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Opinion

This isn’t what I signed up for at Newcastle United

2 weeks ago
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There is a question I often ask myself increasingly now about Newcastle United.

If I was a kid now, what would I do?

Decades on, would I be so absorbed by this football club that I would find it so irresistible?

Do kids these days feel just the same, is it just the age thing that stops me understanding why they might feel exactly as I did back in the day?

I caught the tail end of the old Leazes End era (with a roof), then graduated to the Gallowgate corner and so on.

There were no trophies won, no European thrills – apart from a couple of UEFA Cup ties in the 1977/78 relegation season!

However, you always dreamed, you always had that blind loyalty to your club, to Newcastle United. Defending every single player no matter what the reality was.

Back then I think it was easy supporting Newcastle United, no matter what was happening on the pitch.

The terrace era of the late 70s and into the 80s was just tremendous, even in seasons where crowds dropped and the team dropped…

The crack was brilliant and even if reduced crowd numbers, there were still enough huddled together in the Gallowgate Corner (or Scoreboard if that was your choice) to make an atmosphere and that level of excitement that was so addictive.

Then when you actually added better football and even relative success, it was absolutely immense!

The excitement when Kevin Keegan signed, his mad mad debut scoring the winner against QPR with so many locked out, the following season when we got promoted with that Keegan, Beardsley, Waddle frontline and travelling all over the country watching your team win, surrounded by thousands of people feeling the same as you.

Promoted in 1984 and the numbers we took on the road, anything up to 15,000 that day at Old Trafford, we had half their paddock as well (it was pay on the door and the Police just kept giving us more and more of the terracing), said to be the biggest ever away following Man Utd fans had ever seen.

Then obviously moving on, in the all seater era we have also seen the excitement that can still be generated, kids (and adults!) captivated by the teams and memories that Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson created for us on the pitch.

I look at it now though…and what does Newcastle United mean for teenagers these days? Somewhere that you go to with your mates and look at your phones most of the game, no terrace excitement and certainly little excitement on the pitch.

Indeed, this is ending up with a whole generation’s worth of teenagers coming through and experiencing Newcastle United under Mike Ashley.

The Rafa Benitez three years didn’t see the very best football we had ever seen BUT he did give us some ride back, he was rebuilding from a low point and had a plan for sustained improvement and establishing Newcastle United as a proper club again.

There were some crazy moments during his time at the club and ones that no other Premier League club could repeat.

Newcastle United already relegated, yet a full house turned out against Tottenham to persuade him to stay on, NUFC winning 5-1 on the pitch as well that day with 10 men, as the players reacted to that buzz as well.

That 2016/17 Championship season, full houses almost every week over 23 home games, only Man Utd had a bigger total of fans through the turnstiles that season. Newcastle United averaging over 51,000 in the second tier, unbelievable!

When I see the plight of this club now…This isn’t what I signed up for at Newcastle United.

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