Newcastle United can rise again
When I feel at my most despondent about Newcastle United, which I must admit is becoming a more and more regular occurrence….
I always think back to those times when the situation seemed hopeless at St James Park, no sign of any light at the end of very dark tunnels.
If you think it is bad now, you should have been around back in the very early 80s.
The very decent, and often exciting, Newcastle team of the mid-seventies who got to cup finals in 1974 & 1976, also finished fifth in 1976/77.
Liverpool champions (as usual), Man City runners up, then Ipswich, Villa and Newcastle, followed by Man Utd in sixth. Arsenal were eighth, both Sunderland and Tottenham were relegated, whilst Chelsea were in the second tier that season.
However, 12 months later Newcastle managed to get themselves relegated and were themselves lining up in the then Division Two.
In 1979/80 it looked for a time as though promotion could be on the cards but that fizzled out, the team looking ever worse and seemingly no answer to the problems the club faced.
Crowds were rock bottom, the club had no money for players.
Then along came Kevin Keegan. A deal was done to attract the then England captain in summer 1982, he would be paid extra depending on size of crowds, as well as supplemented by a deal to help promote Scottish and Newcastle Breweries.
You had to have been there to believe the change in mood, it was instant, The Newcastle fans had hope at last and the crowds were back at St James Park.
Promotion wasn’t instant, the team did far better in 1982/83 but it was 1983/84 when Keegan, Beardsley and Waddle were all brought together (as well as the likes of McDermott and Roeder of course), when Newcastle really took off.
Exciting football and though it was only promotion in third place, Newcastle were the most talked about side coming up that season.
That Keegan legacy was of course eventually completely wasted, including the fact that local lads Beardsley, Waddle and Gascoigne realised their true potential elsewhere.
However, it did show what was possible in terms of fan belief, from agony to ecstasy in a moment, simply because Keegan had signed.
No surprise then that when Kevin Keegan next turned up 10 years after that first dramatic entrance, the effect was identical.
Belief came flooding back, as well as the fans to St James Park. Not all plain sailing but KK saved Newcastle from the third tier and thus began that magnificent adventure to the brink of the Premier League title.
People talk now about that kind of turnaround being impossible, all a bit ironic when it is only two years ago when Leicester won the Premier League two years after promotion and having looked relegation certainties the season before the title win.
What I would say to Newcastle fans is don’t lose all hope.
Even if you can’t bear to give Mike Ashley another penny, leave your mind open to coming back when things change.
Change they will, don’t worry about that.
I can’t promise when but even if Ashley continues to refuse to sell at the minute, the kamikaze way he runs the club, messing any decent manager about and refusing to allow proper investment in the team, will ensure that eventually he will steer Newcastle United onto the rocks, and then sell up.
We might end up with a bit of a mess that needs sorting in the short-term but we will come back from it, with hope for us all.
Obviously a new owner is a far bigger thing to bring about than a new player or manager, as was the case with Kevin Keegan, but maybe when it does happen, it will be the most positive thing of all that has ever happened to the club. Someone who will recognise the history and quality of NUFC and will want to pull everybody together to build something special long-term, investing maybe cash themselves initially alongside using the record revenues that are now available to all Premier League clubs.
One day it will happen.
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