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From the ashes of Newcastle United disaster on a late July afternoon in 2020

1 month ago

Back on 31 July 2020, I received a call from my mate Micky Smith whilst waiting in North Shields for the Number 1 bus down to the coast.

It went something like this, ‘alreet bonnie lad… bad news… the Saudis have pulled out of buying the Toon’.

It was like a kick where it really hurts, after having my hopes built up for an entire spring and summer that Newcastle United were finally about to shake off the heavy shackles imposed upon on us by Shirebrook’s finest, the incomparably greedy Mike Ashley.

All sorts of angry thoughts swept through me. I was reminded of how Richard Keys would be rubbing his hairy little hands together in his cosy apartment in Qatar, after his months long tirades against Newcastle United and the KSA.

I thought of how Richard Masters and Gary Hoffman would be smugly congratulating each other after performing their own version of the Sweet’s ‘Blockbuster’ for what had seemed like an eternity.

I could almost hear the sighs of relief from the Septic Six ringing in my napper as the bus finally arrived.

By the time I got home in Tynemouth I have to admit I was deflated and that it was time for a little sorrow drowning and a pouring of the malt.

All my dreams of finally seeing a competitive Newcastle United trying to put elusive silverware in the cabinet before I snuffed it, had evaporated before my very eyes.

Some of the lads who were also gutted called, and as I inevitably knew they would, red and white acquaintances started leaving messages.

I can remember some of them vividly.

“Haha, I knew that would never happen”.

“Stuck with Sports Direct after-all mate”.

“Bet you are gutted bud…never mind.”

These were some of the nicer ones and I think you have got the gist. I could tell they were as much relieved as anything else, and in their minds all the weeks and months of worrying had proved to be ridiculous after all.

Whilst various MPs were saying their piece, Hatice Cengiz regularly in front of the TV cameras and Amnesty International doing their utmost to derail the takeover, I had never had human rights thrown in my face from any of my ‘friends’ on Wearside.

To rub salt in the wounds the next day, Richard Keys was on Bein Sports to tell us all that the events of the previous day ‘were a victory for football’, and that this also was a stark rebuke against Saudi TV piracy.

He went on to patronisingly say that all was not lost, that there was still a perfectly good offer on the table from Henry Mauriss to purchase our club.

Very nice of him and it made me feel great.

After having a gingerly walk along to the Ridges to my mate’s house, I was soon greeted by his next door neighbour Kelly in her Liverpool shirt beaming from ear to ear. They had all had the weight of the world taken off their shoulders it seemed.

I spent the next 15 months championing the consortium, with hindsight, just a little part of me hoping more than expecting. I was always encouraged by the twitter feeds from the likes of Jamie Reuben, Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Nick De Marco.

On the 6 October 2021, I received a telephone call from abroad, it was my younger brother. He told me he had good information that the Newcastle United takeover we all wanted, was back on.

On the morning of 7 October 2021 I was up with the larks and trying to gather as many snippets as I could whilst trawling the media. Eventually I headed up to Tynemouth Club and it was a bit fuller than usual for a weekday afternoon.

After a good few pints we were still braced in font of the TV screens, when the spectacular news arrived.

Fittingly it was delivered by Sky’s very best and RTG’s favourite journalist, the one and only Keith Downie (pictured above).

Surprise, surprise…after managing to stagger yem, I never received one message from across the water.


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