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Opinion

Imagine never knowing a Newcastle United owned by Mike Ashley

1 year ago
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In three weeks, we will be celebrating the one year anniversary of the Newcastle United takeover.

After an eighteen month saga, the takeover suddenly exploded into life over the course of two days, to free us from the tenure of Mike Ashley.

It had been a thirteen year saga if you count the first time the club was ‘put on the market’.

It all seemed like a dream for a while but then the nightmare reality set in. Newcastle United had to achieve the unprecedented and avoid relegation after no wins in our first fourteen games. Nobody had done it before and many doubted that we would be the first.

However, we hired a talented manager and were confident we would make moves in the January transfer window. Everything went pretty much to plan from the end of January onwards and ensured Newcastle would finish the season comfortably in mid-table and looking forward to an exciting summer.

I took my three boys to their first Newcastle game for the match against Palace a couple of weeks ago. They are nine, eight and six and although they weren’t treated to the best of games, I’m hoping the experience is enough to solidify their future support.

We live at the other end of the country so there is no guarantee of sealing their allegiance when a lot of their mates support the more recently successful sides.

I’ve done my part, over the years, with constant propaganda and purchasing of shirts. There have been times when I’d considered letting them choose another club, maybe even thought of encouraging it. I’d dealt with the years of misery, why inflict it on them?

They have their whole lives ahead of them. They could support clubs that showed ambition, that competed for trophies. They could live in a relative football paradise, why drag them into the mire with me?

There was an excellent contribution on The Mag by Phil Yates four years ago titled ‘Imagine Being a Younger Fan Who Knows Nothing Else But Mike Ashley Owning Newcastle’.

The exciting thing for me now, is imagining a bright future, not just for us but for the younger generations. None of my kids are properly into football yet. The most engaged is probably the youngest.

It may be that none of them get into football. Maybe they all will. If they do, there’s no chance of them supporting anyone other than Newcastle United now.

Now, I can encourage my children to support my club guilt-free.

Now we can enjoy this ride together.

Now in the coming years they are going to want and be proud to support Newcastle United.

They will hopefully never know a club on its knees. A club run only to serve one man. A club that is asset stripped. A club that alienates and divides its community.

Those of us bringing up this generation of joy, have a responsibility to ensure they never become complacent or entitled. Let’s not allow our children to become like those of a Manchester United or Chelsea persuasion. Educate them. Let them know how fortunate they are.

I thought I would be telling my kids for years how I grew up with wonderful managers like Keegan and Robson. I thought I’d have to keep showing them old season reviews of the fun times and lecturing them on how we’re a sleeping giant and that they just need to hang on in there for the black and white sun to rise again.

Now they will enjoy the good times first hand. I may occasionally tell them scary bedtime stories of the monster that did his best to destroy our club but, for the most part, I’ll allow them to embrace the magic.

They’ll grow up supporting a club that tries and maybe even a team that wins.

You can follow the author on Twitter @billymerlin

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