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Opinion

Newcastle City Centre pubs turning Newcastle United fans away pre-match – I have seen it all now

1 year ago
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I had a bit of a rubbish experience the day of the Newcastle v Crystal Palace game, and before we go down that route again, no it was nothing to do with VAR on this occasion.

Like many of you, I meet up with my mates before the game for a few pints, and like some of you, I take my little lad with me. That means finding nice middle ground experiences where the young fella can enjoy himself while the grown ups see off a few pre-match looseners.

Fortunately, this city is full of welcoming bars that can accommodate a bit of day drinking. Or so I thought.

On Saturday, my mate Hutch was first one into town. Through the matchday WhatsApp group I explained that Blake, my son, wanted a pre match burger, so if we could meet up in the Bigg Market there were plenty of options to have a couple of beers before heading to the Meat Stack, which was excellent as always and comes with this reporter’s seal of approval. Hutch chose to head to Revolution de Cuba, and this was error number one.

When I arrived at the bar about 10 minutes later, we were declined entry by the lass at the front desk, because myself and Blake both had Newcastle shirts on. At this point we’ll ignore the fact that my original Adidas 95/96 away shirt is more classic fashion wear than standard football top and cut to the crux of the matter. Hutch had got drinks in for us all and he was sat in the middle of an empty bar we couldn’t get in. I got his attention and we had to down our drinks and move on for wearing Newcastle shirts in Newcastle.

Before I go into what’s wrong with this, I get it to an extent. After games, a football shirt can be an indicator that you’ve been on the lash all day and it also doesn’t fit in with the image of the more uppity bars that might want to attract Saturday night revellers (scantily-clad lasses) to have the likes of me stood around in a 27 year old footy shirt and jeans. I get it entirely if it’s a fashion thing.

However, at 12pm on a matchday, I find it ludicrous that any pub could be so up itself as to enforce this rule when people want to hoy a few quid in the coffers of their empty establishment before absolutely definitely leaving well before 3 o clock.

I actually think this is appalling management, as this rule surely originates from London establishments where there could be up to six or seven games on the go on the same day, crowds of up to a dozen groups of fans could prove a bit of a tinderbox for bother. This is not an issue in Newcastle, as the suggestion of someone being singled out for wearing a Newcastle shirt in a pub in this city is laughable. Given that the pub in question has a picture on the wall of Che Guevara mocked up in a Newcastle shirt. this makes any pretence at neutrality particularly laughable, the clientele held to a different standard than the pub itself.

The hangover of this from other cities is also related to how terrible many of them are to visit for football. Due to stadia often so far from the centres, bars are reluctant to encourage football fans to choose to settle around their area. In Newcastle every bar is within a mile or two of the ground. The girl on the desk repeatedly told us that this is a policy the manager had enforced. I assume this is a company wide policy of a chain bar, or a result of a manager originating from Lincolnshire, Wiltshire or some other hyper dull part of the country, upping and venturing to Newcarsell for university, before refusing to go back to said centre of boredom and instead obtaining a position from where they can make the city that appealed to them that little bit more boring.

This city is not like any other, the football should be your friend and, without the threat of opposition factions, a good business would absolutely embrace this. Perhaps you’ve noticed that there is a bit of a cost of living crisis in full swing and the luxury of whimsically turning away eager customers is one that might have a limited lifespan. Anyway, I’m not going back there, if they don’t want me pre match, they don’t get me ever and I’d encourage everyone to take such an approach.

Past this, there was more disappointment ahead.

We were then turned away from two further bars because of Blake’s presence, as children were persona non gratis in both Passing Clouds (empty, like not one single f….. in there) and the new Twenty Twenty bar, which sets itself up as the kind of foody establishment that is normally safe grounds for youngsters.

I have more time for this policy as I understand there are drinking spots that absolutely aren’t for kids at any time of the day. If anyone had tried to fetch their bairn into Idols a few years back I’d have been the first to suggest they were guilty of quite the error of judgement. However, when bars are apparently benign at first sight. I don’t think it’s uncommon for people with kids to consider a matchday peruse. It seems there may be a policy like this across the Bigg Market overall but it might be worthwhile for any bar wanting an exclusively adult audience to make this clear from the outside, especially if they’re after pushing pizza and chicken wings like the identity crisis spot next to the Vault (I give it six months). Blake was starting to feel a bit downhearted at his being repeatedly unwelcome.

All ended well, as we retreated to the familiar and reliable surroundings of Fitzgeralds, which meant a longer stroll back to the Meat Stack. but offered the reassuring experience of going to two great places back to back.

There is a longer problem here though. I have always been proud of how open and welcoming Newcastle is to all, with away fans here having so much more opportunity for a great day out than the restricted experience forced on us in the miserable surroundings of Wolverhampton (please don’t send us your students-come-bar-managers).

I hate the thought that anywhere within chucking distance of both Central Station and St James’ Park would be awkward for people because they had a kid or a football kit on. As I’ve caveated, post-match is different, or at least post 7pm, as the evening is for adults and each place is entitled to tailor its own clientele, but being a pr.ck about it in what is basically the late part of the morning is just creating unnecessary bad vibes and surely bad business.

So, in summary, I recommend Fitzgeralds (and Bealim House) for being open minded enough to accept the presence of youngsters while their dad enjoys a pint, which has been part of British working class life for a good hundred years or so, and the Meat Stack for being burgerlicious.

I will be boycotting Revolution de Cuba and it’s London management policies, and looking unfavourably on the rest of the Bigg Market, at least until such a time as it outwardly advertises its baffling aversion to lads and dads on a matchday. It’s not been much cop since the 90’s anyway.

I’m happy to discuss any experiences others may share and perhaps we can create some kind of blacklist?

You can follow the author on Twitter @Mr_Dolf

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