Saturday, 23 May 2009
Forty Years On
I went to a party last night, it was a very civilized affair... In a beautifully decorated upstairs room of a eatery in a trendy area of Manchester. All bottles of designer beer and canapés, low hum of conversation combined with low background music. As it was a 40th birthday party, the conversation was around children, holidays and jobs. However, there was a slight difference with this group - as with any gathering there was a plethora of accents, some Mancunian, some Irish, some Yorkshire and with a smattering of Spanish, Libyan, Scouse, etc. But there was also a large proportion Geordie - due to the birthday boy hailing from the North East, most of the members of our traveling band of foolhardy Toon suffers had come to join in the celebrations.
Needless to say much of the conversation was also about football. The topic of Sunday's game was broached with us the same hushed reverential tones that usually greet inquiries about the health of a terminally ill relative. The faux sympathy in the Manure fans eyes was a joy to behold and reactions of others was also interesting, from "your lot are too good to go down" (Liverpool fan) to "when they get relegated will you support someone else?" (Manure fan - really, I'm not making it up!).
The reality of this is that Newcastle United are in the position that they are in because of being the third worst team in the Premiership this year. The fact that the team have one more home win than the number of managers that have been through the door of St James' Park gives a good clue as to why the team is languishing at the base of the tree-trunk that is the league. Simple maths show that no team is 'too good to go down' and simple economics show that relegation will be catastrophic for the club.
My usual answer to these polite enquires was that I believe that Newcastle will get relegated, because the team has been atrocious this season. Now, of course the rational part of me believes this totally - however, the emotional part of me desperately wants this not to be true. I'm having a schizophrenic response to thoughts on Sunday's game - I won't be at all surprised if the scoreline is similar to last years capitulation especially as the lack of heart shown against Fulham may just pervade. But equally I'd really love the dream scenario of a Newcastle win and a glorious snatching of victory from the jaws of oblivion. Time will tell.
I'll be there to watch it; cowering at every Villa attack, spirits soaring at every half chance for the black and whites; hoping against hope that results from KC stadium, wearyside and smogland are going the right way to keep the club in the top flight. Savage amusement indeed.
As a footnote to the party. It was Phil's birthday - lifelong Toon fan... Born 40 years ago, just after the last time we won a competition. We bought him the commemorative shirt in the picture, and pointed out to him on more than one occasion that he must be the jinx!