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Opinion

‘United…not Divided’

1 month ago
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Sunday the 19th of December – I can’t wait, my first home game since the Newcastle United takeover.

My first game back with my lad who is back home for Christmas after two years overseas.

I think back to happy days when he was a kid and especially the times under Sir Bobby, seasons before Ashley’s arrival.

During those early days of the Mike Ashley era, as a positive person and not knowing much about our new owner, like the rest of you I was hoping that better times were ahead.

We genuinely thought that Ashley could make Newcastle United successful, running hand in hand with his retail business.

It soon turned toxic after Kevin Keegan was treated abysmally, we hit the roads protesting before Hull, as we realised we had a big white Elephant in the club.

As the early signs were showing of what was to become the norm, some fans started to drop out. I followed not much long after and decided I would not give Ashley another pound I didn’t have to…but still whenever possible go to aways – which meant he made a few pennies on admin fees after postage.

At one point I think those staying away only numbered a few thousands but that steadily grew. I believed it was always best to do something rather than nothing and only in years to come will that decision be looked back on and judged, whether it was a right or wrong call.

For me, I always believed in doing my little bit no matter how small, because like that old saying, ‘if you look after the pennies the pounds will look after themselves’ and if every single one of our fans had done a little bit, then that would have impacted on the big fella (sooner, rather than 14 years later), saying he’s had enough. Any action regardless of how meaningless you may have thought it was…it would add up.

I had my protest banner and I was away on my jack jones standing outside Sports Direct shops whenever I could, doing an hour here and an hour there, just to let the big man know we won’t forget what you’re all about and how much we despise you, for what you are doing to the fans, club and city. It also made me feel better that I was doing something rather than nothing. Even though my wife and mates took the p.ss constantly,

It’s never been about me or any protester for that matter – it’s been about the long future of this great club and what we want it to aspire to, to pass on for those down the line.

We had a choice where our disposable income went and I can thank our ex-owner that I diverted this disposable money I would have spent over many years, into more useful experiences with family, friends and travelling to see other games throughout Europe. Probably one of the few thanks he is ever going to get…thanks Mike.

Of course, I would rather have had the club trying to compete in cups, aim for European football, not lose six in a row to our bitter rivals. This is not sour grapes but I put those defeats down to Ashley!

On occasions a good crowd was gathered to protest either on Northumberland Street or Gallowgate, but more often it was small numbers, it certainly came across that most were not willing to not give up their match day experience.

All credit to all those activists and many thousands who stayed away, or never bought a shirt, or refused to buy his brands, all these little things added up to twist the big fella’s arm.

What goes around comes around and I can’t wait for the day when it comes around in Ashley’s direction, for everything he did with Newcastle United.

Sadly, that feeling of attachment to the team diminished (not the city though) and it hurt not going, but it got a little bit easier as the months and years dragged on.

Obviously I still had the away games, but my heart was really not into the results, because I’ve always focused on the long-term picture and what kind of club can we leave for our kids and grandchildren to support.

Like many, I always kept looking for possible turning points, like relegation, SD shares going to an all-time low, but I believe the biggest was when 10,000 fans walked away.

I simply did what I thought was right at the time and don’t really care what anyone else thinks. I and thousands of others simply did our little bit.

I see all of our fans as equals, regardless of how many loyalty points or away matches you’ve been to, or if you’ve had a season ticket for 50 years. If Newcastle United is in your heart that’s good enough for me. No super fans welcome in my company for sure.

Once again, it doesn’t matter where you’re from, how long you’ve supported us, or whether you’re a granny who has supported Newcastle United all your life but can’t go to games, we are all one. We add that special ingredient that as fans makes this club what it is and what it’s set to become, because it has always been a unique club. A city united in one football team which I am certain is what our custodians wanted way back when they chose that name United (over City and Rangers), to bring this whole city together.

Lastly, I call this currently period the grieving process…

We have been so hacked off over all these years that it’s important to talk about it and reflect on it, then after three of four months put it all to bed, or it will it annoy and drag us down.

Take care All Toon fans and keep safe and enjoy every moment with your family and friends.

We will come out of this experience a lot stronger and wiser and whatever the future holds for our club, I know we will never forget where we have come from and have our feet firmly on the ground.

Happy days!

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