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Talksport can insult Newcastle United but when it is our City…

5 months ago
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Like many of you, I was a bit miffed by Ian Abrahams (Moose of Talksport ‘fame’) and his comments about Newcastle –the city; he can please himself with his opinions on the club.

I don’t tweet much, and I don’t reply to much, either, but just as I was about to make an exception, I thought, hang on… what if he decides to challenge his own ill-informed views, broaden his ickle-wickle mind, and see what our city is really like? We might have to put up with him actually being here.

Nah. You just leave it to us. Anyone who agrees with you can help you with the big words.

Also like many of you, I’m not really bothered about the big club-little club debate. Johnny Campbell explained this beautifully the other day.

It’s funny to see the comments from fans of other clubs in the days before and after they choose the match over our parks and one art gallery, with the intensity and rawness reaching a crescendo of generalisation and stereotyping from some, and the acceptance that while the match might not be pretty, and that we’ll be hard to beat, the city is pretty, and is also hard to beat. The ones that don’t like Newcastle will, like Abrahams, miss out. That’s their problem.

But I did take the chance to ask a few fans of other clubs what they thought of our plight, and how our response to it is perceived by those looking in.

One of the lads at work is a big Boro’ fan. Maybe it’s because of the proximity, but he sees our situation as us complaining despite being financially stable (well, that depends on who you ask), and a Premier League club who will struggle but, he added, probably won’t be relegated. I think there’s supposed to be some sort of comfort in there.

A Mansfield Town fan I used to work with was much more sympathetic. He sees us a loyal bunch who have lived on –as Johnny mentioned in his article – the missed bus of ‘the year we didn’t win the league’, and that even though we have tumbled twice since then, have maintained high attendances. He believes that other fans have sympathy for what is going on, particularly since the Richard Keys episode, which could be seen as Ashley and his media mates trying to pin the blame on the wrong people.

And an Arsenal supporting mate, who used to work in football, reckons football fans can read between the sycophantic, attention-seeking validation spewed by some experts.

She went on to make the point that while lots of football fans will find something to moan about no matter what (remember, she supports Arsenal), ignoring your customers (fans) is to be done so at the business’ peril. She, and many other fans, recognise that Newcastle United could be their club; a few bad decisions away from financial and footballing trouble.*

So, sticks and stones from Talksport, and something a bit more reasoned from some genuine fans who have no real agenda, or self-validation issues; from fans of clubs at opposite ends of the success spectrum.

Does it really matter?

Do any of us listen in and believe this hooey?

Or is it audio bear baiting, with Newcastle United fans as the angry bear?

Do some people believe that because an ‘expert’ has said it, it must be true?

Hopefully not.

As football fans, we’ve been underestimated by owners, the media, government, and sometimes managers. I’m not suggesting there’s some sort of solidarity love-in going on; there probably isn’t. But there is a very real concern from other clubs that they could be next. Or ‘do a Leeds’. Or a Blackburn Rovers. Football isn’t quite at crisis point, but it should be shuffling nervously.

Teams might represent us but clubs are advertising vehicles and image rights. Cities, on the other hand, are alive, and outlive the ownership of those revenue streams.

*All three fans thought Newcastle as a city is brilliant. That’s a 300% increase on the Abrahams of this world at Talksport.

You can follow the author on Twitter @georgestainsby
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