In light of the current mood, I  was tempted to do this months’ piece about  Xmas games from the past,  going on about nostalgic trips to Sheffield Wednesday in the eighties.

However, even for the man who has a backside full of  splinters, the recent events just can’t be ignored.

If the plan to boycott the Wolves match was to show to the world that the fans  of this club have hit a tipping point and have had enough, well it’s had the opposite effect.

It’s shown the world  that Newcastle fans  are either:

Hugely loyal to their club and will stick with them through the difficult times.

or

A bunch of droids who have been programmed to meekly sit and accept the dross in front of them.

Take your pick.

Sadly, what I  believe is that the failed boycott will have a  major impact on the relationship between people who have sat next to each other for years, and not for the better. The atmosphere could become toxic if results get worse.

I will use the comparison of the miners strike but I accept that  it’s a very bad one. That was about real life and involved the break up of families. This one will  be about two blokes spending 90 minutes bickering with each other  until one of them decides to shift seats , so it’s hardly that important in the great scheme of things.

But the focus for many could become the people around them and not the team in front of them and that could be important. Will those amongst us who have shouted for a boycott, now feel that they have to walk away?

Here are some stats for you, looking at the first and last home attendances during our relegation years

1977-78   Leeds 36,500  to Norwich 8,000  (season average 24,200)

1988-89  Spurs  33,500  to Millwall 14,700 (season average 22,800)

2008-09   Villa  51,000 to  Chelsea  52,300   (season average 48,750)

2015-16   Southampton  49,700  to Spurs  52,180 (season average 49,754)

As you can see, in the first two of these relegation years people deserted the club in droves, but in the Ashley relegations, the last game has actually seen more people turn up than who did at the first of the season.

Only at Newcastle.

I am old enough to have been around for those first two relegations when the atmosphere amongst the fans during the season was hideous.

I have written before about being one of the manic frothing at the mouth  “sack the board” lot in 1988, where I came close to punching people around me (or should I say getting punched by those around me – because I am a dwarf and I couldn’t plant someone unless I was on a ladder).

So when it comes to unrest at St James Park, nothing changes.

Is it a coincidence that when the crowds disappeared we stayed down for five years but when the crowds have stayed with the team, we have come back up straight away?

See, my splintered backside is on show again, because I simply don’t know what the answer is .

To stay or to go.  The last time I  checked, supporting NUFC isn’t to belong to a Moonie cult.  It has to be the call of each individual to make.

I no longer go and I quit under the Ashley regime, but I can’t say I quit because of Mike Ashley, I quit because I simply stopped enjoying walking up to the ground to watch a team I could no longer relate to.  You could argue the two things are mutually inclusive.

Perversely,  whilst another season of battling to stay up with  Palace,  Huddersfield, Cardiff and Fulham just doesn’t do it for me,  if we had been in the Championship this season and fighting at the top with  Derby, Leeds,  Aston Villa and Nottm Forest, that may have got me walking up the steps again.

These days, having prayed to all the Gods for the last 50 years to see my club win anything, now I really won’t cry myself to sleep should we go down again.

I think it’s an age thing. Personal health issues have knocked the fight right out of me.  I have more important things to worry about and anyway revolution is a young man’s game.

I do still care (writing this monthly piece for nothing tells me I do) and  even though season tickets are a thing of the past, I will still turn up with my brothers for the third round cup match against Blackburn, even though I know the team probably won’t bother.

That’s because FA Cup third round matches have been part of our life since I was 10 and it is an important tradition that we need to continue.  It makes no sense but then devoting so much of our lives to a football club never has.

Despite all this grief I would still love to be at  Liverpool on Boxing day. I’m sure this generation of fans will love their day out just as much as mine did at Hillsborough in 1985.  Thinking of that day can still bring a smile to my face 33 years later.

I Just hope their fashion sense stands up to the test of time,  better than ours has.  On Leppings lane that day, with our tashes, permed hair and denim jackets, we looked like a backdrop to a Village People video.

We thought we were cool though.

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  • Rich Lawson

    Took my dad and father in law to Elland Rd on Boxing Day for their Xmas box. 0-0 and they tried to kick us off the park,110 miles home in silence.Agree about the cup tho’,should be 1st team all the way.

  • Themoscow72

    Yes when people call these the bad times it certainly makes me laugh. These are the good times as six seasons in the second division certainly cleared the dead wood out. Yes people have stuck with Ashley that is for sure though Rafa has been a big influence. Our best times were 1974 to 1976 all those away matches in the cup. Those days and the atmosphere can never be beaten and football will never be the same again. There were some great days in the 1980′ at Sheffield and Leeds but nothing can compare to taking twenty odd thousand to Bolton amazing stuff.
    If we can have a run in the cup this year the older fans will certainly be there just hope we can hit thirty thousand for Blackburn.

    • Brian Standen

      This is my point, in comparison these are ok times, not great mind! Great was 93 to 2004 ( more or less) !
      But those cup ties. Forest, WBA away, Bolton etc brilliant

      • Kev Newcastle England

        83/84 prob best ever for me as a 24 year old going to 14+ plus away games getting promoted at Huddersfield with 15,00 of us there,even got away with having a pi*s on the pitch at the end!

      • Wezza

        How can these be ok times?
        2 relegations in 11 years of contempt, possibly more.
        You do know that the FCB has totally asset stripped the club don’t you?
        Low wages, low transfers, loans and freebies, one man board etc etc etc.
        How can these be ok times? Seriously. I think Simon Carr has rubbed off on you!

    • Squintytoonarmy

      We will never have a run in the cup whilst Ashley is in charge. If we were safely mid table then we could have a good go.

      Not sure about standing on the leppings in denim jacket and a tash. Was Pringle jumper, farah slacks and ski jacket for me

      • Kev Newcastle England

        Denim jacket and tash.Lifting feet off ground and not falling several times,every visit.First game of season Jack Charlton as boss lost 2 0….Blazing sunshine.12,000 pissed,worst”crushing” I’d known at that point at that ground!!!

        • Albert Stubbins

          Sheff wed?

          • Kev Newcastle England

            Aye

    • JohnnyH

      Monk you live in some kind of space / time continuum
      Even you must know by now that our target is to exit by the third round in order to concentrate on finishing 17th or above in the league.

      • Themoscow72

        Perhaps I do always look forward to the F.A. Cup magic days. I live in hope of getting to Wembley this year. It’s always a dark day in our house when we go out the cup takes a long time to recover. Wife puts the best ornaments in the cupboard for a few weeks.

    • 1957

      WBA away in the 74 cup run, a special day, performance and atmosphere that still lives with me now

    • Kev Newcastle England

      20,000 plus at Bolton.I think not.More like 17,000.Still incredible.3
      3 draw.Super Macs wonder goal.

      • Themoscow72

        Think our end held something like 19,000 and they actually ran buses to Bolton all week to buy tickets for their end.. There was a big banner near me saying Peking branch but the people holding it up looked like they were from Walker.

    • Rabid Dog

      It’s interesting you bring up the 74-76 season saying it was our best times. This was when you first started going. Moderate success plus the rosy tinted thrill of it all, can never be beaten.

      Thing is, it’s a different game now, in a different decade (millennium), with different supporters who have different expectations. There is different money, different supporter base. NOTHING IS REMOTELY THE SAME NOW.

      Ask that same MoscowMonk child, if he had started supporting during 91/92, or 00/01, whether the next few of seasons were the best.

      Owners come and go. So do supporters. You need to catch up with the mainstream fan base’s opinion.

      • Themoscow72

        My mother took me before I was born and went to games in the sixties. However the cup ruled in them days not the league and 1974 to 1976 with standing on the terraces saw an era that can never be beaten.

        • Kev Newcastle England

          Wtf??? Before you were born ya Mam took ye to the match??? When you were in her belly??? Your counting that!!! Pmsl

    • Realist

      I agree that these times aren’t as bad as people make out. Bad is the likes of Leeds Portsmouth coventry forest etc. I never sampled the 70 80’s but wish I had.

      • Themoscow72

        Crowds of 7,000 and had a row of seats to myself once never forget that.

        • 23D

          We used to pay 85p for the scoreboard, £ 635 for my season ticket these days..times change lol

          • Toon Arnie

            Yes and so have salaries and the cost of living in general.

        • Toon Arnie

          Put it in to context though – crowds everywhere in the country were way down due to unemployment and the threat of violence. As our lowest ever seasonal average is 16,000 there weren’t regular crowds of 7,000, just the odd case. Within the same era Liverpool were the dominant club but didn’t regularly sell out, Spurs had occasional crowds of 10,000, Villa averaged 19,000 despite being League and then European Champions. Loads of other examples I could mention Easy to paint a picture when being selective with the information.

          • Kev Newcastle England

            Class post

    • Toon Arnie

      Just a small correction, the fans have stuck with Rafa and the club DESPITE Ashley who has done his best to drive fans away.

  • Wor Lass

    Great article, Jim – keep it up even if they`re not paying! As the Mad Monk points out, below, I think Rafa`s presence has definitely helped to maintain the numbers.

  • pedrodelgardo

    At least in the cup when the lads are trying their hearts out it is to try and win something, in the Premier League it is to achieve the asset strippers wet dream of 17th on the smallest budget ever.

  • Grahame Johnson

    Police took my turkey leg off me sheff wed in 85,classed as a item to throw

  • Chris-Chapple

    Just when Ashley was on the back foot they cancel the boycott and what it shows is that no matter what the owner does the fans will still go to the games.

    • Kev Newcastle England

      The sheep

  • 23D

    I can’t wait for Anfield. Always a class away day. Hope we don’t hear the sign on song though, embarrassing considering both areas have been shafted continually by the Tory party.

    • Realist

      It’s light headed banter mate, nothing more.

      • Realist

        hearted

        • 23D

          Fair enough mate, it’s not like many geordies have had to sign on eh?

          • Realist

            Yes get what your saying highest unemployment rate in the country. People from north east need to travel around country for work if they can, their is some decent money to be had in certain industry if people are willing to do this. The north east has always been forgotten about but I wouldn’t want to be from anywhere else.

          • 23D

            100% agree bud

          • Realist

            👍

      • Toon Arnie

        Be careful – the pc brigade on this site don’t like that stuff, you can’t even slate the Mackem’s these days without some early leavers getting on their high horse.