinging the lead taking the easy route and scrounging off the state yet of course there are those who literally could not get a job in the productive sector.

          • Coach Clagnut

            You’ve just advocated pay scales for footballers or did your goldfish intelligence conveniently forget?

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            Certainly not, I’m saying that market forces should mean that NUFC do not have to pay wages as high as the London clubs on account of the cost of living.

    • Coach Clagnut

      That’s how we got Ginola. He was about to sign a deal with Celtic until we offered 2 grand a week more.
      Or so the story was reported at the time.

  • Wor Monga

    Staying up this season will be ok with me, but I know we can do better with the players we have at the moment…hopefully we will keep whatever we can of the loan players (depending on what Slimani can do for us), and what we can’t we will replace like for like…there will be money for replacements…

    …Rafa will demand that happens, and if it doesn’t then he will leave, and the club will go into meltdown…starting with the players who have bought into his project…the club will be next years WBA instead of next years Burnley, and the value of the club will plummet, and we’ll very likely end up with the mackem’s in league 1 (or 2)…

  • Jezza

    “KK told Rob Lee Newcastle was closer to London than Middlesbrough”

    That is a great myth. The truth of the matter is that Keegan simply pointed out that you could get to London just as quickly from Newcastle as from Middlesborough due to transport links such as the East Coast Mailnline and the A1.

    • Leazes.

      Absolutely…. the new H2 link to Manchester will make London to Edinburgh quicker via the west coast line than London to Newcastle…. I just wonder why London’s bureaucrats are boosting Manchester as a Hub, they’ve given them the BBC Sport and the printed Media too….. and the latest now is the northern GCHQ….. we have effectively been sidelined.

      • Jezza

        I remember around 30 years ago talking politics with this wise older bloke. He said something to me which I’ve never forgotten, “if you put the Hartlepool monkey up as Labour party candidate anywhere in the North East it’d still get elected by a landslide and that’s why the Tories never do anything for this region”.

        • Leazes.

          Well he got in as an independent mayor in Hartlepool, but its not really about failing representatives or policy so much as simply having our share of finances lumped in with what Westminster deems to be the ‘North’…. we’ll always be outnumbered in parliament no matter who the representative is, when they have debates on anything to do with our region you get a minister and half of our MP’s and more empty seats than Sunlun in recent months.

          A region without a voice that doesn’t stand up for itself is doomed and unfortunately the population drift has been going on since the end of the second world war has marginalised us further….and they are cutting the number of seats too taking into account depopulation.

          We don’t have a large enough middle class here to warrant a Harvey Nichols store….maybe we should move our training ground to Leeds?

        • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

          This is largely true, The conservatives don;t fight for the rougher towns in the North East and they haven’t got anywhere in Newcastle. So largely, Labour take the North east for granted and do very little and the conservatives don;t think they can win anyway.

          Its the fault of the electorate, they vote the same party whatever the policies which is utter madness.

          Post Brexit, any voter who wanted to remain should have voted Lib dem, they polled their worst number of seats in yonks.

        • Coach Clagnut

          The smug Alistair Whatsisname who did News At 10 also made a similar analogy back in the 70’s when reading out election results stating ” you could put a donkey on the Labour ticket in Newcastle and it would still win”.
          Nowt like objective & non-partisan journalism.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            There is a lot of truth in what is said, look at Sunderland, they continually get whiney left wing Labourites who are utter rubbish and no wonder the place is on it’s rrrs, why? Because it’s a guaranteed Labour seat and you only hear from them when they whine at David Cameron that the Olympic torch, Cammers rightly told her to get to Newcastle for a bit of culture.

            The north east needs to vote differently if only to get some attention. If these towns like Sunderland voted differently

          • Viru leckworth

            Exactly. The tories do nowt for us because they know they won’t get a shout and the socialist do nowt because they know they are a shoo in.

          • Jezza

            Ah yes Sir Alistair Burnett. That fat posh Tory ponce. I remember when he starting pronouncing Uranis as YOO-ran-us so as to avoid sounding like a “foul mouthed working class pleb” no doubt. That really summed him up.

        • Viru leckworth

          Ditto why the Labour Party will never do anything for the region.

      • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

        It will not. The East Coast route will be quicker as the line from Darlo to Ncl is upgraded so the trains can run faster, similarly parts of the line above Berwick are straightened out.

        The west coast will still have the problems it currently has and tilting trains are still the solution.

        • GToon

          I think Jezza means you go to Manchester then connect with the WCML which is now being electrified from Manchester to Preston so it might well be quicker.

          • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

            The same will apply to the link with hs2 at Leeds.

          • Jezza

            I can’t read the troll’s post because I blocked him long ago but I assume he’s sticking up for the Tories again. Just ignore him.

  • Jezza

    Pointless article. The reasion we haven’t got top players is because Ashley refuses to dip into the profits to sign the players and not because those players want to be based in London.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    There is a lot of truth in what you say and very often it’s the wives who want to live in London. As a club we spend all the money which is available on players and wages so next season there will be more money to spend. We should make Kenedy and the keeper top priority. What we have now is a squad together which is priceless rather than top isolated stars waiting for their next big move. Things are going great but Jezza, Leazes and co would have you think we are the next Sunderland waiting to happen. I wonder if they if their outlook on life will ever change. Ivery much doubt it.

    • Dont stop bobbi fleckman

      Spot on, it’s the wives who moan like mad. You hand the Newcastle brochure to the player, big ground, party town, live like a king for not (relatively) too much, big student population decent looking game girls, generally big local population of decent looking girls and you spend half the time away with your mates.

      When the wife looks over that same brochure it’s not so good.

      Times have changed a little but I sort of knew a player’s girlfriend (now wife) in the 90’s who was black and exceptions were made for the player when people recognised who he was, his wife told of a few occasions where she copped for abuse, the time I witnessed it from a Big Issue seller and it was horrible. She said that she’d never had that sort of problem in London or the previous club he played at.

  • Andy Mac

    I’ve said so many times during these Fat dark days that if we could get ourselves a footballing professional to run the football side of this business then a gradual improvement over four – five years would eventually see us competing for top six with a possible Cup success in the interim.

    What I’d take to reach that is “Time” ! I’d happily forego instant success provided the club moved forwards instead of constantly yo-yo ing through the two leagues with no discernable aim other than saving money and battling relegation.

    Ambition on the pitch is something all fans deserve yet we have been starved of such for the last 11 clueless years.

  • Danimal

    Geography is a convenient and defeatist excuse. This is a small country for God’s sake. Offer someone the right money and the chance to play for an ambitious club, they will come. I don’t believe we’ve missed out on a single player due to our location in the 11 years of Tubby’s regime. We’ve simply been outbid and outmanoeuvred by more ambitious and far better managed clubs. Nine times out of ten, if another PL club is in for the same player, we can forget it – no matter where that other club is based.

  • Albert Stubbins

    Is it too much to ask for players to give their all for the team. To represent our great city should be an honour for you will be loved idolised respected and remembered for ever if you give your all. We will forgive a lot up here but using our club as a stepping stone or lacking effort and commitment will never be tolerated. Give us something to shout and cheer and believe in would be as much as I would ever want. Hope, surely we at least deserve that?