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Opinion

What did Bill Shankly say about football, life and death?

9 months ago
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For many of you, mid-July 2019 was not a good time.

As the prodigal son of Corbridge was appointed Newcastle manager.

However, the arrival of Bruce sort of passed me by.

That’s because at just about the same time as he turned up at St James’, I was having a conversation with a very nice woman in hospital.

“We have had the biopsy results and I’m sorry to say, they show that lump in your neck is cancer.”

Strangely, on hearing those words, I didn’t collapse in a heap. The first thing that went though my head was “Isn’t this just like the cancer adverts on the telly.”

Although, she didn’t sing ‘heads shoulders knees and toes’ to me.

However, very quickly it became very real indeed, as it took over my life and that of my family as well.

There isn’t any way to sugar coat it. Cancer treatment is brutal. For the recipient obviously, but also for the partner, who tends to get forgotten about.

So my very best wishes go to newkie brown, currently out in the states as his wife gets treatment. Stay strong for her pal. She needs you.

Suffice to say, as the daily trips to hospital merged into just one never ending day, the goings on at St James Park hardly registered at all.

Whether a Newcastle forward could actually manage a shot on goal in 90 minutes was not as high on my agenda, as whether I could manage to eat one more meal or give up and start using the feed tube inserted in my belly.

Actually, because I’m sad, that’s not quite true. Newcastle United never leaves you, even when you are very ill.

The treatment I got, needed me to be strapped down on a gurney pinned tight by a mask, in order for the radiotherapy to be very precise. It’s pretty claustrophobic. Even more claustrophobic than being 5’6″ tall on the Leazes terrace back in 1975!

So while the machine whirled around me, I would try and go somewhere else by setting myself little tasks.

Name the Newcastle managers since 1970?

Name twenty players who have worn the number nine ?

Name a Newcastle player who came from each European country?

Before I knew it time was up and I was being pulled out of the machine.

As I said, a bit sad, but you should try it.

That’s the quiz not the cancer, obviously.

Anyway, as we go into February, I’m finished my treatment and now I am waiting to do my second part of the advert, where I find out if it worked.

I guess I will be more nervous on that day than I was waiting for Shearer to take the penalty in the 1999 semi final against Spurs. This time though I will not look the other way and wait for the consultant to run past me with his hand in the air.

Suffice to say that this is a very strange time for me. I suppose it’s a bit like watching our club at the minute. This is either all going to work out just fine, or it’s going to crash and burn.

Basically, what the f.ck is going on?

Anyway, the season ticket give away at Xmas means that a couple of friends have offered me one as a get well present.

What are they trying to do to me? I’m meant to be removing stress from my life!

But I intend to take up a ticket, for the odd game, sooner rather than later. Norwich is too soon, as I’m now 54 kilo of skin and bone. However, by the time Burnley comes around I hope I will be able to walk up to the ground without being blown over by a gust of wind.

I hope you understand It’s not a case of taking sides, it’s simply realising that going to a game of football is something I have enjoyed for 50 years and my recent events have made me want to do it again.

Finally…(residents of The Mag comments section) Worlass, Peaky, Tweed, Moose, Brian. I think of you lot as the “transit van to Shrewsbury” generation. Something I’m very glad that I belonged to as well.

So I hope you won’t take offence if I give you and the other ‘mature’ readers a bit of a lecture.

My lump was nowt. Just a little thing in a gland that I noticed shaving.

I had no symptoms whatsoever and very nearly ignored it. If I had left it and had waited till I had trouble swallowing, my prognosis would have been a lot worse.

So please guys, any issues, any change in how you are feeling, get it checked out. Don’t put it down to getting old.

Because if you do, you will have a much better chance of still being around when we finally win a trophy.

Alright, now I’m being silly. You can put that down to the drugs!!

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