I’m sitting on a train heading up to St James Park for my final Newcastle United match until Mike Ashley sells up
I’m heading to St James Park on the train from London this morning to watch this Mike Ashley Newcastle United for the last time. This season was always going to be my last under Ashley but the news that emerged last night, that Dennis Wise is now back involved with Newcastle United, including meetings with Justin Barnes and Lee Charnley, is enough for me to cancel my season ticket Monday morning rather than come May.
There is no doubt now that Mike Ashley wants a fight (albeit not physical), and dare I say it, a part of me really does hope that he has gone too far this time. Perhaps this will be the straw that breaks the camel’s back in regards to those that have so far refused to undertake any kind of protest.
Away tickets might be harder to come by now with the prospect of losing all of my loyalty points, but really, who cares about watching Newcastle anymore? Is it even Newcastle United anymore?
It is easy to forget that there is a massive football match today. While it may be naive or disrespectful of me to say, I think Huddersfield are gone. I can’t see a realistic way back for them from this point, such as a good run of form. So that just leaves Newcastle, Fulham and Cardiff (again in my opinion) that will fight it out come the end of the season to stay in the league. No doubt come May, we will look back on this game as a big one in regards to staying in the top flight.
With Mike Ashley though, the football is a sideshow.
For instance, the more I think about it, and more fool for me getting up at 5am this morning, but who really cares if we get beat today? What does it change? Nowt.
The club will continue to be run as a knock-off Sports Direct version of a football club, Rafa will still be here (at least until May), the local press will still tell us five things we can learn, the team will still be rubbish, and in truth, 49,000 will still turn up for the next home game against Man City.
As I was sat having my breakfast at Kings Cross station, there is either a black and white shirt, or a black and white scarf in all three directions of my line of sight. I know the reason why I am here, but it makes you think, what on earth is their story? Are they as pi…. off as I am? Will they be making the same trip to the next Saturday home game win, lose or draw?
Even as I made the lonely walk down the train from coach B towards the coffee cart, every carriage has more Newcastle shirts, jackets, scarves, hats. It is absolutely bonkers. They are absolutely bonkers. This is a club at times, or at least in my lifetime, that has only been absolutely bonkers.
It only serves as a reminder as to what a great club this could be. What a great club this is… just not right now.
Even in recent memory, one train ride from London will do the trick. A chat with girlfriend’s father yesterday (a Leicester fan) can bring back a load of memories from that Alan Shearer hat-trick, to the scenes in the away end when Ayoze Perez scored at the King Power last season.
As the train pulls out of Kings Cross and makes it way past the Emirates (and Highbury) there was the 3-1 win under Sir Bobby which not only broke the London jinx, but after a win at Leeds in the next game, put Newcastle United top of the league at Christmas. Hell, it wasn’t even that long ago that I stood a row or two in front of Mike Ashley at the Emirates on a boiling hot day as he chugged down a pint while donning a Newcastle shirt (I think it had ’17 Smith’ on the back… we should have known then).
We have already passed through Stevenage, a ground which brings back a memory under Mike Ashley that I had forgot even happened! It says something of Mike Ashley’s reign, that those lower league defeats to Brighton and Stevenage have not even become a reference point when discussing how bad his reign has been. Alan Pardew though… well that is a different matter.
Peterborough is another memory, from 2002, maybe? A game etched on my brain because Jamie McClen scored that day, and as a 7-year-old obsessed with football manager games, I thought he was the next big thing. Whatever happened to him?
Finally, Doncaster, home to a late Andy Carroll winner in the Championship not so long ago, that sent us closer to a return to the top division. The destinations on the London-Newcastle East Coast route are by no means the most exotic of places but as a metaphor for the trail of destruction that Mike Ashley has left at Newcastle United.
Starting in London, and passing the Emirates and Old Highbury, to losing to Stevenage in the cup, to playing competitive league fixtures against the likes of Peterborough and Doncaster Rovers. I tell you one thing, if it is under Mike Ashley, then I won’t be there to watch us play York City.
The one thing I have always said in regards to Newcastle United, the golden rule if you like, is get the fans on-side. Keegan understood this, Robson did, Hughton did and Rafa has tried his best to do it. It is Mike Ashley’s biggest mistake, and yet we remain his greatest asset.
The funny thing is, Mike wouldn’t even have to lift a finger. If you get the fans on your side, then you are 50% of the way there at Newcastle United. Get us on your side, listen to us, give us a voice and hell, we’ll break our backs (and our bank accounts) to push you the other 50% of the way.
Alas, the voices and hopes of an entire generation of football fans have fallen on deaf ears.
F… you Mike Ashley… and f… Dennis Wise too.
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