Diary Of The Armchair Fan – Boycotting Newcastle United throughout the 2019/20 season
Another one from The Armchair Fan.
Boycotting Newcastle United through the 19/20 premiership season.
Here is part four as we progress through October:
Wednesday 27th August 2003
Newcastle United 0-1 Partizan Belgrade (AET) Aggregate 1-1
(Partizan Belgrade win 4-3 on penalties)
“We’ll pi.. this one! 3-1 easy”
The amount of misplaced confidence was bordering on arrogance as I chatted excitedly to my mate Lewis on the way to the ground.
Newcastle had reached the last sixteen of the champions league the previous season beating Juventus, Dynamo Kiev and Bayern Leverkusen along the way. We had the best manager, the best striker and one of the most exciting young sides in the country. We’d returned from Belgrade with an away goal in a very handy 1-0 win and were ready for the next Champions League adventure.
With a bit of luck, this year we might just make the knockout stage. I’m already dreaming of famous nights against the might of Barcelona and Real Madrid, maybe even a revenge mission against Italian cheats Inter Milan or a trip to Paris St Germain. This season was going to be fantastic! We were shoulder to shoulder with the elite of Europe and we were there on merit.
The game started slowly with Newcastle struggling to get into any kind of rhythm, the odd half chance came and went but there didn’t seem to be any panic in the early stages. At 0-0 we were ahead on aggregate and a Toon goal puts the tie to bed. Half time came and went without any fuss, as fans we had the luxury of sitting back and watching our side ease their way into the best club competition in the world. Sure things like this don’t come around too often.
The sky got darker as the summer evening turned to night, Partizan started the second half on the front foot and soon cut through our defence to level on aggregate. Newcastle looked nervous. The fans grew frustrated as the encouragement seemed more futile, the howls of derision even less helpful. After two hours of stuttering football, the tie was still level. The groan from the fans at full time was an indictment of how this nightmare was unfolding. The match went to penalties, Newcastle lost and have never fully recovered.
Sunday 6th October 2019 4.30pm
United v Man United
We’ve had some wonderful days against this lot down the years: Albert’s chip to make it 5-0 in 1996, Duncan Ferguson smashing home a volley in Sir Bobby’s one hundredth game in charge, Laurent Robert executing a perfect free-kick at the Leazes End, Demba Ba setting us on the way to an unexpected 3-0 victory under Pardew and Matt Richie sweeping home a much needed winner two years ago, have all gone down in Geordie folklore. Who would have guessed that the one scored today would arguably top the lot?
We’ve not had many sets of brothers play for the Toon over the years, most famously the Robledos won the FA Cup for wor lads in 1952 with George scoring a late winner. More recently we’ve had the Ameobis attempting to continue the ‘Mackem Slayer’ legacy that began with Shola’s two headers in 2005. Thankfully Luuk and Siem De Jong were allowed nowhere near the same pitch at the same time during their equally ill-fated separate stints in black and white.
Sean and Matty Longstaff lined up together for the first time this afternoon and what an impact they had! Both lads ran themselves into the ground for the cause and whilst Sean’s composed presence in the centre of midfield was the anchor for the victory, Matty capped a superb debut by driving home the winning goal. The most iconic image of the season so far, came at the final whistle when the two brothers beamed their way through various interviews. Glasses all over the world were raised to the Longstaff family. Now if we can just find nine of their long-lost brothers, we could be in business.
Fri 11th October-Mon 14th October
Another international break?! Another one? There can’t be!
Back in the day they would happen once in a while and be considered a minor inconvenience. These days we seem to have at least one a month and it massively disrupts the league season. Already fragile Miggy Almiron played for Paraguay and was sent off for diving. This international break lasted four days that felt like four years and all the while we were robbed of the chance to build on our momentum gained from beating Man United.
The qualification process is now so convoluted and drawn out that it seems impossible for any half-decent team not to qualify for a major tournament. Growing up, I remember England facing daunting matches against Italy to qualify for one World cup and Germany to qualify for the next. This year they’ve had to beat the might of Kosovo, Montenegro and Bulgaria on their way to the biggest European Championship ever. When you factor in ‘The Nations League’ and its backdoor route to the finals, it seems harder not to qualify.
Friday 11th October- Thursday 17th October
Sky Sports TV live fixture announcement
Sky Sports really know how to mess about the very fans that fund their vast bank accounts. At the start of the season, we were promised that all televised fixtures for December and January would be announced by Oct 11th. This was to allow us plenty of time to organise the most family orientated time of the year. Well, the 11th came and went, so did the weekend. Monday 14th – no announcement, Tuesday 15th – no announcement, Wednesday 16th brought the flicker of hope that fixtures would be released the next day but then we had the absolute farce that was Thursday 17th October.
At first we were assured that fixtures would be released at 10am, then we were told Noon. Later on were were told 4pm, then 5pm then ‘hopefully 6pm with the possibility of the announcement being pushed back a day further’. When the matches were eventually announced, however bloody inconvenient they proved to be, paled into insignificance compared to the sheer relief that matches will actually take place this yuletide. Thank God we’ll be spared the tedious ‘crimbo limbo’ where time stands still and endless board games and turkey sandwiches rot the mind, body and soul.
Quite frankly, the laws on when football matches can be screened live on UK TV are beyond outdated. Every match should be 3pm Saturday afternoon or 7.45pm Wednesday evenings. Sky TV should choose one to show live without changing the time and BT Sport should do the same. We all watch any match we want on dodgy internet streams anyway.
Saturday 19th October 2019 12.53pm
Chelsea V Toon
I finished a night shift at 12.30 this afternoon. The objectives for the rest of the day couldn’t have been clearer – Get beer, get mortal, watch the match, eat pizza and go to sleep (preferably in that order).
I thought Newcastle looked decent in the first half despite not creating anything clear cut. Allan Saint-Maximin was our best player by miles and it was great to see Almiron running at the opposition like he did when he first joined in January. At half time, I was quietly confident we could go on to get a point or maybe even nick all three.
As soon as the second half kicked off though we retreated into our shell and never got going. A Chelsea goal was inevitable and so therefore was the defeat. Steve Bruce claimed after the match that we’d had some “unbelievable” chances. If he’d like to message me a highlights reel then I’ll happily keep my eyes peeled for them. I must have nodded off after my shift after all because from where I was watching, we didn’t create one.
After catching up on my much-needed sleep, it was time for me to look after my better half’s five year old for a couple of days as he starts his half term holiday. I can’t help wondering if ninety minutes of ‘Shaun the Sheep’ at the cinema will be far more enjoyable than most Toon matches have been this season (spoiler alert: it was).
Sunday 27th October 2019 2pm
Newcastle V Wolves
What is it about playing Wolves at home that seems to bring out the very worst in our players? In recent years we’ve had both Anita and Yedlin sent off whilst Shelvey has received a retrospective ban. Today it was Sean Longstaff’s turn to lose his head before he was given his marching orders near the end.
NUFC seem to be developing a very worrying habit of completely surrendering the entire second half of matches. Today we were well on top near the end of the first half and looking to build on Lascelles’ excellent header. As soon as the sides switched ends however, the white flag went up and Wolves will know that the match was entirely theirs for the taking.
VAR was to have the final say on the destination of the points when dismissing a late Wolves penalty appeal. After conceding injury time goals in both matches against them last season, a similar defeat would have been too cruel…although entirely keeping with the fates conspiring against the team we all love and loath in sometimes equal proportions.
Thursday 31st October 2019
This Halloween brought claims that Jaap Stam is now available as a manager and is interested in the job at NUFC. Hmmmmm, I’ll let you decide whether or not this would be a trick or a treat.
So how would you describe this October for the Toon?
Promising, disappointing, deflating or just a complete mixed bag?
If the highlight of the month (and almost certainly the season so far) was seeing Matty Longstaff sprinting towards to the Gallowgate end in ecstatic celebration after scoring on his debut, then perhaps the lowlight was when his brother trudged off after seeing red in a match we really could have won.
We finish the month with four points from three matches and the league table says there’s three worse teams than NUFC in the league. Will it still be saying the same thing in seven months time?
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