Sunday, 23 August 2009

Never Ending Circle

As I've mentioned before, I collect stuff. This is usually something that acts as a memory jogger from events that I've attended, mainly because I've got such a phenomenally poor memory for dates. For example, I've no idea of the date that I made the migration from the hallowed land of the North-East and tipped up in the North-West... I know it was a long time ago, and Newcastle United haven't won anything since I arrived in Manchester, put that doesn't really narrow things down does it? However, the memory jogger does help, for example I know that I saw Elvis Costello and the Attractions in 1978 - 'cos I've got the ticket stub still to prove it as well as recalling how brilliant Lipstick Vogue was.

Equally, as you'd expect I've got a load of Newcastle United memorabilia, from dog-eared, bovril-stained programmes to crumpled, torn and crushed away tickets (except the plastic Man City ones, obviously). At one stage these used to adorn my book-cases, but as real life and pragmatism have got in the way, I now have a large box under my desk filled with all sorts of interesting ephemera (or junk, depending on your perspective). One of the things that has happened is that friends and fellow Toon-suffers now see me as the perfect vehicle to offload the junk that has been cluttering up the spare bedroom/garage/loft-space. All of which I accept gleefully, like a small child on Christmas morning looking for something more than just another satsuma.

A couple of weeks ago I was given a gem, an issue of the magazine, The Mag from 1988. It was the third issue of this magazine, and a relic of pre-t'interweb times, entirely in black and white, full of spelling and typographical errors, with hand drawn cartoons and a letters page that consisted of a single piece of correspondence.

The other thing that really stuck me about this issue was that it could have been written yesterday, rather than 21 years ago... To quote from the editorial:-

"...any directors who hold out until the bitter end will remain what they are now, the most loathed men on Tyneside"

In 1988 the club was going through another transition, with newly formed Magpie Group trying to wrestle control of the board, which eventually led to John Hall's chairmanship. Fast forward 21 years and the only difference appears to be that rather than an unseemly squabble as to who should own the club, there is now an owner who doesn't want it, and no one interested (or stupid) enough to meet the asking price.

As the on-pitch results are really pleasant to see, don't be fooled. Sitting in an automatic promotion place after four games is great, but it won't last if the situation with the management of the whole of the club isn't sorted out. Playing staff are hemorrhaging out of SJP as the lure of more attractive contracts are waved in front of their avaricious faces with little sign of any sort of replacements coming in (Danny Simpson doesn't count, he's a Manure cast off), combined with the team having a temporary manager (with the spectre of Alan Shearer casting a long shadow over the first team). The current set of results aren't sustainable. A situation that has desperately needed resolving gets more acute.

To quote from the current edition of The Mag (no 238, if you are interested):-

"Sadly as the months have drifted by...Mike Ashley became precisely a unique villain in Newcastle's history. And that is some achievement at NUFC - purveyors of chaos since 1982"

And so the cycle of despair and hope (albeit in only small glimmers) continues.

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