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Opinion

That quote about life and death…and football

7 months ago
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It is March 2020 and Newcastle fans don’t know where their next game of football is coming from.

Along with so many others, NUFC supporters left wondering when they will next watch their team play.

A lot to like about this quote from Jurgen Klopp when he was asked about the current Coronavirus crisis and whether football is important, Klopp replying that football is ‘the most important of the least important things.’

Which does nicely sum it up.

Difficult as well at the minute not to be reminded of possibly the most famous ever quote from a football boss, another Liverpool manager in Bill Shankly, who declared: ‘Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that.’

We all know what Bill Shankly meant, he didn’t mean it literally, just reaffirming how important football is for so many of us, the national pastime. It is our escape from day to day life, the stresses and strains of work and so on.

In terms of football, there doesn’t appear to have been anything in the past we could directly compare to the current Coronavirus issues which have led to the suspension of matches.

Just over eighty years ago though, you had a period of some seven years starting, when football was put on hold in this country. The second world war leading to the suspension of all leagues.

The kick-off in all divisions had taken place on Saturday 26 August 1939 but on Friday 1 September 1939, Germany invaded Poland.

On Saturday 2 September 1939, all divisions of the Football League played their third game of the season but following the British declaration of war on Germany on Sunday 3 September 1939, the leagues were brought to a premature end, as large gatherings of crowds were no longer allowed.

Trust Newcastle United to still make it an interesting start to their Division Two season inside only three games, away defeats at Forest (0-2) and Millwall (0-3), but also an 8-1 thrashing of Swansea Town at St James Park.

There were wartime games and leagues of a sort, Bill Shankly guested for a number of clubs whilst stationed at various bases with the RAF during the war.

There was an FA Cup winner in 1946 with matches played through 1945-46, Derby the winners. However, the proper league football didn’t kick off again until the 1946/47 season, Newcastle finishing fifth in Division Two.

Difficult to imagine what life would be like without league football week in week out, to take your mind off things, for seven years. Obviously back then, there was far more important stuff that was going on.

Moving back to the present day and one of the contributing problems is that we are now used to such an overload of football, with matches on pretty much every day of the week and 24 hours per day incessant debate/coverage via TV, radio and of course, the internet.

When it comes to football and Newcastle United in recent times, life hasn’t been straightforward, but even despite Mike Ashley, very few of us have put NUFC totally out of lives even if we have walked away from St James Park.

Indeed, as we all know, some of the Newcastle fans still holding the most passionate views, are amongst those who have walked away from attending matches due to Mike Ashley’s ongoing ownership.

Maybe Newcastle United has been more frustration than fun for a long long time but it is still our Newcastle United and we can’t wait for the football to return.

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