Tuesday, 28 October 2008

3 Points for the good guys

Well, for only the second time this season I find myself grinning as the good guys have picked up 3 points. Thank you West Brom... for having the good grace not to score twice (otherwise JFK's new nickname was going to be Desmond*). Its a win that lifts the team in a number of ways, not only to the giddy heights of 15th in the table (for today anyway) but also hopefully the confidence of the whole of the team. This was a hugely important game to win, if the Toon had lost then I think that the plans for next season would have consisted of trips to Notts Forrest, QPR and Preston... It still might be the case, but at least its a start.

I've had to suffer listening to the game via my PC, on a very poor connection - that kept buffering at inopportune moment.... Can someone remind me what enjoyment I get from following Newcastle United???

Apparently, Newcastle played at the weekend, but I have no recollection of that match at all...

Denial and delusion are wonderful ways of deflecting.... Bring on Villa

* Its the obvious joke, 2-2

Saturday, 25 October 2008

28 years

More PMT (pre match tension) - I'm full of cold, got home really late last night after a long week of work, its cold, wet and I've got loads to do this weekend... Still, my first thought this morning (after the coughing fit) was "please let us beat the mackems" - its difficult to get the right tone of pleading down electronically - but think small child manipulating harassed parent for something that they really really want.

JFK has been given a rolling one month contract, which was as surprising as the sun rising this morning - but 3 points higher up the table by the end of today and he'll be well embedded with the Newcastle fans, and I think he's bright enough to know that. He's not going to set the managerial world alight, but he's ok for Newcastle at the moment. If we win today he'll be with us until at least the turn of the year. It's the surest way to win over fans, beat your local rivals.

One of those statistics that is made to be broken... 28 years since the mackems have beaten us at their place... Hope its still intact at the end of the day.... Hope.... Hope.....Hope

Saturday, 18 October 2008


Well, an early season international break, which as ever spells disaster for NUFC... Players coming back from it injured and unable to play. As usual EMO is one of those... Apparently its a groin strain and he'll be out for about 10 days... Ho hummm.... EXCEPT EMO doesn't play for England anymore (I'm going to have to think of a new insulting nickname for him soon).. so out of apparent spite he's decided to get injured anyway.

I'm sure Captain Michael must have really regretted a) moving to Newcastle b) not moving away from Newcastle in the summer c) not playing in a team good enough to make him the chances that would get him back playing with the 3 lions. Although, no doubt the (alleged) £110k a week softens the blow. Wouldn't it be nice if he showed a little commitment and decided to put in some effort for his wages... He was a class player, he is a world class finisher - but unlike other great centre-forwards he hasn't been able to adapt his game as he's got older and has become increasingly ineffective. Somehow I can't see him playing into his late 30's as someone like Sheringham did - he hasn't got the nous, or more importantly, the motivation.

So, the game against Citeh on Monday night fills me with the dread. Talk about David v Goliath?? The billion pound Brazilians against the might of Shola Ameobi and Xisco... I'll be the one watching from behind the sofa, just like when I was five and the Daleks scared me on Dr Who

Saturday, 11 October 2008


I collect stuff.... Perhaps not the worlds most shocking revelation. But I've always done it, things like books, records (remember them?), CDs, gig tickets, films (video and TV) etc. These things provide an additional set of memories to my life. Whatever has grabbed my attention for a period of time has been hoarded and cherished, until eventually getting discarded in favour of the next thing that my attention alights on. They normally lie about cluttering up shelf space, then get relegated to cupboard, wardrobe or some other hidden storage area, Eventually I pluck up the courage to chuck out the offending clutter.

In terms of football memorabilia I've got tickets (oddly enough in a large biscuit tin, I'm sure there is something deep and meaningful to that) stretching back to the mid 1990's (when I moved to Manchester and started going to away games in earnest) and I've got loads of programmes. The programmes are like a guilty addiction for me. I go to a game, think "ah.... there is no point what will I learn from them" and then find myself gravitating to a bloke in a fluorescent jacket, standing in a plexiglassed hut selling glossy magazines. I then usually shell out anything between £2 to £5 for an anodyne description of the club that Newcastle are going to be beaten by. I think that when I first started going I used to get the programme to see who was in the team... But now that so much depends on printing deadlines and squad sizes that this is meaningless as well. However, it doesn't seem to stop me seeking out a programme seller and parting slavishly with my hard-earned cash.

The other thing that often happens is that I tend to read these in accordance with how well/badly Newcastle have played. If the game is a good one (i.e. Newcastle actually win an away game) then the programme is devoured on the day of the game. If a poor result, then it usually lies on the kitchen table for a few days and might be studied after the pre-requisite period of grief has elapsed.

The Everton programme was midway between those two in terms of time. A typical corporate production, with lots of stories about how much the club cares for its fans and what upstanding fellows all the players are, a few words from the manager and captain and a smattering about Newcastle. This copy had a "Guest Appearance" by Sid Waddell, a darts commentator, expert quipper and semi-professional Geordie. The article was about Waddell's career and the state of darts in general (as an aside, how on earth can darts be considered a sport??) and some comments about the North East in general and Newcastle in particular. I then stumbled across this quote :-

"Newcastle United are not a football team; they are a crusade. They were the best of the tribe; these were our Geronimo, our best warriors. They came out of the pits and the shipyards... How the Toon did affected the whole society. People's mood in the pubs and clubs would be affected for the whole weekend"

This made me stop and think for loads of reasons - interesting use of the past tense; are the current players really our best warriors?; when did this all change?; how many are really still employed in the pits and the shipyards?; why is football so important that it can alter the mood of a region depending on what 22 men kicking an inflated pigs bladder around do?

Waddell's view is undoubtedly harking back to a glorious past seen through rose-tinted glasses, but perhaps the first sentence is the most telling for me. And perhaps if Mike Ashley had understood his customers a bit better, then perhaps he'd have a few more million quid on the table for his most recent declining investment.

Sunday, 5 October 2008


Everton 2 Toon 2

It wasn't pretty most of the time. for a while it looked like a thrashing, so all in all it feels like a fairly good result. At least a point has stopped the decline and for the first time in a over a month Newcastle have started to climb the table. After the same game last season this was certainly much better.

For the first 40 mins it looked like a typical inept and gutless display. But a goal just before half time (Taylor scored it apparently, I completely missed it, it was at the other end to the Newcastle fans and seeing as I was standing at eye-level to the pitch I had very little chance of seeing it - ah, the joys of watching live sport) changed the complexion of the game. The icing on the cake was a goal by Duff just after half time (this time I did see it!!) which was made this time by Taylor. You could see the confidence surge back into the team and for a lot of the second half it felt like the game was ours to win, and that Everton were hanging on. I'll be watching MOTD later on to see if I was right. For me one of the main differences today was that Guthrie was back. He's a ball winner and an unfussy midfielder, he reminds me of Butt in has younger days. Oh, and Butt had a poor game.

As I mentioned The Favourite Nephew* came to his first away game. He was a giddy kipper by the end of it. Well, and truly hooked now - he's learning the words to The Blaydon Races (although explaining the cultral significance of the song was a challenge, for me) and the Geordie Boot-Boy chant. We both chuckled at "If Shola scores, we're on the pitch" and howled with laughter at "Joe Kinnear, he's got tourettes" which was kept up for most of the 2nd half.

As ever, sods law struck again - I've written in the past about how strongly I feel about the group of supporters who have felt the need to characterise the Ashely/Wise regime as "Cockney Mafia" and have had the banner "Cockney Mafia Out" made up. It parochial at best, inaccurate at worst. Anyway, I noticed halfway through the first half that the guy next to me had a large plastic bag with him. Sure enough just after half time him and his mate unfurled the self same banner. I just know that there is going to be a picture somewhere this... With me looking as though I'm part of this protest.... Typical.

The other piece of news today, is that it looks as though Ashley is going to have his own 'Super Tuesday' with 7th Oct being the closing date for bids for the club... I'll believe it when it happens. Seeing as JFK is bringing in another member of the coaching staff, Gerry Francis - it seems to me that he's preparing for a long haul, rather than just a few weeks holiday in the North-East.

Still, a point today was a good start for our new interim manager - despite the fact that he missed both of our goals.

*BTW - The Favourite Nephew isn't as much of a compliment as it seems - he's my only nephew...

Saturday, 4 October 2008

What have we done to deserve this?

Two small snapshots from my life from this week

Snapshot 1

A work acquaintance rings me up - I haven't spoken to him for about 6 months. His sole purpose for ringing me?  To offer me sympathy at the "plight of your team".  Who does he support?  Reading.  He reckons that Newcastle v Reading will appear on the fixture list next season.

Snapshot 2

As I've mentioned before, I'm lucky enough to do a fair amount of travelling with my job.  Which is great until some transport goes awry.  Yesterday this happened to me with a delayed flight from Inverness to Manchester. Now, Inverness Airport isn't exactly an international hub, in fact I think my living room is about the same size as the departure lounge.  Lets just say its one of the cosier airports in the world. A three and a half hour delay and you soon run out of options of things to do (although there was a Piper for a while, playing Bagpipes for a while to cheer us up - a few scowls and he scarpered).  However, I was lucky enough to be kept company by a Saga tour of ladies who had been on a train tour of the Highlands for the past week and were flying back to the North West to return to the bosom of their families.  

After getting offered boiled sweets (declined), asking if my computer could help with  the crossword (accepted) and asking if I'd go to the cafe for them (accepted), I became the focus of their intrigue. After all the questions about why I was there, what did I do for a living and my family, they asked twigged that my accent wasn't "right" for someone from the North West.  As soon as I said I was from Newcastle - one of them chirped up with "Oh dear, your football team is a bit rubbish isn't it?"  Another "Yes, they shouldn't have got rid of Bobby Robson, he was a nice man" then there was a general discussion about the malaise at Newcastle United and then modern football in general. Fortunately they then became distracted as the snow started to fall.

A couple of thoughts about these snapshots... Firstly, football is a conversation point, a punctuation mark in connecting people.  One of the reasons why I love the game.  The second point is that whilst I don't really want sympathy or pity about the club I've supported all of my life, at least people want to talk to me because of who I support.  Which  says something for the re branding of the game since the 1970's and 1980's. 

Tomorrow I'm taking my favourite Nephew to his first away game.  I wonder how he's going to feel after a Goodison experience.... Come to that, I wonder how I'm going to feel?  Somehow I doubt that sympathy or pity are going to be the overriding emotions.