So, here we go then….it seems that articles on The Mag, or indeed any other Newcastle United centred corner of the internet, are becoming a bit formulaic. An article gets written about anything; Ashley, Rafa’s tactics, the colour of the away kit, the shape of the corner flags, literally sodding anything at all, and it creates an immediate division that develops into a squabble over who knows how to support Newcastle the best, usually centred around attendance of matches or not. This invariably and quickly descends into an ugly internet trait called the Ad Hominem fallacy, where failure to agree on something descends into personal abuse as quick as you can say “multiple avatars”.

While I disagree with some people’s approach, there’s no denying there is a valid debate here. Let’s have a bit of devil’s advocate.

The first argument is that going to the game makes you part of the problem, a traitor, a sheep if you will. This has more than reasonable grounding as the payment for tickets and associated kit/pies/programmes is falling into the big questionable cash vortex between SJP and Sports Direct that makes it worth the owners while, to keep unconvincingly pretending he wants to sell the club. There’s also a sense of warning that you are, frankly, being taken for a mug by voluntarily enduring the miserable matches. Finally, there’s the belief that an empty ground would devalue the product and force the regime change that the vast majority crave.

Conversely, there is the argument of the match going fan. This is underpinned by the right of anyone to make a personal choice, but there is a range of feeling here. Many see the match as their birthright, and abandonment as a surrender of what is rightfully ours to Ashley. It’s also a grand place for a show of defiance that may have more effect than the empty stadium plan.

Ultimately though, I think the main driver is personal circumstances, as people meet up regularly with friends and family in a way that life might not otherwise easily allow.

I’ve mentioned previously how I have three small children who are at various stages of showing initial interest in the team and the thought of not sharing this with them hurts my heart a bit. I believe there can be a lack of empathy from the older generation towards the next round of fans, as they are so ingrained with an opinion from decades of dyed in the wool support it can be easy to forget that they were afforded the opportunity to experience the club in the first place, because no one was telling them not to go.

This isn’t just from the perspective of a child either, as I would imagine the wide-eyed optimist in their early twenties is keener to build up their own matchday memories than the more grizzled veteran of 50+ who can walk away with plenty to look back on.

The worst part for me is simply that there is a divide. There are pros and cons on both sides but people keep leathering into each other for their choice, for the method of protest or their refusal to get involved. In spite of this we are the closest we’ve ever been to consistently pushing back against the regime and, while it remains a pipe dream at the minute, the departure of Ashley would arguably open this divide even wider.

The reason for this can be seen in any internet debate on the history of Newcastle United involving the real experts.

The real experts are not the long-standing observers of the club or those who have studied football social history, don’t be daft. Apparently they are the fans of Man City, Nottingham Forest, Leeds and, of course, Sunderland, all of whom have been privy to secret documents about NUFC that never made it to Tyneside for some reason. These geniuses will tell you how Newcastle got average attendances of (insert poxy figure) prior to 1992, when Kevin Keegan brought an army of glory seekers. The same intellectuals will then wee themselves hysterically at how United have won nowt in 50 years, oblivious to the oxymoron of how anyone could maintain glory seeker status under these barren conditions.

The facts of this are horribly straightforward.

Firstly, the attendance they give will almost always be Newcastle’s one-off worst attendance ever and not a reasonable reflection of the history of the support, which has always been above average, including times when our second tier attendances trumped the majority of the top flight.

Secondly, it ignores the known fact that the Sky/Premier League reboot of football caused a spike in interest across English football and everyone’s crowd increased to some degree.

However, the biggest missive for me is the fact that Kevin Keegan’s arrival to launch the Newcastle Renaissance was almost 27 years ago. Given that most children don’t have full control over their attendance, I would argue that anyone under the age of 40 cannot be labelled with this tag. Not wanting to depress anyone but that’s probably a decent chunk of any club’s support these days.

Nonetheless there was a divide created then. With 32,000 crammed into the ground when it could have sold double that every week, there were regular tales of woe from people who hadn’t missed a game until the Premier League, and now they were locked out while Johnny come lately took their ticket. Some people will have been priced out by all-seater season ticket prices of course, but other claims were dubious.

The question I have, regarding the Ashley overthrowing (I said it was relevant) is who will be the ’92  club this time round?

If benevolent oligarchs take over and demand rockets, will those that stayed away resent the current ticket holders when they are attending cup finals? Or could current sufferers claim they are paying their dues by sticking through these lean times. In many ways, it’s the same argument.

I hope we can at least channel behind making life uncomfortable for the regime, because our fans’ constant struggle to agree is becoming a character trait. Maybe East End and West End should never have bothered……

Follow Jamie on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

To feature like Jamie Smith submit your article to [email protected] and/or for more info go here


  • toonterrier

    Like a lot of season ticket holders I went to the games to watch attractive football with the hope of winning every league game and progressing in the cups ( well you are allowed to dream).. Went into the Black Bull every home game a couple of hours before kick-off and recognised the majority of supporters there and the atmosphere was excellent and when away supporters came in they were treat with respect. Over the last few years several packed in there tickets as they said they were giving money away to watch rubbish. Last time I went to a game on a freebie a couple of years ago there was only one bloke in the pub who was there when I packed it in and he said he was sick of it but it got him out of the house but he missed the good old days. Haven’t been back since but hopefully when the fat man goes I shall be back but cant see it happening any time soon.

  • DeadToiler

    Good article

  • Waxi

    Good article and we are divided at the moment but i live in hope the FCB will be gone and we can be united again. The insults are water off a ducks back to me as i think we are all entitled to our opinion and choice of weather we go to a game or not. I would never throw an insult to anyone who chooses different from me but some of the stuff on this site is a bit rich and i still maintain the gate receipts are not the problem. We need to have a pop at sly sports who are killing the game with massive payments to the FCB and that is why he won’t sell as 125 million compared to a few million in gate receipts and we have a pop at our own instead of Sly. I buy a ticket and now’t else, no food or drink, programmes, shirts now’t just a ticket.

    • Geordiegiants

      Giving him 1p is too much! It’s not Newcastle as we have known it. It’s a wolf in sheeps clothing that thing that you pay to keep going.

      • Waxi

        You lot need to get real. NUFC will always exist weather we go or not it”s the TV money that keeps the FCB at our club not the home support. Have a pop at sky TV

  • Duh

    Personal choice really and everyone should respect that whether it’s to go or not to go.

  • Leazes.

    Haven’t you been to the toilet for a while?

    • Peaky

      Faecal impaction is the medical term I believe.

  • Geordiegiants

    We could of had him gone years ago if people were more interested in the football club than their social life. Nobody is expecting everyone to stay away for ever.

    • nufcslf

      Exactly, it would be to rid of the moron who has ruined football and the experience that goes with. I’m one of the lucky ones living far enough away to where going isn’t an option, but living back home I would love to prove the duobters that I know here in Vancouver that there is not a f**kin’ chance I would be caught dead in that shyt hole until fatso is gone. Only thing I can and have done since KK was forced, is not to buy a bloody thing.

      • Waxi

        What a load of shyte.

        • Geordiegiants

          No it’s not, it’s EXACTLY the point. The only way to rid NUFC of the fatcunt is by starving him of money and income whilst blackening and boycottIng his jumble sale is doing the world a favour, the man is running that like a regime in the same way. He is a disgrace in and out of football and a lot of people have no morals when it comes to getting things cheap or getting money for nothing. Mike Ashley being one of them, and anyone that spends money with him or buys his products is exactly the same, every thing he owns is a disgusting toxic brand now, including our football club.

      • Brian Standen

        You hit the nail on the head, easiest thing in the world to boycott when you live 1000s of miles away!

        • nufcslf

          Incase you hadn’t realized it is a very small world with on line shopping. Not giving that fat c**t a penny keeps my concience clear that I’n not financing the end of the club. Those that choose to go can do what the f**k they want, but are helping kill Newcastle United and give full support to Sports Direct United. Enjoy……

    • Waxi

      If your not expecting people to stay away why post what you did further down the thread. Not one penny eh.

      • Geordiegiants

        Yeah he would be gone in flash man!
        It would be a very short time.

        • Waxi

          You need to get real Geordie and we all need to stay United.

          • Geordiegiants

            I agree about United, the thing is we need a goal something to aim at, all I know is keep giving jabba money he is going nowhere.
            Sky are not all bad, I bet there isn’t many Huddersfield or Bournemouth fans complaining about him. It’s what Ashley isn’t doing with the sky money that’s the problem not them giving money to clubs.

          • Waxi

            Geordie your saying the 50K who go to the match and give him a few million are the problem when sky are giving him 125 million think about it will you. If he had to rely on gate receipts he would have gone years ago but the fact in one season he has cleared 150 million half his so called asking price why the hell would he sell. He is a business man and you name me one business who would turn the chance down of another 150 million quid every year. The fans that turn up are not the problem Sky are they have killed football and only care about those at the top.

          • Geordiegiants

            Yeah but sky are giving Liverpool, Watford, Brighton, Man Utd, Everton and all of the others in the prem and it’s not their fault about the way any of those clubs are ran. It’s not sky’s fault the fatcunt is pocketing their money.

          • Waxi

            Geordie the rest spend the money on the team improve the infrastructure do everything they are supposed to do with the money but our slug of an owner will not do any of the above. If sky only paid out 10 million a year he would not hang around but the fact they give him 125 million why would he sell. That is not the fault of the people who turn up to the games every other week as they don’t fill his pockets SKY DO. He is using our club to fund his business and that is not what sky pay him the money to do he is supposed to do as all the others do and re-invest that money back in to our club. The premier league are supposed to over see it but obviously turn a blind eye like the FA and SKY and it is we the fans who suffer. This is NOT the fault of those who go to the match IMHO.

          • Geordiegiants

            It’s still not Sky’s fault!
            Sky give everyone millions, Huddersfield, Cardifff and lots of other clubs don’t think sky is a the problem. Sky is a problem in our fight to beat Jabba yes, but there is no way that sky would keep giving to a jabba if their product was being ruined.

          • Waxi

            Nah it’s Sly all the way for me Geordie and not the 50K loyal fans that turn up week in week out in all weathers. When sky ain’t got the dosh to pay the FCB watch how quick he dumps us knowing the 125 million stops lining his pockets. So long as we all boycott HOF Debenhams Sports tat and never buy shirts or now’t in the ground and don’t subscribe to sky and BTW i do none of the above other than buy a ticket for the game, then we can all protest without being hypocritical in our own way. KTF

          • Mxpx

            Whilst I agree that sky investing in our club isn’t the problem and it’s the greedy owner I’d love them to keep the money in trust for the new owners and force his hand

          • Geordiegiants

            Wouldn’t we all!!!

  • Milburn_Taylor

    would it be to much to ask to miss 1 game at St James in front of the TV cameras,
    apparently so, if you go do not moan about Ashley or the 2nd rate team we have,
    as you are part of the problem.

    • Dillon Tovak

      Exactly. If your kids are going to go off football or start supporting Man Utd because they miss a couple of matches then they were never going to support NUFC anyway. Real Newcastle fans are hardened at birth to disappointment.

  • Peter

    Just on the subject of attendances, the ‘three clubs’ with the highest average attendances in a national second tier in the world are Newcastle United, Newcastle United and Newcastle United.

    • Albert Stubbins

      I thought we won that accolade with the old second divison championship 64/5. Man yoo then trumped this a few years later and then we reclaimed the title of highest average attendance a couple of season ago with over 50,000? so that would be Newcastle first and third?

  • Brian Standen

    Great article!
    What I can’t get my head round is all those who don’t go ( and I respect that) say they don’t give anything to Ashley!
    Is that really the truth? People’s personal circumstances dictate where you shop, so if you have kids and everyone knows kids want everything, there is no cheaper place to buy sports tat than SD, be it the latest Man Utd footie shirt ( let’s face it by not going your driving the next generation into supporting Man Utd etc), golf clubs, tennis rackets etc etc then the cheapest place is SD
    It’s ok demonstrating outside his shops and I’m all for anything that makes him uncomfortable but I will wager that plenty people still shop at SD when needs dictate!

    • Geordiegiants

      There is plenty of the buffoons protesting with his gear on Brian. Idiots.

  • Waxi

    All these folk having a pop at those who go to the game will most likely watch it on Sky BT etc so are most likely coughing up more than those who go to a game as ir’s the Sky money that keeps him at SJP.

    • SuperDesHamilton

      watch it on a dodgy channel

      • Waxi

        👍

        • Geordiegiants

          Yes like epl site and the likes. Even if they are paying sky, they are not the problem. It’s what the fatcunt is doing with their money that’s the problem.

  • Sickandtired

    “It’s also a grand place for a show of defiance that may have more effect than the empty stadium plan.”

    Aye, but, we do neither.