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How was I to know that this game was only remembered by Newcastle fans for one simple basic thing

2 years ago
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I have never contributed before but the latest Newcastle United FA Cup surrender has led to this piece for you to consider for publication….

When can you genuinely say that you become a football team supporter?

For me, I was 10 years old and it was the Cup run of ‘74 that began the inexorable journey to fandom.

The key influencer was my friend Peter Cox who lived near me in Gosforth.

I can’t remember how we met but he was the person who got me into football properly (I was about seven) and following NUFC was a natural progression. He’d go to games with his father and then tell me about them. I wasn’t allowed to go.

However, during that fateful ‘74 Cup run the obsession began to develop. I’d listen to matches on the radio and put up newspaper cuttings on my bedroom wall. I well remember the first time the insidious “Toon” bug affected me. The famous Forest match. With my ear close to Radio Newcastle I heard the description of our pitiful performance to go 1-3 down to the second division midlanders.

I ran upstairs and tore all the posters and newspapers cuttings off the wall and burst into tears. How many times have I felt the same way since that fateful match. I’ll never forget returning downstairs to see Final Score on Grandstand. We’d won 4-3! Tears of joy this time.

Peter Cox and me watched the highlights on Shoot the next day in a state of unbridled, youthful joy.

Typically, as you all know, that result was annulled due to a pitch invasion from a bevy of flared trousered, bad haircutted lads from the Leazes End.

That whole match with its sadness, joy and sadness, again sums up 45 years of supporting the most exasperating, frustrating and downright annoying Football Club in world soccer history.

So, a year later, came my first live match. I plucked up the courage to sneak into town with “Coxie “ and go to St James. April 1975. A nondescript mid-table fixture against Everton. But how exciting it was just to be there! We stood in the West Stand wing paddock next to the Gallowgate End. As we arrived when the gates opened at 1pm,the build up was long and unbearable. Then, to see the players come onto the field and hear the cheers made the wait worthwhile. I saw Supermac. The man who had destroyed Burnley a year earlier was five yards away. Great!

Though we lost 0-1 the result was less important (then!) than the whole fantastic experience of seeing and hearing 30,000 people emotionally involved in the game. Funnily enough the game was actually recorded for Match of the Day and I was allowed to stay up and watch it- despite attending against my parents’ wishes.

How was I to know that this game was only remembered by fans for one simple basic thing.

A modest banner.

It was hung just above the East Stand centre paddock. Banners were rare in those days. This one had a simple emotional message. A message that was heartfelt from fans who were despairing of our failure to compete in the league and win a domestic cup after a glorious period that ended 20 years earlier – after our last FA Cup Final win over Man City.

The message was printed in plain bold letters:

“WE WANT SUCCESS.”

I’m still waiting.
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