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Opinion

Newcastle United fans also sleepwalking towards relegation – A cabbage tale

4 months ago
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Much has been written regarding the owner, manager and players of NUFC all sleepwalking towards relegation.

There is no doubt the owner hates the Newcastle United fans with a passion and will make us suffer for as long as he can.

The manager is a mercenary millionaire who is completely under qualified and out of his depth.

As for the players, why be bothered which division you play in when you’re being paid £50,000+ a week and are on a lengthy contract.

However, not much is written regarding the Newcastle United fans also dreamily sleepwalking towards relegation and doing nothing about it, but in my opinion, this is exactly what is happening. I’ll elaborate:

I appreciate that because of Covid-19 legislation we are unable to attend the games to make our feelings known. Had we been able to, I cannot see how Bruce would have survived up to now. Nor can we protest in a group situation and I accept all of this as necessary in these times.

Saying that though, West Ham fans certainly made their feeling known just prior to lockdown and in the last couple of months, Marseille and Ipswich fans have done likewise. I’m not suggesting we follow suit but apart from the odd Wor Flag appearing for a short time soon after the final whistle of a particularly bad performance and the odd cabbage being placed (and thrown) at the main entrance of St James’, I cannot see what fans have done to make their feeling known. The lack of action only allows the guilty people to have an easy ride and retain the status quo.

I mention the cabbage; there is no doubt that Bruce’s name is synonymously linked to a cabbage after the October 2018 incident at Villa park where a Villa fan threw a cabbage onto the touchline in protest at only one win in ten games. The incident clearly enraged Bruce who soon departed the club but personally I cannot imagine having a cabbage being thrown in your general direction, being worse than 50,000 Geordies abusing you in unison as you stand clueless on the touchline.

Getting back to the present, there is no doubt though, that having watched match after match on the TV, all of us must be seething regarding the way Bruce has taken the club. It matters not whether you are still a season ticket holder or whether you ceased attending years ago. The fact is, the football is as bad as most of us can remember, we are only heading one way under Bruce and deep down inside we all care about the club.

What can we do? I don’t really know but I decided to stand close to the training ground on Tuesday morning with a cabbage on a stick on a one man protest. This was allegedly the first day back at training after the Brighton debacle, which I had had over two days to stew on.

Was I slightly apprehensive and then embarrassed standing holding a cabbage? I’m a 65 year old law abiding grandparent who has had a successful career and am now enjoying retirement so the answer is a resounding ‘’Yes.’’

Firstly, I wasn’t sure what time to start the ‘’protest’’ but having read quite a few articles about Steven Gerrard at Rangers FC over the weekend, I knew that he had ditched all of his hobbies and lived away from his young family to devote his time to Rangers and was at his desk at 8am every day, I thought I’d better arrive just prior to 8am in case Bruce was equally devoted. I soon learnt that I could have had a lie in…….

I placed the cabbage near the training ground NUFC signage, took a photograph, posted it on social media and then stood well away from the entrance so as not to antagonise security staff but to remain visible to club staff entering in their vehicles.

A few players arrived in dribs and drabs, then Lee Charnley swept by. Within a minute a lone security officer came out of the complex, approached me and asked what I was doing. I politely told him that I was just standing on a public road with a cabbage. He told me that I was not allowed to protest, he advised me that a photograph of a cabbage had been posted on social media, the club were not happy and that Police had been contacted. I advised him that I was going to record our conversation, he did not object and he continued challenging me, politely for five minutes.

He repeated that I was not permitted to protest but I pointed out that I was standing alone and was not breaching any regulations, much like the many dog walkers and cyclists who passed as we talked. At one point he moved towards the cabbage and I felt that he was going to seize it, before I advised him that it was my property and he retreated. He repeated several times that protests were not permitted and I repeated that I was a lone person on a public road, not a group in contravention of Covid-19 regulations.

His colleague then walked up and joined him, immediately threatening me with arrest. When I queried what I was going to be arrested for, he told me ‘’Section 5.’’ The Public Order Act 1986 and in particular Section 5, is legislation that I am thoroughly familiar with and I am confident that standing with a cabbage is not an offence. It is fair to say that the second security officer, whilst heavier built and having a shaved head, had very poor communication skills and was intent on intimidation, so I walked away from him to diffuse the situation.

They both returned towards their cabin inside the complex so I returned to my position in time to see the second security officer raise his middle finger towards me as an insult. I did not react but was somewhat amazed at how many buttons I seemed to have pressed by my one, lone, slightly pathetic protest.

Steve Bruce then swept in at 8.50am and I gave him a wave. Appreciating that he wasn’t quite as devoted to his duty as Stephen Gerrard or indeed several of his own players, I left. After all, I needed breakfast, had a dog to walk and a grandchild to collect from nursery.

So what did the experience teach me?

Firstly, a good proportion of the immediate comments on my social media post from Newcastle United fans were certainly not kind or supportive, which perhaps goes to show that we don’t all pull in the same direction.

Secondly, it demonstrated how the club fear protest and will attempt to stamp it out, by idle threats and subtle intimidation.

Can you imagine how they would react to a daily one person protest by different people?

We need to protest, it is our right to do so (lawfully) and supporters younger than me need to get off their backsides.

Don’t point out that the season is nearly over so there is little point. It’s a war not a battle. I’ve done my 50+ years on the front line supporting this lot.

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