A lot has been said about the old days at St James Park.

As a lifelong supporter my attendances at matches are now limited by finances and anno domini, I attend only when I’m feeling flush or in need of rejuvenation.

It was at the recent game against Leicester that stray thoughts entered my head. For example  – why does a family bring small children to a match when the kids have absolutely no interest in football, let alone Newcastle United?

For reasons I won’t bore you with, I found myself sitting in the Sports Bar stand, a departure from my usual choice of East Stand, and on both sides of me were young couples with a total of four small children, including two small girls. All four of the kids were obviously bored witless and their demands for anything that was unrelated to football got more tedious as the game went on.

Now I’ve got nothing against kids, as my grandsons would testify, but it did cast my mind back to the ‘good old days’ when kids loved the opportunity to go to the match with their dads. Their pride and interest was palpable even though they had to endure some foul language, woodbine smoke, and heaving crowds (my mother always was an embarrassment!). They didn’t have computer games to keep them occupied or M&S gluten free snacks.

More than likely they got transferred to pitch side over the heads of the crowd to get a better view (the H & S people and Social Services would have the parents locked up these days!).

But it wasn’t just the kids, it dawned on me why my match day outings were fewer these days. My passion was as strong as ever at the Leicester game, and my bitter disappointment at getting trounced was the same, but there was something else. My mind went back to the golden days – the 50s and 60s  (oh not another old codger banging on about Jackie Milburn, I hear you say!).

The present stadium is absolutely fabulous but it no longer has that “Saturday afternoon” grass roots feel about it.

Where’s the man who threw bags of peanuts into the crowd and you threw a tanner back?

The clock above the directors box?

The half time scores box where numbers were displayed manually?

The brass bands at half time?

The policemen walking round the pitch?

People hanging out of the windows in Leazes Terrace?

The men with handcarts selling fruit outside the ground?

The chance to have a cigarette, an oxo and a pie at half time?

Transfer gates to other parts of the ground?

Oh what heaven!

Then, there are the players. All Johnny foreigners with only a few exceptions. Where is their passion for NUFC as they drive off in their Range Rovers and Mercs? Money talks of course and the attraction of a weekly wage that most men earn only over a few years has something to do with it.

And what about club ownership? No longer do we rely on  local solicitors and businessmen who, bless them, hailed mainly from the area and invested in their local football club. We now aspire to owners who can provide enough wonga to compete with other owners who have even more money than they have and who can enlist the best players from all over the world.

On the rare occasion when we compete to secure a top player, we find that, unfortunately we are geographically bound to fail as most of these players firstly, don’t fancy moving anywhere north of Manchester, and secondly, apart from Alan Shearer, they haven’t even heard of us and think we’re somewhere in the wastes of Greenland.

So it was these thoughts that ran through my ageing  brain on that day and floundering at the foot of the table hasn’t helped.

Still, a few wins and another hero or two on the pitch (regardless of their nationality) might help, although next time I’ll definitely be sitting in the East Stand with a sausage roll from Greggs.

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  • Marty had

    time moves on sadly. I love football and obvs did as a kid but I found myself ‘ bored’ at times watching what was on the pitch in the 80s era…and that was with KK out there!! But I do agree parents are taking kids that are far too young or are on the Computer games which I saw recently when we played Chelsea and this young lad hardly looked up from his game in the 90 mins to watch the game !

  • Mark

    Ye the good old days, the smell of glue wafting down the Gallowgate, the tab burns, moving for someone to have a P***, oh and the fighting, the police horses Kettling fans into the turn styles, oh to be a 12 year old football fan in the early 80’s. I think I’m gonna cry!!!!!!

    • Leazes.

      It wasn’t the smell of glue wafting down Gallowgate/Strawberry Place… it was the spent hops from the brewery flushed through the drains it was rank smelling…..

      ….you shouldn’t have been smoking tabs at 12!

      • graham18

        No it wasn’t..it was the old p*ss corner in the gallowgate/scorebooard section and sometimes my pocket got drenched!! happy days!!!

        • Leazes.

          No it wasn’t I know exactly what he’s referring to…. it was the sludge from the breweries which gave Strawberry Place the odour.

          • graham18


    • Leicester Mag

      I remember the police walking round the pitch were usually howking some raggie complete with wrist scarves out! Remember also the nutters who ‘tightroped’ along the wall at the Leazes end jumped in the away fans, got battered and then thrown out.

  • PoolieToon

    I think the thing for a few people (not everyone mind) is if they don’t take their kids, they can’t get to the game. Whether it’s because everyone they know goes to the game, or there’s no one they know that’s free on a weekend afternoon.

    • Toontaff

      The Saturday dads should just stick to going to the pub with their kids!

  • Leazes.

    What Clock?

    ….the ‘Oxo’ was actually ‘Bovril’!

    Johnny foreigner?…..What about the Robledo brothers, and every United team had more than a sprinkling of Scots and Irish!

    Handcarts with ‘fruit’ outside the ground?

    ‘Local businessman who invested?’….No they didn’t!

    What Clock?

    • Kenny

      Gin O`clock

      • Leazes.

        I’m wondering if he’s got the right club here…. might be an Arsenal fan….. lost!

        • Kenny

          Certainly not a Newcastle one

          • Leazes.


    • Mark

      I would also add that greedy owners ain’t a new phenomenon, we have been cursed with them for generations

      • Leazes.

        One director was once asked to put his hand in his pocket….think it was Westwood…… he duly resigned.

        • Coach Clagnut

          Aye,the pirate was asked to guarantee a 30k bank loan so off hefucked. Gordon “Family Silver” McKeag took the reins.

        • Colin Marr

          We all live in Sinking submarine!

    • Colin Marr

      Ben Arentoft?

    • Christopher Bache

      Oops! You’re right. I was thinking of the 10 minute flag on the curved roof over the Directors/ Press box.
      The Milburn Stand does of course have a very nice Sports Bar.
      It was oxo masquerading as bovril.
      Of course there were a few foreigners ( ie players outside the UK) but nothing like today.
      I can testify, as an assistant handcart minder for 10 minutes that fruit was sold.
      Local businessmen invested their time and energy in a limited company. They were the controllers /owners.

  • Rich Lawson

    Played subbuteo with a couple of lads from school in the morning,quick lunch then at the ground by 1pm to join the que to get into the Leazes (cash turnstiles).Might have stood at the steps to the main entrance for a while for autographs while they kept my place,watched the match,got the bus home and went to the newsagents to buy ”The Pink”. If there was a BBC van at the top gate and saw Kenneth Wholstenholme knew we would be on Match of the Day that night (only one match then). Perfect.

  • lupa

    Peanuts tanner a bag.he never missed his intended target ..unlike some of the krap we’ve had to endure from the strikers we’ve had

    • Leazes.

      Yes people would buy the peanuts and pelt him with them….that toothless bent grey old retainer he never resented it though, he had a trial as a quarterback for the Miami Dolphins but got sent home because he smelled of wee.

      He was called Brian and had two kids called David and Kevin Lee.

    • Colin Marr

      they were the best peanuts ‘I’ve ever tasted, weren’t the vendors banned from the ground when Hall took over,

  • Dave Pattinson

    Ah yes, 6 pints of Ex in the Hodgsons Arms, a quick trip to the bookies, then a couple more in The Magpie in plastic glasses then onto the Gallowgate. Cracking afternoon out after a week of working for a [email protected] who I’d have loved to thump. Kept me sane. Slightly more sterile atmosphere at SJP nowadays…but same at every PL ground unless you’re in the away end. Footy was discovered by the luvvies & taken off the working classes. Sold back to them at ridiculous prices by the money men. Roll on the revolution!

    • Leazes.

      Luvvies are theatre actors…..

      …..football was taken by commercialism, firstly by the attachment of advertising and then bought outright by concerns such as Ashley…. gradually into the hands of Billionaire capitalists and oligarchs…..

      ….nothing ‘luvvie’ about them at all.

      • Andy Mac

        I think he’s referring to the middle classes who jumped on the bandwagon after the Sky transformation took honest earthy football away from those who had supported it since the game began ?

        Sadly they’re still sitting on their hands nowadays. They don’t join in the chants, don’t know the words probably, don’t follow the game and certainly wouldn’t be seen dead on a protest march.

        Too many diehards have long since given up and what’s replaced them is just pathetic

        • Leazes.

          Sorry…. I think the middle classes left when Ashley took over here…. the people sitting on their hands here are Ashleys customers!

          That’s why the season tickets didn’t keep up with inflation and that’s why we have the largest family section in the world of football….

          …..The well upholstered business seats in the centre of the Milburn have long been vacated…. nearly always half empty since his his intentions became clear ten years ago.

          ….totally different at other clubs and the opposite of what Hall was trying to achieve.

        • Dave Pattinson

          Yep Andy, back in the early days of New Labour it was seen as cool for the ‘chattering classes’ and media luvvies to have some working class credentials, hence they were suddenly seen embracing among other things rock music & football, which had previously been seen as working class. (Lets face it during Thatcher’s years, football fans were only one step away from being criminals!). After that & Sky etc, the game ceased to be ours. Think Leazes missed my point re luvvies.

  • Fisherking

    Part time supporter

  • Blackburn1066

    Football grounds became none singing sterile places when they the FA gave us all a seat.

  • Toontaff

    Jumpers for goalposts………………mmmm marvellous…………….

    • Toontaff

      ………rolling the ball in dog muck and getting your friends to head it…………

  • Mirandinha9

    It’s not the geography of the Toon that curtails our ability to recruit top players, it’s the cancer that permeates throughout the club, which emanates from the owner who is devoid of any ambition – solely consumed by asset stripping the whole entity. No top player (despite Rafa’s presence ) would think for one second about joining a now second rate club which is destined for its third relegation in 11 years. Cashley has took the soul of the club away for the fans and placed it on a comedic pedestal for all observers who find humour in how this once mighty club now operates.

  • Monument Mal

    I’ve been going to SJP since 1957 and I don’t remember a clock over the directors box. What i do remember is the 10 minute flag at the Gallowgate and the 5 minute flag over the press box, we didn’t run to the luxury of a clock

    • Christopher Bache

      Yes you’re quite right except the 10 minute flag was on the curved roof over the directors box.

      • Monument Mal

        The curved roof was the press box. The directors box was below in the West stand

        • Christopher Bache

          The flag was still OVER the directors box.