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Opinion

Newcastle United Lockdown Diaries – Brian Standen

3 weeks ago
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Welcome to our brand new feature, the latest NUFC fan / writer with their Newcastle United Lockdown Diaries.

Here at The Mag we thought it would be good to have an in depth look at these strange times, as we hopefully start coming out of the worst of it now etc.

We are asking regular / irregular contributors to give readers an insight into their own personal experience and thoughts, both about Newcastle United and how the pandemic has affected them personally.

Asking fans to share whatever and how much they would like to, in terms of how the virus impact has made them see NUFC now and so on.

Next up for the Newcastle United Lockdown Diaries, we have NUFC fan Brian Standen.

Just to give readers a loose idea of who each fan is and the perspective they are coming from, we asked some basic personal info:

Age (exact age or loosely(30s, 40s etc)): 50s…late

Where you currently live: Forest Hall

The year when you would say you first thought of yourself as a Newcastle fan, or realised it etc: 

It was 1970, dad was a Brighton fan but took me to SJP and I was hooked.

Line of work you are in: Field Manager (largest utility company in Europe)

Now for the questions (you don’t have to answer them all and say as much or as little as you like, just use them as basic guide to get over whatever you would like to say):

How has the virus impacted on you in your life (totally up to you how much or as little you want to say and how much detail, just to give readers an idea of what your position/situation has been)?

The virus impacted me in many ways, I lost a work colleague and friend to the virus, a fit healthy lad who succumbed so fast. I was not furloughed but many of my staff were, but we did some work for the pharmacies free of charge by giving them some of our staff free of charge to help them deliver daily prescriptions to those stuck indoors. I also had COVID over Christmas which thankfully was not as bad as some

How has the virus impacted on how you see Newcastle United now?

Impacted, yeah of course because regardless of other folks’ opinions I miss going to the games and look forward to getting back, even if it is for the social.

Is Newcastle United now all about whether or not a takeover happens?

I think it is, to compete and win something in my lifetime it has to happen, and I still think it will.

If the Saudi takeover doesn’t happen, do you think Mike Ashley will then sell to another buyer?

He will try to but not many around who have the cash or the inclination in these tough times, we clearly dodged a bullet with the Bin Zayed group.

Is the takeover for you all about having potentially massive Saudi funds financing NUFC, or would you be just as enthusiastic about a takeover if it was somebody with the typical wealth of a PL club owner?

I think anyone with ambition would suffice, I don’t want to be Chelsea or Man City, middle of the road clubs who bought ongoing success, I just want to see us compete and look like we might win a trophy.

Do you think there has been a Premier League conspiracy to prevent an NUFC takeover happening?

Absolutely, there is only so much silverware to go round and the less competition the better for those who are potential winners, Spurs for example are mortgaged to the hilt with their new stadium so CL qualification is a must for them, or they will lose their top players to finance it all, Harry Kane goes for £100 million…

What about next season and the season after, they don’t have many more £100 million players – massively in trouble. The ESL was a quick fix for them and others as it bailed them out, Man City and Chelsea did not need it hence the first to drop out as they have the financial backing. The ESL has driven a wedge between the big 6 and the EPL and this can only improve the chances of a takeover for NUFC.

If Mike Ashley doesn’t sell NUFC, what do you see ahead of us?

Same old, same old, annual flirt with relegation and frugal living, that said his frugalness at SJP may turn out to be a blessing in disguise as whether he meant it or not, in essence NUFC are debt free and a profit making business, which bodes well for anyone looking to get involved.

Assuming full capacity is allowed at Premier League matches next season, what kind of crowds do you think Newcastle will get if Ashley still owns the club?

I think COVID has saved Ashley somewhat, folk like me are hard to shift, while many others have had enough and given up already, those sitting on the fence could go either way, give up or attend. I think you are looking at about average crowds, incl 3200 away fans, of about 48,000.

Will you be one of those inside St James Park?

As previously said…yes.

How do you feel about Steve Bruce and heading into a third season with him as head coach?

I don’t hate Steve Bruce, hate is a strong word.

Do I feel he is capable of taking us any higher than we already are, not at all, he is just another run of the mill English manager, so I would prefer him not to be there….but who else would come under Mike Ashley?

Steve BruceWhat did you think of having every Premier League match on live TV during the virus period, did it help a little, a lot, not at all etc?

Not at all, it was boring and I even struggled to watch us at times, TV football is not for me – coverage is saturated.

If you have kids, grandkids, how much interest do you see from them in Newcastle United these days?

I have grandkids and they have little or no interest in football, that said, the oldest one is 7 but loves his Xbox and play station, I think by the time I was 7 I had been in SJP nearly 50 times.

What three words would you use to describe Newcastle United these days?

Real untapped potential

What three words would you use to describe living in these covid affected times?

Miserable, frustrating and sober

During the pandemic, we have seen the ‘big six’ try to take control of the Premier League in October 2020 with their ‘big picture’ plan, which would have meant with changed rules, the six could outvote the other 14 on any major decision. Then 6 months later in April 2021, we had the six of them again playing a key role in trying another power and money grab with the attempted Super League. What do you have to say about those attempts and do you think it is inevitable that they will be back to try again?

I spoke about it earlier, they may come back and try again and if they do, let them go, within a couple of years it will be a dead duck played in empty stadiums, away travel is too expensive for the regular fan and fans will get bored playing the same teams 4 times a season. They will beg to be back in the PL after a couple of years, the whole thing was built for TV coverage and quick income for the clubs involved, lets not forget most of them are hugely in debt.

In your lifetime, is there a golden period you look back on when you think football was much better?

The 70s and 80s for me, yes we were mostly rubbish but going to the games was more exciting, especially the away games, there was always an edge no matter where you went and lets be honest, our fans were naughtier than most, no more needs to be said….

Has this virus period diluted your interest in and support of Newcastle United?

Not really, just watching TV I find boring.

If you were king of football and could change whatever, what would you do?

Actually make it a level playing field, make all clubs live within their means, enforce FFP, Liverpool dominated for a long time but other clubs always had a chance. Nowadays, apart from the brilliantly run Leicester City you know who is going to be amongst the challengers.

If you were king (owner) of Newcastle United what would you do?

Free beer, standing section front of Gallowgate end and bring the singers all together, my singing days are largely gone but how could any who witnessed it ever forget the Leazes end in full voice….the Kop and Stretford end had nothing on the old girl!

newcastle united season ticket holdersDo you think matchdays will ever be the same as pre-pandemic, the whole relaxed routine of fans eating and drinking wherever without restrictions and the same inside St James Park?

I sincerely hope so but I think there will be restrictions in place for a few months yet, even if we can fully open.

What things, if any, still make you feel good about Newcastle United?

ASM…I just love players like him, Peter Beardsley before him, Hatem Ben Arfa etc, players that excite and get you off your seat, the entertainers team of 1995/96 had it all.

Do you believe you will ever see Newcastle win a trophy in your lifetime?

Takeover – yes, otherwise it’s a NO.
A fourth season in a row for Sunderland in the third tier, do you think they will get back to the Premier League and do you want them to?

It will be hard, they have a new owner who it seems can’t really invest, there was a great in depth article in TF from a financial expert and it would seem Sunderland have huge problems. To keep their academy as category 1 they need to invest £4 million per season, that is a huge amount of income for a club at that level, parachute payments have long gone so they are now restricted by FFP (hence the new owner can’t invest heavily in the playing side), also other clubs see them as a big club (which they are by the way) so they up their game at the SOL.

They flatter to deceive, this new manager came in and soon they were on a charge only to collapse in the last few games. I don’t see them coming back for a long time which I will be honest is quite sad (hides the smile). Do I want them to? Not bothered either way…..and I doubt we will ever see a Mackem in Milan…problem is I don’t see us going there again anytime soon.

A lot of competition but which three pundits, commentators, former managers/players do you especially dislike for their coverage of Newcastle United?

Richard Keys, Richard Keys and Richard Keys

When you look back to your early days of supporting NUFC, what would you say has changed now, if anything?

I think society has evolved so much since the early days for me, I started in 1970 and going to the game was something to look forward and then be able to tell your friends on a Monday all about it, not sure how kids see it nowadays but it’s on the TV anyway.

The atmosphere has faded somewhat but every club has suffered this, new flat pack stadiums have not helped with that.

SJP is a fabulous place and the Gallowgate End should be extended so that the capacity is 60,000…that said, bring in safe standing and the capacity would go up somewhat, however, without standing fans the atmosphere will always be flat.

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