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Opinion

Look at my first 12 years as a Newcastle fan compared to situation for kids now

1 year ago
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I saw a recent comment online from a father who said he was renewing his Newcastle United season ticket because he wanted to give his son the same feeling he had when he was a young Newcastle fan.

It seems like a legitimate reason to renew your season ticket. After all, everyone has their own right to do what they want to do – and who am I to tell them otherwise?

However, it got me thinking about the feelings that son would go through.

Does Newcastle have that same pull factor that it did for me, or my Dad, or even any other generation of Newcastle fan besides the current one? The answer is probably not.

A video surfaced this week of a guy approaching Mike Ashley in central London to tell him that he had ruined his football club. He was right, because in my opinion, the football club Mike Ashley bought roughly 12 years ago, does not exist anymore. It is a shadow of the club that existed 12 years prior to his purchase of Newcastle United.

I think back to that comment, about the Dad wanting to give his son the same experience he had… and to be frank, it won’t be the same. Not under Mike Ashley. As long as that kid walks out up the steps, and into SJP, to be greeted with two giant Sports Direct signs either side of ‘Newcastle United’ – then really, you are wasting your money pal.

I feel sorry for the 12-year old Newcastle fan of today. Let’s take myself for example, I was born June 95 and the first 12 years of my life following Newcastle United;

1995-96: The year I was born was the season in which Newcastle would embark on what was arguably the most exciting in their recent history. Just missing out on the league. Playing football still talked about to this day. Ginola, Beardsley, Asprilla, Ferdinand, Albert etc.

1996-97: A world record signing. Quarter final of the UEFA Cup. 2nd in the league. One of the most famous games ever against Manchester United and a few other classics too. Apparently the first time I sat with my Dad to watch Newcastle on the tele was that classic 4-3 comeback win at home to Leicester.

1997-98: Newcastle were a Champions League team that would go on to beat Barcelona at St James Park and reach the FA Cup final.

1998-99: Newcastle may have been knocked out of Europe early but we reached another cup final. This was the first season I started attending games watching the likes of Shearer, Ferguson, Solano. I fell in love with Temuri Ketsbaia and aside from my first game against Crystal Palace in the FA Cup, one of my first memories of Newcastle United was the semi-final against Spurs. Not a bad one eh?

1999-00: My first year of properly being able to remember watching Newcastle in Europe. I watched Totti, Cafu and Montella at SJP. We reached the FA Cup semi-final and Bobby Robson was our manager. This was considered a bad season!

2000-01: Sure, this was a one-off season where nothing happened, but I was still there every week watching a team with Shay Given, Gary Speed, Alan Shearer etc. I used to be excited for every other Saturday afternoon.

2001-02: There was a brief return to Europe. To be honest, the 4-4 draw with Troyes is still up there with one of my favourite/best memories of watching NUFC as a kid. We finished 4th in the league. Who can forget the four wins in a row at Christmas that took us to the top of the league? Reached the last eight of the FA Cup. Robert, Solano, Dyer, Jenas, Speed.

2002-03: 3rd in the league. We reached the last 16 of the Champions League. We played Inter Milan, Barcelona, Juventus, Leverkusen, Kiev. SJP was graced by Del Piero, Nedved, Davids, Thuram, Buffon, Xavi, Iniesta, Kluivert (in his prime), Crespo, Vieri, Toldo, Cannavaro.

2003-04: Fifth in the league and the Semi-finals of the UEFA Cup. Probably my favourite season watching Newcastle. A word for the kit that season too! Compare that to the rubbish material/standard of the kits today. Will never forget that penalty shoot-out defeat to Partizan Belgrade.

2004-05: Sure, a change of manager that could perhaps be described as the beginning of the downfall. However, we did reach the quarter final of the UEFA Cup and the FA Cup Semi Final in which a 9-year-old me would go home with a match ball played with by Shearer, Ronaldo, Scholes etc.

2005-06: A very short stint in Europe and what promised to be one of the worst seasons in recent memory, but it finished with a 7th place finish, the quarter final of the FA Cup and Shearer’s testimonial at the end of the season. Throw in the excitement of Michael Owen signing for Newcastle too. I queued for hours just to get his name on the back of my shirt (little did we know).

2006-07: A relatively disappointing season compared to the previous 11 years, but it still included a run to the last 16 of the UEFA Cup and the quarter final of the League Cup. What sort of season would that be considered today? A bloody good one at that!

The point is that these are incredible memories. Memories everywhere.

Now compare that to someone born at the beginning of the Mike Ashley era and follow the next 12 years

2007-08: So, it begins! Early cup defeats although the return of KK did bring some initial hope.

2008-09: Two first round cup defeats. Keegan gone. Shearer gone. Kinnear in and relegated from the Premier league for the first time.

2009-10: Successful season in the second division of English football.

2010-11: A mid-table finish and early exits from the cups. Although a 5-1 win over Sunderland will live long in the memory… Andy Carroll emerged as a potential star for kids to look up to before he was sold almost immediately.

2011-12:Fifth in the league, although early cup exists continued, some exciting signings and an attacking front three of Cisse, Ben Arfa and Ba.

2012-13: A shocking league campaign but the run to the last eight of the Europa League may be the only thing in this 12 year run that could give kids hope of a better future.

2013-14. Back to early exits. Bad football and a mid-table finish with a side full of overpaid prima donnas.

2014-15: Early exits and Newcastle survived relegation on the last day of the season.

2015-16: Early exits and a second relegation from the PL.

2016-17: Another successful season in the second division of English football.

2017-18: Managed by Rafa Benitez, but early cup exits, not great football and a mid-table finish. A club slowly falling to its knees with the inevitable disaster incoming.

2018-19: Repeat.

There has literally been a lost generation of kids at Newcastle United. What do they have to shout for or look forward to on a weekend?

I may be falling out of love with the current Newcastle United… but at least I was in love. Kids today may never get that feeling.

You can follow the author on Twitter @JonathanComyn

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