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Opinion

It has been Father’s Day every day for me with the help of Kevin Keegan, Alan Shearer and Newcastle United

4 months ago
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Apologies for the over sentimentality here…but I just wanted to share my Father’s day experience.

Apologies if its too low on actual football content for you but hoping it might strike a chord with others.

Like lots of men of my advanced age, I have grown up with Newcastle United, going to the game with loved ones, and its been pretty much a constant until recent times.

I gave up my ticket under Pardew and ventured back only intermittently under Rafa, but not been back since he left, counting myself totally aligned with the stay away protesters.

My eldest son was born while I was living down in Hampshire but we were fortunate to return North before he started school. He was very lucky to be born in ’87 so he grew up with Keegan’s entertainers, firstly in the centre paddock then with tickets in Leazes end and then NW corner.

He just “got it” right from the off, he enjoyed sitting quietly in the pub with me and my mates before going into the game. He got to see those wonderful players train at Maiden Castle and had his photo taken with most of that team, think his favourite was his picture with Lee Clark.

My favourite was waiting to get Kevin Keegan to sign a football I had bought for him one Christmas. KK looked at the ball, checked the signatures, looked me straight in the eye and said “You’ve been busy, have you got all the signatures you need, anyone you want me to get for you?”

Yes that’s how good it was to be father of a young Magpie back then. It was a real purple patch as we went to games together, including away games four or five a year. I watched my son grow up, open up talking football with me and my mates and developing opinions of his own which he expressed with growing confidence. Going to the game was our time and it was bloody marvellous. Even sharing the oh so nears and disappointments were memorable because we lived them together.

Anyway, that team broke up, the football wasn’t quite as good, but to be honest it don’t make much difference to us. My son grew up and discovered the joys of football and beer with people his own age, I took more of a back seat, we still went to games together, but he would have a pint in livelier watering holes and I started dropping out of some of the away trips as he became one of the lads in his own group.

I missed him and our time together but he’d grown up to follow the team home and away, exactly as I’d wished for (and inflicted on) him. He went away to University and I got to see him play on occasion and we still went to the odd game together, but even if we didn’t see a match together he could do a good post-match analysis over a beer. I remember being apprehensive when he went to sunderland away for Shearer’s last game without me, but I guess that was my role by then.

The Father’s day link?

Big Al’s testimonial, “You’ll be coming to the testimonial Dad won’t you?”

No I said “works been tough I’m going to give it a miss.”

He only went and got me a ticket anyway! Wasn’t taking no for an answer and we even went around his selection of bars full of young uns and drunken Glaswegians before the game. It was his night and he was taking his Dad to the match and I loved it!

We got into the ground, new seats to us high up in the Gallowgate and across towards the Milburn, the place was bouncing and we were there! Anyway the flag twirling started, what’s all that about? The lad next to us says oh aye giving them away at the turnstiles – not us, somehow we’d missed out? Didn’t care, I was having a great time and probably the best testimonial ever seen for raw emotion. My boy had taken me, including a quick pint afterwards before he went off with his pals, exactly as he should.

A few years later I was telling him (yet again) how much I’d enjoyed that night and tried to express how much it had meant (I think we were in a curry house after a trip to Fulham where we played in all black, brilliant like Brazil in the first half and pathetic like Hartlepool in the second as we shipped five in second half? The missing Shearer scarves have been mentioned on occasion since but never given a serious thought.

Then Sheffield United at home after lockdown on the tv and my son’s coming to watch it with me on Father’s day. What could possibly go wrong? – They were sure to screw our day up weren’t they? That’s what happens isn’t it? We settle down to watch the game, lovely to have something like normality back with us, albeit a new different normal.

Half-time comes, he lobs a wrapped gift in my direction, I read the tag “Happy Father’s Day Dad (You got one in the end).” Strange comment?

I open it up, its only a Shearer’s testimonial scarf! You know, I don’t think I own a more valued possession! I’ll treasure it always. Hope we get the chance to give it an airing at a game together under new ownership sometime. Amazing how this bloody football club weaves its way through families and generations isn’t it?

Sir Bobby absolutely nailed it with that wonderful quote of his. Sorry for the self-indulgence  still not sure I should be sharing it here…

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