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As a Newcastle United fan – You should never forget Grimsby, Hull, Port Vale

1 year ago

Just read a satirical article on The Mag entitled ‘Steve Bruce declares he can keep Newcastle out of League One’… It got me thinking.

Being a Newcastle United fan in my book, means you are a football supporter.

Back in the 70s, Derby County were Champions of England. Brian Clough (1971/72) and later Dave Mackay (1974/75) winning it with the East Midlands club. So, when they fell on hard times and were relegated to the old Third Division, they were seen as “Big Fish” in the mid-eighties in that third tier.

Myself and my two older brothers decided to go down to Feethams to see Derby play Darlo. Remember, this is the age of football violence. Lo and behold we witness it “Quaker aggro, Quaker aggro” (work that one out). No idea what the score was (ED: Darlington 2 Derby 1 on 12 May 1986) but we were there for the occasion. It’s football and we love it.

What has this to do with Newcastle United I hear you say. Just hold on there.

In a recent article I mentioned I was at an away game at Port Vale, with my brothers and countless other Geordies. We were bottom of the second division and facing God knows what future. King Kev saved the day and the rest is history, but how many of you out there when we were relegated under Ashley, thought that was it for us? It was in my mind with both recent relegations.

Many commentators had us down for a freefall like Portsmouth, Coventry, Notts Forest etc. Reflect on how many clubs have enjoyed beating the Mackems in that third tier. What could have happened with the fat controller gambling with OUR club. Makes me angry thinking about the position we were put in by him in so many ways. So being a Newcastle fan and a football fan I’m up for any game of interest.

Living in Nottingham in the late eighties, being at Uni and therefore mates with lads from different parts of the country, I would go and watch Notts County with like-minded pals. Notts County in the Fourth Division, I remember seeing a very young Robbie Savage posing around the pitch in his matching red boots, and Danny Murphy before the big time, playing for Crewe.

At the time of watching Notts County, Burnley were bottom of the Fourth Division and facing going out of the league to the Vauxhall Conference, possibly liquidation and their fans knew it (Burnley had won Division One in 1960 and been FA cup semi-finalists against us in 1974). So my Burnley mate invites a couple of us to go to a must win away game at Crewe on a Wednesday night. We get the train across country from Nottingham, enjoying a few beers and arrive in Crewe. We get to the ground and realise the police are massively under prepared. This is post-Hillsborough and Crewe’s ground has basically been condemned. Hundreds, maybe thousands, of Burnley supporters unexpectedly have turned up and policing is totally inadequate, the gates are simply opened and a bucket to pay, if you want, is there.

They have to open a condemned part of the ground to accommodate the numbers as they arrive. There is absolute desperation in the air as the Burnley faithful feel they could be going out of business, never mind dropping down another division. I don’t remember the score, all I remember is the worried supporters (minor pitch invasion when they go behind) willing their team to stay up.

Back to Port Vale and that parallel season for us as we are rock bottom of Division Two and certain to go down to the third tier for the first time in our history. One of those big History talking points, a “what if” moment.

What if we had been relegated then?

Would Keegan have walked away?

Burnley came back from their perilous state as we did back in the early nineties. We the Newcastle faithful, like the Burnley faithful back then, should not forget the precariousness of football and how things can change much quicker than we might like or think.

Today we are sitting happy and jealously hated for our new found wealth, however, in my opinion we should never forget those away games back at Grimsby, Hull, Port Vale etc. My son wears a Newcastle T Shirt that says “NEWCASTLE UNITED TRUE FAITH” We need to keep the faith but always remember our past, have an abundance of humility and remember what we have endured to get to this stage.


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