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Long live Newcastle United – Time to grow

2 weeks ago

I write out of disgust on the so called Newcastle United ‘fan’ who urinated on the Bob Stokoe statue outside the Stadium of Light.

I’m a lifelong Toon fan and as a lot of supporters, at 53 years old I’ve witnessed football pain. With the exception of a Fairs Cup win when I was a month old, or the Texaco Cup wins in the 70s, our trophy haul has been abysmal.

What cannot be taken away however, is the depth of history Newcastle United has, especially with regards to players such as Shearer, Beardsley, Waddle, Gazza and the list goes on and includes 1950s FA Cup legends such as Milburn and Stokoe, a winner in 1955.

Stokoe played for Newcastle for 13 years. A Northumberland lad, who remained in the North East and furthered his career at Sunderland where he again won the FA Cup in 73 as the manager.

Sometimes, this media driven rivalry, lends itself to a clouded understanding of the shared history and past camaraderie between both clubs and fans. A narrow geographical gap between both with a family shared support base of split allegiance that hasn’t really changed throughout the decades, but which after the mindlessness of the 80s hooligan culture, seems to have been allowed to continue and fester within the younger fan bases of both clubs.

I’m very much like most Newcastle United fans who like to watch Sunderland get beat. I have a garden bar called The Magpie, which is in the scouse heartland and has a sign adorning the welcoming wall that simply states ‘I support Newcastle and anyone playing Sunderland’. This was bought for me by my Mackem stepdad, who I’m certain has one with the club names reversed. It’s fun, not aggravation. I love the derby day and want Sunderland to be in the Premiership so that that fixture becomes a reality again.

Hatred doesn’t exist in football if people set aside ignorance and reflect on a club’s history. An understanding of how one club has at times helped and supported the other, such as the unity shown after the death of Bradley Lowery, the ardent fan of Sunderland who died so young. Players such as Stokoe, Andy Cole, Len Shackleton and the much loved Lee Clark, who wore both colours, needs to be remembered with as much fondness as the 5-1 thrashing inflicted on Sunderland at St James Park.

Urinating on a statue of Bob Stokoe by a Newcastle United ‘fan’ is deplorable and an insult to Bob Stokoe’s legend and an insult to Newcastle United, as much as it is to Sunderland. Perhaps our clubs need to come together and help educate those in ignorance of our glorious history and the iconic players of yesteryear.

I’m proud to be a Geordie, I also want to be better than Sunderland and I want to beat them at all levels of the game, but to desecrate a Newcastle United legend just because he managed Sunderland, that’s not rivalry, it’s ignorance based on skin level support, rather than the true support of knowledge and understanding of a club’s history.

Long live Newcastle United.


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