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Opinion

England v Newcastle United

5 days ago
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In a survey in 2020, Newcastle did not make the top 20 of the most patriotic cities in England judged by the number of times people clicked on items about the England football team.

Although this survey was a bit of nonsense. I thought it would be interesting to compare the experience of supporting the two teams whilst we’re ‘enjoying’ an international break.

So, here we go.

The Teams

England have a team of promising youngsters with lots of strength in depth who look capable of challenging for trophies in the future, whereas Newcastle United are reliant on a few, gifted individuals. Whilst having a squad of ageing, journeyman players, and winning a trophy isn’t even on the agenda.

England 1 Newcastle United 0

Levels of disappointment

To be a Newcastle United fan during the Mike Ashley era is to be perpetually disappointed.

In fact, like a lot of fans of the team I no longer have such an overwhelming feeling of disappointment, as I have such low expectations of both the team and the people who run our club. By way of a contrast, England fans are always feeling a crushing sense of disappointment as their expectations are far higher. They believe that the England team is one of the major forces in world football, despite them having had an even longer trophy drought than Newcastle United.

England 1 Newcastle United 1

Local lads in the team

Back in the day, players from both Tyneside and the surrounding areas such as Bobby and Jackie Charlton, Bryan Robson, Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Paul Gascoigne and Alan Shearer used to be an important part of any England team. You’d also see players from Newcastle United regularly turning out for England. The last player I can think of who fits either of these categories is Andy Carroll and that is over 10 years ago.

Newcastle United’s recent record of bringing through local lads from the Tyneside area and playing them in the first team is almost as bad as England’s.

England 2 Newcastle United 2

The Ground

SJP is situated within easy walking distance of all the bars, clubs, restaurants and other attractions of Newcastle City Centre, whereas Wembley is situated in a nondescript North London suburb where the nearest local ‘attraction’ is a retail park and it can be a nightmare to travel to and from the venue.

I know one of the reasons behind the rebuilding of Wembley was that it could be a venue for future tournaments but the problems and the chaos at the final of the Euros means that this is now far less likely to happen in the future.

England 2 Newcastle United 3

Accessibility

I actually thought it was better when Wembley was being rebuilt and the team played at grounds all over the country, instead of just being based in London.

I’ve only ever been to one England game and that was at Hampden Park, which was closer to where I was living at the time than Wembley. Unfortunately, not only is Wembley difficult to get to for a lot of fans around the country but a lot of tickets go to Club England members and to well-connected fans, which means there are fewer tickets for those less wealthy and less well-connected football fans.

Not only is SJP easy to get to from the city centre but I’ve also got to see Newcastle United play all over England in places that the England first team has never visited, such as Hull, Cambridge and Bristol.

England 2 Newcastle United 4

Friendliness of the locals

When I was on holiday in Turkey a few years ago, the owner of the local bar had a photo of the Newcastle United team on the wall. When I asked him why that was, he said it was because he’d travelled to Newcastle to watch his team play in a European competition and he’d been impressed by the friendliness of the locals and ever since then Newcastle United had been his English team. Friendly and Londoners are not normally two words that go together.

England 2 Newcastle United 5

Supporting the team away from home

Every team has a few d.ckhead fans, it’s just England seem to attract a lot more of them. Whenever England play abroad it’s always a surprise when England fans don’t make the news because of the bad behaviour. The opposite is true when it comes to Newcastle United fans travelling abroad and it’s unlikely that England fans would ever bond with foreign fans in the way that Newcastle United fans bonded with the supporters of Athletic Bilbao.

England 2 Newcastle United 6

So there you go.

This is no more scientific than that survey in 2020 but there are a number of reasons why supporting Newcastle United may be a better experience than supporting England even in these dark days.

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