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Tyne Talk

Comment: It’s late 1970s – How would we have coped as Newcastle fans with this crisis back in the day?

2 years ago

It is 2020 and as well as the health and safety concerns brought about by this virus crisis, as Newcastle fans (along with everybody else) we are all now having to learn how to live within these severe restrictions on our normal every day lives.

The Government closing down so many things that we usually take for granted, as well as imposing the guidelines regarding staying in the house as much as possible, only leaving in certain circumstances.

Even after only a number of days we realise what a struggle all of this is, so how would we have coped with a similar situation back in the day?

We’ll go back in time 40 years or so to the late 1970s, a time when I was now a regular at St James Park and went to matches with friends from school.

No doubt many of you will recognise many of the references below if you were also a kid/teenager in the 70s, whilst maybe a bit of an education if you have a few less years on the clock.

Back in the day, if you were a kid then you pretty much spent all of your time outside when you weren’t at school or asleep.

Most days it was playing football, football, football, with brief interludes when you played other games outside and/or bits of mischief.

Certainly this was the case in daylight hours and only relatively curtailed in the winter months, when the dark and cold might drive you indoors a bit earlier.

The bottom line was that in reality, you were also outside so much, partly/largely because there was nothing to do in the house.

If the weather was really bad you might occasionally have kids in each other’s houses playing Monopoly or some other board game but those days were few and far between, plus invariably the games ended in an argument.

Otherwise in your house, you had the TV. Only three channels (in reality only two because nothing decent on BBC2) and minimal programmes on for teenagers. Also, when it came to watching the TV later on at night, few people had more than one TV and so you had to watch what your parents chose. Another very important factor was that if you wanted to see any programme you had to be in front of the TV when it was scheduled, this being the days before even video recorders appeared in any houses (not where we lived anyway!).

Moving back to the present day and the challenges we now face with the Coronavirus and the restrictions on leaving the house, there is nothing positive about this situation coming about, but at least technology can now soften the experience to an extent.

Looking back to the 1970s, if the schools had shut and you weren’t allowed out of the house otherwise (with certain exceptions) it would have been unimaginable, especially as a kid when you spent so much time outdoors.

For kids these days, to an extent they are generally conditioned now to spend far more time indoors. Usually we bemoan how they aren’t getting enough fresh air but a bit of a silver lining that they are used to not going out so much.

The massive other big difference of course and the biggest reason for this change in behaviour, is the fact that you have far more leisure options on tap at home. Access to TV programmes, films and music any time you want. Phones, tablets, laptops giving so many options, keep in touch with each other through any number of routes, playing together and communicating on X-Box, the internet in general, social media, and so on.

Specifically as football fans, young or old, it might not feel like it at the minute, but compared to the 1970s your options are staggering. All the programmes and old stuff the various broadcasters are putting on, whilst any time of the day you can access pretty much any important NUFC moment/match of the last few decades via YouTube etc.

The club put the 5-0 Man Utd match on their official YouTube channel at 3pm on Saturday and media and fans got involved with that as though it were live, chatting pre, during and after the game via Twitter and so on. You even have the media covering X-Box simulations of certain NUFC matches, although I have to admit that this particular initiative/distraction passes me by.

You then of course have The Mag and countless other online presences offering online Newcastle United content to read, watch and interact with.

I know that not everybody has access to the above but for the vast majority of Newcastle fans and the wider population, they do have the opportunity to use at least some of these routes that technology has delivered. Things that can help so many people get through these coming weeks and months a little easier.

Hopefully these factors will help an awful lot of people to feel that they are not alone and are still part of society, especially the football part.

This situation won’t last forever and no doubt as things ease, an awful lot of people will no doubt be re-evaluating how they live their lives and appreciating so many things that little bit more.


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