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Opinion

50 years of Newcastle United but I’m off the scale with this

1 week ago
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A Newcastle United landmark occasion and it is Spurs at home again.

Like everyone else, I’m off the scale, excited by recent events and what our future is now going to be.

My old head is struggling to bridge the gap between how it’s been over my lifetime and how it’s going to be with this new order…. Consequently, I found myself looking back through 50 years of memories looking for a direct comparison.

We have been living in a soap opera for so long we are sure to have been here before. But of course, we haven’t, have we?

Looking at the first game of the new incarnation coming up one week today, Sunday will be huge, but the 90 minutes of football will play only a bit part. A result will be greatly appreciated, but it is more about the rest of the day, that wonderful stadium and its people puffing out collective chests and letting loose the loudest most emphatic roar the place has ever seen!

It’s had a few special days but not one quite like this.

The nearest comparison for me, is again Newcastle United v Tottenham Hotspur – August 93.

We arrive at the top table – Premier League after having spent a couple of years worrying if we might even lose the club altogether? We almost dropped into the third tier (current home of our near neighbours ffs).

Then Keegan arrived, Quinn and Kelly combined to score that goal against Portsmouth, we survived the mayhem at Filbert Street. We dared to dream, then that unbeaten run to start Keegan’s first season with his own players. Promoted at Grimsby then tanking Leicester 7-1 at party central to sign off.

Walked away thinking well that’s great, back among big lads now – let’s see what happens. Because the Premiership was new to us and while KK said it was all going to be ok, were we all that confident? I’m not sure we were.

My season ticket during those days had been standing in centre paddock but I quickly applied for one in the under construction Leazes end (John Hall Stand – yes, I know). I became transfixed by that structure watching it grow, how tall was it going to be for god’s sake? Remember, I was comparing it to that piddling little terrace, a pitiful monument to the Leazes end cowshed where I had spent most of my teenage years. I changed my route to work so I could pass it every day. I took my kids to Leazes Park every weekend so we could watch it grow. Son was excited as me, daughter less so.

The season ticket arrived, I had MY first seat at St James Park, the fixtures arrived, Spurs at home, first day, get in, how many days? I think I counted them down. Up early, strong sunshine, into town early for a couple of beers, couldn’t stay in the pub?!?! (Yes, I know!) Needed to be there needed to see it.

Found the turnstile, fresh concrete, and paint, up the stairs and there it was. We were just above crossbar height halfway across towards the East Stand. All standing around like ninnies grinning at each other. Introductions were made, where did you used to stand etc? The structure looked even bigger from the inside comparing it to the relatively small Gallowgate end. We’d arrived in the big time, what happens now? Confidence levels rose, this is great, we’re invincible, KK’s the man. Apprehension had turned to borderline cockiness by the time the game started.

In truth, I don’t remember much about the game but our lads worked hard, I seem to recall they looked a bit more accomplished than us, sharper, we chased and harried but somehow, they seemed to be able to keep the ball…0-1 Sheringham scored and went down on one knee to have his photo taken. Was he taking the p.ss or was he aware he was part of an occasion? Who knows, he probably doesn’t even remember it now.

Anyway, the point of this incoherent ramble isn’t about the football, it’s about the day being an occasion, being much bigger than the game itself. Its about collectively welcoming the new owners and saying to the world, we’ve been in a coma for 14 years but now we are coming back. Better, stronger than we’ve been before, and we’re going to enjoy every bloody minute of it!

I was lucky enough to be at the game in ’93 and many more besides. I won’t be there on Sunday but I want to put on record my faith in those who will be.

Go create the most raucous racket ever heard. Go early, shout and bawl from start to finish and make it a day none of us will forget!

We’ve been quiet much too long, let’s not go there again, ever!

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