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Opinion

‘Going back to watch Newcastle United? Difficult to say after 14 years away’

2 months ago
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I like to watch the re-runs of the Big Match presented by the incomparable Brian Moore that are frequently showed on freeview TV.

As a region of people, us Geordies  are obsessed with football, and contrary to what Sky would have everyone believe, it was around long before the advent of the Premier League.

Looking back on the 1970s and 80s I am so glad that I was going to as many games as I could following Newcastle United, even though we seldom had anything close to success.

In the later 1970s the music scene was vibrant and diverse, the fashion and styles absolutely unique.

The squad I knocked about with from North Shields epitomised this, with some punks (like me), others skins and into ska.

Our boys had an ethnic mix too that was also quite unusual, with the National Front mob at the Gallowgate getting short shrift from us – sometimes it got physical.

The early 1980s was a time of massive political unrest with rising unemployment and the only thing to look forward to was going to St James’ Park and the occasional away trips. Sometimes, if any of the lads were skint we would have a ‘tarpaulin muster’ on a Friday night or Saturday morning to help them get down to the match.

As the 80s progressed and we got into proper relationships, some of the lads dwindled away, but the bond that had been built up between most of us could never be broken, and fortunately for me it has endured to this day.

We are all in our mid / late 50s and early 60s now but the camaraderie goes on.

It is good to bump into old friends and reminisce, I can still recall what qualities most lads brought to the table. There were the hard lads, the jokers in the pack, the moaners, the quiet ones and the ‘jack the lads’….but all played their own important part.

Most of the Chrissy Waddle haircuts have been replaced by Joe Harveys these days, and even my mate Basher Bain’s afro has turned into a Morgan Freeman.

One thing that is for sure though is what is currently happening within our club.

The ‘times’ as Dylan would say ‘are a changing’, but unlike in the song, there isn’t any generational conflict.

That is because I truly believe everybody, both young and old, are barking from the same hymn sheet on Tyneside. You can actually feel it in the air that the whole area has truly been re-awakened.

As some of you will already know, I haven’t been to a Newcastle United home game since 2008. In 2011, my younger brother even formed the MAOutCampaign, a group of lads and lasses intent on forcing our parasite owner out. A few of these passionate supporters are now sadly no longer with us.

I am often asked if I miss the games and / or will I ever go back, it is hard to give a definitive answer after 14 years.

All I can say is that I have always loved Newcastle United dearly and I am so pleased that people are happy and have something to look forward to at last.

The last record I listened to yesterday was a memorable one from back in the day by Sham 69….the timeless punk anthem ‘If the kids are United’. It is still as relevant to me now as it was back in 1978.

HTL

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