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Opinion

Crystal Palace fans as good as Newcastle United fans? Really??

1 month ago
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I have always found the Crystal Palace fans a bit of an odd bunch.

Not all of them of course, just most of them.

Or at the very least a very sizeable minority of the Crystal Palace fans.

They have a very high opinion of themselves and I can never work out why.

My most recent experience of this was last October (2021) when I was down at Selhurst Park and the arrogance of many of the Crystal Palace fans I encountered was laughable, along with them suddenly seeing themselves as the moral judges. Declaring Newcastle United fans as supposedly a disgrace, if they continued to support their club after the change of ownership.

In the pub before the 1-1 draw, the home supporters were full of it, wanting to lecture us about our club, our support, our whatever, as Newcastle United fans.

That extended to the aftermath of the match, reading these kind of comments from Crystal Palace fans…

‘The waddling penguin scum (Newcastle fans) are going to have to get used to it (abuse due to who the owners are).’

‘NUFC should be totally ashamed, I hope they get relegated.’

‘I don’t believe this would be the case with Palace. Many, including myself, would turn their back on the club if this type of blood stained investment happened. Having a club to be proud of is more important than winning.

Newcastle fans are in the same bracket as West Ham and Liverpool who seem to think they are entitled to success. No thanks.’

‘I don’t like bringing politics into sport e.g. BLM however Newcastle and their fans started this so people are entitled to voice their opinions.

I am sick of people saying this has nothing to do with their fans (Shearer at al) They campaigned for the takeover and have welcomed it with open arms so they are fair game to be criticised.’

‘Newcastle are a disgusting football team. I am praying they go down.’

I think the only fitting response that kept going through my head was who the f.ck do they think they are?

Fine, have a go at the new owners of Newcastle United (and the previously one hopefully…) but leave out the lecturing for Newcastle United fans, especially putting themselves up there as somehow morally superior.

Bottom line is that even during 14+ years of Mike Ashley, the support for Newcastle United didn’t stop, home or away. When sizeable numbers did stay away and refuse to buy a season ticket in summer 2019 after Ashley forced Rafa out, it was a protest, to try and get Ashley himself to leave. Those who stayed away did indeed in the end persuade Mike Ashley to at last sell up, he plugged the hole temporarily by giving away 10,000+ free half season tickets, but clearly that was the point where he realised there was no turning back with the fans, he had to sell the club.

I think though what the Mike Ashley years did succeed in doing, was eroding the confidence of many Newcastle fans in themselves, in the overall fanbase, in their club…Ashley in particular pushing this narrative that Newcastle United and its fans were nothing special. Something the media and rival fans were happy to jump onto as well of course.

I have got friends coming up the week after next and only found that out today, they asked me if there were any tickets left for the Palace game and could I get some if there were. I went on the official NUFC ticketing site and all the home sections have sold out for this match BUT the club are now selling section by section parts of the away end, two blocks already on sale to Newcastle fans and I have no idea how many more will be made available that Crystal Palace fans haven’t been able to fill.

I went on the official Crystal Palace site and sure enough they still have tickets they are trying to sell out of the reduced allocation they have taken, it doesn’t give any clue as to how many tickets they did take and how many are so far left unsold.

What I did see though was that every single Crystal Palace season ticket holder or member gets absolutely free coach travel to get to Newcastle a week on Wednesday, if they choose to take up that free offer. Considering away tickets are capped at a maximum £30, not a bad deal considering the way fuel costs have gone and the price of travel. Despite £30 for ticket AND travel, we will no doubt see once more a feeble travelling ‘army’ of Crystal Palace fans.

It is quite crazy really because as Newcastle fans we have become used to double standards where we are concerned.

The fact that Newcastle aren’t playing great football, are fighting relegation…yet will have 52,000+ full houses for three home games in a row in the space of less than two weeks, against not the most attractive opposition (Wolves, Leicester, Palace) on a Friday night, Sunday afternoon and Wednesday night, is just taken as…so what? Honestly, which other club in the same circumstances would get that support? Certainly not Crystal Palace!

Indeed, it is hilarious / infuriating just how differently the media report it when games are moved to rubbish times. Newcastle United fans have had a ridiculous percentage of the matches moved to Monday night being away ones, yet so little (nothing?) is ever said. Yet when it was announced that our last home game of the season was to be played on a Monday night, I saw loads of stuff about poor Arsenal fans facing a ‘grim journey’ up to Newcastle. They honestly make it sound like fans of cockney clubs have this near impossible uphill struggle to get to Tyneside, as though they are having to literally go up a mountain, where it is just seemingly an easy downhill trip for Newcastle, when playing in London or wherever, at any rubbish time the broadcasters / authorities dictate.

A lot of what we hear is that simply because Newcastle Upon Tyne is a one club city, it magically means 50,000+ will fill St James Park and buy every away ticket. Look at the catchment area of a club like say Aston Villa, a massive number of people and not really many even biggish clubs nearby, considering how many people live there.

There is also little / zero recognition that pretty much every away trip for Newcastle fans is a sizeable one.

For Newcastle supporters, the closest away game this season is Leeds, around 100 miles away. Just checking and for Crystal Palace fans they have at least eight away games of the nineteen this season that are closer to them than that, yet they still can’t fill the away end at St James Park for a one-off. Especially when they are playing so well, unbeaten in their last seven games, got through to an FA Cup semi-final, won five of the last seven games and their last three results reading backwards are hammering Arsenal (3-0) and Everton (4-0), plus drawing with Man City.

One thing that has always stuck with me, is how the media dismissed the Newcastle United attendances of 2016/17, when it was in reality, absolutely astonishing. No other club, not on, would have got NUFC’s crowds that season, if in the same circumstances. Simply because Rafa gave us a bit of hope by staying, Newcastle fans filled St James Park game after game, over 23 home matches NUFC averaged 51,106 in the Championship!

That season, out of all the clubs in England, only Man Utd had more paying fans through the turnstiles in total, than Newcastle United.

In total, 1,175,442 (stats via World Football) went to NUFC home league (Championship) games in 2016/17, Man Utd had 1,430,502 through the Premier League match turnstiles, then Arsenal 1,139,177 third highest that season in England. As for Crystal Palace fans, their 19 Premier League matches in 2016/17 saw 478,052 paying fans at matches.

The last time Crystal Palace fans were watching Championship football was 2012/13 when (obviously!) they got promoted, an average of only 17,280 at each home game for them that season, only 13th highest in the second tier and even the likes of Hull, Charlton and Bolton getting bigger crowds.

Whilst Crystal Palace fans have irritated me to an extent, some of them anyway, this article is really about just how good Newcastle United fans are.

I find it incredible that despite the absolute zero trophies for decades, relegations, geographical isolation, high number of fixtures moved for TV and so often rubbish kick-off times, poor transfer links in many / most cases…yet we still keep coming back for more. Home and away.

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