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Supporters Clubs

Newcastle United Supporters Clubs – Introducing Toon Army Baltimore (Mobtoon Mags)

3 months ago
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Welcome to the latest addition to our new feature on Newcastle United Supporters Clubs.

This is going to be a regular feature and after Toon Army Minnesota kicked things off last week, we now have Toon Army Baltimore (Mobtoon Mags).

We want to feature Newcastle United Supporters Clubs from all over the globe, whether in the UK or overseas.

If you help to run one of the Newcastle United Supporters Clubs and would like to see your club featured on The Mag in the future, please drop a quick email to contribute@themag.co.uk and we will send you the questions and other info, then once we get your replies we will schedule your NUFC Supporters Club to go up.

Name of your supporters club?

Mobtoon Mags, Toon Army Baltimore.

Why Mobtown? Here’s a little history lesson.

“For more than a century Baltimore was known throughout the nation under the unsavoury name of “Mobtown”. The title owed its origin to the speed and frequency with which the citizenry found excuse to riot. The Baltimore tough of the 19th century knew no peer. But there were also times when the best citizens took a conspicuous part in these public disorders. In the early days political feeling ran high and politics often was at the bottom of the trouble. However, when the populace was in the mood for going on a rampage almost any reason would do.” Sounds familiar, a city that doesn’t take any BS.

How big an area do you cover, drawing fans from?

MMTAB draws fans from all over Baltimore city, County and surrounding counties. We also have fans drive down from PA as Baltimore is closer to South Central PA than Philly and Pittsburgh. We also have fans that come in from the Eastern Shore, though they tend not to get to many matches due to the distance they have to travel. Two hours + is a long way, especially for a 10am kick off.

Year it was formed?

2009.

How/why did it get started and who were the main people responsible (tell us a bit about your / their background)?

The group began in the 2009/20210 with a small group of people. Adam and Jeff still attend today, and a few who don’t – Aaron and Brian, and a lone expat in Andy. Shortly after Randy, Alan, Joe, and a few others began attending. This core has remained largely intact over the years.

The first game, it wasn’t at Abbey’s but at a neutral bar in Fells Point called Slainte. The year was 2010, and the Toon beat Villa 6-0, Wor Andy scored a hat trick.

Toony Army Baltimore

Early days at Slainte in Fells Point

How many people are part of your supporters club?

We have about 70 members in our group that are in the area and that have come to matches. We average about 20 per match, fewer on week day games.

Is it an official membership that people join?

We do not have a membership and anyone who follows the Toon, or that is interested in watching the matches, is welcome to come along.

What is your presence online, do you have Twitter account, Facebook, website, whatever?

Twitter (X) account is @MobtownMagpies

https://www.facebook.com/groups/toonarmybaltimore

https://www.facebook.com/AbbeyMtWashington (This is the link to the bar we frequent.)

If somebody lives in your area and wants to join up with you, how do they get in touch (or somebody who might be visiting your area)?

Ian is in charge of our social media presence and posts links for all the matches, times, dates, and who we are playing against. People can find us by going to our facebook page. If you want to come to a match, just turn up and say hi. We have had people from Newcastle come to watch the matches with us when they have been in Baltimore on business or just visiting.

Tell us a bit about your people / membership, what kind of split is it of Geordies / ex-pats and locals, also any other way you would describe your people and the mix?

Recently our ex-pat percentage has increased, (Ian, Mick and Liz) but we’re a largely local group. We have a diverse group in a variety of categories and a welcoming atmosphere. Banter is king, and we travel well!

When it comes to people who had no previous connection to Newcastle United / Newcastle Upon Tyne, what are the typical things that have led them to start and follow NUFC?

This group will largely echo similar sentiments – Baltimore and Newcastle have a lot of similarities and the fan bases are devoted and passionate. We’re a largely working class, one-team, City and that’s the way we like it. Many of us have “indoctrinated” our wives / husbands, friends, and colleagues to help grow the group.

Ian is going to be interviewing our members and adding videos to our facebook page asking these very same questions.

Do you have a regular meeting place to watch matches? If so, what’s it called, where is it and what kind of numbers turn up?

We have our own bar at Uptown Abbey Burger in Mount Washington. The owners have four bars throughout the Baltimore area. One in Federal Hill is an Arsenal Bar, the one in Fells Point is a West Ham Bar and we are the Toon Bar. The owners have encouraged us to decorate the bar as we see fit, so we have flags all over the wall, with more decorations to come.

What are the very best and very worst UK kick-off times and what time are they in your area?

We are in the Eastern Timezone, so we are only 5 hours behind the UK.

The best kick-off times that get the most supporters turning up are the 12:30 or 15:00 ones. So 5:30 or 8pm games. The worst times are 7:30 and Sunday morning kickoffs. We have a great bartender that opens up for us at 7:30am. We look after him very well. We bought him a Home shirt with his name on the back and we took him to Philly in July to see the Toon v Villa match.

Toony Army Baltimore

Outside Uptown Abbey Burger in Mount Washington, Baltimore

Tell us about some of the big characters who are part of your supporters club?

We have had no shortage of characters throughout the years…

Andy was our original Geordie expat. When the goals were few and far between they always elicited a shedding of the top to show off the Tyne Bridge tattooed on his back.

Adam was our de facto leader through the early days, helping to keep us all in communication via years – long email threads and keeping us on schedule before calendar apps.

Alan became the de facto leader as Adam transitioned out – I’ll let others say things, but my proudest achievement is The Abbey. We searched for a home and struck out more than a few times before landing at the UpTOON Abbey.

AJ is our “Hooligan”. ((Alan wrote this… :D) He probably doesn’t want me saying that, but he knows it lol. He brings unbridled passion and a little steel to the group. Away supporters be warned! AJ assisted Alan in keeping things together through those years without a home. AJ comes from a punk rock and hooligan / ultras (DC) background. You can probably guess the rest!

Joe is our politician. A social bloke keen to talk to anyone about the Toon. He has helped spread the Mobtown Magpies name around the country and connected us with other chapters. Joe also assisted me in keeping things together while we were without a home. All he ever wanted was a place to watch WITH SOUND! We found one. He is one of our most dedicated and passionate group members and one of our longest-tenured.

Ian is our newest character. A Geordie from Nottingham with a larger than life presence and a voice to match! Passionate, as expected, he has also helped increase the visibility of the group to the other chapters through his travels and tireless networking. He has been a welcome addition to the group and has taken on a leadership role that has been brilliant! Ian’s family are from the north east even though he was born in Nottingham. Being English, he tends to get away with loudly insulting fans from other teams that wander into our bar on game day. Much to the amusement of the regulars.

Have there been group visits from your supporters club to Newcastle / England for matches?

There hasn’t been any group visits, but there are people who have gone over to SJP and to away games.

Any planned for the future?

Not on a group level, no.

What would be involved in travelling from where you are based to Newcastle Upon Tyne? How would you make the journey, how easy / difficult would it be, what kind of rough costs involved?

Travel would be flying from BWI, Dulles, or Philly to London, then travelling to Newcastle. Although there are flights to Dublin, and a connecting flight to Newcastle. Either way, flights aren’t cheap these days.

When it comes to people in your NUFC supporters club, which local football club(s) do they also support, if any. Or maybe supporting teams of other sports in your area?

Our only MLS team in the area is DC United. I know there are some members who have been to the games, but not many. Baltimore is a big American Football and Baseball town, with the Ravens and the Orioles.

We have a few DC United supporters from the MLS, one of which is an Ultra with plenty of miles under his belt. Many of us also follow our local and regional sports teams fervently. We are primarily Orioles and Ravens fans , but we have some Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Washington DC fans for the NFL, MLB, and NHL (And Ian the Minnesota Vikings fan).

How much did it mean to have Newcastle visiting the USA this past summer? What kind of distances were involved to each of the venues, did any/many of you travel to the pre-season games? 

It was great for the Toon to be over during the summer on the eastern seaboard. Many of us went to Philly as it was the closest stadium to Baltimore, but some of our group went to all three games.

Everyone I have spoken with all agree Atlanta was the best stadium with the best prices for concessions, with Philly and NJ being the worst. Everyone was disappointed in the lack of Newcastle merchandise on sale.

The games were good and it was great to see the players. No one was expecting Barnes to be playing in that game. Our group, the Philly group and another group from PA spent $1000 to rent out spaces for a tailgate party. We had around 1000 people show up pre-game from all over the US, Newcastle and the world. We even had a couple of legends turn up but I’d already gone into the stadium and missed them. It was great for them to come out and meet the fans.

Toon Army Baltimore Shay Given Shola Ameobi

Talk us through the Mike Ashley years, how it affected your supporters club?

It nearly killed the supporters club, without the dedication of 3-5 of us, this group may be very different. It was difficult to get turnout, which made it difficult to find a consistent home bar. The days were dark, but we kept the faith!

Tell us about when the takeover happened in October 2021, how did your club / members react, did you have a special celebration?

There was a huge buzz when the club was taken over. We didn’t really celebrate, though a few cans were supped that day. We did have a better than average turnout the weekend after the take over. Attendance ticked up instantly, some new folks and some returning from self-imposed exile.

We didn’t do anything specific, but the turnout for the next match was something we hadn’t seen for years, maybe ever.

What kind of impact (if any) has the takeover and these past couple of years had on the numbers of people and interest in your club?

Attendance is up and we have a lot of new faces coming around. We continue to feel that momentum today, we reworked our logos and are getting more merchandise. We’ve also added important new figures that will hopefully play a part in how the future of Toon Army Baltimore looks.

Any amusing tales to tell of your meet ups, your members, your club’s trips to Newcastle for matches, or whatever?

Our group held the Toon Army USA National meetup in April of 2023. We had over 80 people from all over the US turn up for a weekend in Baltimore.

We had people from California, Oklahoma, Texas, Philly, Illinois, Minnesota. It was a great weekend. We have no idea who is hosting this year’s meetup.

The owner of our bar owns a couple of other bars in Baltimore. The other week we took 20 Newcastle fans down to the Hammers bar for that game. Needless to say, we out-sang them.

Alan and Kelly met Alan Shearer and were filmed for an NBC Sports special about why we support Newcastle United. This was the day prior to the first ever Premier League Mornings Fan Fest in DC (See video.)

Joe just recently amended his travel to Oktoberfest to add on a trip to Milan for our first CL match in 20 years, the lucky ba..ard!

We’ve had members travel to Newcastle and one lad Jeff came home with a Greggs jacket. I mean you don’t get much more Newcastle than a Greggs jacket.

We have a lot of statisticians in the group. People can tell you which way the wind was blowing on any day during any match.

When people start on the stats, you can visibly see Ian and Mick (the two ex-pats) cringe. The only stat they are interested in is “Did we win!”

Toony Army Baltimore

November 4th, 1-0 win over Arsenal. What a grand day that was

Apart from possibly meeting up on match days, does your club get up to any other activities, how do you interact / keep in touch, whatever else you’d like to tell us about what your club / people get up to?

We keep in contact via our facebook and Twitter pages. We don’t really get together outside of game days. Although Ian is trying to get us to do more together.

In your area, what is the level of interest in Newcastle United compared to other Premier League clubs, their local supporters clubs in your area etc?

Baltimore has a big interest in the Premier League.

There are many bars in and around Fells Point (a big drinking area of Baltimore) that have their own club affiliation. Liverpool, Man City and Man U, West Ham, Arsenal, Chelsea. There is also a bar that is a neutral bar that anyone can go and watch a game.

From our supporters.

Keith B

I fell in love with the beautiful game during the 2002 World Cup.

I felt I should follow a team from the Premier League. Wife suggested Newcastle since they wear black and white stripes and I used to work at Footlocker. Did some research and found out Newcastle and Baltimore are very similar cities and a fan was born.

Went to my first meetup in April of 2011 and have been a fan ever since. My son Matt is also a Newcastle fan and goes to the games at Abbeys.

Alan

I’ve supported Newcastle since 2000/2001 roughly.

I was in high school and found them on FIFA. Learned some club history and the rest is…I stuck with them because they’re a one club city, a blue-collar city, a city of working-class folk who live for their club and those nights at the park.

In a nutshell, it felt a whole lot like Baltimore, and that’s one hell of a compliment, in my opinion.

Kelly

Since about 2010/11, she found ANOTHER sport to obsess over and here we are. She’s a Baltimore girl and sees all the same parallels

Ian

Was born and raised in Nottingham to a Geordie dad and Nottingham mam.

Dad being a huge personality and a Newcastle fan, I followed in his footsteps and Newcastle was my first team.

I moved to the US in 1998 and to Baltimore in 2005.

I joined the Mobtoon Mags around 3 years ago, and quickly inserted myself amongst the locals. I run the social media side of the club, and I’m quickly becoming an ambassador for our group.

This year I have watched games with Toon Army Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada) and Toon Army Minnesota. My goal over the next few years is to watch matches with as many Toon Army USA Supporters Groups as possible. By the end of the season I’m hoping to watch a match with Capital Mags, Toon Army DC, and Toon Army Philly.

Anne

I started watching Newcastle after the takeover a couple of years ago.

I wasn’t really a fan of football because it didn’t seem exciting.

And listening to Ian bitch and moan when Ashley was in charge didn’t sound like fun.

However, since PIF took over and Eddie Howe became manager, the style of play Eddie wants from his players, the game is now really exciting. I’d heard from Ian how good the Newcastle fans are and how they support their team no matter what. I wanted to see for myself, so I started going to the pub with Ian.

Once again, he was right, the fans are a lot of fun. (Ian wrote that!) My favourite players are Miggy and Big Joe. I had a T-Shirt made for the match in Philly that said I ♥ ️Miggy and Big Joe 24/7. Such a fangirl thing to do, but Miggy is so much fun to watch, and he is so cute!

David

My being a Newcastle United fan is entirely Craig Bellamy’s fault. This is a long story but I’m going to try to be succinct about it.

I played football (soccer) as a child and enjoyed it well enough. It wasn’t a competitive team, more AYSO/rec, which was a good thing because it turns out I wasn’t very good. But I scored a few goals and played on good teams, so we won a lot.

In any case, when I got to high school I moved to Arizona, and I decided I wanted to play other sports that didn’t involve continuous running in the oppressive heat.

I got married in college, and my wife was obsessed with Welsh history — like the real Welsh history, with Llewellyn ap Iorwerth, his wife Joanna (King John’s daughter), and the like. She had a whole novel series about the Welsh princes and I was subjected to reading the whole bit. Shortly after we got married, we planned a trip to the UK, Ireland, and Paris, with an extra side trip to Wales. I started doing my homework on all things Welsh, and in my news reading I discovered that European teams had their own continental tournament just like the World Cup — the Euros. And as chance would have it, the sports pages were a-light with this gigantic upset: tiny Wales had just beaten Italy in a qualifying match for Euro 2004.

As a sports fan who loves a good underdog, I was hooked. I didn’t know a single Welsh player or anything of the sort, but I was along for their heartbreaking journey as they fell just short of qualifying for the tournament. I followed through the tournament and watched Greece improbably win. I realised I -loved- football, and I didn’t want to wait for the next World Cup to sate my appetite for the game.

I had seen a little about the Champions League on TV, and so I knew the club game was becoming more popular and easier to follow in the United States. I wasn’t sure how to pick a team, so I went back to what I knew: Wales. I remembered their leading forward, the one who scored the winner on that momentous night in Cardiff against Italy. That was Craig Bellamy.

I looked him up to find out who his club team was, and learned he played for a team in England called Newcastle United.

I didn’t know anything about them other than they had recently been in the Champions League, which meant they were pretty good, and they weren’t a team I had heard of before (Manchester United, Arsenal, Chelsea), which meant they weren’t juggernauts.

Being a fan of northwest U.S. sports teams (Seahawks and Mariners), I’m used to supporting an underdog who surprises you every now and then with a good season. I have hated virtually every dynasty in my lifetime (Bulls, Yankees, Cowboys, Patriots, Red Wings, Lakers, etc.).

I realised Newcastle had been very close but hadn’t won anything in a long time. I figured they were a safe bet to consistently be at least decent and maybe win something at some point, especially since there are so many competitions within one season.

Then they sacked Sir Bobby. Then Bellamy, the player who was responsible for me joining the ranks of Newcastle supporters, was shipped off to Celtic (I found out by then he was a real piece of work!). By that time I had learned Alan Shearer was basically God in an English footballer’s body, and that he was the all-time leading scorer in the Premier League, so he was worth following and keeping me around. But then Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer happened. The long descent had begun. I guess you could say the next 17 years was my fault!

All that to say, it’s Craig Bellamy’s fault I’ve supported this team through the sacking of its most popular manager and the ensuing succession of inept replacements, through two relegations, and through two idiot owners (one incompetent, the other malicious). But now that the takeover’s done, I at least have hope that it wasn’t all in vain! 20 years down, many more to come.

Anecdotally, I run my own travel agency, and I have personally observed an increase in people interested in travelling across the pond to take in a Newcastle game over the last year or so. I know this was a common thing even before the takeover, but it seems like even more folks are trying to make the pilgrimage to SJP now that the entertainment value for money is there, as well as the perception that any money spent at the club will actually be reinvested back into the club rather than simply lining the owner’s pockets.

Toony Army Baltimore

‘AJ at the back, Ian wearing his Longstaff Goalie shirt (Don’t ask). Joe and some of our regulars.’

Mickey

I’ve been a Newcastle fan since I watched them play in the UEFA Cup in the 90s.

I never followed European Football whatsoever and the first game I watched intentionally was against Barcelona. I was in awe of the pace of the game and that’s when I fell in love with the Mags.

I was lucky enough to see them play DC United in a friendly and met Alan Shearer. I’ve stuck by NUFC through some lean years as we all have, but I’ve remained true to the black and white. I’m very excited about the new ownership, the direction of the team, the leadership, and the players. I’ve never been as excited and I know a cup is coming sooner rather than later.

Keith K

Playing FIFA ’96, having Alan Shearer on the team hooked me. I have him to thank for making hour drives to watch my team with other crazy people.

Adam S

Ugh! My Newcastle story.

I’m from Baltimore and lived in Md my whole life.

I first became aware of soccer during the US World Cup. That progressed to watching European leagues and English premier league in particular. Found my way to Newcastle. They were on ESPN (ESPN carried champions league back in the day in the US), I liked their jerseys, and they fit my concept of a team I can support.

Similar city to Baltimore socio- economically. They played attractive football. They were not man united or Liverpool. Baltimorons have a bit of an inferiority complex being in the shadow of DC and division rival to the Yankees. From there things just kind of progressed. Eventually found my way to Baltimore area soccer bars and Slainte.

My first time there I met Jeff, Andy, Aaron, and Randy(etc). We formed Mobtown Mags. Aaron and Andy kinda organised us in the beginning and sent out emails and made us a Facebook page. Aaron moved away and I kinda took up the mantle as chief babysitter.

Our first year as an organised supporter group was our first year back in the premiership with Andy Carroll leading the line. Great memories of events with those guys (I have some pictures with those guys singing at my wedding I can send).

I became less active and Allan took the mantle as organiser dude after I moved outside the city and had kids. I come out when possible.

The summer tour was cool. First time I have seen Newcastle in the USA in a long time. I remember seeing them in DC decades ago. It was my son’s first soccer experience. It was super cool as a long time supporter to share that with him even if it was ungodly hot.

The thing I like the most about supporting Newcastle and that kept me sane through the Mike Ashley era is people I have met and relationships forged through the group.

Singing Coloccini song at my wedding, going to Allan’s wedding, travelling to regional events, etc. to me the community makes it all worth it and connects me to something that I’m proud to support regardless of how dark the days were or how many times we were relegated.

Obviously post takeover has been great but my connection to the club and affinity to Newcastle is not forged in wins and losses but memories with friends that I cherish.

Caryn Ami

I married a Geordie in 2004 (now divorced) when I lived in England. I wasn’t much of a footie fan (nor was he, though he grew up spitting distance of SJP) but we watched the big games.

Moved back to the US where my two boys started playing and much to my surprise, I not only became a soccer mom, I started to love the game.

Toony Army Baltimore

Caryn Ami and her lads

My kids don’t follow MLS, only EPL and European teams, and Newcastle is our favourite. If you look at my profile pic, that’s us in Philly for the summer league game!

One of these days we’ll get up there to watch a game with you all.

AJ

The Toon Army Baltimore started before I moved to Baltimore from D.C in ‘15’16. I started watching the matches with a friend (Gilbert) who was super active with the Baltimore group.

D.C at the time was lacking in an active and consistent supporters club. The group in Baltimore stuck and 8 years later I’m still going to Abbey’s to watch the matches on a regular basis.

I was born and raised in DC and became a fan of Newcastle United in 1996. I was a big fan of Alan Shearer and followed him to the Toon when he transferred to his boyhood club. It was great to see the team play in the US this past summer up in Philly.

I was able to share the positive culture and winning ways with my family who had supported me while I supported Newcastle through many years of dark days. It was really tough to be a fan during the Ashley days at the club. Times were up and down (mostly down), attendance was inconsistent and low minus a few matches.

When the news of the takeover came through, I don’t know about the rest of the folks, but I had a blast celebrating at home and then at the next few meetups. Happy Times.

The takeover for our supporters club has meant more visibility, more fans finding out about Toon Army Baltimore, and larger / consistent crowds at the bar. There’s lots more attention for trash talking / banter, not an afterthought anymore, and having Ian there is an added bonus.

A couple of funny stories from meetups we’ve had over the years since I have been with Toon Army Baltimore are:-

Taking over the West Ham bar during kickoff weekend in 2021 and the mass amount of trash talking, especially with us giving up 3 second half goals and losing.

The Premier League Morning in DC in 2018, meeting Alan Shearer.

Going to the Liverpool bar in 2016 for the NUFC-LFC match during the stretch of game leading to our relegation, and getting “asked to leave” because of singing “We’re going down, we don’t care”, this including the owner buying drinks in order to bribe me to stop.

Being young and turning a Friday night out directly into a Saturday morning in the pub (many).

Taking on a pub full of Liverpool fans, at the Liverpool pub, during a win (2012).

Fighting other teams’ Ultras at matches on Saturday night, then watching NUFC matches with them the next day (2011).

The days before matches were easily available in the 00s and someone would have to tape, on VHS, the occasional NUFC match that was broadcasted on UK channels in the US in the morning and bring it to the bar so we watch later in the day (grainy recordings on a 13” tv). Fun times!!!

If anyone ever gets to Baltimore, for whatever reason, holiday, work, punishment, and you want to watch a Newcastle match with a bunch of non-native Geordies, please check out our facebook and just pop along for a few beers, good food, and great company.

Abbey Burger’s Mt Washington has 32 different Beers on Tap, and has been voted number 1 for its burgers in Baltimore on multiple occasions. Just make sure you come to the location in Mount Washington, as the other two locations are Arsenal and West Ham bars.

If you help to run one of the Newcastle United Supporters Clubs and would like to see your club featured on The Mag in the future, please drop a quick email to contribute@themag.co.uk and we will send you the questions and other info, then once we get your replies we will schedule your NUFC Supporters Club to go up.

(Last week it was Toon Army Minnesota who were featured – Go HERE to see their piece)

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