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Tyne Talk

In these difficult times it might not feel like it but football and Newcastle United – Will never be defeated

2 years ago

After 32 years you might think you have seen it all with Newcastle United.

Usually the real lows at NUFC have overwhelmingly been self-inflicted, however, this time it is an outside factor that has turned not only Newcastle United on its head, but football and every day life in general as well.

So many strange seasons at St James Park but the Coronavirus means that none of us will come out of this thinking exactly the same way as we once did about anything, including/especially Newcastle United and football in general.

It was 1988 when Chris Tait and myself started The Mag, with the help of our away match correspondent, Stephen Brennan.

Very difficult to imagine now but back then, the only way Newcastle fans could have their say was if they got a letter printed in the Sunday Sun.

Newcastle United selling Paul Gascoigne, following the earlier sales of Chris Waddle and Peter Beardsley, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back. I had started first going to matches at St James Park as a kid in the 1970s and very quickly became addicted like the rest of you. Relegation in 1977/78 and pulling down the brilliant old Leazes End was an early insight into what to expect of a lifetime following Newcastle United.

Not quite knowing what we were doing (some would say little has changed in 32 years…) we started a magazine where Newcastle fans could have their say.

Now in March 2020, the paper magazine that was once The Mag has evolved into a website which sits alongside so many other communication mediums we now take for granted, social media and the rest. Newcastle fans have gone from a handful of letters each Sunday in a newspaper back in pre-August 1988 (when The Mag launched) to this 24/7 society of endless exchange of news and views we have now.

At times now, the overload of online coverage can seem quite overwhelming and that is just with regard to the goings on at our football club, never mind when something like the challenges of this Coronavirus comes along.

What importance, if any, have the likes of football, Newcastle United and The Mag got, when you have a pandemic causing so much misery for so many people around the world?

I found it interesting to see Stephen Fry interviewed this weekend. As well as a brilliant career which has delivered such moments of genius as his contribution to Blackadder, he is also a massive football fan, a lifelong Norwich City fan including five years as a board member for the Canaries.

Stephen Fry is also somebody who has got experience of having to work through mental health issues and now does a lot of valuable work on behalf of mental health charities to help others. When interviewed on Sunday, he said that with regard to the Coronavirus situation, it was vital not to let yourself be totally overwhelmed with worry over it by allowing yourself to be exposed to 24/7 coverage of the challenges it presents.

Stephen Fry didn’t of course say to ignore the Coronavirus issues, instead he suggested that people should try and be disciplined for their own mental health, to make a conscious effort to plan and only dip in at certain times of the day for updates, such as the now daily press conferences held by the Prime Minister/Ministers and specialist advisers.

Otherwise he said, you risk getting dragged down by the sheer weight of coverage and at times over-sensationalised reports/articles, invariably delivered by people who are anything but experts.

Stephen Fry said that it was important for people to also make time for other things, the things that usually enrich their lives, that provide essential distractions to the stresses and strains of life.

Which brings us back to football, Newcastle United and indeed, The Mag. We will be continuing to provide independent Newcastle United news and views every day, with as always an open invitation for all Newcastle fans to get involved (articles etc to [email protected] whatever the subject, whether it is indeed the current situation or more retro stuff on past NUFC matches and seasons, or indeed what we hope lies ahead when some kind of ‘normality’ returns).

The great thing these days with online is that it is always there 24/7, Newcastle fans can dip in and out of The Mag whenever they like. We will continue to operate throughout these coming days, weeks and months as a small distraction to this dreadful threat that we all face.

In these difficult times it might not feel like it but football and Newcastle United – Will never be defeated.


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