Returning to the real Newcastle United with my 16 year old son – This was so special
At the weekend, I wrote a piece about the three positives and three negatives from Newcastle United 1 Burnley 0 at the Editor’s request, but I want to share more about that game, about what it meant to me and my son Euan.
About a week before the game, I said to Euan that we could go to the game on Saturday if he wanted. He laughed and said maybe, he’d let me know.
It was an understandable reaction from a 16 year old kid who has only known Newcastle United under Mike Ashley.
As he has become more aware of the footballing world, he has been rewarded with the football of Steve Bruce and the delights prior to that of relegation, promotion and stagnation. Why should he want to go? Anyway I told him it was different these days and he said ok.
We set off to break our journey by staying at my mother’s in Nottingham on the Friday night. Even she seemed optimistic and thought we could win. My brother thought we’d lose but I told him things were different now and that we had our club back. It was funny.
I gave some kind of rousing speech as we ate our dinner touching on the north south divide, the media misrepresentation of our club and ending with what we could become in the future. To the casual observer it must has resembled a scene from something like “Golden Gordon” as I declared we could win again, while my mother sat there in sunglasses unable to see after an eye op, my brother and his wife half cut swigging wine, while Euan texted his girlfriend on his phone. I didn’t slam my fist on the table but I did eat four mince pies.
So Saturday came and we got up, ate and dressed. Euan had a signed match shirt of Kieron Dyer on – the first time he’s worn a shirt to the game for ages. We set off at 8:30 with my mother asking me to phone her to say I’d got to York to pick up our train, phone her to say I’d got to Newcastle ok, phone her to say how the game went and phone her to say I’d got home ok. I’m 54 ffs! I didn’t phone her but she phoned me on my way home if you are interested, mainly to ask if we liked the sandwiches she made us!
Anyway, once at York I got the first inkling Euan was starting to rediscover his pride in our club when he carried his coat so the people on York station could see the shirt he was wearing underneath. He said he was hot but I knew it was about showing who he belonged to, what mattered to him. Pride. Geordie passion.
An hour later we rolled on to the King Edward Bridge and looked at the ground out of the train window, our cathedral on the hill and the feelings of belonging, excitement and hope began to flow through us. Walking towards the ground things seemed different this time. There was an air of optimism. We could win this.
When I was little I used to go in the Gallowgate scoreboard end, then later the corner, but these days I love to go high up. There truly is no better feeling of walking towards the view from access eight. It’s like a journey in its own right as you go up more and more steps and then finally you reach the top. You are then drawn forwards towards the noise and the whole of the ground opens up before you and beyond that one of the best views you could get over our great city. Truly unrivalled in any other ground.
This time I stood back and watched Euan as he walked through the entrance and into his, mine and our ground to hear the roar of anticipation. It felt different. “This is great dad”, he said. I smiled and said “yes it “bleep“ is Euan”.
We sang every song, stood up on cue to show our love for the toon and basically went mental when the final whistle went along with everyone else. It was 14 years of pent up misery, destroyed hope, all let go in one scream. I nearly passed out and stumbled forward when I’d finished. I hugged Euan and in that moment he was back. He knew what it meant, what all the stories meant, the grainy videos, this player, that player and about what it meant to be part of the Toon Army.
How can you put that feeling into words? How do you describe how it feels to be rushing for the train home but you can’t get out of the crowd but you don’t care and all you want to do is stay there and sing.
This is how it feels to be part of Newcastle United again. It feels like heaven.
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