May the force be with you…
Mike Ashley – The Tyneside Darth Vader
For an entire generation growing up in the 70s and 80s, he was the biggest villain in history.
The poster boy for the Dark Side, hacking down Obi-Wan with a lightsaber, freezing Han Solo in carbonite and chopping off Luke Skywalker’s hand.
For most of my childhood, I wanted to see Darth Vader cut down, getting his comeuppance, preferably with a burning lightsaber inserted into every orifice.
But then, in his final act, he achieved some kind of redemption, refusing to kill Luke at the Emperor’s command and throwing the grey, wrinkly old sod down the reactor shaft instead, while being mortally wounded in the process.
It had been an epic battle between good and evil over many years and three episodes. The prime evil Emperor was gone, the Rebels were victorious, and the Dark Side poster child had achieved cult hero status.
And so it may be at Newcastle United, with the Darth Vader of Tyneside, Mike Ashley.
Like Vader, he managed to alienate himself from almost everyone in his universe; chopped off the arm of the prodigal son, Wor Kev; froze out Raf Solo; and blasted the sh.t and the life out of almost everything in his line of sight at SJP.
It has been nearly four years since Princess Amanda Leia first came in with a brave bid to take over the controls at the Millennium Falcon of English football – St James Park.
She had done a good job of rounding up a Rebel Alliance among a few stray billionaires around the galaxy, flew in firing some big shots, but was repelled by the wily old Vader, who maintained his grip on the club, slowly squeezing the life from it.
But in the sequel, Leia Amanda returned, with some bigger guns, some serious booty and the Rebel Alliance now swelled by tens of thousands of sweaty, crazy hordes from Tyneside and beyond.
And this time, Mike Vader welcomed this brave warrior, but now found a new enemy in the PremEvil Empire, led by Gary the Hutt and Dick Masto.
A swirling, corrupt, hotbed of cronies, Russian warlords, Chinese moguls and ‘bar from Star Wars’ types, these guys were a different kind of problem – with the ability to blow the sh.t out of everything without even saying a word!
But as we now know, the saga ends with Vader using the Rebels’ first flyby treasures to hire some even bigger guns, call the PremEvils high stakes game of chicken, take it to the Supreme Council of the Universe and force the Empire to allow Princess Amanda to bring light to the darkness and cans to the hordes.
It was a famous victory. And not only did Mike Vader force the corrupt Prem Ature Empire into submission in his final act, he also left Princess Amanda with a little/big parting gift too.
Because, by refusing to spend any of his treasures on new recruits or planet SJP in the last year, Leia Amanda could now splurge £190m in the New Light Year’s sales without falling foul of the Galactico Financial Fair Play rules. Suddenly, a new, massive Rebel Alliance could rule the universe for the next generation.
In 1983, as Return of the Jedi ended, we celebrated the demise of a dark, dangerous villain, while also seeing the good in his final act. Maybe in years to come, we’ll see the events of October 2021 in the same way.
It was an epic fight between good and evil, with the Force beating the Dark Side and even a redeeming part in the final scenes for the Tyneside Darth Vader, Mike Ashley!
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