NEWCASTLE UNITED FANZINE - THE ALTERNATIVE VIEW - 2015/16 SEASON
JOYFU L AND
trium phant ...
E-MAIL: email@example.com WEBSITE: www.true-faith.co.uk EDITOR: Michael Martin DEPUTY EDITOR: Gareth Harrison ART & DESIGN: Glenn Ashcroft & Michael Martin ILLUSTRATIONS: Marc Jennings marcjennings.co.uk PHOTOGRAPHY: Matt Flynn, Colin Ferguson & Carl Haynes PROOFREADING - Neil Huitson WEBSITE: Glenn Ashcroft & Michael Martin COPYRIGHT: All items(c) true faith. Not to be reproduced without the prior permission of true faith.
The Boy from Brazil............................ pg68
The Season So Far................................ pg11
Going, going gone?............................. pg72
My Magpie Passion.............................. pg16
Sketch for Winter................................. pg18
Postcards from the Edge................... pg84
All wrong................................................. pg20
Heroes or Zeroes................................. pg86
David Kelly.............................................. pg22
We all stand.......................................... pg92
60 Second Season............................... pg94
Bohemian Rhapsody............................ pg36 Branded: Stone Island......................... pg40
Camp, Pug Dogs, Scott Walker and Stats...................... pg96
A Spotters Guide.................................. pg44
Value for Money................................... pg100
NEVER FORGOTTEN: L.J. & M. Martin.
Geordies Here, Geordies There........ pg48
Annus Horriblis..................................... pg102
NEXT ISSUE: TF 124
International Brigade.......................... pg54
Drums and Wires................................. pg112
Feel Every Beat...................................... pg58
The Secret Diary of Lee Ryder........ pg114
The End................................................... pg118
STATEMENT: This is NOT an official product of Newcastle United FC. NOTICE: All views expressed are the views of the author and do not always represent the views of true faith. CONTRIBUTIONS: All contributions to true faith are welcomed, encouraged and considered for publication - letters, articles, photos etc.
OUT: 25 JAN 2016 SUBMISSIONS FOR NEXT ISSUE: 10 JAN 2016 © true faith. tf 3
tf 123 December 2015 firstname.lastname@example.org
I write this heart pumping madly after seeing our team come from a goal behind at White Hart Lane and inflict the first defeat on an in-form Spurs since the first day of the season the week after putting Klopp’s Liverpool team to the sword at SJP... Welcome to tf 123. A dreadful year following Newcastle United is coming to a close and as I write this heart pumping madly after seeing our team come from a goal behind at White Hart Lane and inflict the first defeat on an in-form Spurs since the first day of the season the week after putting Klopp’s Liverpool team to the sword at SJP not for the first time we are all left wondering what the hell is going on. It’s been a thoroughly miserable year of results for United and an unhappy, fractious one in the stands. Friends have argued about boycotts, social media has rattled with insults, slurs and supporters have variously walked away or wondered what they are tf 4
doing spending time and money at a club no-one really believes is a serious sporting institution any more. Maybe we’ve had whingeing and we’ve had whingeing about the whingeing. The whole thing has been a monumental pain in the arse. Then you get afternoons like Liverpool (h) and Spurs (a) when you feel yourself howling wildly in the stands, down the pub or whereever and fleetingly it all feels right again, as it should be and the sheer, unrestrained and uncomplicated joy of a Newcastle United win fills our souls and the world is a better place. How long will it last? A pattern of some of our better performances this season have come when expectations have been at
their lowest and no-one fancies us to take the game to more celebrated opposition. We did very well at Man Utd to earn a 0-0 draw, we did reasonably well at Man City in the first half until the sky fell in and the same can be said of Arsenal, Chelsea and of course Liverpool and Spurs. Where we’ve at times been absolutely miserable has been at West Ham, Swansea, Bournemouth, Watford, Leicester, Crystal Palace and of course the disaster in the League Cup at home to Sheffield Wednesday. Everyone has their pet theories on what is required but I’m with the basic consensus that says we need another central defender, a creative midfielder in the centre of the park and a
striker. They need to have PL experience as opposed to punts from Europe’s less powerful leagues and the requirement they have to be under 25 appears to be unreasonably restrictive. There are some who see a crying need for a left-back and a winger. I’m not about to argue with that. Away from the first team and the model the club operates to with Charnley, Carr and McClaren some kind of “board” or as I see it a management committee without much in the way of executive powers has been called into question. The difficulties between Pardew and Carr appear now to be being replicated with McClaren who until these last two games had been doing little more than being the John Carver www.true-faith.co.uk
continuity candidate. Graeme Carr’s reputation as some kind of superscout has been severely dented in the last few seasons with some dubious buys. Whether these buys are Carr’s first picks or his Plan Cs or Ds we’ll never know but having seen our name linked to players like Remy, Bony etc. and then getting Riviere and Ferreya you sometimes have to wonder what role Charnley is playing. There does appear to be a disconnection between the manager or Head Coach and the recruitment operation. The model isn’t working. Personally, I remain sorely unconvinced by McClaren but replacing him with another in the model we have is probably a waste of time. Whilst there have to be doubts about Carr, there are even more about Charnley and I’m far from the first to wish for an experienced, accomplished CEO to run the club’s affairs with a manager who knows what he’s doing it all ultimately falls back to Ashley and what he wants for Newcastle United. We’ve had that discussion a million times before and I rather think we are in a kind of loop. McClaren previously explained the team would be strengthened over three windows. That would
Anyway, we are heading for a festive period when the games come thick and fast. I’d desperately hope we beat Villa, get something at West Brom and possibly have a good go at Everton before we get to Arsenal.
suggest there will be players coming in during January but well, we’ve been here before. Worryingly I hear Perez’s name being spoken about as a target for “bigger” clubs but there are others who I wouldn’t lose any sleep over losing but they will need to be replaced. Anyway, we are heading for a festive period when the games come thick and fast. I’d desperately hope we beat Villa, get something at West Brom and possibly have a good go at Everton
before we get to Arsenal. Then we can look at what side McClaren puts out at Watford and see if the “taking the Cups seriously” promise rings true. On the fanzine front, the last issue of true faith, the first we have offered FREE to download has been amazing. It’s by some distance the best read issue we’ve ever had and at least three times as many people have downloaded it than ever bought the bestselling hard-copy issue we ever did. We have never
had a bigger audience for the stuff we put out so a big thanks to all of you who write, read and do anything to help us maintain our position as one of the most prominent fanzines in the UK. Keep On, Keepin’ On… The next issue of true faith (TF124) will be out for 25/Jan/2016. The deadline for contributions is 10/Jan/2016. If you would like to contribute to true faith, just drop me a line on email@example.com
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thru black & white eyes Oct 31st - United celebrate the anniversary of the 5 1 win which SAFC have arguably never recovered from, by playing OK against a reasonable Stoke side. Unfortunately Jack Butland is in decent form and the game ends goalless. Not the best response to last weeks defeat in Wearside, but I’ve seen United play far worse (regularly) and sometimes win these type of games. Stoke, for the media’s current love in with them, lacked any type of ambition and were poor. When Hughes leads them to between 8th and 12th once again there’ll be the ‘where is
the respect Mark Hughes deserves?’ patter. They’re just an average side. It’s nothing to celebrate. I’d take him here though. McClaren seems to think we’ve played like Barca and only the miracle of a goal keeper have kept us at bay. The truth isn’t as flattering. We didn’t really do enough, and remain in the bottom three. Must do better. Nov 7th - United manage to somehow win at Bournemouth. Bournemouth are superior in every department, and Rob Elliot has a lot to do. I don’t really know how
Bournemouth haven’t got anything from the game. The performance is a disgrace really, never mind two weeks to put it right with the international break coming up. This result makes it one defeat in the last 4 and two wins. Progress? Nov 8th - Ivan Toney away to Barnsley after impressing for the reserves. It’s good that players are getting more first team action in the football league rather than rotting in NUFC’s misfiring youth set up. Nov 9th - A lot of really ropey SEO based transfer
websites won’t stop mentioning Perez on the off to Man U or Spurs. This is inevitably picked up by proper news sources and is now a ‘rumour’. Surely Ashley wouldn’t. Also Perez is nowhere near good enough for that level, yet. He’s good, but a little over valued by some Mags. Loads of talent and class - but it only comes out every four games or so at the moment. That could change though and the club needs to hold on to him. Nov 12th - Williamson is doing well @ Wolves. Happy for him. He’s never been good
enough for this level, but has been a hard working servant for NUFC. He should be playing football. Nov 14th - International weekend. Normally nothing to see here, but international football is thrown into disarray after the Paris terror attacks. England’s game with France is scheduled to go ahead though other games are called off amid security fears. To see France’s Stade de France directly targeted by terrorists suggests football could be a major target of these nut case losers who attach themselves to a religion to try and give themselves some sort of perceived credibility for their disgraceful actions. England v France is a passionate affair off the pitch with England performing well against an understandably off the boil France team, many www.true-faith.co.uk
of whom reportedly (and understandably) didn’t want to play the game. Hatem Ben Arfa starts for France. None of the other players starting for either side that night, have been released on a free in the last 12 months. Nov 19th - There’s a lot of talk around Jamie Vardy equalling Van Nistelroy’s consecutive goal record against us at SJP. Leicester are flying of course and could go top with a win. Claudio Ranieri is a man of great dignity and deserves all of the plaudits coming his way. Hopefully he loses by 6 on Saturday though. McClaren is still talking up Rob Elliot, after two clean sheets. He’s still not good enough, but fair play to him - I used to associate with him conceding many, many goals and no one really noticing that he’s averaged letting in
three goals a game when he’s played more than three consecutive league matches for United, but he’s been good so I’m happy to be proven wrong on this occassion. Nov 21st - Pathetic. United are rolled over with ease by a motivated Leicester side who don’t get out of third gear. Bizarrely McClaren doesn’t really show our opponents the respect they deserve and we’re wide open at the back and in midfield. So many players playing out of position and who don’t seem to know what they’re doing. Pathetic. McClaren won’t last much longer with performances like this. Nov 23rd - Allardyce’s Mackems are gifted three points by Pardew’s listless Palace side, who dominate the game (who doesn’t against Sunderland?)
and throw it away at the end. Disastrous weekend. We face Pardew next. This week will be no fun with the world rounding in on us for ‘hounding out’ a manager who of his own accord for a £2m pay rise. Nov 26th - McClaren is talking a big game about ‘desire, ‘effort’ etc etc. Just win the game Steve and then you can say whatever you like. If it goes wrong at Palace then the manager is going to look silly. Keegan is also starting to have his say on United and our pathetic players. Good. Nov 28th - I hate this football team. 5 1 to bastard Palace. The scoreline flatters Palace, who had some luck in a few of the goals. It doesn’t flatter NUFC whose performance was a tf 7
thru black & white eyes disgrace from first to last. it isn’t working. Newcastle United i s n’ t working. McClaren isn’t the man. Who is though? Where do we go from here. This team will be relegated. No way this shower can win 10 games this season. it’s December and we’ve won two. Leicester have won 9 already. Paul Dummet is humiliated (again) playing out of position against Bolasie and Zaha. it’s not his fault. Colo is dog shit (again) and the rest of them not much better. Nov 29th - McClaren drags them all in for training the following day. Pointless gesture.
Nov 30th - McClaren has come out and said we couldn’t cope with Connnor Whickham (0 goals this season). It’s a good job we’re not up against Benteke or Sturrid.... Dec 1st - The ‘holiday season’ kicks off with Mike Williamson being recalled from Wolves. Daniel Sturridge must be shitting himself. McClaren is talking a lot about hard work etc. No one cares what he has to say. Dec 3rd - Williamson gets injured in training at the footballer torture chamber that is Benton. An under strength Liverppol put 6 past Southampton in the League Cup quarter final. They’re going
to score 10 on Sunday aren’t they. Emre Can and Phillipe Coutinho have been ruled out for the game, which is good, as they’re both guaranteed starters.
Graft all over the park. A
Dec 5th - Everyone in the bottom half seems to pick up points. Bournemouth win at Chelsea so we can’t get out of the relegation zone even if we win. Vile pick up an undeserved point. All of the teams around us seem to be grafting.
well. It doesn’t change
Dec 6th - I’ve no idea how that happened.
that winning games is only
What a win. What a three points. It’ll get McClaren through to January at least. Nights like this are why 51k turned up.
hard. Are the players
little bit of quality and a
up. Amazing. The back 5 were immense. Cisse was good. Everyone played everything that is wrong, and we’re still 18th - but it’s a start. Dec 7th - McClaren is talking about a ‘lightblub’ moment amongst the players where they realise possible if you work really thick? ALEX HURST - FOLLOW ALEX ON @tfalex1892
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THE SEASON SO FAR - 2015/16 As far as Annus Horribilis’ go, 2015 has been a vintage for NUFC. Terminally shite, painfully divided and frighteningly short of any sort of long term plan, as the year draws to a close I don’t think many would look back in any sort of fondness to what we will be leaving behind. Yet, writing this before the Leicester game, there is still time to polish our own particular turd with seven league games between now and New Year, five of which should be classed as ‘winnable’. I think it’s almost impossible to sum the season to date in one word. On the face of it, two wins from twelve, one place above the relegation zone with another defeat to the Mackems and an embarrassing exit from the League Cup almost tells it’s own story and yet, this being United it isn’t quite that straightforward tf 11
as tantalising green shoots keep teasing us that there will be better times to come in 2016. I know, I know...! McLaren came in with very little fanfare with almost a full summer ahead of him and for the umpteenth year running,the transfer window was ‘the most important in recent memory’. After
GARETH HARRISON Follow @truefaith1892
Ashley’s bluster on Sky moments before the West Ham game at the end of last season, the carrot was dangled that he would spend big to get us to compete, or for the more cynical amongst us, to get us to a position to finish one place above www.true-faith.co.uk
relegation with the big money rolling next season. Not many of us knew too much about the summer signings but on at least we’d made the first steps in filling the gaps that were plain for all to see – a centre half and centre forward from Anderlecht with reasonable reputations, last season’s Eredivisie player of the year in midfield and a French winger to replace Cabella coming in for the thick end of £40m was, with no major outgoings what could be classed as success under Ashley although we all knew it still left us light in key areas. Pre-season was, on the whole, shite as we pissed around (mainly losing) against tinpot teams in the States before failing to win back in England against the likes of York and Sheffield United – hardly enough to set pulses racing but at least we had the excuse that new players were settling in. The fixture list looked
to have been very unkind to us in the opening weeks, making it vital that we got off to a strong start against Southampton and Swansea. We didn’t. The opening day was relatively positive though, a point against a good Southampton side was no disgrace and Wijnaldum at least looked the business but when we didn’t turn up against Swansea the following week, we looked indistinguishable from the Carver ‘team’ of last season. A ‘bonus’ point at Old Trafford was welcome and the first sign of green shoots under McLaren as we had a semblance of defensive co-ordination in a goalless draw and a confidence boosting thumping win against an awful Northampton side in the cup gave us further hope, with Thauvin running the show. Words that seem a distant memory already. We felt hard done by when down to ten men at home to Arsenal in the next game
after Mitrovic saw red inside ten minutes but beneath it all, nagging doubts started to surface about our new boy up front. He could easily have walked inside a minute of coming on against Southampton and if he couldn’t be expected (and nor should he be aged 21 in a new league) to get us 15 goals this season, who would? Nagging doubts developed into a weary realisation that in actual fact, we were still pretty shit as we capitulated meekly against West Ham and Watford in the space of a week, leaving us bottom of the league. As if that wasn’t bad enough, we disgraced ourselves at home to Sheff Wed Reserves in the League Cup immediately following these games and the wheels were at best wobbling for McLaren. Thauvin looked a disastrous signing and given our frugality, £25m bladdered on him and his twin Cabella must rank as
After Ashley’s bluster on Sky moments before the West Ham game at the end of last season, the carrot was dangled that he would spend big to get us to compete
the worst signings in recent times, which is really going some. He might come good, but in the same way that might wake up with a million pound under my pillow and a twelve inch chopper tomorrow morning and in the words of our Sidney ‘I’m not chopping six inches off for nee fucker’. One of my mates, pissed, noted walking up to SJP before the Chelsea game that it looked like ‘one of those Lowry paintings’ and I had to laugh as everyone seemed to have hunched shoulders, dreading the hiding we were no doubt going to endure. Miraculously it wasn’t like that and at 2-0 up with quarter of an hour left, the place was bouncing – easily the best moment of the season so far. We couldn’t hold on though and went to the Etihad still winless. Everyone knows the crack here, 1-0 up just before half tf 14
time, well on top, finished losing 1-6, bottom of the league and clueless. We were a shambles, rudderless, devoid of leadership and feeling sorry for ourselves by the final whistle. McLaren looked shell-shocked as well he might, but still kept up that annoying grin in his post-match patter. He could do with dropping that along with the ‘management speak’ or he’ll alienate folk. We finally recorded our first win in mid-October, spanking Norwich 6-2 with Gini getting four. I still can’t think of a midfielder scoring that many times in a game for us in my lifetime but it was a funny old game as they looked likely to equalise before the hour when we were 3-2 up and were all over us. Still, we approached the Derby with cautious confidence – mugs. We’ll not analyse it here, it’s been done to death but we
all know the result and the contributing factors. Six in a row though. Unacceptable. We were the better side against Stoke on Halloween but still ended up goalless and with only a point and I still don’t quite know how we beat Bournemouth after being absolutely woeful – Eliott thankfully raising his game to get us a vital three points. So there we have it P12 W2 D4 L6 F13 A22 Pts10.
For me, we’ve only really played well in two of those games – against Chelsea and Norwich and played reasonably in another three and a half – Southampton, Man United, Stoke and the Mackems
Does that picture do us justice? Actually, I think it probably just about does. For me, we’ve only really played well in two of those games – against Chelsea and Norwich and played reasonably in another three and a half – Southampton, Man United, Stoke and the Mackems. The rest of the time, we’ve been shite. Not just average. Shite. The team have had a third of the www.true-faith.co.uk
season to bed in and what observations can we make?
not to mention unsuccessful. Wijnaldum looks to be by some distance the best Eliott has done well to of the summer signings keep two clean sheets on so far with half a dozen the bounce, a rare feat for goals already and a look of any United keeper but it is a ‘real player’ as of course a stretch to say he can be he should be at £14m. Of relied on for the next seven course, that logic doesn’t games until the transfer always hold and Thauvin has window opens, never mind been atrocious, looking even the rest of the season. We worse than Cabella for the look very weak at left back, bulk of his time on the pitch where Dummett looks the and with Sissoko average for best of a bad bunch and the majority of the time, we Coloccini hasn’t impressed look completely dependent for any length of time as on Gini to give us any sort either a captain or defender. of attacking threat through Mbemba has done alright the middle. If he got injured, so far and has been a we’d be in serious trouble. reasonably successful buy For me, the biggest worry is so far. up front. I make no bones In midfield, there are similar of the fact that I am in love doubts. I never fancy us with Ayoze Perez, who for to get anything ever when me is our best player and we have two of Colback, possesses a touch, vision Anita or Tiote starting in the and workrate that smacks of middle, yet McLaren seems him being peddled to a ‘big set to play a combination club’ come January. Even of two in holding midfield if he were to stay, for all positions. Barely acceptable his undoubted qualities, he away from home, isn’t a 15-20 goal a season desperately negative at SJP striker and I’m praying
that I’m wrong about Mitrovic but so far all I’ve seen are flashes of ability hidden between dubious temperament and focus. I do strongly belive, however, that there is a player in there, but by God we need it to come out otherwise I can’t see where the goals are coming from, bar an unlikely return of appetite from Cisse. I wouldn’t hold my breath there though. Were this a school report, then it would be a ‘Must do Better’ and we’ll know where we are come New Year. I scoffed at the Editor as we travelled back on the Metro from the SoL when he said we needed 20 points by New Year but I think he’s about right. That’s just for the bare minimum of safety mind and were we still to be languishing in a similar position and out of the FA Cup with two-thirds of the season gone then we could rightly wonder if those green shoots are just mildew. Over to you boys.
Wijnaldum looks to be by some distance the best of the summer signings so far with half a dozen goals already and a look of a ‘real player’
I’m still a massive NUFC fan (40 years I’ve been going next year and we’ve still won nowt!) although it’s testing and empty these days with the ongoing issues and problems. Depressing as ever, all I seem to do is reminisce on the about the old days, Ray Varadi’s solo goal v Charlton, Gazza’s jig v Blackpool and even Billy Raffertys belter against Bury. Any time Marc Corby puts a post or a video on the brilliant NUFC 1980-94 Facebook group and Twitter feed the memories come flooding back and I often join in with the stories. I’m getting more and more like me Dad. (RIP mate still think of you always)
Still well into my collecting of NUFC memorabilia, that’s probably what keeps me going with the ongoing disappointments that we have. think Im classed as an extreme collector, definitely not a hoarder but it certainly still is compulsive, either way it’s never waned since that first match in October 1976. Shall I blame me Dad again? Of course not, cheers Dad RIP mate. I still get every home programme this started from that first day (another obsession that can’t be given up see above) I’m also prone to collecting that wonderful Black and white shirt of ours too. All this NUFC memorabilia holds lots of grand tf 16
memories, every shirt tells a story and every programme of course is issued for a match so provides history, but there’s also the tickets, badges, books, photos, autographs, ground prints, pennants and even plates to name a few. The list is endless! I thought it would be canny and again it gets me reminiscing about the good old days (even though we still won nowt) by sharing in this fanzine 5 items that I have which relate to some of these memories of this stressful club of ours. These all have some significant meaning to me!
1. 80’s NUFC badge I’ve had this 1984, and still wear it today. It symbolises the 80s to me the design very simple, white Black letters, magpie, retro and a classic. Ive always collected NUFC badges, however this one has always stood out as a timeless item. Crests have changed 3 times during my time going to the match, this one is still the one for me though!
2. 80’s Print of St James’ Park
This framed print shows Jeff Clarke scoring in the snow with the orange ball at the Leazes End in a 2-1 win v Leicester on 30 November 1985. The old open ground and stand with ‘Newcastle United FC’ is clearly evident before its transformation to all seater in the 90s. Still stands pride of place on a wall at my home since I bought it in 1992 with some money I got left from my late Grandfather (his last game was Rangers in 69) who passed away that year. I remember looking for this for years after it had been in the Chronicle and being overjoyed when I found it somewhere in a shop window in the town. There was a similar original painting without the snow in the National Football Museum for sometime. Looking back at this pictures gives up so many memories, the open terraces and the North East Winter was there in vengeance.
3. Newcastle v Birmingham CITY 23 OCT 1976 The programme from my first ever NUFC match, it cost 12p. It was a very basic programme (much preferred them ones, you could get the whole season in the binder) there was no colour apart from the front cover which was the same cover for every league and cup game. I cut out the token after each match and you affixed them to a sheet which was needed to apply for cup games. It was a memorable match we won 3-2 and I was hooked from day 1.
4. St James’ Park moDEL
Much loved this, with having a passion for the old days and the open ground and having lots of photos of the ground, I always wanted a model of the ground. I had a one from 1996 of the modernised ground but found someone on the internet in 2006 who made model grounds (can’t remember who it was). To me it’s brilliant it fully depicts the ground 80s style and its as per the photos of the time. The detail is brilliant and it is unique in itself. It measures roughly 10x4 and is beet personal to me. Lots of folk have asked me about it. The old ground will always have the memories, no huge sports shop advertising that we are stuck with all over the place today, and plenty of standing room too.
5. Match worn signed Andy Cole 1994/95 home shirt
I have them ranging from the 70s to the present day. Each and everyone of them means a great deal and has a story behind them. I love the black and white stripes especially. We’ve worn bukta, umbro, asics, Adidas and puma since I’ve been going. I thought an Andy Cole Number 9 match worn shirt would be appropriate, it’s fully signed by the great ‘Entertainers’ side. This represents a wonderful era for us under the Management of the messiah ‘Kevin Keegan’. The shirt is simple but very effective and baggy, not a tight fitted football shirt like the ones today anywhere in sight. tf 17
Quick show of hands. Who’s happy with how things are going? No, me neither. The season started with hopes of a change of style, to play a bit more football, and finally make an attempt to act like a football club worthy of the name and try to improve, try to be successful. It wouldn’t be overstatement to say those hopes have been dashed completely, the season utter failure so far. We are in a fight against relegation. Every step of progress forward we make is hurriedly dashed by the two backwards we immediately take afterwards.
SKETCH FOR WINTER MARK BROPHY
I don’t believe Steve McClaren is in any immediate danger of losing his job purely on the basis of Alan Pardew’s years of flirting with the drop without there being consequences for him. That means our main options to change our fortunes involve changing our squad. Changing them could mean altering their behaviour through better coaching, using them more effectively via a change in tactics, and altering things positively by changing the selection policy. Who knows, maybe the progress Steve McClaren sees every week at the training ground tf 18
is persuading them to eat their greens. Assuming though that any short-term gains of these types have already been attempted, that leaves changing the playing squad by means of the transfer system. I don’t think our summer transfer business was as bad as many seem to. Some of them might not play in positions that were priorities to be strengthened, and some may have been dragged down by a demoralised disgruntled group who have a higher opinion of their own abilities than any of
us have seen justification for, but that doesn’t make those new boys bad players. When we bought players for a sell-on profit, it doesn’t seem to have been considered how they’d gel together. Our side is devoid of strength of character and lacking in on-pitch leadership, people who can act as the Manager’s on-pitch lieutenants and change things when we’re in trouble to help us limp to a break in play and a proper reorganisation. Wijnaldum and de Jong are both titlewinning captains in Holland but that hasn’t translated to here, in de Jong’s case
because he mystifyingly never plays. It’s often said that making too many changes at once makes it difficult for a team to settle but as our existing players often look like strangers anyway I’d say those worries don’t apply in this case. The first job is to shore up our wobbly spine. We should buy one from each department straight up the middle, a centrehalf, central midfielder and striker. They each need to be physically strong and up for a fight; too many of our signings over the last few years have been www.true-faith.co.uk
Walter the Softys to be faced every week by Dennis the Menace paired with Gnasher for the opposition. Those that haven’t been weak have shown little inclination to use their physical advantages, and our new spine needs strength of character in abundance. We also need at least one wide creator, assuming that at some point the permanentlyhobbled Rolando Aarons will return to regular fitness on the other wing. We’ve been linked with Andros Townsend of Spurs and I’d be happy with that as he’s a good player although the reason Spurs are offloading him is that he’s fallen out with his manager there. The final item on my wish list would be a left back. I think Dummett and Haidara can do a job if needed but ideally we need someone better – a mirror to Janmaat on the other wing, though his form recently has dipped dramatically, perhaps as a result of disillusionment. If that is true he needs to pull himself round quickly because as one of our best and most-experienced players he’s someone who
should be an example to the rest, not someone who droops when the rest do. We do have a full squad, so some would have to leave to make room for new arrivals. People in their midtwenties or more and who are out on loan need to be sold. That’s Williamson, Vuckic, Ferguson, Cabella, Ameobi, and Bigirimana. Players who never play, whether for reasons of form or fitness, also need to be cleared out. They may be currently injured but we need to find a way to offload Obertan and Riviere. Marveaux is just never involved and it’s pointless to hang onto him. . We’ll likely be giving him the send-off in the summer as he’s out of contract then. So too is Steven Taylor, and let’s face it, he’s never coming back the same from his constant state of injury. I’d let his contract run down too. Gouffran of course gets plenty of pitch time but that doesn’t mean he should. Alan Smith was the last striker we tried to convert into a defensive midfielder and look what a success that was. If someone offers
us money for Gouffran then we should take it. Coloccini’s time is up as a centre-half. It is getting embarrassing watching him be exposed. Louise Taylor in the Guardian the other day suggested he could play as a defensive midfielder and I think it’s worth a go in the absence of other options. His distribution and ability to read a game are still good and his lack of pace wouldn’t be so obvious there. He shouldn’t be starting at centre-half any more though. Anita is someone who enables you to keep possession and that’s what McClaren wants. His problem is he doesn’t have a forward pass and keeps the ball by passing it towards our goal. People who can keep possession while trying to work it forward are the ones you need. Cisse looks a shadow of the man who made such an impact on arrival here. He may only be able to recapture even a part of that somewhere else. Again, while we can get some money for him, we should.
One of the first things McClaren said as Newcastle manager was that the club had a 3-window transfer plan. We’ve had one already, with middling results. What it means is that we shouldn’t expect everything we need for success in January. To be honest I wouldn’t expect it by next September either. Unless we change a transfer policy of ignoring our most immediate personnel requirements in favour of purchasing the most underpriced players we can find, no matter their position, we will be permanently unable to improve. Which way are we about to go? Our football board of McClaren, Graham Carr, Lee Charnley and Bob Moncur must decide. They all know what should happen in a footballing sense, they aren’t stupid. Even if they can ignore the urge to constantly improve the club’s finances, whether they can achieve what they and we know to be essential is yet to be proven.This time we’ve had no golden run to amass the points likely to keep us safe. The alternative is possibly relegation. tf 19
As I sit and write this article, Newcastle United have just been humiliated by Alan Pardew’s Crystal Palace side. Five goals to one, in a game where our eleven players showed less heart than they’ve shown all season (and that took some beating). The little patience that was left with McClaren seems to have finally ran out and his ‘judge me after 12 games’ quote is now even more relevant. But is it wise to sack McClaren based on the United’s hierarchy’s previous form of picking managers? In the past under Mike Ashley’s regime, we’ve been subjected to the likes of Kinnear and Carver. Who in their right mind thinks those managers would be the right men to lead us forward? Even the appointment of McClaren wasn’t an inspiring one. I championed him for the job when Pardew left in January, but after watching his Derby County side slip miserably down the table after being promotion favourites, few could be persuaded that a man sacked from a second tier club could be the answer. The argument that he is a ‘good coach’ now also comes into question. Fans could be optimistic after a well earned point at Old Trafford and a reasonable performance against Southampton in the first couple of games. I
was also impressed at the way McClaren set his ten men up against Arsenal, despite losing 1-0. But at this current moment we have around ten players in our squad that play international football, yet recent form would suggest we have ten Sunday league players in our ranks. It’s one thing being a good coach and
producing quality football, that probably leaves more room for leeway when it comes to being a good man manager, but McClaren looks to have neither of those abilities in his locker at the moment. If track record is anything to go by, however, I wouldn’t be optimistic that sacking McClaren is the right thing to do. The board members at Newcastle United need to realise something that should have been obvious to them a long
time ago: Newcastle need a manager who knows the Premier League. Sitting around the relegation zone seems like it’s just an everyday part of being an NUFC supporter these days and until a manager is appointed who can turn sides around, I believe this will continue. To back up this argument, I have a number of scenarios in which this has proved to be the smart way to turn a Premier League side round. Number one: Tony Pulis. A man who transformed Stoke City into a Premier League standard team, before saving Crystal Palace AND West Brom from potential relegation. Like his style or not, I’d prefer a boss like Pulis who I could trust to get
G N O R W ALL www.true-faith.co.uk
players believing and playing for each other. Next, I’ll go over the river. As much as I disagree with their model of repeating this every season, Sunderland always seem to find a manager to keep them out of danger when it matters most. Most recently, even though it is early days, Sam Allardyce has been in charge for one month and he’s already produced three wins and managed to leapfrog Newcastle in the league table. In the long term it gets you nowhere but it’d be a good thing for NUFC to consider in the shortterm. Finally, When QPR inevitably went down back in 2012/2013, they waited until the end of November to sack a flailing Mark Hughes. The club were seven points off safety and when Harry Redknapp took the job, they were already beyond mending. The club finished bottom and were eventually 14 points from safety. Newcastle tf 21
United could easily find themselves in the same position. But who is there to replace McClaren? Well, for once, there may be some big names available. David Moyes and Brendan Rodgers lead the betting but others include: Roberto Di Matteo, Michael Laudrup and Sean Dyche. All of the above have top flight experience and huge credentials. Despite this, my confidence remains low that if it came down to it, none of these men would be appointed or even approached. French managers who are out of work would be linked with the job, just as Remi Garde was over the summer (and look how well it’s going for him over at Villa...). Despite all the shortcomings in the boardroom, the players must take a hefty part of the blame. McClaren can only work with what he has in front of him, and if he has 25 players not
wanting to fight for the team, there is only so much he can do. In this regard, you have to look towards the scouting system. For years Graham Carr was donned as a genius for capturing bargains such as Cabaye, Tiote and Sissoko. But nowadays? Well his recent track record isn’t exactly fantastic. If your main scout thinks Florian Thauvin is worth more than £12 never mind £12m then something is horrifically wrong. Cabella mark II has been nowhere to be seen since his debut at Northampton Town. Voted in the worst XI in ‘L’Equipe’ magazine last season, it baffles me why he was brought in whilst players like Dmitri Payet were missed.
Despite all the shortcomings in the boardroom, the players must take a hefty part of the blame. McClaren can only work with what he has in front of him
To summarise, I do hope McClaren leaves before we find ourselves thrown deeper into this relegation battle but it is essential the right appointment is made to stop this cycle of mediocrity and heartache on Tyneside. www.true-faith.co.uk
Sitting 19th with only 1 win in their opening 7 games, on the 12th October 1988 Top Flight and managerless Newcastle United failed to overturn a 3 goal deficit at home to Third Division (Old school) Marc Corby Sheffield United and crashed out of the League Cup. @NUFC_1980_1994
DAVID KELLY Sunderland, playing in a league below United for the 4th consecutive season, were up against a West Ham United side whose poor form saw them sit 1 point and 1 place behind The Mags at the bottom of the table. There would be no upset in this tie as The Hammers new signing David Kelly scored 3 goals over 2 legs as the Mackems lost 5-1 on aggregate. Kelly had earned tf www.true-faith.co.uk 22
his move to a ‘big club’ on the back of developing into a prolific marksman. Scoring 43 goals in 2 seasons whilst helping Walsall gain promotion to Division 2 as well as his hat-trick on his debut for the Republic of Ireland v Israel ensured The Saddlers would receive a then record £600,000. A few days on from that Cup win, Kelly played a none goal-scoring part in West Ham’s next game -
a 2-0 win over Newcastle who replaced them at the bottom of the table. In a desperate season for United when only 7 wins were achieved, West Ham, featuring Kelly as a substitute having lost his place due to lack of form, confirmed The Mag’s relegation winning 2-1 at St James Park in May. Despite winning this and another 4 in 5, Kelly’s club would also go down 2 weeks later.
Season 1989-90 saw both clubs being unsuccessful in an attempt to gain immediate promotion back to the First Division and Kelly was off to Leicester City the following August. Scoring on his debut, Kelly’s goals would ensure Leicester’s survival including playing a vital part in a fixture with Newcastle at Filbert Street in December 1990. The previous time they met United won 5-4 at St
James Park on midfielder Roy Aitkens debut. This match would bizarrely see another 9 goals shared as, despite Mick Quinn’s hattrick for the visitors, Kelly would grab the match ball with scoring 3 as Leicester gained revenge, 5-4. Newcastle’s 1990-91 season would be average at best and with manager Ossie Ardiles taking the management role before the end, his trust in youth still made them one of the favourites to be promoted, alongside Leicester in
1991-92. Unfortunately for Quinn, he would score another hat-trick and end up on the losing side again in the ZDS Cup on 1st October 1991. In an astonishing 6-6 draw at Tranmere, United would lose on penalties and the victorious John Aldridge would take the match ball on this occasion having also notched 3.
defeat at Portsmouth which also saw United go bottom of the 2nd Division. However, Quinn wasn’t missed as 4 wins and 4 draws in the following 9 games saw The Mags move to 15th.
The following weekend, star man Quinn would go down injured in a 1-3
The run had started with a Lee Clark-inspired 2-0 win over Kelly’s Leicester where ‘Ned’ missed a glorious chance for Leicester at 0-0 and another future Magpie Paul Kitson was kept off the score sheet by Pavel Srnicek.
fallen out of favour at Leicester and wanted first team football. Pondering on a move to Sunderland, Kelly would turn them down in favour of Ardiles struggling side and explained recently to Martin Hardy in his Kelly did ‘take the chance’ and barring free transfers in later years, the £250,000 United spent was the lowest transfer fee paid for ‘Ned’ throughout his career. But he arguably gave United the best return.
With Gavin Peacock (6) and Andy Hunt (5) in fine form, a move for another striker didn’t appear essential but following a 0-0 draw with Blackburn, where United would field their youngest ever starting XI at just under 22 years old, and a 0-3 defeat at Barnsley, United turned to Kelly who had tf www.true-faith.co.uk 24
newly released ‘Touching Distance’ book, the influence his ‘Uncle Ronnie’ had on his eventual move: “You’ve got to go to Newcastle” Ronnie would tell him. “If you go to Newcastle and become a No.9, that’s it, you’ve made it. The number nine at Newcastle is something special. Take the chance”
At a recent talk-in, Lee Clark confessed that Ardiles had in fact paid for Kelly out of his own pocket and the club would pay him back ‘later.’ Alongside introducing Geordie youngsters who would have fantastic careers, this is another reason to be grateful to the little Argentinian.
Kelly would replace Steve Howey and make his debut alongside the on loan Paul Bodin against fellow strugglers Port Vale and got off to a bad start when screwing shot well wide when through on goal. Following a 2-2 draw, he would score his first United goal in another 2-2 draw, this time at Brighton and Hove Albion. That result was the 15th time in 23 games that Ossie’s defence had conceded 2 or more goals in a match and despite Kelly scoring another 2 including the winner at home to Bristol Rovers, www.true-faith.co.uk
those 3 points were the only maximum return in Kelly’s first 9 games. Sitting one off the bottom and slipping out of both Cups to third division opponents at the third round stage, Ardiles was unsurprisingly sacked and would get his ‘Kelly money’ back upon departing. The footballing world was shocked when Kevin Keegan agreed to take on the challenge in trying to save Newcastle from relegation to the Third Division, and probable bankruptcy.
Keegan’s positive influence on Kelly was immediate: “The gaffer had a purpose” he told Hardy. “He changed it really quickly. That’s why he was good. He saw the place was in the doldrums.” In Keegan’s first match as manager, Kelly scored 2 in a 3-0 win over Bristol City and described the match to Hardy as “One of the best games I’ve played in. It was all about him (Keegan). There was a full house. The ground was jumping. You think, ‘it could be like this every week.’ ”
Keegan’s impact continued and Kelly, alongside the ever reliable Gavin Peacock and crucial new signings Brian Kilcline and Kevin Sheedy, played a major part as United picked up 4 wins from the next 8 games and breathed slightly easier in 17th place. Kelly grabbed another 5 goals in this run taking his tally to 7 in 9 under Keegan and it was perhaps the last one, the winner in a 1-0 home win over Sunderland when Kelly first endeared himself to
the Newcastle support. Kelly would describe the goal as “spawny arsed” but the supporters, celebrating a first derby win for over 7 years, didn’t care. “It looks quite good, we’ve been playing quite well” was how Kelly would describe the potential relegation battle. However Kelly’s optimism was misguided as Newcastle fell to pieces conceding 17 goals when losing the following 5 games. It was the final game in this losing sequence that increased Kelly’s popularity.
Following a pre match bomb scare that delayed the match, with 3 sent off United lost 1-4 at promotion chasing Derby and were back in trouble. Backed by tremendous support described by Hardy as “A call to arms in an apparently futile situation”, Kelly would tell him, “I remember the support that day. It was unforgettable. It was just relentless. The fans wouldn’t let go.” Kelly himself wouldn’t either. He simply never stopped running, never gave up, appeared to be willing to run through a brick wall for the good of the team and played for Newcastle that day like a ‘real fan’ would.
Handing over his shirt to an away supporter following the match with a look as if to say “What more could I have done?”, Kelly was one of
With Plymouth beating Oxford 3-1, United was back in the bottom 3 and they knew they simply had to win both games to stand any chance of staying up.
the last to leave the pitch before heading towards the dugout and a ‘win or bust’ match the following week against another promotion chasing side, Portsmouth.
With the tension and anxiety becoming unbearable against Pompey, 85 minutes had passed before Kelly would take a return pass from Mick Quinn and score arguably the most important goal in United’s history.
their part as Kelly would acknowledge after the game, saying: “They were unbelievable today. Alan McGloughlin (playing for Pompey) said to me half way through the game ‘I can’t believe the noise.’ It was brilliant, they urged us on to get a good result and fortunately for us we got it with 5 minutes to go.”
Never has a goal been celebrated so much as strangers hugged each other like they were long lost brothers. A vast feeling of euphoria swept through St James Park. It was evident the near 26,000 present played tf www.true-faith.co.uk 26
With Port Vale now unable to catch United and other results going favourably, it was now completely in United’s hands. With the final match at Kelly’s old club Leicester ending early due to fighting on the terraces and a pitch invasion, United’s 2-1 lead was allowed to stand and safety was confirmed. Although results elsewhere meant the score was academic, the achievement of stopping up by beating 2 promotion chasers cannot be underestimated. With Keegan given assurances that John Hall would take complete control and back him financially to build for the new Premier League (although he was told he would have to sell Kelly and/ or Peacock by Christmas if promotion was unlikely), the supporters bought into it and for the first time in memory it appeared everyone was pulling in the same direction. Hall needn’t have worried. United started 1992-93 by
continuing where they had left off and beat all before them. Getting swift revenge at Derby (2-1) and beating recently relegated West Ham 2-0 at home were highlights. Kelly scored his first of the season and an important 2nd in front or a delirious Gallowgate End that made the supporters believe promotion was attainable.
Kelly would score 5 goals as United won the first 11 games but his 2 goals in the League Cup at Middlesbrough are possibly more memorable. In the days when we never beat Middlesbrough (1 League Cup win in the previous 10 matches in all competitions), The Mags
went to Ayresome Park facing a Premier League side who had recently hammered FL Champions Leeds 4-1, and played them off the park.
Despite losing 2 league games in a row and being knocked out of the League Cup at Chelsea, 5 wins in the following 6 games ensured United went into the Christmas period as
certainties for promotion. A highlight saw Kelly score a first United hattrick in a 4-1 home win over Cambridge, albeit, his only scoring contribution over 9 games.
Despite a poor period in the New Year where 6 games returned 5 draws and a defeat at Championship chasing rivals Portsmouth, starting with a goal at Tranmere in a 3-0 win, Kelly would score in 6 goals in 5 consecutive games which kick started the promotion campaign. Yet again Kelly would score a crucial goal as described by the Daily Mirror’s match report, “Another pitch invasion followed when David Kelly fired the decisive second deep into injury-time to confirm the Magpies as champions.” With the job now done, Oxford were beaten 2-1 tf www.true-faith.co.uk 28
at home before another match v Kelly’s old club Leicester on the final day of the season. What followed at St James Park was unbelievable as United’s exhilarating
football epitomised their season and Kelly grabbed a hat-trick within 17 first half minutes. By the time The Mags travelled to Grimsby on 4th May, victory would not only secure Promotion but also ensure The Championship. “That was as near perfection as you can get” Keegan said of the
first half. “Now I want us to do what Leeds did and go on straight from promotion to winning the Championship. We have reached one target. Now we have got to set another one and build a team worthy of our supporters. We are very close now and there is no reason why we can’t go all the way.” Kelly’s 11 in 15 and new record signing Andy Cole’s unbelievable 12 in 11 had been that impressive, the injured Peacock hadn’t been missed in the run in to the Championship. But Keegan, who had gained an eye for a player to instantly improve the starting 11, dismantled the partnership before the Premier League could get a chance to witness it.
Like Mick Quinn before him, Kelly would be another terrace favourite who would be sold surprisingly. “You are talking about players who were real idols at this place” said John Beresford, as featured in issue 23 of the magazine, Black and White. “But the manager saw it differently and he has such a gift of looking into the future and getting it right and replacing one idol with another. I think he also knew that ‘Ned’ wouldn’t have been happy not playing regularly.” Bez and King Kev were of course right. With a £750,000 bid from Wolverhampton Wanderers accepted, Keegan told Kelly a certain Peter Beardsley was the new ‘idol’ he was signing and his place wasn’t guaranteed. “I just wanted to play. That was my obsession” Kelly told Hardy. “It’s cutthroat and some people are horrible. He was brilliant with me. I’ve got nothing but respect for him. He told me what he www.true-faith.co.uk
thought and that was it. That was me gone.” Keegan would later say “I could see that a BeardsleyCole combination would give the best of defenders problems” and admitted selling Kelly and replacing him with Beardsley was giving United “Instant Premier League credibility.” Indeed throughout the 3 and a half years that followed, Keegan would admit to continuously “moving for players to stick them straight in the first team” subsequently “disappointing good players like Ruel Fox, Scott Sellers and Mark Hottiger” by replacing them with better players such as Keith Gillespie, David Ginola and Warren Barton. He would later say “I was sorry to see Sellers leave but he wanted first team football – the same as Fox and Hottiger who did well for us and then found the club had moved on and they couldn’t get in the first team.”
The move almost backfired when Beardsley was injured in the last pre-season friendly at Liverpool but an apparent panic buy in Millwall’s Malcolm Allen returned an admirable 7 goals in 12 league and cup starts before Pedro’s return and the start of ‘The Entertainers’.
of “Scores a hat-trick on the telly.” It was obvious he had a place in the hearts of the supporters indefinitely. At Wolves, Kelly would contribute 26 goals in 2 years but despite reaching the FA Cup Quarter Finals
Sadly for Kelly, he would remain on the 9 goals
Kelly himself was spotted amongst the United faithful in the first away PL game at Coventry. In a 1-2 defeat, Kelly was given numerous renditions
in both years, they would fail to gain promotion to the top flight. Kelly’s form had ensured a recall to the Eire side where in February 1995 he would score the goal that sparked an alleged premeditated riot from Combat 18 members that saw the game abandoned and Kelly’s goal annulled. “It’s a lovely memory in www.true-faith.co.uk
one way and obviously so disappointing in another,” Kelly told RTÉ Sport this June. “I still count it as a full cap, I still count it as a goal and I’m extremely proud to have scored it.”
scored in the 26 caps he would eventually gain. Kelly’s days at Wolves were numbered due to the recent signing of Sunderland’s Don Goodman and almost 4 years after initially attempting to sign him, the £900,000 The Mackems would spend on Kelly would be the largest transfer fee of his career. However injury meant ‘Ned’ would tf 29
only feature in 10 games (2 goals) as promotion was gained triggering a further £100,000 to Wolves. As United entered the 1996-97 season boasting an ever improving strike force choice from Beardsley, Ferdinand, Asprilla and Shearer, Kelly would be played right wing on 24 occasions including coming on as substitute in a 1-1 draw at St James Park in April 1997. In a drab game, with visiting fans banned, more memorable for the ovation Kelly would get when entering the field of play, when recalling past Derby memories, ‘The Sunderland Echo’ would conveniently fail to mention the unbelievably warm welcome The Mags gave a Sunderland player. Subsequently passing credit tf www.true-faith.co.uk 30
when obviously due, they focused primarily on the chance Kelly missed:
the 3 occasions The Mags knocked Tranmere out of Cup competitions.
“David Kelly had been complaining all season about not getting a chance up front. But the former Magpie was played in an advanced position in this game only to blow his moment of potential glory when he missed a sitter at the death.”
Winding down his playing career at 4 more clubs including Sheffield United and Motherwell, a friendship built with Billy Davies at the latter ensured Kelly would become assistant manager to Davies when at Derby and then Nottingham Forest.
As Sunderland slipped out of the Premier League on the last day of the season, the nomadic Kelly was soon off to Tranmere Rovers where in 3 seasons he would score 21 goals in 88 league appearances, contribute 8 goals in the 1999-2000 League Cup that eventually saw them lose to Leicester in the final, as well as receive rapturous applause from United’s support on
Speaking prior to a return in a top of the table clash St James Park in March 2010, Kelly would say ““It will be a super game, they are going well and the Geordie nation always bring a lot of supporters. My lad was born there so they are a club close to my heart. I’ve been very fortunate to play for some huge clubs.” United would win 2-0 and www.true-faith.co.uk
For the Record: • Newcastle lost only 2 games when David Kelly scored. They were at Blackburn (Keegan’s first away match, 1-3) and at Swindon (1-2) in the Promotion Season. • Evidently fit, Kelly missed only 1 league game when at United, the 0-1 defeat at home to Grimsby that ended the unbeaten run. • Kelly scored 35 goals in 70 league games including being top scorer with 24 in the promotion season. 4 more were scored in an additional 9 cup games. • Newcastle’s 11 consecutive wins at the start of 1992-93 was 2 short of the record set by Reading in 1985. • Alongside Arsenal, Chelsea, Everton, Liverpool, Manchester United, Tottenham and West Ham, Newcastle United has never spent a season below the 2nd tier.
finish 23 points ahead of Forest in achieving promotion back to the Premier League at the first attempt. Eventually cutting ties with Davies after a second sacking at Forest in March 2014, Kelly would become assistant manager to Mark Robins (scorer of the Manchester United’s opener on Tyneside in Newcastle’s 2-3 defeat to them in the FA Cup, 1990) at Scunthorpe United before the year was out. So what of that shirt Ned threw into Derby’s Osmaston End in April 1992? The proud owner’s attempt to meet Kelly would result in an arrangement where owner and son would attend Scunthorpe’s recent www.true-faith.co.uk
home game v Coventry. Maintaining the common touch, Kelly would sign it without hesitation. You tend to forget that Kelly was only in a Black & White shirt for 18 months. The likes of Tony Green, Kevin Keegan and Andy Cole all made a massive impact on the supporters in such a short period of time, but arguably none have been more important than Kelly. If United’s modern day players had his attitude and ethics then perhaps the supporters would still feel a connection with the players. Genuine and never shirking responsibility, Kelly simply kept us up then sent us up.
What they said: “Not a spectacular striker, but a players player, honest with lots of effort, deceivingly quick around the penalty area and able to take a chance when on the ground or in the air.” Paul Joannou, Newcastle United – ‘The Ultimate Who’s Who’ “There were players at the club who should never have been playing for Newcastle United. There were some good lads to build on, like David Kelly, a genuine boy who did a great job for us.” Kevin Keegan “When David Kelly went, my personal feeling was that I wanted him to stay. I thought he could have done a great job for us in the Premier League and he should have stayed because of what he did to get us there” John Beresford “I played that goal in my head for an awful long time. You remember big goals. What happened after? Massive hugs. Relief. That’s what you felt. You sit down in the dressing room afterwards and you’re like, Yes! Thank fuck I scored! The feeling of relief was incredible. Of course you remember it. Your memories become fonder the older you get.” David Kelly to Martin Hardy for ‘Touching Distance’, on THAT goal v Portsmouth.
Ian Cathro - Assistant Coach
Ian Cathro’s career to date has been unconventional to say the least. Born in 1986 he is younger than some of players he is coaching, he has never played professional football, and has now worked in 4 different countries, including a stint as Assistant Coach with Spanish giants Valencia. from the master, being in Jose Mourinho’s Porto squad of 2004 which won the Champions League. When Nuno became manager of Portuguese side Rio Ave in 2012, he offered Cathro the role of Assistant Coach and now that Cathro’s ambitions were extending beyond youth player development, he bit the bullet and went off to Portugal. Cathro has made the point that he was unlikely to find a managerial role in Scotland, given the reluctance to appoint young managers and certainly those without a playing career. Which of course is a valid point – the coaches who have played professionally probably only start their coaching careers in the mid-30s at the earliest : the likes of Cathro have at least been doing it all of their adult lives and as a career in itself, not as an adjunct to being a player. Food for thought.
Rangers to fill their managerial vacancy before current incumbent Mark Warburton got the job during the summer.
Cathro is from Dundee and his As it was, Cathro was attracted playing career extended to the to the Newcastle post at a time youth team of Forfar Athletic when he was keen to return home, and as an amateur with Brechin not least so he could work in his City. When a knee ligament mother tongue. In an interview injury curtailed his development with Guillem Balague for Sky (although he readily admits that Sports he talked of listening to he was “never a good player”) what players were thinking and he set up a coaching school in how they interpreted situations, Dundee while still in his teens going beyond the technical and and it was here that he came to physical qualities they have. He the attention of then Dundee has ambitions of being a Head United manager Craig Levein. Coach or Manager and wants to Levein appointed him head of work abroad again at some point. the club’s junior academy at the He is seen as a massively positive tender age of 22, and following character (back at Dundee United this he was appointed head of he wanted it written into their the SFA’s regional performance targets that they would produce school in Dundee in 2012. A fitting a world-class player by 2020) testimony to Cathro’s coaching who focusses on the strengths of skills comes from Ryan Gauld, players and has a very analytical now playing with Sporting Lisbon approach to opponents and the and who came under Cathro’s After 2 years at Rio Ave, which patterns of matches. influence as a schoolkid at his included appearances in the Dundee coaching school. Gauld his B Licence at Portuguese Cup Final and League When Cathro got credits Cathro with much of his Ray McKinnon Cup Final (both lost to Benfica), Largs, his mentor early development – and now he analysis Nuno (apparently helped by noted his strength in game is playing for Scotland Under-21s. ed to powerful agent Jorge Mendes) and training sessions design focus on game situations. With At this stage of his career Cathro moved to Valencia and at 28 no stellar playing career to fall had still not worked with first team Cathro went with him. Cathro was on, many in the game have players, though that was about clear that he was expanding his back ped a respect for Cathro to change when he met retired experience with a view to one day develo on his professionalism as Portuguese goalkeeper Nuno becoming a manager and there based , quite remarkable for Espirito Santo on an SFA coaching was widespread speculation that a coach ne not yet 30. course. Santo himself had learned he was on the radar of Glasgow someo
Paul Simpson - Assistant Coach
If and when Steve McClaren gets the bullet from St James Park there is one man with plenty of managerial experience who can fill the breach, even if on a short term basis. Paul Simpson has managed at 6 different clubs since his managerial career started in 2002, as well being first team coach at Derby County. Prior to management, Simpson played over 700 professional games in a career which spanned 9 clubs, starting as an apprentice with Manchester City in 1983 and making 127 first team starts as a winger up to his departure in 1988 for Oxford United. It was during his time at City that he made his 5 appearances for England Under21s (to add to the 3 U-18 caps). Simpson played for Oxford United for three and a half seasons as a regular, all in the second level, before signing for Derby County where he played from 1992 to 1996. In that period Derby were also a second level team until they won promotion in 1995-96, and Simpson played 19 games in the top flight before a loan period to Sheffield United and a permanent move to Wolves. Subsequent moves to Blackpool and Rochdale saw him take over as PlayerManager in June 2002 at the latter, following the resignation of John Hollins. Simpson’s star moved into the ascendancy in his next role – Player Manager at his hometown club, Carlisle United, who at the time were in dire financial straits. In his 3 years at the club, Carlisle were relegated to the Conference, immediately won promotion back to League 2 and were then League 2 Champions in 2005-06.
Success at Carlisle helped get Simpson the manager’s job at Preston, after Billy Davies’ departure – and probably Simpson’s highest managerial achievement – top of the Championship at the turn of the year. Unfortunately they missed the play-offs by virtue of goal difference and after a poor start to the following season, 2007-08, Simpson was sacked. Two years followed as manager of Shrewsbury, including a defeat in the League 2 Play-Off final, then a tumultuous 6 months at Stockport County, taking us up to 2011. Simpson spent time away from management, with a 16 month stint at the VisionPro Sports Institute in Portugal – coaching young footballers who are seeking a way back into the professional game after being released by clubs. He also did media work with BBC Radio and Sky Sports as well as being a Match Observer for the Premier League. In October 2013 Simpson became First Team Coach at Derby County when Steve McClaren was appointed manager and of course he has followed McClaren from there to St James Park. Derby’s collapse at the end of last season has somewhat tarnished the otherwise highly regarded
McClaren / Simpson team and led to the introduction of Paul Clement to the Derby hot seat. Simpson’s ability to turn around the fortunes of the clubs he managed earlier in his career earned him a burgeoning reputation within the game and at one point he was tipped for management at a higher level, but it did not happen. He certainly has the qualifications – UEFA Pro Licence, Honours Degree in Sports Science and Certificate in Applied Management from Warwick University Business School. Newcastle is Simpson’s first role in the top flight although his managerial experience is extensive, even if gained at lower levels. Aged 49 he brings a maturity to the training ground and a familiar face for McClaren to work with. He has generally kept in the background this season so far (given results, with good cause) with McClaren generally facing the media. As for his impact on individual and team performances this season, the jury is seriously still out, but Simpson is no stranger to adversity as inevitably the role of the coaching staff comes under the spotlight while the team sits at the bottom of the league. tf 33
Steve Black - Consultant
Given that he has written his autobiography (‘Blackie’, Mainstream Publishing) then a profile of a few hundred words is unlikely to do justice to Steve Black. And if his main reputation is as a motivator, then let’s be honest, there’s work to done with the current crop of first teamers at St. James Park.
tiredness. Although on permanent medication, those who have seen him in action, either on the lf himse bes Black generally descri practice pitch or in a training h thoug coach g tionin condi as a room, talk of Black’s boundless his talents are generally seen energy and enthusiasm. as all-encompassing, hence his reputation for motivational What Black has learned – “I’ve speaking. He has worked for listened to the best all over the many football teams, including world. Not just in sport but in S*******d, Fulham, Norwich business as well. What they have City, Huddersfield Town and QPR to say can be adapted to any walk but it is probably in the oval ball of life. It’s about standards, being game that he has achieved most positive and committed” - he distinction. Black coached the puts into his work. He is seen British & Irish Lions and Wales and as unconventional because he is has been a personal mentor to effectively self-taught – he has a many international sportsmen library of 15,000 books, a fifth of including Jonny Wilkinson. He was which are about strategy. conditioning coach for Newcastle Falcons for 3 years (1996 – 1999) All of which begs the question, when he worked with Rob Andrew how is he being used at St James as the Falcons won the Premiership Park? If KK had him on the books and the Tetley’s Bitter Cup. Many for 5 (glorious) years then that of the testimonies to Black refer sounds testimony enough, but the to his positive approach and current crop of players at SJP are Black’s break into professional willingness to go the extra mile to a different proposition altogether. sport came when Kevin Keegan get the best out of individuals and To the naked eye, motivation took him onto Newcastle’s staff he has won awards from the city’s seems a problem with a number in 1991. Black worked with the Sports Council both for Coach of of players and maybe we have big names and lesser names the Year and Personality of the to accept that it will take time of the Keegan managerial era Year. to turn things around. United the from its and received plaud may keeper Freddie Woodman is manager, especially in relation to Some of Black’s inner strength ms quoted as saying that Black “will his one to one work with players. comefromhisownhealthproble bring a lot to this club and a lot Anyone who can help Mike – he suffers from ulcerative to the players. We will be a better Hooper lose 56lb in 6 weeks must colitis, which leads to daily blood team and a better club for having have something going for them. loss, and from obstructive sleep e around”. Let’s hope so. And by the way, Black was no apnoea, which obviously leads to Blacki
Let’s start at the beginning – an education at St. Cuthbert’s Grammar School which (speaking from personal experience) is as good a grounding you’re going to get in life, and Black put it to good use by setting out as a pub bouncer – including apparently at the Corner House in Heaton which I recall had its livelier moments before its gentrification. He developed a hard man image -“when a bloke pulled a knife on me I slung him through a glass door which ripped open his neck. I thought he was going to die. That was it for me. It was a defining moment in my life”. Anyway, that Benwell Hill education was put to more practical use and he subsequently obtained a BA in Sports Science from Northumbria University and turned his attention to coaching and fitness.
mean footballer, having played for Newcastle Boys.
Simon Smith - Goalkeeping Coach
With Tim Krul’s season long injury now putting the spotlight on the goalkeeping position at the club, who is the specialist with responsibility for coaching our custodians. Replacing Andy Woodman, step forward Simon Smith, appointed by Steve McClaren as the man to improve our goalkeepers – and as we sit at the bottom of the league conceding an average of more than 2 goals per game perhaps it is more of a challenge than most. Smith hails from Newton Aycliffe and was on United’s books as a junior then professional between 1978 and 1982. Unable to break through to the first team, Smith moved to non-League football, playing for Whitley Bay, Blyth Spartans and Gateshead. He spent 9 years at the Heed, beginning in 1985-86, playing 501 games including a spell of 405 consecutive matches. He also played for the FA’s Nonleague XI. He subsequently became a specialist goalkeeping coach, obtaining the UEFA Grade A Licence and a BSc in Sports Science from Northumbria University. Smith set up the Simon Smith Goalkeeping Academy in 1995. He had returned to United in 1993 as goalkeeping coach at the club’s Centre of Excellence then at the Academy. In 1999 he became first team goalkeeping coach under Ruud Gullit and then Sir Bobby Robson. Smith has some fantastic anecdotes about SBR, but perhaps the best is that he always called Smith “The Goalkeeping Lad”, presumably even Smith being a name too far to remember for the great man.
Smith left the club in 2004 and worked for the Football Association, working with varying levels of goalkeepers and ultimately he became head of all goalkeeping coaches at the FA. In 2006 Smith moved to Vancouver to under take a year-long secondment to research the biomechanics of goalkeeping, and during this time he worked as a consultant to the Canadian national team. Smith returned to work for the FA and it was from there that he joined United in the summer, having also worked part time for a number of clubs – S********d, Carlisle, Wigan, Manchester United, Sheffield Wednesday and Hartlepool.
pretty basic you may think, but then ”parrying or blocking can give attackers second chances”. Not sure if young Timothy has been paying enough attention there. If you’re a budding keeper, there are plenty of training DVDs out there from Smith’s training business, Simon Smith Goalkeeping. In effect he’s devoted his entire career to improvement of the custodial arts, and it looks like his skill set will be called upon ever more so in the coming weeks and months. He might even get a game.
It’s not all goalkeeping though. Smith has worked with members of the England cricket team, including James Foster and Geraint Jones, in particular on footwork, catching and diving techniques. If you want Smith’s take on events, then he’s on Twitter (with 6,000 follow ers) where there’s some interesting advice – “you must learn or teach goalkeepers to catch the ball”
a celebration of Czech football
Fresh off the tram and the boulevard of Vršovická intersects a flat and unpromising quarter, on the boundary of middle-class comfort and workingclass expediency, between elegant apartments and the ubiquitous panelák (the kind of tower block seen in the background of any respectable Cold War thriller). It is winter in Prague. Orders coming from Moscow are a thing of the past, but my blueing lips tell me the November wind still makes the trip, and I’m growing self-conscious about the din of my dental castanets. My guide is late. Prudence trumps fashion here, and padded coat after weathered fleece after dubious fur cap pass by. Young, old, male, female, sober, stumbling and everything in between are making their way excitably toward an antique l o u d s p e a k e r ’s call. Between the coat-collars of a few: a tf 36
flash of green, and a pure white. A brave, bare-armed contingent sport replica stripes and little else. All are heading for the source of the sound which is crackling through the floodlit night, a prime example of the terrifying phenomenon that is Czech PA, emanating from the lop-sided silhouette of the Ďolíček stadium. I am surrounded by the fans of
Bohemians Praha 1905, and will share their weekend world for a few eccentric hours. The dated jingle of a tram, and my guide arrives. A fellow Geordie abroad, he has selflessly volunteered to drink and watch football with me. After much swearing and meteorology, we cast about for the www.true-faith.co.uk
necessary provision for our preservation – shelter – and for the indisputable and inescapable necessity of everyday Czech living: beer. Following the pattern of the city in what seems to be adherence to government decree, the opportunities for such a glass of bubbling goodness are never more than twenty yards apart. Through the door of the nearest hospoda and the barman invites us to sit and warm up, even through the language barrier he understands the chattering of my teeth. The beer arrives, and keeps arriving, and the talk swiftly turns to football – though with Newcastle United a shared passion, not much turning is required. Away from the bipolarity of our club, our expat team tonight, I learn, is consistently bizarre. Founded in 1905, Bohemians are the third team of the Czech capital. Their trophy collection is
dwarfed by (extremely) local rivals Slavia, based a mile down the road, and the giant of Sparta to the north of the city. Without the silverware of their neighbours, Bohemians have developed the selfdeprecating humour of a feckless family failure, and an ironic appreciation of their place. City rivals nod to nationalism with names and colours – after a 1927 tour of Australia, Bohemians adopted as their much beloved emblem the notexactly-native kangaroo. So much for nationalism. While the ultras of Sparta sing of knights, iron, enemies and battle, it is to the talismanic animal the Ďolíček faithful direct their chants. This kind of off-beat opposition defines the politics, attitude and culture of the club. Their independent spirit, typified at the time by nowchairman Antonin Panenka (the chap who gave his name to those cheeky
chipped penalties), made them a popular choice under communist rule. They’re the team of artists and actors, of the proles and the party goers, and they are the pluckiest of underdogs. In 2004/05 they were banned for half a season due to some seriously shaky accountancy, then relegated to the Czech third division – in this circle of hell, Vinny Jones would look like Nureyev – only fan contributions saved the club from insolvency. En route back to the top flight, the DIY style of the Ďolíček didn’t fly with officialdom, and the kangaroos were evicted, forced to move in with Slavia, their bitter derby rivals. Now they’re home, they’re up against a team I’ve never heard of, and kick-off is approaching.
after a 1927 tour of Australia, Bohemians adopted as their much beloved emblem the not-exactlynative kangaroo.
I step out of the bar feeling like Captain Oates, and head for the turnstiles. They’re a series of small huts, separating icy, uncovered
AC/DC roar through the PA system, and the teams emerge. Bohemians are led by their mascot, a towering kangaroo figure who stirs up the support
streets, from icy, uncovered club property. I step up, like most Czechs, the girl can smell the English on me at a hundred paces. ‘Adult?’ My beard says obviously. ‘Main stand?’ I chance it. ‘150kc please’ I hand over the equivalent of four quid, and click through before they change their mind. My subconscious has prepared me, over the years, to expect disappointment behind the St James’ turnstiles. A dingy concourse, chlorinated pints selling like saffron, nuclear pies and the sweatiest of burgers. Instead, I enter a paradise. Everywhere there are timber kiosks, flames and fire-pits, some keep chatting fans warm, others roast spinning joints of Pražská šunka, Prague ham. Bratwurst and kielbasa and a dozen other sausages are smoking away, mulled wine is steaming. A group of scruffy musicians play jaunty tunes, and everywhere, always, beer is being served. About one pound for the drink, another for the glass: keep hold of it, and keep refilling it. It’s a BBQ, it’s a carnival, it’s a
street party, and when the PA reminds everyone what they’re here for, when we file up the wooden steps into the stands, none of the fun is lost. The food, the beer, the clouds of smoke from Sparta brand cigarettes – it all comes too. Since the Sporting Events (Control of Alcohol etc.) Act 1985, the natural combination of a beverage and a live football match became a criminal offence. I once explained this to a Czech acquaintance, more interested in ice-hockey than the beautiful game, and received a look of disgusted disbelief in return. The stand behind the goal to which the most colourful, the loudest and seemingly most committed fans are headed, myself swept along with them, has a bar, fully manned and serving, set into it. The ‘main stand’ was a good choice. Directly opposite is a building site. To the right, a large seated stand accommodating the few journalists who turned up, and the more cautious observers – it’s nearly empty. To the left an MDF fence, cheerfully painted
green and white, comprises the fourth side of this crazy rectangle. Between this and the building site could generously be called the ‘away end’, it is at least where the fifty or so FC Slovacko die-hards have draped their banners. I gather they’re a nothing team from the middle of nowhere, their anonymity and the passion with which their hairless fans are singing makes me glad they’re as far away as possible. ACDC roar through the PA system, and the teams emerge. Bohemians are led by their mascot, a towering kangaroo figure who stirs up the support, backflips and all. Soon the chants of the masses around me drown out the away contingent. There are no seats for the travelling fans, or the hundreds cramming onto the concrete terrace where I stand, no choice unless you want fag-ends and spilt beer on your jeans. The impact of the Taylor Report on English the landscape of the terraces has had a similar if opposite limiting of options – you sit, or you www.true-faith.co.uk
don’t go. The events which caused the overreaction are understandable, but footballing culture has moved beyond the need to treat fans as troublesome students, forced to sit still and quiet in the library. Even St James’, one of the more vocal venues, can feel more suited to borrowing books than supporting a team. As the match kicks off, the fans do likewise. A man armed with a megaphone mounts a ladder in-front of the already bouncing crowd. No clue what he said, but this screaming cheerleader got even monolingual me joining in. My companion and I are jumping. We’re not the only expats. Hammers in front of me hear our accent, turn, and apologise for serving Newcastle drubbing earlier that day. A Leicester fan, one of Tottenham’s too, join in the rounds from the bar just feet away. Bohemians win a pen. Silence. A miss. Czech expletives, then the party continues. This is a glorious holiday from bubble-wrapped Premier
League stadia. In England it now takes the lawlessness of an away day to offer close to a taste of the Czech football experience. In the Ďolíček’s anarchy of alcohol, cigarettes, and occasionally something stronger being passed along the rows, there is a certain respect. Away from the condescension of English footballing authorities this club is a revelation. A defiant green flare is lit as a first Slovacko goal bobbles in. There is noise everywhere, and laughter what’s more. This place is one of joy regardless of the score it seems. It is also one of colour. Confetti and enormous banners add to the spectacle of green and white already present in scarfs and shirts. Outdoor toilets offer a view of Slovacko’s second goal without the slightest inconvenience. A volley of forsaken deposits fly as plastic cups are hurled toward (or over) wisely placed netting. The Kangaroos lose two nil, but when the final whistle
blows not one decibel is dropped, and the home team come over to applaud their support. I can’t help but wish that, in this setting, even with this result, the applauding players were in black and white. People spill out of the ground, but nothing outside can’t be found within – and inside there was football. For the locals at least there is the promise of next time. I must exit the union of spectacle and fandom, must leave this crumbling venue where the sport’s value is understood, and its costs ignored. Bohemians 1905 are, in a word, bohemian. They do as they please, and are afforded the freedom to do so. They are invited to a public space and enjoined to have fun, to do and to watch what they love. Being bohemian probably means little to the patrons of this rock’n’roll oasis, this sanctuary for fans: it is simply the way they are, and I am supremely envious of these green and white kangaroos, and their riotous home.
Bohemians 1905 are, in a word, bohemian. They do as they please, and are afforded the freedom to do so
The year is 1974 and Bologna, Italy’s Massimo Osti launches the brand Chester Perry, soon to be known as C.P Company. An ex graphic designer, Osti experimented heavily with the dyeing of garments, allowing the multiple materials used to create finished pieces, to react differently within the same dye bath. The technique used, quickly became a trademark of C.P Company.
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BRANDED: STONE ISLAND With Osti’s continued desire to explore creative techniques within menswear, in 1982 he created a diffusion label that he could work on alongside CP Company. Using a revolutionary new fabric inspired by tarpaulin for the labels opening collection, Osti was able to create a used, worn look through stone washing, whilst still providing the wearer with a durable, resistant, high quality garment. The collection created, sold out at all locations within 10 days of its unveiling and a new brand was born. The brand in question, was Stone Island. tf 40
As Osti’s career at the helm of Stone Island progressed, he revolutionised the face of men’s outerwear. In 1987, he invented both Rubber Flax and Rubber Woollinen and wool respectively,
given a thin rubber coating. Not only did this provide both materials with added strength, it allowed them to be fully water resistant, along with giving them both a brand new look and feel.
Creations like this would continue to strengthen Stone Islands core purposeto provide the wearer with a high quality, luxury garment that was not only individual, but also durable, resistant and long lasting. In 1991, Osti created an instant classic with the Reflective Jacket.Combining waterproof fabric with an incredibly thin layer of glass microspheres, even the weakest of light source was reflected strongly on the garment-yet another display of Stone Islands revolutionary creative abilities.
In 1995, after close to 25 years of designing within the field of menswear and creating numerous revolutionary materials ( there are many others I could touch on with more time and words) along with hundreds of revolutionary garments, Massimo Osti sadly passed away. He was 61. However, his legacy within Menswear lives on and both C.P Company and Stone Island continue to progress in both the production of clothing and notoriety of their names alone. Fast forward to 2015 and Stone Island’s compass
patch buttoned to the left arm of every one of their garments, is instantly recognisable. Often with a hefty price tag in tow (for those of you who may be blissfuly unaware, a jacket will start at around £430, but in the most extreme of cases could cost you upwards of a grand) the brand is loved by technical outerwear connoissuer’s around the world. However, one subculture has adopted the brand as their own like no other: football casuals.
However, his legacy within Menswear lives on and both C.P Company and Stone Island continue to progress in both the production of clothing and notoriety of their names alone
The first firm, if you will that returned to the UK sporting Stone Island i’m sure will forever be up for debate,
however it is generally acknowledged that away days on the continent in the early 80’s for both Liverpool and Aberdeen fans, were one of the main influences in the brands rapid rise in popularity back home. Casual’s donned themselves (and as we’re about to discuss, many supporters still do) in high end brands such as Lacoste, the previously mentioned C.P Company and most commonly Stone Island, in an attempt to differentiate themselves from your normal club crest wearing supporter. It was a sign of status and in the case of football casuals, an indication to opposition fans that you were part of what they considered to be an elite group who travelled with their team often for reasons other than those that took place on the pitch.
As hooliganism rose in the 80’s, so did the popularity of Stone Island, with the brand quickly becoming widely regarded as the must have staple for any serious casual. However, with this title, naturally came stigma and a reputation that to this day, the brand has struggled to shake. Still, Stone Island is widely regarded as having a life long affiliation with football violence. I would even go out on a limb and say that if you stopped a certain number of people on the street and showed them the SI badge, the majority of them would mention the casual subculture in one form or another. That compass logo has almost became synonymous with football violence, to the point i would say it’s practically a representation of the subculture itself.
The next time you’re at the match-whether you’re having a pint outside the ground or you’re in your seat, have a look around. I’d be very surprised if you didn’t notice the compass on the arm of someone soon enough. The problem is (even with the hefty prices mentioned earlier) wearing the brand to this day still comes with its issues, even if football hooliganism has declined massively. Plenty of pubs around the country simply won’t entertain your custom, even if you don’t plan on lobbing your (plastic, in Glasgow) pint glass at someone else upon successfully quenching your pre match thirst. Police presence will also take a particular interest in your actions, even if they stretch no further than simply walking up to the ground from the metro.
As hooliganism rose in the 80’s, so did the popularity of Stone Island, with the brand quickly becoming widely regarded as the must have staple for any serious casual
One thing you may also notice however (something which working in menswear retail, I have noticed myself particularly within the last few years) is the age of people choosing Stone Island. I’ll be honest with you, my first thought upon seeing a group of 16 year old lads all clad head to toe in the brand is “how can you afforded that?”. My second thought, is always, why exactly they’ve chosen the brand. Are they aware of the stigma attached? Is that what actually draws them to brand in the first place? Plenty of you reading have probably cringed at the behaviour displayed by younger members of our away support from time to time. It’s a bit of a touchy subject, but it’s something i’ve regularly seen fans my age and older complain about quite regularly. For those of you slightly more technologically up to date, a quick instagram or twitter search of the brands name (or C.P Company, for that matter) will bring up plenty of pictures of bairns posing in front of flags, faces covered, Stone Island badges proudly displayed as they claim to be a part of one ‘young team’ or another. Whilst on the grand scheme of things they’re largely harmless I’m sure, it’s an indication that even to them the brand still very much stands for the subculture of hooliganism, whether they fully understand the history behind the marriage of the two or not. In other cases, maybe they’re just being www.true-faith.co.uk
influenced by those around them to buy into the brandwhether it’s their mates, or maybe their old man who did (or in most cases, still does) have a passion for the clothing Osti produced. Does a new wave of young football attending fans wearing the brand in this day and age really add to the stigma? The game itself is massively different to that of what it was in the 80’s, I’m certain, let alone the fact that football violence is (quite thankfully, i have to add) not what it used to be. Does the label deserve to be treated with the same notoriety that it was when hooliganism was at it’s peak? Stone Island is a brand that for me, manages to speak to numerous different walks of life for numerous different reasons, whilst always retaining a notoriety to all that wear the label. Whether you appreciate Osti’s creative vision and have a passion for the garments the brand creates, whether you wear the brand due to the influence of others, or whether you simply think it looks good and are willing to spend the money-wearing the compass on your arm leaves you open to envy of some and the (often unfair, it has to be said) critique of many.
Stone Island is a brand that for me, manages to speak to numerous different walks of life for numerous different reasons...
Regardless of what you may think, or how you may feel about the brand, Stone Island stands in a league of it’s own and probably always will. tf 43
Remember when supporting Newcastle United wasn’t a total chore? Think hard. Was it before after you left/bolloxed up school or uni? Was it in the bleak/halcyon days (delete as appropriate) before you met your girlfriend/wife? Had you been on that holiday with the lads that you knew you’d talk about at every opportunity for the rest of your life, and have done? Or was it even before any of that. Were you even born or conscious?
A S ’ R E SPOTT GUIDE ALEX HURST
Tough one, and most likely dependant on your outlook on the 11/12 season. Thousands flooded back – some still stayed away after relegation, Sportdirect@ stjamespark.com (forget about morals – that is THE shittest name for anything I can remember and I had a mate at school who called himself ‘T-Bone’) & Keegan. But I was happy. Newcastle United were really good (at times) and Alan Pardew was holding a talk for charity in St James’ three days before the start of the new tf 44
Premier League season after finishing 5th just 2 months earlier finishing above mega spenders Chelsea and Liverpool. Besides saying that Newcaste United were bigger than Spurs, the absolute aim for the season was 4th place (hello 16th and a relegation battle) & the best was still to come from Sylvain Marveaux (yawn) the one anecdote I took away was the question Pardew took on Graeme Carr. Pardew was
asked who had brought Yohann Cabaye, Demba Ba and Hatem Ben Arfa to the club. He answered, politically, that he had the last word on transfers but all three members of the ‘transfer team’ (Llambias, Carr & himself) had to agree on a player signing. Pardew could recommend players but it had to be a unilateral decision. Hmm. In the months and years since that comment it’s been well documented that that, was bullshit. Players that Pardew clearly didn’t www.true-faith.co.uk
want or trust were brought in and many blamed the next England manager (don’t get angry at me, who else is going to take it?) on their failings. Rightly or wrongly, Graeme Carr buys the players, not Pardew. Not McClaren. With all of this in mind, and Newcastle United mostly likely being relegated this season – just admit it, it makes things easier – the role and record of Graham Carr needs to be examined. A final word on that charity talk from Alan Pardew in early August 2012 though. Pardew told one anecdote which, being Pardew, he probably still tells the wife every time Adam Lallana appears on his screen. Pardew claimed that on his first meeting with Graeme Carr he told our ‘chief scout’ to go and buy one of his star Southampton players currently playing in League One. Carr scouted Lallana for a very short period and came back with an emphatic ‘no’ – stating he he’d never play in the www.true-faith.co.uk
Premier League. Pardew claimed to have said that he told Carr he was wrong and Lallana would play for England and a top 4 side. All of this was three days before Southampton’s return to the Premier League so Pardew was already brimming with pride at the story. He must be unbearable now. Graeme Carr probably sits uncomfortable at the £25m+ Ashley has probably missed out on from the re-sale.Or maybe he doesn’t. We all know Pardew’s flaws and strengths as he’s been the face and mouth of my football club for 5 years. We felt like we knew him. It made many hate him. Regardless of whether you believe he was the antiChrist or working for a man impossible to please – Alan Pardew should not have had to answer for the mistakes of his boss. Or the chief scout. So how does Graeme Carr feel about the ‘players that got away’? We have no idea. He doesn’t speak to anyone. He’s not accountable to us as fans.
His boss, Lee Charnley, is scared of being on TV. Or radio. Strangely enough he rejected my request to come on our podcast. Sorry, ignored the request. So how accountable is Graeme Carr? He’s faced very little, if any, real scrutiny. Graeme Carr joined United in one of the more serene periods of Mike Ashley’s stewardship of Newcastle United. The team couldn’t stop winning – Level 7 had made SJP noisy and intimidating again and besides the farcical renaming of the stadium, United marched towards promotion with record postwar crowds for the Second Division maintaining the 4th highest average attendance in the country for that season. Not a big club though. What attracted Carr to United? I’ve no clue. He’s local – ish. Born in Corbridge but appears to have spent most of his adult life away from the area – though I don’t have a lot to go on. His football and coaching career were
Regardless of whether you believe he was the anti-Christ or working for a man impossible to please – Alan Pardew should not have had to answer for the mistakes of his boss. Or the chief scout.
Here’s something I bet you didn’t know though. Graeme Carr was a chief scout at Manchester City under the mental regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and Sven Goren Eriksson unremarkable, and a string of poor performances at managerial level saw him almost disappear from the game. So far, so no-descript. Here’s something I bet you didn’t know though. Graeme Carr was a chief scout at Manchester City under the mental regime of Thaksin Shinawatra and Sven Goren Eriksson. This rarely mentioned and little known fact has baffled me, as it’s widely regarded that City were close to financial oblivion until their billionaire Sheik’s came in from nowhere. When the former Thai PM bought City, he started to extravagantly spend money the club didn’t have. What concerns me most is that the Premier League welcomed him as a club owner after he had lost democratic power in Thailand after to a military coup had forcibly removed him from the country. He still faces allegations of wide spread corruption, embezzlement and human rights abuses. Football eh? tf 46
I don’t blame Carr for working for a corrupt, allegedly evil man in Shinawatra, but he’s moved from this bloke to, to the princes of the Emirates and onto Mike Ashley. Carr’s record at Manchester City is dubious at best. The ‘super scout’ said in a rare Talk Sport Interview in 2012 that he was chief scout at Manchester City for seven years. Seven Years! Assuming he left the club with Eriksson that would put his stint at City from 2001 to 2008 at least. It would be impossible for me, knowing little about the transfer success and failure of Carr and what extent managers had a say in transfers, but it’s needless to say there were a hell of a lot more flops than success’ in this period for City. However as I examined the figures at Manchester City for this period I soon realised what made Carr so appealing at NUFC. From 2003 to 2007 Manchester City a net transfer spend of -£14m. An incredible
statistic for a Premier League club around that time. That stat encompass’ 4 seasons in the Premier League. In that time Manchester City finished 16th, 8th, 15th 14th. Things go a bit crazy when the club is sold to the Thai PM and the next season they had a net spend of £39m under Eriksson, with the club only finishing 10th and Eriksson losing his job (and presumably Carr moving on as well. Within that period at City, Carr either scouted or had some role in bringing to the club; Paul Bosvelt, Claudio Reyna, Ben Tatcher, Danny Mills, Darius Vassell, Georgious Samaras, Paul Dickov, Andy Cole, Andreas Issaakson – amongst others. I’ve really racked my brains and I can only see Joe Hart and Anton Siberski being remotely well remembered by City fans from those years.
I soon realised what made Carr so appealing at NUFC. From 2003 to 2007 Manchester City a net transfer spend of -£14m. An incredible statistic for a Premier League club around that time.
What’s also startling is that the then manager, Stuart Pearce, regularly bemoaned the lack of funds at his disposal and was widely blamed for www.true-faith.co.uk
having a ‘poor record in the transfer market’ which ultimately cost him his job. How much blame did the Chief Scout take in this? I don’t know. I do know that the players signed in this period were mostly rank, yet the club still turned a vast profit from player trading. Pearce has since proved he’s a managerial dud at all other clubs. He should never have been handed a Premier League for just being Stuart Pearce. What does his failure say about the Chief Scout? Not a lot. My analysis of the situation concluded when the following season after Pearce’s departure (and 10 goals scored in 19 home games) was the £8.8 million pounds capture of Rolando Bianchi. The Italian got 4 goals that season, 2 in the league. Other signings made under Carr’s watch when money arrived were a string of mediocre players who all failed to make it at premier League level, with the exception of Benjani.
To put it simply he was a failure at City. But a failure who made a profit. That clearly appealed to United. After leaving City he bizarrely turned up at Notts County with Eriksson. I remember a Notts County fan telling me that his club had been bought out by billionaire owners in 2009 and his side would soon be bigger than my newly relegated NUFC. Nice one, mate. It all ended up being a scam and the club was left with a £7m bill and almost went to the wall. Sven as director of football and Carr as chief scout brought in Sol Campbell on a free on an alleged £100k/ week contract playing in League One. The less said about this, the better. So far, so uninspiring for the man some say makes the ‘football decisions at NUFC’. Carr’s record at Manchester City was clearly something that will have attracted United and while it’s depressing that such
mediocrity could lead to a job at United, it only got him the role of Chief Scout. Not director of football. Not the man who picks every player, makes the decisions and even picks managers. How we’ve come to have Carr making all of the footballing decisions at United can only be identified by looking back at his record at United which has impressed Ashley enough to essentially hand the reigns over to the club. “On the outside looking in, I was a bit, you know, what’s happened at Newcastle in the past. But since I’ve been in there working for them, I can’t speak too highly of them.” That was Graeme Carr speaking in Summer 2012 after Alan Pardew had guided the club to 5th place in the Premier League. All was well. I wonder what had changed Carr’s mind so much about the people running United. Was it that they knew so little about football that he was given total autonomy
...To put it simply he was a failure at City. But a failure who made a profit. That clearly appealed to United.
over all transfers, or was it simply they weren’t as bad as some of their disastrous decisions made them out to be? At the time of speaking in August 2012 I wonder if Carr was aware that the summer would yield just one signing in Vurnon Anita. Was he comfortable with that? I think his history at Manchester city suggested that he was. Carr began life at United in underwhelming fashion. Promotion and the positivity that followed was soon dampened with Dereck Llambias and his ‘no capital outlay’ statement which was bizarre as it damaging to United’s support. Just 42,000 saw United humiliation of Vile – no wonder with statement’s like that. That summer United did manage to sign Nottingham Forest utility player James Perch for £1 million, Sol Campbell & Dan Gosling (shudder) on free transfers, Hatem Ben Arfa
on loan and World Cup star Cheik Tiote for £3.5 million. Unsurprisingly, with no new first team signings besides HBA who got injured after a bright start and the impressive Tiote, Chris Hughton’s side struggled for consistency despite some eye catching results. At the time Hughton’s poor record in the transfer market was cited by some journalists and fans as a reason for his downfall. Graeme Carr was as yet a name unknown to the majority of mags. At this point in his United career it’s almost impossible to know what type of influence Carr had on transfer activity at United. One major hint is given in that same interview in August 2012 he gave to talksport; Adrian Durham: “So describe exacly what your job is, Graham.” Graham Carr: “I’m the Chief Scout at Newcastle. I went there with Chris Hughton in
February, I’ve been there just over two years and basically, I’m just recruiting players.” That’s Carr himself saying that he was responsible as early as 2012 for all recruitment and signings at NUFC. Did he think £4.5 million of investment was prudent for a newly promoted club? A club that the same season would sell its best player and replace him with Shefki Kuqi? Ben Arfa on loan and Tiote were shrewd, decent signings – both playing a major role at United in the years to come. Both massively ultimately failing to deliver on an awful lot of promise. HBA was released. Many blamed Pardew. Tiote is currently a disgrace and hasn’t put in any effort on or off the pitch in 3 years. In 2012 Carr spoke of following Tiote as an Under 17year old and watching his progress. He was happy to take credit for the Ivorian then, what does he think
about his performances now? The following season under Alan Pardew was the highlight of Mike Ashley’s reign at Newcastle United. It’s the season the club still point to as ‘their way’ is best and Carr still seems to cling on to it as the way to recruit players. Yohan Cabaye, Demba Ba, Papiss Cisse, Davide Santon, Gabriel Obertan & Sylvian Marveaux were all recruited for less than Liverpool bought Andy Caroll. I’d have Cabaye, Ba and Santon back in the first team in a heartbeat. Whatever you think of Graham Carr, of Mike Ashley and Newcastle United – that summer recruitment drive was one of the best in Premier League history. Rarely has a club spent so little and received so much. There’s a caveat of course and here’s what I believe Graeme Carr and Mike Ashley fail to understand.
This season more than any other is the great Carr conundrum. Signing Moussa Sissoko for £2.5 million is breath-taking business, to an extent. Despite many of his performances recently, for £2.5 million, if he never kicks a ball again for United, we’ve had our money’s worth.
Remy Cabella anyone? Florian Thauvin. £22 million between them. That’s 44 Yohann Goufrann’s in Graeme Carr money The summer recruits of 2011 were coming into a talented squad that was lacking in certain positions, but had been together for two or three years. Colo was at his peak, Steven Taylor was playing well and Tim Krul was still improving before his decline set in. Jonas Guittierez was exceptional even though few mags at the time recognised this and the squad was settled and experienced. Bringing in quality from abroad wasn’t what made that team – it merely improved it massively. Of the 8 players signed that summer, only 3 were first team regulars (Ba, Cabaye & Cisse – maybe Santon too). Santon having to earn his place in the team was a good example of the players not being automatic selections. Things have changed. Signings became so rare under Carr’s watchful eye that in the days since 2011 signings have only been made as an absolute last resort. By my count first team permanent signings have only arrived in 3 of the 7 transfer windows since Summer 2011. That’s a disgrace and no wonder www.true-faith.co.uk
we’ve been absolutely desperate since. When players are signed, they’re rushed into the first team, or simply not good enough. What possessed Grame Carr to think Emmanuelle Riviere was good enough for the Premier League after one season in The French top division which yielded 9 goals from 30+ games? Maybe it was the pressure of not signing a striker in 3 years. We all know the story of only Anita being added to the 2011 squad. He wasn’t good enough then, isn’t good enough now. Then there were the panic buys all from France. I look back at this season and shudder. What’s sad is that I enjoyed some of the best days of my life that season, watching United in Europe for the first time.This season more than any other is the great Carr conundrum. Signing Moussa Sissoko for £2.5 million is breathtaking business, to an extent. Despite many of his performances recently, for £2.5 million, if he never kicks a ball again for United, we’ve had our money’s worth. The same goes for
Yohann Goufrann at £0.5 million. 11 goals for half a million quid is decent. The problems begin to arise when you look at the importance of these players to the club. Massimo Haidara was a snip at £2m. He has his detractors, but he’s our only left back and looks like a Premier League player. But he keeps getting injured. Moussa Sissoko and Goufrann look dire at times and don’t have a position they can call their own. You pay peanuts, you get monkeys. Newcastle United are shit, and filled with Graeme Carr singings. If we never spent a penny again and finished 17th every year, would Carr and Ashley consider that a success? Probably. Herein lies the problem with Graeme Carr. The club trust him. Ashley trusts him probably more than Charnley, more than. When Joe Kinnear was appointed as you know what in 2012 Llambias was allowed to resign. It was Graeme Carr Ashley travelled to by helicopter to talk out of resigning. Graeme Carr resigns supreme at Newcastle United. But
guess what? Newcastle United are shit and likely getting relegated this year. Graeme Carr is tasked with bargain hunting. Nothing more or less. Building a team or buying players you could see in a Black and White shirt for 10 years isn’t the objective. He’s got so much right (Cabaye, Tiote, Ba, Sissoko, HBA, Cisse, Debuchy, Janmaat, Colback, Perez, Mbemba) and as many wrong (Obertan, Sol Campbell, Marveuax, Yanga Mbiwa, Anita, Amalfitano) but that’s the life of a Chief Scout. You can’t win them all. I’m fine with that. He was wrong about Adam Lallana and probably about Steve McClaren. He was right about Demba Ba. If you really want to judge a chief scout – don’t judge him on the cowards who’ve let him pick a manager or asked him to choose every single player on the books. Judge him on the rare occasion he’s been given decent money to spend. Remy Cabella anyone? Florian Thauvin. £22 million between them. That’s 44 Yohann Goufrann’s in Graeme Carr money. tf 49
People who read this fanzine will know that I usually cover the alternative side of Spanish football and so you may be wondering what I was doing at this game.
Geordies here, geordies there... Drogheda United 0 - 2 St. Patricks Athletic Hunky Dorys Park, Drogheda, Friday 17th July 2015 Well, the often quoted mantra of FC United of Manchester springs to mind â&#x20AC;&#x153;making friends not millionairesâ&#x20AC;?. During the 2013-14 season I became friendly with a young lad from Dublin, called Cian Lanigan. Cian was in Murcia doing his Erasmus year for university and I met him on the terraces
of CAP Ciudad de Murcia. We had often talked about the League of Ireland and I had said that I would love to go to a game there sometime. Cian supports the club from his local neighbourhood, Inchicore, called St. Patricks Athletic. So when, through work, an opportunity came up to go to Ireland then I
made sure that a stop-off in Dublin was made part of the schedule.
Tony Higgins @higgins1892
As you may know the League of Ireland is a summer league that runs from March to October, the format is two leagues with twelve clubs in the premier league and eight clubs in the first
division. The club that wins the league enters the qualifying stages of the Champions league, whilst the clubs that finish in second and third place go into the qualifying rounds of the Europa League. In fact St. Pats had only just been knocked out of the Europa League the previous week before my visit, by Skonto FC (Latvia) 4-1 on aggregate. As it happens the night that I arrived in Dublin Damien Duff’s new club, Shamrock Rovers, were playing Odds BK (Norway) in a Europa League game, the home club lost 0-2. To be honest, even though it was lashing down with rain, I was more interested in having a look at some of the monuments around Dublin than watching football that evening. Especially the statue of Liverpool born and iconic labour organiser Big Jim Larkin, who was an inspirational figure in www.true-faith.co.uk
In a way I was glad that St. Pats weren’t going to be playing in the Europa League for my visit, as I
quirky sights of Dublin’s fair city. Come Here To Me! is a group blog that focuses on the life and culture of Dublin city. Music, history, football, politics and pub crawls all feature, along with much more and if you
wanted to see the bread and butter stuff of the Irish league.
are ever planning a trip to Dublin I suggest that you give it the once over.
getting rights for working people at the beginning of the 20th century.
...the League of Ireland is a summer league that runs from March to October, the format is two leagues with twelve clubs in the premier league and eight clubs in the first division
Of course trips like this aren’t all about football and I am pleased to say that through reading the blog Come Here to Me! and excellent book of the same name, co-written by another St. Pats fan, Donal Fallon, I had planned to see some of the more tf 51
One of the little gems from the blog is about a pub in Temple Bar called The Oak. The pub changed its name in 1946 because the oak panelled interior of the bar was made with wood salvaged from the RMS Mauretania, the sister ship of the RMS Lusitania. The RMS Mauretania was built on Tyneside (Wallsend) for the Cunard line and its model is today in Newcastle’s Discovery Museum. The ship was also used as a troop carrier, for troops on their way to Galapoli in WW1, and unfortunately later as a hospital ship carrying wounded soldiers back. Donal also does walking tours of the city, which again may
be worth a look at if you are into the alternative view of city life. After scouring Dublin, for about seven hours, it was back to Inchicore for the meet up for the bus that would take us north to the County Louth town of Drogheda, which is about an hour’s run from Dublin. It was quite ironic, for me anyway, that the bus was parked adjacent to a wall plaque, commemorating the local volunteers that had went to Spain, to fight for the Republican government and against fascism in 1936. In fact Spain was never far away during this trip as we had visited the grave of Frank Ryan , in Glasnevin Cemetery, who was instrumental in the XV International Brigade.
The bus headed up the M2 to Drogheda, famous for its position on the River Boyne which is only a few miles from where the famous Battle of the Boyne took place in 1690. The town is also famous for a massacre, undertaken by Oliver Cromwell’s forces in 1649 in where women and children along with the town’s men folk were indiscriminately slaughtered.
Especially the statue of Liverpool born and iconic labour organiser Big Jim Larkin, who was an inspirational figure in getting rights for working people at the beginning of the 20th century.
We arrived in Drogheda about 45 minutes before kick-off and made straight for the pub, behind the away end, for a few liveners. The atmosphere seemed fine between the two sets of fans, although as we left the pub a small group of local young lads were bouncing
up and down giving it all the Green Street rubbish, it was more funny than intimidating. Anyhow, there was actually some football to be played. I had been warned that the League of Ireland wasn’t the best of fare but to be honest I quite enjoyed it. In fact as early as the tenth minute St. Pats Killian Brennan fired a free kick that crashed against the bar, an effort that wouldn’t have looked out of place in any top league in the world. On the other side of the coin and on the half hour the same player took a penalty that was saved by the keeper and somehow www.true-faith.co.uk
Chris Forrester fired wide from the rebound. The whole episode ,including the award of the spot kick, was a bit farcical. The sides went in level at the break. The second half got underway and the home side, backed by a small but noisy support got more into the game. Nevertheless, it was the away team that took the lead, through a header from that man Brennan, on the 75th minute. A corner was swung in from the left and he was virtually left unmarked to head home. From that point on there was only going to be one winner and St. Pats wrapped
the game up in the last minute, when United were caught on the break and McGrath rolled the ball into an empty net to send the away contingent into raptures. Highlights and analysis of the game can be seen here.
After the game we decided to stay on to have a few beers in Drogheda, even though the Green St. boys wanted to have another pop at us, which was laughed off. All in all it was a great experience and I would recommend
and if you look closely at 2:02 you’ll see yours truly bedecked in a purple jacket and as usual taking photos.
League of Ireland football, I certainly hope to go back soon. Thanks Cian, Donal and the rest of the lads for a great day! tf 53
International Brigade Spain 2 England 0
Friday 13th November 2015, Rico Perez Stadium, Alicante Att: 29,500
Tony Higgins @higgins1892
As I have commented many times on the pages of this fanzine, via The Real Spain section, I am not a big fan of international football. Nevertheless, when a chance for tickets, to see England play Spain came along, I thought why not? The game was held in Alicante, just over an hour from where I live, so a canny excuse for a Friday night out and the chance to watch a bit of football. Problem was my Spanish mate only came up with two tickets and there was three of us, my two sons and me. So me being the martyr that I am said that I would watch the game in a nearby bar. I know the ground and area quite well as I had been to see Cadiz play the host club, Hercules, in a Segunda B playoff at the end of last season. Anyway we travelled up to Alicante and parked the car next to the beach and marina, I quite like Alicante it has a good mix of beach and city life.Â Across the road, along tf 54
the promenade, we could see a mass of St. George cross flags from all over the country, including a Hartlepool Mags one and a few efforts from our near neighbours. Other clubs that stood out were Forest, Stoke and Millwall. The ING-URLAND away following consisted of the usual array of patriots, Stone Island and Adidas all over, belting out their array of anti-IRA ditties whilst gathering around the local Irish barâ&#x20AC;Ś I always find that one a bit of a perplexity. Never mind though they all seemed in good humour www.true-faith.co.uk
and shared some daft carry on with the passing Spain fans, who found their visitors to be highly entertaining.Â After a few beers it was into a taxi and up to the Rico Perez Stadium, the neat little ground that deserves to be hosting better football than Segunda B, I hope Hercules can start climbing up the leagues again soon, I quite like them. We made our way around to the turnstiles and as I was saying my goodbyes to the lads I was offered a ticket for â&#x201A;Ź50 (only a little over face value) by a Spanish tout. He was a young lad and he looked nervous when dealing
with this middle aged old hand, which amused my two lads. At any rate the ticket was a good one and we were well happy with the seats we had, more or less on the half way line. The teams eventually entered the pitch and they looked good, with the contrasting red of Spain and white of England gleaming under the floodlights. The national anthems sounded and the England fans blasted out a full bodied rendition of God Save the Queen. I have to say I am no lover of the Royal Family but credit where credit is due; it
even drew applause from the Spanish fans stood around me. To be fair to the England travelling support they also showed great respect to the Spanish National anthem too. The match kicked off and most people were interested to see what kind of response Pique would get. It had been said in the press that the
game was not being played in Madrid because of the stick that he had recently been getting whilst playing for the national team. Piqué has been the most forthcoming of the native Catalans in the national squad in backing movements in favour of greater sovereignty from the rest of Spain. But Piqué insisted, after an episode of booing in September, he though his treatment while playing for Spain, had “nothing to do with the relationship between Spain and Catalonia, but because I am seen as antimadridista.” Whatever the reasons for his treatment I personally find it crazy, the lad gives his all when he pulls on the red shirt and has won every major trophy whilst playing for “La Roja”. The best bit of the night, for me anyway, was that every time he touched the ball the England fans cheered to counter the boos and then eventually they began to chant the ex Manure players name. I had a broad smile on my face as I looked at the perplexed Spaniards faces around me as “ole ole ole Pique Pique” blasted out from the away end.
As the second half got underway it looked as though Spain had upped the tempo a bit and England chased shadows for a bit, in what Hodgson later called Spain’s “clever passing game”, I wouldn’t argue with him about that one. However, it needed a wonder goal, in the 70th minute, to break the deadlock, a brilliant volley, by right-back Mario Gaspar, who swivelled and turned in mid-air to connect with the ball. He looked as surprised as anyone to see the ball fly past Hart. There was only going to be one winner from that point on. England fought on but in the 82nd minute the game was put beyond their reach
by Cazorla. Rooney came on and nearly grabbed a consolation when his shot hit the bar but that was to be it from England. After the final whistle the players showed their appreciation of the fans, with Pique taking sometime out to clap the England fans, another surreal moment which I thought was great! We made our way back into the centre of town and returned to the Irish bar. The catastrophic scenes from Paris were being shown live on the TVs and the mood in the bar was a sobering one. This obviously put a damper on what up until that point had been a good night out, the drive home was pretty quiet as we listened to the news on the radio.
I had a broad smile on my face as I looked at the perplexed Spaniards faces around me as “ole ole ole Pique Pique” blasted out from the away end.
The first half passed and to be fair, from where I was sitting anyway, Roy Hodgson team had held their own against a team a good few notches ahead of them on the world stage. Both teams had six shots on each other’s goal. tf 56
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NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 STOKE CITY 0 St. James Park, Sat 30th Oct, 3:00pm, Premier League, Att: 47,139 So, the ‘we owe this to the fans’ backlash from the Mackem defeat finished in a nowts apiece draw at home to fucking Stoke (it is physically impossible to mention them without that affixation) but in fairness, we were alright and Butland had a blinder. They might have signed the likes of Xhaqiri and Bojan but at their heart, they are exemplified by Ryan Shawcross who spent his day as he always does, by being a hideous bastard. Mitrovic was suckered into it, rendering himself anonymous as a footballer, the daft get. Mitrovic did hit the post with a header mind and Sissoko had a couple of good chances but the game will be remembered by Butlands saves, with the pick coming from a bullet header from substitute Lascelles which he managed to tip over from point blank range and a couple from Perez which were also top drawer. They offered nowhere near as much and even the worrying sight of Crouch lumbering on to the pitch late on didn’t yield his customary goal. A point at home to these when you’re struggling in the bottom three isn’t much to write home about, but at least we weren’t totally pish so hooray! Newcastle United – Eliott, Janmaat (Lascelles), Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Wijnaldum, Anita, Tiote (de Jong), Sissoko, Perez, Mitrovic
Our Fans – 5 – OK for a nowts apiece Their Fans – 8 – By far the best showing I’ve seen from them at SJP Media View – ‘Butland shows England credentials in stalemate’ (Telegraph) In-Form – No-one hugely stood out, Anita was canny though Out of Form – Mitrovic spent a lot more time concentrating on daft scuffles than he did on the game McClaren Watch – Needed a win here to banish the derby defeat and didn’t get one.
BOURNEMOUTH 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 Dean Court, Sat 7th Nov, 12:45pm, Premier League, Att: 11,155 I can’t think of any game in all my years of following United where we’ve played so terribly, been absolutely hammered and still come away with three points – and boy did we need them. From the word go, Bournemouth were by far the better side and Rob Eliott, much maligned by me but excellent here, had already made a couple of fine saves before we took the goal from the only well-worked bit of play we produced the whole afternoon. Mitrovic played a deft flick to Wijnaldum who sent Perez free to scuff a shot past Federici into the net. From there, we spent the thick end of an hour giving the ball away and Bournemouth spent the afternoon fluffing their lines. Eliott’s best stops came from Smith and former Mag, Dan Gosling who looked like Garrincha up against bastard Tiote and Anita. They ran out of puff and incredibly we could even have got a hysterical second before the end but Colo headed over. Big three points, even at this stage of the season – Christ knows how we got them mind. Newcastle United – Eliott, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Wijnaldum, Anita (Mbabu), Tiote, Sissoko, Perez (Thauvin), Mitrovic (Cisse) Our Fans – 7 – Enjoyed their novelty trip of the season Their Fans – 7 – Decent actually Media View – ‘Heroic Eliott keeps Cherries at bay to seal narrow win’ (Independent) In-Form – Eliott had the game of his life... Out of Form – ... which is a good job because everyone else was utter shite McClaren Watch – Got away with murder here.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 LEICESTER CITY 3 St. James Park, Sat 21st Nov; 3:00pm, Premier League, Att: 50,151 It wasn’t just the fact that our performance was absolutely shit, because it definitely was and it wasn’t any envy of Leicester City – I was there the day we stayed up aged 15 and I was terrified but I hold nowt against them – good luck to them. No, I think the thing that will stick long in our throats was watching a side of no greater talent or ability than our own absolutely rip us to pieces through desire, organisation, pace and togetherness while we demonstrated the polar opposite. They should have been ahead before Vardy got his record equalling goal just before the half time whistle, outrunning what remained of our defence before finishing smartly past Eliott. People clapped, I clapped, I admire what he’s achieved, some people don’t really like that, I really don’t give a fuck. The second half spoke volumes about us, no more so than our full back Janmaat, who was a disgrace for both of their goals firstly standing and watching from two yards away from Ulloa who nodded in completely unmarked and then standing and watching as Okazaki headed in from about an inch out. It made me miss Danny Simpson. Think about that for a moment. We are, in every way a rotten football club at present. Newcastle United – Eliott, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Wijnaldum, Anita, Tiote (Thauvin), Sissoko, Perez (de Jong), Mitrovic (Cisse) Our Fans – 4 – Grumbled rather than turned to full on mutiny Their Fans – 9 – Best so far this season, good for them Media View – ‘Vardy’s brilliance in complete contrast to United’s ineptitude’ (Chronicle) In-Form – Vardy Out of Form – Owner, manager, coaches, players. McClaren Watch – Looks more and more clueless as each game goes by. www.true-faith.co.uk
CRYSTAL PALACE 5 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 Selhurst Park, Sat 28th Nov, 3:00pm, Premier League, Att: 24,833 When will NUFC reach rock bottom? There’ve been some disgraceful performances in recent years but this one is up there with the worst of them, especially given the opposition manager. We even took the lead inside ten minutes, the returning Cisse glancing a header home but no sooner were we ahead than the wheels fell off. Dramatically. Coloccini got brushed off the ball like a fanny by Wickham and the subsequent shot looped off Dummett past the stranded Eliott. Colback got caught pissing around in the middle for the second and almost every one of our defenders were culpable of being absolutely shit as Bolasie scored and the third was almost a carbon copy – ball lost in midfield, defenders turning their backs, bobbly finish, dreadful. Ridiculously, Perez was taken off for Lascelles at half time and the substitute looked as stunned as everyone else as he stood and watched Bolasie fire the ball past him on the line. There was still nearly a whole of the half left and we were fearing a Pardew-esque cricket score and capitulation and they added a fifth, their highest score in the Premier League era in the last minute. We were a disgrace. Newcastle United – Eliott, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Wijnaldum (de Jong), Anita, Colback (Gouffran), Sissoko, Perez (Lascelles), Cisse Our Fans – 6 – There’d been some drink taken, which is a fucking good thing considering Their Fans – 8 – As you’d expect, happy and noisy Media View – ‘McLaren’s woes continue as Eagles soar’ (Star) In-Form – Left blank for obvious reasons Out of Form – Coloccini can fuck off now and never play another game for us. McClaren Watch – Made Pardew look like Shankly. Time up.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 LIVERPOOL 0 St. James Park, Sun 6th Dec, 4:00pm, Premier League, Att: 51,273 Why ye knaa – what do we know about football eh? For the first time ever, I heard my mates little lad tip us for a defeat and he was joined by nearly 50,000 Mags who left astonished with a great win against an admittedly disappointing Liverpool side. We’d expected them to come out flying against us but in truth the first half was pretty boring, neither side really created anything or stamped any authority on the game. The second half was continuing in a similar vain when Perez (disgracefully dropped) replaced de Jong who in fairness was canny and within a minute, we were 1-0 up. Wijnaldum shot goalwards but the ball took a huge deflection off Skrtel to wrong foot Mignolet. Doesn’t have much luck here does he, bless. There were still 20 minutes to go and they had a goal chalked off for offside when Moreno lobbed Eliott at the height of around three foot – plenty made on MOTD of the incorrect call, less made of the straight-to-blooperDVD attempt of our keeper to stop it. Nerves weren’t really jangling when Gini wrapped it up after a lung bursting run and pass from Sissoko, capping off the surreal nature of the afternoon. Newcastle United – Eliott, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett, Wijnaldum, Anita, Colback (Gouffran), Sissoko, de Jong (Perez), Cisse (Thauvin) Our Fans – 7 – Quiet in the first half, understandably but great crack by the end Their Fans – 4 – Quietest I think I’ve ever heard them, even at 0-0 Media View – ‘McLaren gets the formula right as his resolute man secure vital victory’ (Mail) In-Form – There were a few excellent performances – Gini pipped Dummett for my man of the match Out of Form – I didn’t think Colback was much cop but that’s splitting hairs McClaren Watch – I’m not quite sure how but he had them up for it and organised. Gareth Harrison - Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892 tf 61
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Deadwood noun ded·wood: people or things that are no longer useful or productive; and it’s a very appropriate word choice to describe some of Newcastle’s squad at the moment.
D O O W D DEA Players out of form, lazy, injury prone or with high opinions of themselves compared to what they offer on the pitch for us. However you want to look at them there is no denying that until we clear out a good portion of these players then the McClaren rebuilding job will take much more time than anyone could have thought. It’s not my place to say who stays or who goes (I’ve tried that in a piece on the website a few months ago) but we have several players seemingly going through the motions caring not about the club or its fans but just happy to receive, in some cases, a substantial pay packet at the end of the month added to this was a great quote from my friend Macca, who shall remain nameless, about the ‘poisonous core’ at the club (Sissoko, Cisse and Tiote) who all want to leave on
their own terms to the detriment of the teams morale . So in the interests of stirring up a lively debate and possibly getting grief off some keyboard warriors; here’s my take on the so called ‘deadwood’ players. After I finished the article I read the news that Tim Krul is out for the season with a cruciate ligament injury and had to quickly reassess my thoughts on the goalkeeping situation. My original thoughts had Rob Elliot leaving as soon as possible; however, he appears to now be first choice keeper as Karl Darlow has an unspecified foot problem and has no set return date. I’m not 100% sure about Elliot and what he brings to the team as he hasn’t featured that often, 16 appearances in all competitions, I vaguely remember a decent assist for Cisse against Southampton before a nightmare show at QPR when he was sent off, he does in my opinion hold one advantage over Krul in that he likes to get
the ball moving as quickly as possible to start counter attacking options.One thing is for sure is that Elliot will get plenty of playing time in the coming weeks, unless a) Darlow returns and is put straight back in the side or b) he plays that poorly that McClaren throws young Freddie Woodman in to the first team much like we did to Jak Alnwick and that turned out well….didn’t it? Whichever way it goes it means that in a crunch period for the club we are going into it with a keeper lacking in match time.
Defensively we are that short of cover you could be forgiven for thinking we can’t let anyone leave but in an ideal world with replacements there are a few who could be surplus to requirements. Mike Williamson, Jamaal Lascelles and Curtis Good are all players we’ve seen very little of and could be heading for the exit in January. This may be a little harsh on Lascelles as he hasn’t featured much, just one start against Northampton and a sub appearance in the annihilation at City, but McClaren knows him from his time at Forest so it will probably be a case of give him time and if we get reinforcements in a loan move wouldn’t be out of the question.
I believe that had Steven Taylor remained fit and Mbabu had shown what he can do in pre-season then Willo would already be gone. He may struggle against the Premier Leagues better strikers but drop him down to the championship and he’s a decent centre half, I’m pretty sure there would be a few takers and I recall Leeds having an interest in him in the summer. Due to injuries though he remains on the fringes of the first team and if called upon would do a job for us, I still have reservations about www.true-faith.co.uk
his ability to win headers for a bloke his size he just doesn’t seem to get off the floor and with him out of the team we’ve scrapped that awful set piece routine of banging it to the back post for Willo to not win a header and the opposition to counter attack and score.
Since Curtis Good arrived he’s been plagued by injuries and struggled with loan spells, he was highly thought of when he first signed but a persistent hip injury has hampered any chances of him progressing. Adding to his injury troubles were some average loan spells at Bradford, where he played a part in the league cup final before being subbed at half time, and four appearances at Dundee United. I’m not sure what his contract situation is but due to his history of injuries he may end up on a free or released, it’s difficult to gauge what he could bring to the first team as he has featured so little since he signed. The midfield department is the only place we seem to have a boat load of players and is an area where the club need to make changes. We create very little and provide poor cover for our over exposed defence leading to some proper hidings the last few seasons. It’s a mixed bag
in midfield of players who get game time but don’t perform, players loaned out and some proper mystery cases. I’ll start with Obertan; strangely a starter in McClaren’s first few games before dropping to the bench, a massively inconsistent performer who should really be more of a threat than he is. He has the pace and the quick feet to give fullbacks a roasting but seems apprehensive about attacking his opponent preferring to play silly misplaced short passes to teammates in worse positions. You just want him to knock the ball past the fullback, sprint past him and drive the ball across, this never, never, ever happens. There’s no way he will leave this season as the squad is too paper thin and we can’t afford to lose players without replacing them, a summer move for Gabby looks the most likely option and a return home to France is the most obvious move where, like Ben Arfa, he can once again return to form against lesser opposition.
a massively inconsistent performer who should really be more of a threat than he is.
Haris Vuckic is a strange one; brought in as a one for the future, much like Fabio Zambelera, he’s failed to make an impact in the few first team outings he’s been given. Unlike Curtis Good his loan spells at Cardiff, Rotherham, Rangers and tf 65
now Wigan have been fairly successful and have given hope that he can kick on and press for a first team place. This simply hasn’t happened for him and the recent one year extension of his contract appears to be more to protect his value rather than the club recognising he might come good. Of his loan spells he seemed comfortable and at the right level in Scotland where scored over a goal every other game; compare that to one goal in nineteen at Newcastle. Our relegation to the championship would have been our best chance to blood him in the first team and check his development but he was restricted to two appearances and mainly used in the reserves. Five Premier League showings isn’t really enough to judge a player who works hard but like many before him, Paul Robinson, Michael Chopra etc, just doesn’t seem to have the ability to cut it in the premier league. A move back to Rangers was looked at in the summer but due to a break down in the relationship between us and Rangers this doesn’t seem likely. If Vuckic does leave it will be very interesting to see what happens.
Sylvain Marveaux is a decent player but as is usual at Newcastle injuries tf 66
have blighted his career here. He had a good spell back home with Guingamp and returned, unsurprisingly, injured and has just appeared for the under 21’s after his recovery from an operation. To class him as deadwood is a little harsh as he has looked ok when I’ve seen him play and he’s been unlucky but you have to think it has to happen for him this season or it never will. He’s pretty skilful and his assist for Ba at Arsenal was quality. Ideally he could have a good run in the team and become a first teamer but there are still too many question marks over him.
The mystery man of the bunch has to be Gael Bigirimana, another hot prospect bought with high hopes, disappeared from sight last season due to the Scottish FA deeming him unfit to play due to an unspecified illness. He’s had a decent amount of league appearances for us and scored a quality goal against Wigan but since then it’s rapidly went downhill. He’s appeared four times this year for the under 21’s but doesn’t look anywhere near the first team. I’m not too sure what to write about Bigi as nothing has been reported and he barely gets a mention in any
interviews with the clubs coaching staff. Proper puzzler this one.
This takes me nicely on to Samuel Ameobi; a player I wrote an article on a while back saying that he still has a future at the club but he has to find consistency. Sporadic decent performances, Spurs away springs to mind, have not been enough to push himself into a regular starting berth. Like Vuckic a one year contract extension was given before being shipped off to Cardiff on a season long loan. His loan spell to date has not been anything to write home about and it appears that much like his older brother he’s destined to be a player who has a lot of good attributes but rarely uses them. E l e v e n appearances eight as a sub with one goal in the championship isn’t really what we are looking for from a player harbouring ambitions to play premier league football.
I’m going slightly controversial with the next one and suggesting that Cheick Tiote could be heading for the door in the near future. After a cracking debut season, Tiote found himself as one of our more senior midfielders and changed his game from a successful one of midfield destroyer, breaking up attacks and leaving the football to our more creative players, to that of the creative midfielder trying turns and step overs in his own area and unsuccessfully spraying thirty yard passes directly to the opposition. A regular starter up until last season where he managed eleven appearances he has come on three times as a sub this season. A range of mystery injuries has kept him out of the team, not helped by negative headlines about his apparent harem of wives and it looks like he is patiently sitting out his contract while waiting for a transfer or a release from the club. I like the destroyer Tiote and felt the team w a s better with him in it but since changing the way he plays he became a bit of a liability. I’d like to see him sit in front of the defence and just providing cover for our centre halves putting in the tackles, nowt rash mind, www.true-faith.co.uk
and recycling possession to enable us to counter quickly. The emergence of the real Vernon Anita seems to have pushed him further down the pecking order than he would like. Up top we don’t really have the luxury of getting rid of any players but with suitable replacements found it could be the end of the line for Cisse and Gouffran. Cisse is a tough
one as he has been our top goal scorer now for the past few seasons but he has paid the price for Newcastle playing with just one up front. Without the physical presence of a target man or the rapid pace of a Aguero or Sanchez; Cisse has spent the last two seasons feeding off scraps scoring from close range or trying without success to either stay onside or control a high ball with his face, chest,
knee or in some cases his foot. It remains to be seen if he can still play a part for us now that McClaren has reverted to 4-4-2 or maybe 4-5-1 (depending on where Perez plays), but the emergence of Perez and the raw talent of Mitrovic seems to have consigned him to the bench. I miss the Cisse of 2012, supported ably by Ba and Ben Arfa; he had the time of his life scoring worldies for fun and playing with a smile on his face. The experiment of putting him out wide to accommodate Ba up top blatantly didn’t work and since then he’s look a shadow of his former self and he’s playing like he has the weight of the world on his shoulders. Rumours abound of a lucrative, for him anyway, move to the middle east but nothing came of this and he started the season well with a goal against Southampton but in recent weeks he’s faded away and even resorted to some sort of ritual to lift the curse that he feel’s has been placed on him. Personally, I’d like to see him stay and form a partnership with Mitrovic backed up with
Perez out wide but only time will tell. The other more obvious one is Gouffran a player who started well but hasn’t looked bothered for a couple of seasons now. His recent role as a centre midfielder was a bit of a strange one from McClaren maybe he thought the players work rate would come in handy against world class opposition; he was wrong. The player himself just isn’t bothered and out of everyone I’ve wrote about selling him is the easiest decision the club could make the hardest part is actually finding someone to part with their cash for him. Even the dullest pundits have spotted that he isn’t trying and is woefully short of what our team needs in the shape of players in these toughest of times. Whatever happens in the next two transfer windows could be absolutely crucial for the club and after underperforming for two and a bit seasons now a refresh is needed. The summer provided some hope for us but the following weeks of struggle
have shown that our squad just isn’t up to the level of most of the league. We’re a team crying out for leaders, battlers on the pitch, Joe Royle type ‘Dogs of War’ who will put their body on the line for the good of the club. Wise old man Macca, sitting quietly in the corner of the Percy, stroking his ample beard suggested that we don’t need players who can spray 40 yard passes we need players with a winning mentality and because we can’t attract the best players maybe we should buy less talented battlers. The deadwood needs removing that’s for sure but the big question is who’ll take them?
‘Qual seu time?’ In Rio, this question usually gets fired at you during the initial handshake of a new acquaintance, and the answer can form or kill a friendship before it’s even had its first beer.
The boy from brazil
O Glorioso If you’ve read any of my scribblings before I think you’ll be aware that my local club is CR Botafogo – ‘O Glorioso’, ‘A Estrela Solteira’, ‘Fogão’. There are 4 major clubs and plenty of smaller teams here that I could have chosen to follow but it doesn’t take a huge leap of imagination to see why, when I had to make one of the most important decisions of my carioca life, it was Botafogo that won my allegiance. tf 68
Before cementing my Botafoguense (pron. ‘bota-fo-gain-see) credentials I had to do my research. While Fluminense has got a lovely strip, possibly the bonniest in football, they are the aristocrats of carioca football, ‘the team of the elite’, whereas I grew up on Shields Road, man. Nowt doing. Vasco have got the right colours but I’ve never gotten away with them, neither the club nor the fans. Flamengo very
nearly hooked me, mainly due to my brother-inlaw. I even identified as a Flamenguista before I made the permanent move out here. I was a fan when they won the league in ’09, but following a team that actually won something just felt strange. And then there’s Botafogo. Having initially looked at my options Botafogo were my immediate pick: classic strip, a history strewn with proper bona fide legends,
JOHN MILTON Follow on @ Geordioca the club badge a single star just like England… When I made my feelings public my brother-in-law bought me a genuine-fake ‘Mengo top and dragged me to my first match at the Maracanã where I sat with the Flamenguistas as Flamengo beat Botafogo 1-0. I returned to England claiming to be Flamenguista, but it was a hollow claim – like an atheist going to church every Sunday, keeping up the pretence for www.true-faith.co.uk
the sake of his dear old mum. When I moved to Rio it was the fans that finally made my mind up for me. Of Rio’s ‘big 4’ Botafogo is the smallest. It has the smallest fanbase and the fewest titles – I liked this. I was put off Flamengo because it seemed that everyone supported them, it was how I imagine following Manchester Utd must be when you live in Crawley. Vasco fans were always hard done to, it was always the ref or corruption when they lost to Flamengo. With massive chips on their shoulders they never stopped whining: the mackems of the city, if you will. The Tricolor (Fluminense) fans just always seemed aloof. Once one half of Brazil’s
biggest rivalry (the FlaFlu), after Vasco overtook them as Flamengo’s main rival it seems like they decided to rise above the petty day to day squabbling of the masses. Your average Botafoguense, however, came across as far more cerebral than their intra-city rivals. They are the inteligencia of carioca football. They view the game from a far deeper, more intellectual angle than the common man who follows Flamengo or Vasco. And, as they rarely win, they are far more philosophical about their club and the game in general. Documentary maker, João Moreira Salles, summed it up beautifully when he was asked why he supports ‘Fogo: “Supporting a team of the masses is like only ever reading best
sellers.” What a great way to have a dig at Flamengo. It must also be noted that Brazilians are the ficklest buggers in the world – if their team isn’t winning, they literally stop watching (and that goes two-fold for the national team). Tim Vickery once quoted a Brazilian colleague of his who had said, “The Brazilian pastime is supporting the champions.” So if you’re Brazilian and you support a team who hasn’t won the league since 1995 (oh, the suffering!) you are, by definition, ‘hardcore’. I liked this, too. And so I was sold. Once I’d found my own feet and was able to explore all the nuances and fine print of each of the clubs and their fans I was able to ‘come out’ to my in-laws and friends.
It was daunting and nervewracking but it turned out that I had nothing to fear – they were confused, of course, and probably even a little disappointed, but were fully supportive and understanding nonetheless. It seemed as though everything had come together perfectly: shortly after my ‘outing’ O Fogão finished a massively
respectful 4th in Série A whilstVasco were relegated and Fla and Flu finished a pathetic 15th and 16th respectively – the 2 spots above relegation. I was optimistic. My adopted club appeared to be building towards something special while my hometown club was hungover after its exploits in the ‘11/’12 season. This strange feeling of optimism wasn’t to last, though, as, inexplicably, Botafogo had a disastrous season in 2014, picking up a solitary win away from home on their way to finishing second bottom and swapping places with Vasco who were promoted from Série B. Thankfully, this year has been as enjoyable for us Botafoguenses as The Lads’ sojourn down into the second tier was back in ‘09/’10. After a relegation there’s nowt better than suddenly finding yourself as the big fish and with being confident that tf 70
you can win every week – it’s been a thoroughly enjoyable season from an alvinegro point of view. Despite strong challenges from both Vitória and América MG, ‘Fogo held firm and were crowned champions with 2 games to spare. We’re waiting to see what happens in the close season now. It looks like the club is on the bones of its arse financially speaking so we’re not sure how negotiations with current players and transfers are going to manifest themselves before next season starts, but we’re back where we belong so we’ll allow ourselves a wee sophisticated soiree before the pain of weekly beatings and philosophical acceptance recommences. O GIGANTE VOLTOU! PS - A quick congratulations to Corinthians for the ease to which they romped to the Séria A title – parabéns Timão! www.true-faith.co.uk
After 27 plus years of attending matches at SJP with the occasional away game spells, a couple of cup finals, and attending nearly all the home pre-season friendlies, I didn’t think I would find the courage to ignore the repeated renewal requests earlier this year but I did. I just couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to continue the turbulent journey provided by our club and I think this feeling of emptiness started a couple of seasons ago when the first game of the new season, including green grass, white lines, seeing our lads resplendent in black and white, catching up with seat mates, didn’t set me off in a frenzy of excitement, anticipation and pride. It was more a feeling of ‘here we go again’, hope there aren’t too many Monday nights, Wednesday nights, late Sundays etc. – can’t beat a 3pm kick off on a Saturday afternoon. Surprisingly the run-up to the new season didn’t distress me too much and I felt strongly committed to my planned boycott. I spent many happy hours delving into my old books, programmes, sorting old tops and other memories of contented times supporting my club, I even found my heritage stones certificate and the bonds I’d encouraged my ex to splash out on - different days back then. I did begin to sigh
a bit as the season got closer and pangs of regret surfaced. However, as the first game approached my friend Pat (also a newly retired ST holder of 25 years), suggested we go into the city centre, soak up some atmosphere and watch the game in a local pub – sounded like a good plan and arrangements were made. It was fine initially as we were milling around happily with thousands of others but then people
started heading towards the ground in their masses and we weren’t – walking against the flow was a strange experience and the realisation that we wouldn’t be witnessing the very first game of the season was a bit of a shock. The stream in the bar took 20 minutes to find, the quality was poor and it just wasn’t right – the alcohol should have made it better but it didn’t. We’d had enough of this bizarre situation and decided to go
our separate ways at halftime. The only bright spots of the day being a visit to Back Page and my bus home which had a dodgy hooter and randomly tooted all the way home. Pat came up with a cunning plan during our time in the pub as we both decided we couldn’t bear it and needed an occasional ‘fix’ of real, proper football at some point and so she became a member to give us a head start on tickets. It
GOING, GOING, GONE? tf 72
did feel as though we were betraying ourselves and our reasons for giving up in the first place but the sense of loss and missing out was nearly unbearable. After so many years it was painful not to be part of the masses heading towards SJP and you do realise just what a passion it is and how much a part of your life it is but Newcastle United is still our club, part of our lives, part of our city and we decided that picking and choosing the occasional game might help. It seemed a better plan than shelling out hundreds of pounds a year to the greedy, temporary, unwelcome businessman currently holding our club to ransom and hell bent on destroying every shred of identity, dignity and respect. And so it came to pass. We managed to get tickets for the Arsenal game and as neither of us had ever been in the Gallowgate before that was where we sat. Strange at first because we were exactly opposite our old seats but an absolutely brilliant place to be, noisier than the Leazes and generally full of Geordies, apart from the www.true-faith.co.uk
pair of Arsenal fans behind us who had bought tickets on the day. (The female loos are much nicer there too, no creepy ceilings and lurking spiders). More and more of the faithful have left the Leazes over the years and it seems to be a haven now for day-tripping, snap-happy visitors. That’s fine and good luck to them but the atmosphere has certainly been affected. Next up was Chelsea and my reasoning was that Chelsea fans I’ve known for over 10 years always come up to Newcastle (they love it up here) and it’s always good to catch up with mates plus they always buy me loads of ale. There was no way could I meet them in the pub pre-match and then go home. Pat managed to get tickets in the Gallowgate again and my Chelsea mates wouldn’t let either of us buy a single drink all afternoon – that might be down to our assurances that there was no way on earth would they head south with anything less than 3 points or the Chelsea rubber ducks I bought them in the Back Page shop (got a funny look there mind). They were a
little worried about getting their rubber ducks past the stewards but I assured them rubber ducks are not known for inciting riots. So, no need for anyone to turn their noses up, they’re alright and they didn’t take 3 points away with them. Despite losing to Arsenal, I thought we played well, as we did against Man Utd and Chelsea. I did begin to wonder whether our club had turned a corner and I’d made a foolish decision to give up but other spiritless performances made me revisit my reasons for giving up my season ticket. We’ve had many a dodgy owner in the past but the performances on the pitch pushed that problem to the back of my mind. We had players on the pitch who
on to our precious identity. The previous owners may have had their own agendas but they built a stadium to be proud of and filled it with players to be proud of. Sadly this eventually meant selling us out in a big way to someone who hid his agenda well initially and now we have little to be proud of, even our ‘colours’ are bizarre and our players could be any team from the back. I’m not valued in any way, I’m just a commodity to fill in the space between vast, overpowering adverts – they’re not even tasteful adverts. No-one at the club particularly cares whether I’ve been entertained for 90 minutes and had value for money and no amount of open begging letters will ever change my view – the
It did feel as though we were betraying ourselves and our reasons for giving up in the first place but the sense of loss and missing out was nearly unbearable. played for the club and for the fans and it didn’t matter so much if we lost provided our guys had played their socks off on the pitch and there was always that belief they would make up for any lapse in performance. There was a real commitment – us to the players and the players to us – and the feeling of inclusion, we mattered and they mattered equally. The club colours mattered – it was black and white stripes, front and back and we could hold
words are meaningless and PR related. The current players are an odd bunch and seem able to switch their performances on and off at will – only they know the reasons for that but I know from experience that the performance from us supporters rarely changed, we usually gave them the benefit of the doubt and got behind them but I think many are questioning that commitment now tf 73
when appreciation is not reciprocated. I certainly kept quieter last season and only got behind them if they were putting in a professional performance. I felt cheated – why should I give them my all on a cold, wet evening when some players seemed to be playing for an early hot bath and a snug towel! To be honest I think I’ve slowly been losing heart with football in general for a while now. Fans have become divorced from their clubs all over the country and it’s a trend I think will continue as the wealthy corporates and TV moguls eat away at our sport. This, despite the best efforts of many organisations to grasp the reins and pull the sport back towards communities, cities and towns throughout the land. The era of players wanting to play for a club and its support is disappearing – the money on offer is the draw along with the possibility of moving on to another richer club, with some players happy to throw a wobbler if they can’t move on when they want and let’s not forget the players who decide tf 74
they won’t play properly because they want another manager. Okay maybe it’s because I’m old and cynical but that’s the way it seems to me these days and I long for the old days when you more or less had the same team to build on for more than one season! I honestly don’t know whether I would buy another season ticket again and the thought of addressing the fix with the occasional home match seems like a reasonable solution for the time being but there won’t be any 7.45pm or 8pm or even 4pm games for me. Picking and choosing seems a little flighty after my lifelong journey supporting Newcastle United but I didn’t realise how much it would hurt not to be part of the crowd and it’s probably the community feeling of belonging to thousands of others, sharing feelings of despair and delight for 90 minutes rather than focussing on a win, losing or a draw. The real test will be if NUFC offer halfseason tickets around Christmas which would, of course, include the home game against the Mackems - although that particular
fixture doesn’t have the same appeal these days. That probably won’t be on Santa’s list.
of fun and piss-taking for other clubs and the media and he’s robbed me of an important part of my life.
I am ashamed my boycott of SJP didn’t last too long but I hadn’t appreciated just how much live football mattered to me, I didn’t appreciate how much I enjoyed meeting up with regulars both at the ground and on the bus journeys there and back. Simple things but part of my make-up I suppose. Trying to give up a pleasurable addiction is a lot like many other addictions in life – the
Reading back through this contradictory piece, I doubt I would buy another season ticket until Ashley packs his bags and heads south, never to return, and takes his tat, dubious sponsors and obnoxious advertising boards with him but I will probably continue to sneak into the odd match or two until he does. After the years I’ve given to this club, I deserve better than him dragging my club into the
Reading back through this contradictory piece, I doubt I would buy another season ticket until Ashley packs his bags and heads south, never to return head says one thing but reality says another. The real criminal in all this is not me for being weak but Mike Ashley – he’s created an atmosphere I no longer enjoy, a venue which is self-serving for him alone, a weak squad of players who don’t play for me and don’t seem particularly interested in anything but their own financial gain, an object
gutters but even he can’t stop me continuing to love my club and I so want us to do well. I don’t necessarily want glittering trophies littering our cabinets (well, perhaps a little one) but I do want honest commitment from all at the club and a club I can be proud of again. It will happen, one day, he will go.
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Ch-ch-changes ‘Change’ is a word Steve McClaren uses a lot to try to explain away the woeful start to the season. He used the words ‘change’, ‘changes’ and ‘changing’ 47 times at the pre-Chelsea presser. In one quote he said
‘We are changing a lot of things and it is hard. Some people do not like change but they have to go through it and it is painful at times - as it has been.
We’ve been here three months. Sometimes it can be very quick, sometimes it takes a long time but that it what we are changing. The club wanted it. That is why we came in. I think everybody, certainly from the outside looking in everyone was clamouring for change at Newcastle United from the top right the way through. They have certainly got that from the top in terms of reiterating about the cups, spending money. I think everything they said about changing Newcastle is happening. What is not happening is results on the field. Change is tough and hard. Why? Five wins in 32 games, staying up by the skin of their teeth. That is why everyone is clamouring for change. There is always resistance to change in any walk of life’. www.true-faith.co.uk
But how much has changed in reality? And are the things which have changed fundamental and important? Or just cosmetic? The first promise of change came with Ashley’s piece to camera before the last home game of the season against West Ham. The fact that he deemed it necessary to make such a statement was a significant change in itself as support haemorrhaged in response to a literally hopeless end to the season. In it he admitted that the responsibility lay at his door and pledged to ‘continue the policy of investing in the football club’. He added that we ‘might have the cart financially but need to bolt the horse and we are going to’. He added ‘We are now definitely going to win something and, by the way, I shan’t be selling until we do’.
Although I took this statement as a threat more than a promise the interview raised expectations among the support and these were heightened by the dismissal of John Carver and Steve Stone despite the former being the best coach in the Premier League. After a dalliance with Patrick Viera which suited both sides at the time, Charnley and Carr opted to appoint Steve McClaren despite his poor recent career at Wolfsburg, FC Twente (second time around), Nottingham Forest and Derby County. So no change there in appointing someone who was on the dole after failing at his previous clubs (see Pardew and Kinnear). Most supporters were hoping for a more exciting appointment as could be seen by the reaction when it looked as if Viera and de Boer might be interested. It quickly became apparent that the
The first promise of change came with Ashley’s piece to camera before the last home game of the season against West Ham.
The initial signs were promising with the purchase of Dutch footballer of the year, Gini Wijnaldum, from PSV for a fee just below the record spent on Michael Owen
club had no intention of appointing anyone who might want a degree of control or influence over transfers. Viera and de Boer walked away. It took McClaren another month to finalise the coaching staff (after several rejections) and then they were off on an ill-planned tour of the USA. They ended up playing MSL reserve teams on plastic pitches meaning a number of players didn’t get the game time the needed - little change here with echoes of last season’s lack of preparation. The evidence of change supporters were looking for was a significant revamp of the squad which only won one of the last ten games as they plummeted towards relegation. Even Carver had queried the DNA of the team and it was obvious that some big name players
lacked the heart for any sort of struggle. If we conceded the first goal it was just a question of how many we would lose by. The initial signs were promising with the purchase of Dutch footballer of the year, Gini Wijnaldum, from PSV for a fee just below the record spent on Michael Owen. A few weeks later he was followed by Alex Mitrovic and Chancel Mbemba from Anderlecht, addressing the problem areas up front and central defence. Before the end of the window Florian Thauvin was added from Marseille and Ivan Toney from Northampton. All well and good but many felt that key areas still needed to be addressed, namely a centre half who could dominate in the air, a defensive midfield player to replace the sulking Cheick Tiote, a proven Premiership
striker and a top quality left back. There were also concerns that none of the signings had any Premier League experience. It was clear that they were still following the template laid down a few years before, signing young players under the age of 26 with a view to selling them on at a profit. And this is the key thing which hasn’t changed. The primary aim of the organisation is still to make a profit from player trading. Indeed, I think the reason why the club were so keen on McClaren was his record as a coach who could develop players. Unfortunately, this was not seen as being a crucial element in building a team but rather as a means of increaseng potential profitability. Ironically, if the team is dysfunctional it makes it much more difficult for individuals to play to their full potential www.true-faith.co.uk
thus reducing their marketability and value. The likes of Dimitri Payet is worth much more than West Ham paid for him just a few months ago because the Hammers are doing well and they are providing a showcase for his abilities. Florian Thauvin’s value has plummeted from the reported £14m we paid. We would be lucky to get half of that now. John Carver has been quoted recently as saying that the players recruited over the summer were coming in regardless of who was manager. So much for the manager having an input. Such an approach completely devalues the concept of team building and is at the root of the current difficulties. It certainly doesn’t reflect any real desire for change. Graham Carr is still in
charge of identifying players with potential sell-on value and he is still buying small Frenchmen to play in midfield who struggle to adapt to the physicality of the English game. All that has happened is that the amount of money the club are prepared to commit to transfers has risen as they TV money comes on stream. Of course all the other clubs in the Greed League are also spending more than ever as they all want to make sure that they stay on the TV gravy train. It has to be said that Newcastle United is not alone in developing a model which places an emphasis on players’ sell on values. Liverpool have done very much the same with the result that their manager
has been peddled while Villa look like doing the same to Sherwood. It could be argued that Arsene Wenger has been doing something similar for years at Arsenal. Interestingly it looks like Klopp insisted on first and last say regarding player recruitment into Anfield. I wonder whether that was a change that we were not prepared to countenance hence the lack of potential candidates of quality in the summer. And this raises a wider point. It was said even before Sky’s annexation of the game that football is a business. Liverpool’s credo was about winning trophies. To this end it looks as if the transfer committee has been binned as they recognise that the moneyball approach works better with individuals than with team building, which is
The likes of Dimitri Payet is worth much more than West Ham paid for him just a few months ago because the Hammers are doing well and they are providing a showcase for his abilities. Florian Thauvin’s value has plummeted from the reported £14m we paid.
Sissoko and Tiote still look like they don’t want to be here and generally the team lacks heart or ‘desire’
We certainly have seen little indication of real change on the pitch. Ok, McClaren’s team pass the ball a bit more but to little effect. The so-called ‘6 passes and then we’ve got control’ has just meant possession without purpose
as much an art as a science. At present United is still painting by numbers. If supporters had been asked what needed to change, one of the main areas would be addressing the lack of leadership on the field. And yet Colocinni was actually rewarded for a poor season by a contract extension and retention of the captain’s armband. He has shown no aptitude for the job. In fact the reverse as he refuses to undertake post-match interviews, sending out the likes of Kevin Mbabu and Alex Mitrovic to explain why we have capitulated once again. Ironically, we had a leader in the dressing room who came from Argentina and shoved him out on a free transfer despite the fact that he was our best player in the last quarter of the season. Gutierrez has been a big miss and one wonders how his treatment by the club has affected the dressing room. Not for the first time the club have viewed potential leaders as a threat rather than an asset.
We certainly have seen little indication of real change on the pitch. Ok, McClaren’s team pass the ball a bit more but to little effect. The so-called ‘6 passes and then we’ve got control’ has just meant possession without purpose. We are still conceding goals for fun and struggling to score - pretty much as we saw over the second half of last season. Sissoko and Tiote still look like they don’t want to be here and generally the team lacks heart or ‘desire’ as Schteve calls it. Unfortunately, as managers know, attitudinal change is just about the most difficult thing you can try to do in a business. You can start by introducing behavioural change - in other words introduce penalties and rewards which influence behaviour. But when you are dealing with millionaires even that is difficult. The only solution is to ship out those who are destroying the club from within - we all know who they are. That is something the club singularly failed to do over
the summer as they sought a value from the market which was not there while ignoring the impact that having disenchanted senior players around the place would have on the pitch. It has to be sorted out in January, even if it means giving people free transfers or cancelling contracts. So what has changed? Well, the powers that be at SJP have recognised the value of spin and the need to communicate with fans, telling them what they want to hear, having had their fingers burnt by naively admitting that they are not bothered about winning trophies. Remember that this is a regime who were found at Keegan’s tribunal to believe that lying to fans was an acceptable way to manage corporate communications. All they have done is to recognise that there are more subtle ways of doing this, appearing to be proactive in communications - hence the emails from Charnley and, laughably,Captain Colo. This is not leadership, it is a www.true-faith.co.uk
poor attempt to spin the club’s line to the support. It runs in parallel with the club’s efforts to control the message going through the media with the selection of the Mirror Group as its preferred media partner. This has raised questions about the credibility of the Chronicle and Journal, both owned by the same group. It has also caused problems with relations with other media outlets who seem to take even more delight than usual in highlighting the problems within the club. At the same time the other major change in football generally has been the reduction in importance of fans and their direct support of the team. The money coming in from television dwarfs all the other revenue streams. So long as the club is in the Premier League they will be happy and profitable and the direct influence of supporters will be much diminished. However, supporters can still have an impact on the way the club is perceived and this is something that the
hierarchy is sensitive about. It is no coincidence that their change in approach to communications, including Ashley’s Sky interview, happened while the Ashley Out campaign was in full swing. The fans’ boycott of the televised Spurs game last season attracted media interest and sparked a debate about the direction of the club under Ashley. It led to a light being shone on Sport Direct and I assume that Ashley would not wish that to be repeated. Still on a broader, historical note one can question whether Ashley’s approach itself is any change to what has been happening at Newcastle for decades. Although the fans talk about ‘our’ club it has been very much a one way relationship where fans invest money, emotions and faith in an institution which is seen to represent the city and surrounding area. People are proud of their city and the football club are seen as the most obvious representation of that. They carry the hopes and pride of hundreds
of thousands of people whether living locally or dispersed around the globe. But the club itself has always been owned by an individual or collection of individuals whose primary agenda has been to massage their own egos and have a position of importance in the community. Can we forget McKeag talking about Newcastle United being akin to the ‘family silver’ while before that the funding between the McKeags and Seymours led to the downfall of the club which had dominated football in the 1950s? Even the Hall era was more about the aggrandisement of the brave and bold Sir John as could be seen by the PLC launch and subsequent dash for cash which saw Les Ferdinand sacrificed to the god of Mammon. Meet the new boss? So Brave New World? Well football is the soma of the people but it seems as if the drugs don’t work. To quote the Thin White Duke ‘Where’s your shame? You’ve left us up to our necks in it’ (Changes 1971)
Still on a broader, historical note one can question whether Ashley’s approach itself is any change to what has been happening at Newcastle for decades
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In latter years, the true faith Podcasts have become one of the most popular elements of our content. Now led by Pod-Father, Alex Hurst and his PodSquad we are now putting out regular episodes to an ever-growing band of listeners across the Black & White planet. They are becoming MASSIF.
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Postcards F rom The Edge Paully
T’is the season to be jolly, fa la la la la, la la la la; and all of that bollocks. Although, I don’t think any part of NUFC could currently fit into the jolly sense. The majority of it could well and truly be classified as bollocks or more appropriately DOUBLE BOLLOCKS to quote the legend that is Leonard Osborne. I’m a happy and positive person about life in all aspects bar one; NUFC under the ownership of Michael James Wallace Ashley. I can handle opening up a Kinder egg only for there to be no toy surprise inside of the container after I’ve consumed the delightful chocolate. I can even cope with only receiving five of the six chilli cheese bites that I ordered from Burger King. However, I simply cannot get upbeat in any way, shape, or form about our club under this obnoxious parasite. I’ve said for several years that I’d gladly take relegation if it meant our reclusive oaf of an owner clears off along with his 903 advertising hoardings. In fact, I’d also gladly spend a year inside of the jungl e with
just Lady C (I’ve no idea what the ‘C’ stands for but I can certainly hazard a guess) as company and with only kangaroo shit as a daily meal. Speaking of that barmy place, I fully expected Kieron Dyer to limp out after a few days due to pulling his hammy so fair play to him for lasting the pace. The only thing that bothers Ashley is money so losing out on a humongous amount of media revenue due to being relegated would hurt him. There is obviously no guarantee that he would sell the club if we were to go down but there is a far greater chance of that happening if we weren’t on board of the so-called ‘Premier League gravy train’. Mind, if the gravy tastes as nice as KFC’s then I I’d be devastated never mind hurt if I had to depart this train. His actions and antics both at NUFC and up in Glasgow leads me to believe that he simply must thrive on being hated. Each to their own I suppose as everyone gets their www.true-faith.co.uk
Our transfer policy is utter horse-plop and it has been for years. We don’t sign players in areas that we need to recruit. We simply buy players regardless of where they play in hope that we will sell them for a far greater price
kicks out of life in different ways. For instance, some people get theirs by firing ping pong balls out of their fannies in front of a rowdy bunch of horny perverts. Mind, I’m not one of those (the viewer and not the firer) because I’m allergic to ping pong balls. It’s criminal what he has done. He cheapens everything he touches and he has ripped the soul completely out of the club. We haven’t been a football club for years and we merely exist to promote his tacky sports stores and as another mean for him to make money. If I had one English pound for every time I have said that then I’d currently be licking Dom Pérignon off the boobies of several Victoria’s Secret models on a yacht in Hebburn marina. He has driven away thousands of passionate, hardcore supporters hence there is more atmosphere at a dummy convention than there is at SJP. He has installed a zero winning mentality and the club’s quotes about cup competitions prove that and were scandalous. This has created a completely environment apathetic which stems from the boardroom to the players and to the fans. Pride, respectability, enthusiasm, passion have all been banished into one of his bargain baskets. We now have a desperate head coach, uninterested players and completely disillusioned fans. The players are
seemingly informed before they sign that they can use us as a stepping stone to better things so it’s no wonder that most of them look half-arsed. Our transfer policy is utter horse-plop and it has been for years. We don’t sign players in areas that we need to recruit. We simply buy players regardless of where they play in hope that we will sell them for a far greater price. Kenny Dalglish is to blame for this policy. As if dismantling one of the finest squads in Europe in 1997 was not enough for the dourfaced, skirt-wearing, racistsupporting porridge-gobbler. His ludicrous decision to sign Andy Carroll for £35 million must have made the bulging pound signs in Ashley’s eyes almost crack open (it’s a travesty that they did not). This is the reason why our squad is more lopsided than a seesaw with Nellie the elephant and Roland Rat on it. There isn’t enough space in 10 Downing Street to accommodate the amount of ‘number 10s’ that we have
on our books. I mentioned Auf Wiedersehen Pet’s finest before and I genuinely think that Ashley would gladly go inside of Oz’ horrifically smelly arse if there was a striker up there that he could make a profit selling on. Dear Santa, For Christmas, I would like you to expose Mike Ashley as having extreme links to either ISIS or to Jimmy Savile’s noncing mob. I have been a good lad this year so please make either (or preferably both) of these happen; you fat red and white pig. Merry Easter everybody and all the Fred West to you and yours for 2016.
On the 24th May 2015, the final day of the 2014/15 Premier League season, Mike Ashley unexpectedly appeared live on Sky Sports before Newcastle’s vital final fixture at home to West Ham. Amid a host of suspiciously uplifting statements on a day the team needed the crowd behind them to gain the win which would ensure survival, Ashley claimed the club would now be able to spend above their station and that he was looking to win a trophy before he’d even consider leaving. Added together that sounded like the club was planning to spend money and buy better players with the eventual aim of success. By success I’m speaking of proper success, winning things, rather than the relative success we thought was all we could ever hope for, snapping round the heels of English football’s newly entrenched aristocracy. The summer was the club’s first instalment of implementing whatever plan they had.
MARK BROPHY Follow Mark @mark_brophy
HEROES OR ZEROES? At the time of writing the club are bottom of the league without a win from their first 8 games so it’s safe to say things haven’t gone as anyone would have wanted them to. Of course there are other factors which influence results just as much as recruitment does so you can’t lay the blame for the awful start to the season solely at the door of the new additions to the squad. Even so, the previously unassailable chief scout, Graham Carr, has begun to come in for criticism from fans. That may not be fair as many of our buys aren’t necessarily his most highly recommended choice. If we buy Carr’s 3rd choice recommended player in a particular position for financial reasons, is it really his fault if they’re less than a tf 86
runaway success? You could say that 3rd choice or not they are still recommended by him and should be able to provide a positive contribution. So how are they doing?
The first two of the signings we’ll look at are the most low-key.Gideon Adu-Peprah is a 17-year-old who can play either at centre back or left back, signed for the academy from Manchester City but moved straight up to the U21s. He’s strong and quick but nowhere
near the first team. The fortunes of players like him will be a big signifier of the capabilities of our new coaching team. He’s got a two year contract. The question is whether they can mould him in that time into someone who can at least provide acceptable cover for a first-teamer. Ivan Toney is a tall striker signed from Northampton Town on the eve of the new season. He’s athletic and attacks the ball well. About half his goals for Northampton were scored with his head. Although
If we buy Carr’s 3rd choice recommended player in a particular position for financial reasons, is it really his fault if they’re less than a runaway success?
not prolific there, he got 10 goals in all competitions last season, roughly a goal every four games, he’s still only 19. It’s encouraging that he’s already made his firstteam debut for us, getting game time in the Cup against Northampton and Sheffield Wednesday and then a few minutes in the Premier League at the end of the home draw against Chelsea. I wouldn’t for a single moment compare him to the gem that is Ayoze Perez but much as Perez played a whole lot more last season than was expected, the paucity of our options up front mean he may play a lot more than anyone anticipated when he signed. Whether he should be playing for us in the Premier League is an entirely different matter. It could be said the more he plays the more damning it is for our squad-building strategy. He may well come good in the fullness of time but he’s no wonderkid. It’s great he’s getting experience coming on now and then, but the problem is we don’t have a lot of alternatives to him right now. He is there out of necessity rather than a desire to give him experience when we can. Our past transfer strategy has resulted in squad places being taken up by relatively well-paid players like Riviere and Gouffran who just don’t cut the mustard. An uninterested Cisse comes into this category too, though his style is such that if he’s not scoring he sometimes provides little www.true-faith.co.uk
else for the team anyway so it’s hard to tell if he can’t be bothered or just out of form. Players like this are difficult to get off the books so even though there may be 6 strikers in our squad, you might only want to consider playing 2 or 3 of them. You can’t sign up 10 strikers so as to get 4 decent ones. Until those not good enough are shipped out it’s hard to see us bringing in anyone else, despite playing no strikers at all in the home defeat to the Championship’s Wednesday. Florian Thauvin is one of those we really need to come good. Signed for big money from Marseille, seemingly he’s a replacement for Remy Cabella who moved on loan in the opposite direction with a clause to make his move to l’OM permanent in the summer. Right at the nub of the issue of replacing Cabella is that we never worked out where we should be playing him so it must have been difficult picking someone
to take his place. How can you select a replacement when you don’t know what qualities they require? Not knowing his best position can’t become an issue with Thauvin. However, Graham Carr has been after Thauvin for years. We were supposed to be interested when he moved to Lille from Bastia, then again
that if he’s not a success Carr’s reputation really will be tarnished irreparably. Thuavin is Carr’s first choice, not his third. We didn’t go for the cheap option this time. There can be no excuses on this one. We have a side who struggled to score and struggled to create last season. We rarely looked
Florian Thauvin is one of those we really need to come good when he was moving to Marseille. It may well be that when we got Cabella it was only ever because we couldn’t get Thauvin. I don’t think Thauvin really is a replacement for Cabella, it’s the other way around. It was always Thauvin we wanted, and now we’ve got him Carr obviously thinks we don’t need Cabella any more. Finally he’s got his man, then. It does mean
dangerous and all too often made it too easy for the opposition to contain us. We are in urgent need of a creative force, someone to get us moving forward. Whether that’s on the left wing or more centrally behind a front man doesn’t really matter, we just need to work out which it should be, and fast. Already there’s a perception that he’s a carbon copy of Cabella and tf 87
had the good sense and application to end up at Real Madrid, so it’s probably right to expect more than we’ve seen. We should take it as a positive that his pedigree suggests there’s improvement to come.
I think that’s unfair. Yes, he’s billed as a small tricky Frenchman, but he looks to have a lot more strength on the ball than Cabella ever had, and with very good close control he looks like he can beat a man too, something I’m not sure I ever saw Cabella do. There’s another problem with fitting him into the
it’s not really his ability, it’s that he’s often on a different wavelength to his team mates. He’s been prone so far to undoing good work with an aimless ball or more often an overhit one. Hopefully that is something which will improve just through spending hours on the training ground with his fellow players. As they get
Mbemba has pace and power but he also looks like he’s comfortable on the ball. team. If he’s to play through the middle, we have a glut of players who can play there and who probably want to stay there, including Wijnaldum, de Jong, even Sisoko. If he’s to play on the left he’d be blocking the progress of Rolando Aarons, one of the few bright spots of 2014/15 in the few games he played while injury-free. If Thauvin does have an issue tf 88
to know each other better the hope is that more of an understanding between them all will come to the fore. Having said that, if you watch a highlights video of his time in France, even they frequently contain overhit passes or a wayward final ball following an impressive dribble. I’ll emphasise the point, those are the highlights, his best moments.
He also seems to find it difficult to get into a game sometimes, but that is just the classic problem of any winger. It’s very easy to become isolated and ineffective in that position if you’re tightly marked or if your side don’t get the ball out to you for any length of time. We should also remember that he is only 22 and still learning the game. I do think it’s vital we keep picking him, to ensure that improvement takes place. It would be very easy to take him out of the firing line in favour of players who at least offer more defensively, but he has no chance of adapting to this league and our players unless he gets a run of months at least. In his favour, he does have over 100 top-flight appearances and was Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year for 2012/13. When we were first interested in him he was spoken of as having a similar level of talent to the young French centrehalf Raphael Varane, who
Chancel Mbemba is a 21-year-old centre-half from the Democratic Republic of the Congo who we bought in the summer from Anderlecht. In an echo of the signing of Oba Martins, there’s been some discussion about how old he actually is, though proof had already been produced of his age. All I’ll say is he doesn’t have the face of a boy. At 6 feet he’s not enormous but he’s big enough to play at centrehalf even if he doesn’t match some of the lumbering giants now inhabiting the Premier League. He can also play at right back, though the only time I’ve seen him there was against Swansea when he got repeatedly taken to the cleaners by Jefferson Montero. To be fair to him, Montero had given our best defender Daryl Janmaat a nightmare before that, resulting in Janmaat’s sending off for two bookable offences, both bookings needless and stupid in equal doses. It probably says something that Montero has gone back to being a non-world beater now that he’s not playing us. Then again, I still get the shivers at the memory of our defence making Jozy Altidore look like Zlatan Ibrahimovic at our place a couple of years ago so this www.true-faith.co.uk
kind of thing is nothing new for us. No matter how I try I just can’t blank out the bad times though. Mbemba has pace and power but he also looks like he’s comfortable on the ball. If we’re to progress to being a footballing team as McClaren has said then he’s the kind of player we need. We can’t afford defenders who the opposition like to have the ball, especially if we’re aiming at possession football and playing it out from the back. It remains to be seen if he can forge an effective partnership with Fabricio Coloccini as the club evidently would like. Coloccini performs best when he has someone alongside him who can physically dominate and no matter how good Mbemba might be, that might also not exactly be his game. He can look at the Newcastle career of Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to see what happens to highly-rated foreign centre-halves who don’t gel with Colo very quickly. Even his greatest fan would probably admit that Coloccini is, while still imperious on his day, an ever-fading force and maybe we should be looking to replace him rather than build a team around him. I’d be astonished if he’s still here at the start of 2017/18 for instance, by which time he’ll be 35. So maybe Mbemba could survive a rocky partnership in a way Mbiwa could not. I can’t help thinking we might have been better off keeping Mbiwa in the long www.true-faith.co.uk
run though that is heresy for many fans who still think of Coloccini as the best defender they’ve ever seen in our Black & White. We have plenty of centrehalves of course. Not enough are of the required quality however. As well as Coloccini and Mbemba, Steven Taylor has become as injury-prone as his namesake Ryan was. We’re lucky if we get a third of a season out of him. Mike Williamson, while not the world’s worst defender many would paint him as, isn’t anything other than a fourth-choice centre-half at a relegation-threatened Premier side. Jamaal Lascelles has yet to get ahead of Williamson in the pecking order. In conclusion, Mbemba is a good start at improving the defence but we need another two centre-halves of the same calibre and a left-back as good as Janmaat wouldn’t go amiss either. Our earliest signing of the
summer was Georginio Wijnaldum, captain of Dutch champions PSV in the season just finished. A central midfielder, he’s strong, gets around the pitch well and can create as well as score goals. Since 2010 the 24 year old has averaged a goal at less than every 3 games, a record
in the air for some time so if he can help with that as well as providing drive and creativity from midfield then all the better. Wijnaldum is a regular for the Netherlands national side and scored in their 3rd-place final win over Brazil at the 2014 World
A central midfielder, he’s strong, gets around the pitch well and can create as well as score goals. many a striker would kill for. Goals in Holland don’t always translate to goals in England, see the careers of Mateja Kezman, Afonso Aves and others for proof, but he’s set off well grabbing a couple of goals already despite playing in a struggling team. Both of his goals so far have been with his head from crosses, one of which was even from a corner kick. We’ve needed more of a threat
Cup. His signing was the one which really excited me this summer but like Thauvin he’s got a little lost in a couple of our games. How much of that can be attributed to playing in a struggling side lacking in confidence I’m not sure, but it has to be the case that it’s more difficult to get on the ball when your team is in that state. Our side stopped functioning correctly in a footballing sense some time
ago and the bottom line is that it’s unfair to expect one or two players to come in and change the culture, attitude and expectations of an entire team. I’ve seen enough in flashes to think Wijnaldum can help
to be this season and he either expects further transfers or he’s trying to apply pressure to make it happen. Transforming a failing team is a difficult thing to pull off. You may be able to see a series of
The 21 year-old Serb has been brought in to do something we’ve needed to be done for years, lead the line. I really like the look of him. He’s big, physical and spirited, but just as importantly he’s good defibrillate our club, but he can’t do it alone. It’s interesting to note that at the time of writing at the start of October, Steve McClaren has already started talking about moves in the January transfer window. He demonstrably believes now that there isn’t enough in our squad to get us where we want tf 90
problems, things you need to change, but there are very good reasons why you don’t want to change them all at once. Apart from financial restrictions, there are only so many new players you can bring into a group before that group loses whatever personal dynamic and cohesion it previously possessed. In
this case however, where Newcastle United are generally perceived as having a losing mentality, the group dynamic is precisely what we want to be broken up. I don’t see the down side right now from bringing in better players if we can offload someone who’s not needed at the same time, and I think Steve McClaren might have come to the same conclusion recently. Is there money available? Do we trust our hierarchy to bring in the right people? There are reasonable doubts but I think it’s going to happen unless there is a real change in our fortunes over the next couple of months. Our final signing of the summer was Aleksandar Mitrovic, again from Anderlecht. The 21 year-old Serb has been brought in to do something we’ve needed to be done for years, lead the line. I really like the look of him. He’s big, physical
and spirited, but just as importantly he’s good. It will help the side immensely that passes forward don’t just keep coming back with the opposition. He can hold the ball up, win fouls, or bring others into the play. He had a fantastic goalscoring record in Belgium, a goal every other game, and he will very likely struggle to keep up quite that ratio here. He looks a threat in the air and despite only scoring one goal so far he’s had a fair number of chances. A striker who’s not scoring but still keeps missing chances is one who has every chance of changing his own fortunes and coming good. Mitrovic also has a badboy reputation, which manifested itself in a booking in his first 30 seconds of wearing our strip, and a sending off a couple of weeks later against Arsenal. I imagine referees will be looking out for him from now so he will need to tone down the physicality without losing whatever spark it is that he has. Conversely, it’s just such actions which endear a player to his own fans. I think his hot-headed challenges gained him a lot of early popularity following his move but eventually the time will come when he has to restrain himself for the good of the team. There were signs of this in the Chelsea game, a very mature performance which must have been very difficult to play against. If he can carry this on and www.true-faith.co.uk
channel his aggression he will be some handful and some player. I’ve got high hopes for the partnerships he can help create in our front line in the future. He can take a lot of weight off the shoulders of Ayoze Perez for one. A clever player like Perez will be able to use Mitrovic’s physical presence to slip into dangerous positions undetected, and can play off Mitrovic. In return Perez’s pace, movement and trickery will make it difficult for defenders to mark them both and create chances for Mitrovic. Adam Armstrong too might find playing alongside Mitrovic in the future offers opportunities he hasn’t had playing for us so far. Again though, we can’t expect Mitrovic to be available for every game, especially as the way he plays brings him to the attention of the disciplinary authorities more often than not. Already when he plays the team looks so different, just in terms of their spirit and fight. He gives them a focal point, someone to look at and follow by example. He’s basically a human rallying call. The problem with that is when he’s not there the side is missing so much. How poor were we when he was suspended following the Arsenal game? It’s impossible of course to sign a carbon-copy of any player but you can try to recruit certain characteristics in others, not necessarily www.true-faith.co.uk
in the same position. If we can bring in players throughout the team with his spirit and his strength, his refusal to lie down, his insistence on making things uncomfortable for the opposition then our team won’t be as reliant on him but will also have changed fundamentally for the better. Our weakness at the back stems not from Mbemba’s recruitment, but from not recruiting a few more like him. The lack of character and flatness in midfield isn’t down the players we bought in the summer but to them coming into a side that ceased to be viable some time ago. Our lack of a threat up front isn’t the fault of Mitrovic but that beyond him we have so very little that hasn’t had enough of playing for us or is incapable of doing a job even if they wanted to. I don’t need to name names do I? The problem we have
all over the pitch is that we have so very few genuine alternatives to replace first-teamers who may be having a bad time or get injured. That’s not to say we don’t have a full squad. We registered the maximum 25 over-21 players with the Premier League. It’s just that a fair proportion of them
who don’t make the weight is the legacy of years of trying to do just enough to keep ticking over and no more. Spending £40m in the summer was of course welcome but it doesn’t make up for years of lowcost, low-rent purchases. The summer’s buys are in my opinion positive
A squad full of makeweights who don’t make the weight is the legacy of years of trying to do just enough to keep ticking over and no more aren’t good enough, never will be and need shipping out to make room for players who are capable of providing real competition. I couldn’t care less if they turn up in dinner jacket or donkey jacket but we need players who are better than your average bin-man. A squad full of makeweights
additions as a whole, but you can’t solve 4 years’ stagnation in a single transfer window. Our new players give us reason for a small amount of hope, but even if we keep going it will be a long time before we get back to being a functioning football club. tf 91
As I sat listening to another mundane set of away fans (this time, dullards from Stoke zzzz, bore off) singing generic songs about ‘libraries’ and ‘atmosphere’ it once more got my goat.
D N A T S L L WE A
The wave of new stadia and extensions, such as at SJP have created new arenas with better facilities, but at what cost to our National game? The massive post Hillsborough knee jerk that was the (Thatcher guided) ‘Taylor Report’ quite correctly consigned the heaving, decrepit terraces to the annals of history. The mixture of those unsafe conditions and the boys in blue acting like some Extremist Right wing State militia was a disaster waiting to happen. On 15th April 1989 in S Yorkshire that awful mix
came to fruition as we all know.Any of you old enough will recall at first hand how close NUFC came to being the ‘disaster’ club not Liverpool. In the FA Cup 5th Round at White Hart Lane two years previously, many of the terrifying ingredients which lead to 96 needless deaths were in evidence. I was stuck on the barriers at the front, a terrified 16 y/o with my best pal, Langy literally pinned to the metal fence at the front of the away section, unable to move my legs for over an hour. I had my right foot buried into the back of
my left knee, and there it remained for what seemed like an age.
I still believe that if Peter Beardsley had buried a half decent chance in the 1st half I (and quite a few others) might not have made it out in one piece. Have a look below, and see if you can work out which is the home end and which one is packed with 1,000s of extra away fans in an area which should’ve held many less? Swing a cat. (Never a pen, by the way. Some things never change.)
They also have these... Seats when you want them. Standing, when you don’t.
This was an area they had built with the ‘Rail seats’. It’s happened there, at a near European neighbour. A full 15 years later us Englanders are still waiting You might ask the question, why would someone who has had such a terrible experience as this advocate any sort of standing in football? Well, football in this country has lacked something ever since the days of terracing. I’m not for a second, suggesting a return to what we had before. However, I look on enviously towards Germany and it’s Bundesliga. Apart from the fact they have the World’s best team right now & the fans are treated with respect and listened to. They also have these.... Seats when you want them. Standing, when you don’t. I’ve seen it at first hand too. In 2000, having been abroad a few times with NUFC and really missing our footie jaunts in Europe, myself and a few pals went to Hamburg (just for the fitba, you understand) we took in a particularly mediocre contest between HSV and Bochum. The new Volksparkstadion built for the ‘06 World Cup looked stunning. Holding circa 57000, it was only just above half full that day, but what will always stay with me is how full the lower tier paddock www.true-faith.co.uk
behind one of the goals was. This particular area was combined with an impressive wall of noise. This was an area they had built with the ‘Rail seats’ seen above. It’s happened there, at a near European neighbour. A full 15 years later us Englanders are still waiting. Just look at this! The Nordkurve at Hamburg. Imagine something similar on a Derby day at St James!
Each time I go away, the latest being at Sunderland, everyone stands. People try to squash in next to their pals and the gangways are filled with spectators. In years gone by at particularly tense and important fixtures I have been surged through a number of the plastic seats. Let me tell you, the metal bits around them hurt. This is supposed to be safe seating? Do me a favour.
The FSF (Football Supporters Federation) have been campaigning for some time now. Much as I have above, they argue that the old, neglected terracing, the organisation & the Authorities were the key ingredients at fault here. The fact that they are so clearly correct makes it all the more galling that it hasn’t happened.
-Standing sections would revitalise the support in this Country. On average, it is estimated that you can safely increase the amount of punters In these areas by up to 40%, bringing back the atmosphere, increasing revenue and in one fell swoop stopping arguments amongst those who want to sit and watch the match v those who
want to stand and sing. If we made a paddock area of currently 5000 seats in the lower Leazes & Gallowgate you would probably be looking at an extra 4-5000 on the gate, all making a racket and spending extra wedge (just in case one of your drones in sector 7 reads this, Mr Ashley.) It has seemed a remote chance for many years, but our friends in the North. You know, the ones that elected wee Jimmy Krankie to be their leader, have begun to allow it in the Premier league. Perhaps, we are getting closer to the return of proper, legalised standing in football. I for one, really hope so. Loads more atmosphere, more spectators, more revenue, a lower priced alternative (?!?) and clearly safer than what we have now. It ticks a lot of boxes. Now, over to you Mr Cameron. I best not hold my breath, eh? If any of you want to get more info / get more involved, have a click on these... yougov.co.uk fsf.org.uk tf 93
SEASON bat,theDirectorsCommittee continued to select the side.
Players: Lawrence, McCracken, Hudspeth, Curry, Low, Finlay, Robinson, Henderson, Wilson, Hall, Hibbert, Dixon, Cooper, Booth, Pyke, Ramsay, Hampson, Bradley, Mellor, Smailes, Hagan, Rainnie, Phillipson, Mooney, Hewison, King, Best, Swan, Wake, Bertram. Division: We once again competed in the top division of English Football after the sport began up again in the country after World War I. Finishing 8th with 43 points after 42 games, we finished 17 points off champions West Bromwich Albion. Manager: Just as before the enforced break due to com-
Trainer/Coach: James McPherson continued in his role as trainer of the side. Highest Attendance: As always, it was the home derby against our rivals from Wearside which brought the biggest crowd to St. James’. 61,761 packing the terraces of Gallowgate watched as we fell 2-3 to a defeat from the dark-side. On the road, a gate of 60,000 was present to watch our goalless draw with Chelsea on 13/ Sep/1919. Lowest Attendance: Our lowest game we performed in front of this season came on the road, as a lowly 12,000 came to watch our
Tom Curry - Half back (died in the Munich Disaster 1958)
1-0 at Bradford Park Avenue, Stan Dixon getting the goal. At SJP, the lowest gate was 20,000, but the masses missed a gud’un as we beat a relatively poor Everton side 3-0, Andy Smailes, a young lad from Blyth Spartans, getting a brace. Average Attendance: The average attendance in the league at St. James’ Park was 38,036after21homegames. If you factor in our two home cups games against Crystal Palace and Huddersfield
Town, that number drops slightly to 37,401. Best Win: Statistically, 4-0 was the ‘in vogue’ scoreline this season, with the result being both our best (and worst) results of the season. We were on the positive end of the scoreline early doors in the season, as we walloped Bradford Park Avenue, a team who would only finish one point worse off than us, by four goals. Smailes, and a Hibbert hat-trick did the trick... Worst Defeat: ...Sadly, we lost twice by the same scoreline, both in the second half of the campaign. We lost 0-4 on Merseyside to Everton in late January, and then by the same score to Aston Villa in the Midlands as the campaign wound down to a close. Something of Interest: As you can imagine, a lot had changedinthefour/fiveyears since Football had drawn to a close to and it must be said it was for the better. For one, the league had expanded to 22 teams and it wouldn’t be
long before a Football League restructure was in order. At NUFC, whilst the ground had not been damaged during the war, it had been taken over by forces and was in desperate need of a lick of paint. On the playing side, United tried to mix some of the players they had before the war (McCracken, Low and Jimmy Lawrence) with some youth (Andy Smailes, Stan Dixon and Tom Phillipson). Mentioned in Dispatches: The season started with so much promise for United, winning 1-0 in the capital at Arsenal, the first game to be played at Highbury, no less. Only two defeats in the first 13 games led United to top of the league (winning 6 in a row at one point) before two derby defeats backto-back by Middlesbrough and Sunderland knocked us off top spot at the end of November. United were still in the mix come January, but ultimately fell off the cliff and lost consistency, losing four games in a row at one point over January and February. National Interest: The Olympic Games take place in Antwerp this summer, GB & Ireland finish with 15 gold, 15 silver and 13 bronze in the medal table, which was good enough for third behind USA and Sweden.. The Steamboat, Treveal, is shipwrecked in the English Channel in January, killing 35 people.. Woman lecturers are given equal status to their male colleagues at Oxford University for the first time in May this year.. The Government proposes a car tax of £1 per horsepower.. www.true-faith.co.uk
On 16/Jul/1920 war with Austria is officially declared over.. Alf Ramsey is born this year.. There had been the small matter of the Easter Rising in Dublin in 1916 which started the process of Irish independence and the journey to what is known as the Republic of Ireland. There was the small matter of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia and the establishment of the USSR between the suspension and restarting
of competitive football at St James’ Park because of some demanding away fixtures in Europe. In 1918 and 1919 Police Officers had taken industrial or strike action in pursuance of better terms and conditions. This resulted in the Police Act which for-
bade in law for Police officers to go on strike. Regional Interest: The North East has been spared serious racial or sectarian problems but in 1919 there were serious race riots in South Shields. It’s a little known fact that Arab seaman (mainly from the Yemen) worked and lived in this part of Tyneside for many, many years and during WW1 they had been vital to keeping the merchant fleet going during the hostilities with Germany. To this day there are remnants of that Yemeni community in the Laygate district of South Shields with a long-established Mosque and very happy assimilated community. In 1919, a leftwing group, the Minority Movement formed to support the rights of foreign workers who had faced hostility, prejudice and discrimination from the local community, including the National Union of Seamen as the privations of life in the 20s and 30s sought to discriminate against the Arabs as work became scarce.1919
was the first year of serious disorder in South Shields as Arab seamen railed against the injustices they faced and would simmer until the infamous Mill Dam riots of 1930. Happily, South Shields has one of the most successfully integrated communities in the UK today. Incidentally, the famous Ocean Road Curry quarter in South Shields had been previously called Germany Street but this was changed as a result of the outbreak of WW1. Eleven people were sadly killed following a fire at Famous Laskey Film Services which operated at Cross House on Westgate Road, still in use today and formerly home to the Newcastle legal institution, Dickinson Dees and opposite the Old Assembly Rooms. Further tragedy was avoided as a result of the heroism and ingenuity of the Newcastle Fire Service who rescued many other workers from the building. Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892 tf 95
Time to bowl you a wrong ‘un. Who’s the campest Mag you saw play? For some reason this question, creeping up on me after a night on Belgian beers and ripe cheeses, has led to a lot of deliberation chez nous this past fortnight. The notion of being camp* has never been fashionable in football circles; even when fashion is at its most preposterously effete. In thinking about my ultimate camp Newcastle player, I briefly considered the period when the squad at Newcastle United looked like the (collective) male equivalent of Sharon Watts. Darren Jackson, Paul Gascoigne, Paul Ferris, Joe Allon, Ian Bogie and Paul Stephenson. Even Jeff Clarke. Cavalier Ensigns all; Pre-Raphaelite cherubs; with mops resplendent with a tsunami of (permed, or bleached) curls, ones that cascaded down like violas
astounded that no-one British Isles. Swapping ruffs in hanging baskets. But are seems to question the well or mascara for sambas, flick this look was not camp. oiled, groomed, tramlined, haircuts and Peter Storm Briefly thinking (and then, “inked-up” homoeroticism is just a matter of the ng) thinki not mercifully, of modern football’s image. passing of time. I suspect about Paul Stimpson’s Barbers being flown in to many get misty eyed about gravity defying fringe, I also sort out your side parting, all of that casual stuff. But had He Tino. thought about pre-match? The very height there’s another side to many qualities that could be of Roman deviancy. Caligula that aesthetic that is just labelled camp: the “outsider” would have blushed (Ed: I one haircut away from the vibe, the preposterousness, saw what you did there). But recruitment office, too. the silliness, the quicksilver this kind of homoeroticism Squaddies wearing Pringle. unreliability. The suggestion has very little - if anything Larry Grayson or Leigh of naughtiness. But in the - to do with being camp. Bowery it ain’t. end, Tino was as mad as In fact, it (unwittingly) taps of regardless And isn’t ness Camp . horse a into an older tradition of the historical provenance, madness. goes “lad”; a tradition that modern football’s take on back to Elizabethan England homoeroticism is a brutal, Is the notion of camp maybe and beyond. Peacockery ignorant vanity forged from too homoerotic to speak its and fisticuffs - or blades - man creams and stats. name in football? (Dutch) has a long tradition in the And with a thick, gay friends of mine
, s g o D g u P , p Cam Stats d n a r e k l a W t t o c S RIC
HARD FOSTER Incendiary Magazine
Ca mp is ra sc al ity , ra pie r w it, be ing da ft . Th e w im p’ s kic kb ac k. Cu th be rt of th e So ft ies w ith a sh ar p sid e unguent gravy of banter poured atop. “Modern everyman” bollocks in excelsis; stuffed shirts with removable batteries and Action Man eyes, like Dan Walker, or horrible greasy bores like Terry Vegetables, can get away with grooming and “liberal minded” chat on the studio sofa. Chuck in all those flames, all those graphics giving you ADHD. All those 360 degree angles. All those stats. All that betting. A terrible, tiresome reflection of narcissistic consumerism, that’s for sure. But there’s nothing camp here. Not a scintilla of a pisstake outside of the nudge-nudge wink-wink banter. But banter is not, and never will be, camp. Camp is not just a matter of sexuality. Camp is rascality, rapier wit, being daft. The wimp’s kickback. Cuthbert of the Softies with a sharp side. And (unintentionally or not) undermining stereotypes or established patterns of thought. Camp usually gets its head stoved in. Often by those wearing expensive clobber and smelling like a spice ship from Aden. It unsettles people. Morrissey waving his gladioli. Charles Hawtrey’s www.true-faith.co.uk
water bottle. Orange Juice’s great number; Three Cheers For Our Side. “I’m just like a whisper on the breeze..” Indeed. With all this in mind, who do I think was the campest Mag of them all? For me, it has to be Kenneth Wharton. The campest footballer that ever did run out on the verdant greensward of Saint James’Park. Legs like knotted string, and boasting an illadvised moustache period, Wharton was somehow subversive without meaning to be. Not one of the lads, but made of another substance that commanded baffled respect. This is what made him camp. I remember him having a futile, Kenny Williamsstyle temper tantrum to no-one in particular at a drenched Bloomfield Road in 1987, when the Mags lost abjectly to Tony Cunningham’s Blackpool. Of course, the crowning moment of Kenny’s campness came when he sat on the ball against Luton Town. “Perhaps that is a bit unnecessary” said the shocked stuffed shirt commentator on local TV. Oh no. It was very necessary. This was Kenny’s
raison d’etre. Ignis fatuus, the joker, the gleeman. I’m still convinced that Kenny’s antics were a visual riposte to the “Thatcherite cult” of Steve Foster’s headband. Bobby Thompson poking ridicule at White Van Man. Wharton’s unintentional Rodin pose was funnier than any Smiths lyric, and as Generation X as My Bloody Valentine’s Isn’t Anything. Beautiful. Stats What is it about this slavish addiction to talking about stats amongst those who follow football? The whole thing makes me want to drink bleach and be done with it. Back in my day we contented ourselves with watching George Reilly through half closed eyes, and avoided the violent attentions of noncamp but unintentionally homoerotic gangs of casuals roaming the backstreets. Nowadays, when “showing support for a football match in a public space”, one always runs the risk of having to talk to someone under the influence of stats.
You may encounter the dough faced purveyor of informative stats (Serious Merson face) or the witty emissary employing stats as “banter” (Prince Charles’s Assistant Knobshiner face). Both “in your face”, so to speak. These encounters can be difficult to negotiate, and can lead to escalating levels of talking piss in the peer group; a depressing situation for those of gentle manners. If anything shows the way our lives have been compressed into some huge overbearing Excelsheet from which there is no escape, it’s this obsession with football stats. Worse, knowing about, or sharing football stats will not stop Nestle bottling water in California, or the television showing awful programmes about allotment challenges. There is nothing to be gained in remembering how far Paul Dummett runs. We must be clear on this. And it’s only a matter of time before couch potatoes the land over suffer The Great British Stat Challenge,
hosted by someone like Dawn French. Maybe we can start a self-help, or 12-step group for those wishing to avoid, or wanting to be weaned off, talking about football stats. Despair, Peter Cook, and pug dogs I don’t know about you, but sometimes the existential despair that I feel supporting Newcastle United can only find release through acts of the absurd. Sometimes I feel like breaking rank. Instead of nodding sagely to some comment that will have the dreaded stats in them (“look at his pass completion rate!”) I feel like Peter Cook dressed as Emma Bargo, shouting “I Vant to Be Alohhn” through a loudhailer atop a double decker bus. My latest wheeze to end the campless, statfilled , Mers e-ind uced, Barclay-arsed ennui that is modern football, is to train a set of 12 pugs to pull a sledge containing an alabaster image of Scott Walker through the streets of Amsterdam.
The pugs will be wearing a Black & White striped doggy coat as close as possible to the classic Fairs Cup/’71 Supe rmac strip. Their coats will - of course - be emblazoned with the club crest. Loyal, a bit daft and short sighted they may be, but I feel pugs add tone to what would otherwise be a confusing not to say vulgar affair. Scott’s statue will be mic’d up, and will broadcast the looped slogan, “I hate you Mike Ashley” ad nauseum to Amsterdam’s confused groovers. A small, but significant protest, I feel. The Joy of Mitro All is not darkn ess. Keep the prattle about aggression and red cards. Forget the intermittent form, and McClaren’s fusspotting (involving stats and motivational speech, doubtless). Let us savour this big gambolling balloonatic when he gets on the pitch. His enthusiasm akin to that of a Bloodhound puppy off the leash on North Shields beach. Aleksander Mitrovic has elan. Watching him play is as subversive as it gets under Ashley.
*Remember the ethos of (being) camp enjoys a long sociocultural history in these islands; and can’t really be seen as the exclusive preserve of gay subculture.
The Rift Valley Brothers - Mu Africa
Rival Consoles - Ghosting
Saad Lamjarred - Lm3allem
Toro Y Moi - Lilly
Goran Bregovic - Pitbull Terrier
Mohamed Al Ali - Mili Alay (Sway To Me
David Holmes - 69 Police
I went for a pint down the quayside before the Stoke game and only got copper back from a fiver. Ridiculous man. I put the change in the charity jar and sighed to myself, what would my Granda think of living in a £5 a pint region?
VALUE FOR CHRIS MONEY HOLT He’d probably find it as mental as paying £500 or £700+ to watch 19 games of football. But, that’s inflation for you right. Get with the times grandad. Were season ticket always the same price as 100 pints though? I’m not sure which increase has been the biggest but I know which I feel is better value for money these days though. At least I’m happy when I leave the pub. Despite everything we’ve suffered under Ashley, Newcastle still sell more tf 100
season tickets than some premier league clubs have as their capacity. Having failed to sell out any game this season there’s little logical reason for this. Tickets right now are more like appointments at the mortuary than the gold dust they once were. What reason is there not to buy tickets on a game by game basis? Why not keep Ashley on his toes? Why let him know we’ll be going to games in February onwards, regardless of where we are in the league and what
is invested in January, or who is managing? If you’re on a Direct Debit scheme, within a month or two you’ll be paying your first installment towards the 16/17 season, again assuring the club you’ll be there NEXT season too, no matter what. Why?
What reason is there not to buy tickets on a game by game basis?
One major reason would be if there were big savings on offer. Everyone knows season ticket sales are what put Ashley at ease that we’ll be there, irrespective of whether the people he appoints are www.true-faith.co.uk
For those taking on a new season ticket this year, the best you could do is buy 2 pints with the savings over an entire season (£10) incompetent. Llambias or Charnley, Pardew or McClaren, Coloccini or… Coloccini. Why make replacements better if supporters go regardless? People know they will go regardless though and far better that the savings go in their pocket than Ashley’s. The question is whether there are savings to be had and even if there are, how much is Ashley buying your loyalty for? What cost would you incur personally to let Ashley know you’re not necessarily going to be there every week? To make a statement that he’ll have to draw you into the stadium? That if a boycott were organised, it would be one that you could very well take part in effectively, without the cash already being in the club coffers? The difficulty is in people being able to make a comparison when the club won’t publish single ticket prices. In 14/15, I kept a record of every ticket price though, so the comparison can be made. I’ve compared season ticket prices for multiple seasons with www.true-faith.co.uk
the cost of 19 single tickets in 14/15 plus a £35 membership, to see what value season ticket buyers have got for their long term commitment to the club. Are the savings even good enough to get a round in at the quayside’s inflated prices? Is it a saving worth sacrificing to put Ashley at unease?
price freeze deal where they get much cheaper season tickets at prices from seasons gone by. That’s not the case, price freeze deals are no longer on offer and many people will be getting their first season tickets, whether it’s at a child rate or after a move from child to adult having been going to games for years.
Membership and singles
Membership and singles
Membership and singles
15/16 Season Tickets For those taking on a new season ticket this year, the best you could do is buy 2 pints with the savings over an entire season (£10). Season tickets in the East Stand actually take beer tokens out of your pocket. There it costs you between £28 and £37 to bolster Ashley’s certainty that he can keep maintaining the same approach and keep a paid up crowd coming back for more. The argument I’ve heard against this analysis is that no-one is actually buying new season tickets, everyone is on a
But ignoring that, we can look at the prices of earlier seasons too, I’ve only done this comparison for adults.
ADULT Season Ticket 13/14
Membership & Singles 14/15
13/14 Price Freeze Tickets The fact is that at the moment season ticket prices are actually DOWN on what they were 3 seasons ago. Far from tf 101
...and anyone entering into a price freeze in 13/14 would be paying more than new season ticket buyers. Up to £50 more for a season ticket than you’d be paying for every game match by matcH. securing yourself a saving as ticket prices went up, the quality of product on display means that prices have dropped recently and anyone entering into a price freeze in 13/14 would be paying more than new season ticket buyers. Up to £50 more for a season ticket than you’d be paying for every game match by match. You could be getting yourself an extra pint every other game if you were buying singles instead. That said, anyone remaining on a 13/14 deal would have to be completely mad. I assume the club automatically drop anyone that took a 13/14 price freeze to the lower 15/16 prices, surely? I’d be very interested to hear if not. You have to go back to the original ten year price freeze of 11/12 to see the best value that fans could have got.
11/12 Price Freeze Tickets The maximum saving from the original five year old price freeze is still only £30.
owner a warm feeling that there’s no chance his devastation of the club will ever turn the majority of fans away.
ADULT Season Ticket 11/12
Membership & Singles 14/15
Six pints. That’s not even a proper night out. If you missed one game over the course of the season, your savings would be lost. But that’s in the Gallowgate and Leazes. In the East Stand it still costs exactly the same to buy singles all year (and a membership) as it does to get your season ticket. Half way through the price freeze deal that runs to 2021/2022, it still offers no saving to any East Stander involved at all. All it does is give the
With the way the season has started we are once again hearing murmurings about boycotts. Patience for the new manager has eroded slowly and once again the anger among supporters is palpable, whether they blame the players, the manager, the scouting system, the chief exec or the owner.
able to involve themselves in a boycott if it happened, if their involvement could be effective had they already committed to pay up front for the next season and a half and what they gain from not giving themselves that option to be an effective boycotter. Many supporters still going to games will remember the last time boycotts helped lift the club out of a downward spiral to be able to compete for the league title within a few years. We as fans didn’t buy the club and we might not be able to afford to now, but we have to be able to help force change if and when the time does come that someone wants to put an end to this purgatory.
I’m not going to argue where any blame should go or campaign for any boycott here, but I think it’s important for supporters to consider whether they would be
Follow on @MikeAshleyLies and read more at - nufc-ashlies.blogspot.co.uk tf 102
Long standing true faith writer, Tony Higgins who regular readers will recognise from his Real Spain articles has his first book out now. Travel with Tony through the und ergrowt h of Spanish football and life for only ÂŁ4:99. Only in digital format.
In some ways 2015 can be summed up in two words - Leicester City. Our three games against the Foxes changed the way we felt about all aspects of the club. They took us from resigned tolerance of a lack of ambition to a radged-up anger at the way we were WALLACE WILSON being patronised and taken for granted. Follow @WallaceHWilson
2014 ended reasonably well with a hard-fought 3-2 win at home to Everton followed shortly afterwards by the departure of Alan Pardew to Crystal Palace. Let’s not forget he left for a contract paying twice the money and apparently agreement that he would have at least some degree of control over transfers. It was a no-brainer from his point of view but he wasn’t forced out. He chose to go and the club decided to take the compensation offered by Palace. History has been rewritten by the
southern media since then but that was the way it was. Speculation started immediately afterwards about Pardew’s successor and the early front-runner was Remi Garde, the former coach of Lyon, and a man with a good track record of developing young players. Unfortunately he wanted to bring his own coaching staff with him despite having the coaches of the quality of John Carver and Steve Stone at the club. This would have eaten into the Pardew compensation
so Ashley/Charnley opted to appoint the twentyfirst century equlvalent of Richard Dinnis. In fact John Carver was even worse than Dinnis because at least the former school teacher steadied the ship after Gordon Lee’s departure and actually took the Mags back into Europe. We were about to find out what a truly world class incompetent could do. Carver began his reign as caretaker Head Coach with a fortunate 3-3 draw at home to Burnley and followed this
up by promising to field a full-strength side in the 3rd Round FA Cup tie at bottom of the table Leicester. In the event the team was typical of the shadow sides fielded by Pardew which had led to early exits in previous years and this was no different as we succumbed disgracefully 1-0 to a Leicester City side who weren’t that bothered themselves. The reaction from the travelling fans told of a group of die-hards who had reached the end of heir tether - ‘we’re shit and we’re sick of it’ indeed. The fact that Carver had
employed his Geordie schtick prior to the game, saying that he understood how much the cup meant to the fans made it even worse. The abuse he and the players took at the end from a furious away support demonstrated that this was the turning point for many in their relationship with the club, changing from toleration and despair to actively despising the regime at SJP and all of its apologists. Carver was very much in the front line but the support knew who was pulling the strings.
full-time basis, saving yet more money while selling it as succession planning. If there is any decision Charnley has made which demonstrates his complete unsuitability to lead an organisation like Newcastle United this is it. He compound it by allowing Davide Santon to return to Milan without providing a replacement, again thinking that we had enough in the bank to get us through. It was obvious to the fans by this time that the team was short and so was the management.
We were still 9th when we resumed the league campaign but given that we followed up the cup defeat with successive losses at Stamford Bridge and at home to Southampton it seemed impossible that Carver could be given the job. Unbelievably that is what Charnley decided to do after we won 3-0 at a terrible Hull City. He was gambling that we had enough points in the bag to allow us to stay up comfortably and then allow him to appoint Carver on a
Carver’s appointment for the duration was followed up by draws at home to Stoke and Palace but neither provided any assurance that we were heading in the right direction. We followed that by disgracing ourselves once again at the Etihad where Citeh put 5 past us and it was acknowledged that we had got away lightly as they saved themselves for bigger challenges ahead. A win against Villa at home, dropping them right in it was greeted with much mirth and schadenfreude while
lifting us up to apparent safety on 35 points. We wouldn’t have been quite so good humoured if we had known what was about to come as we started on a run which brought us only 1 point from the next 10 games under the selfstyled ‘best coach in the Premiership’. It started reasonably enough with a late 0-1 defeat to Man U before being hammered once again at Goodison Park, a defeat amplified by the sending off of Colocinni, ruling him out of the derby. Anyone would think he didn’t fancy it… We staged a fight back of sorts to come back to lose 1-2 to the Arse at home but, again, the feeling was that the better side had taken their foot off the pedal
and cruised to victory. Carver was trying to make it out as a victory of sorts - ‘we won the second half’, as we prepared to engage in missionary work at the Stadium of Light on Easter Sunday. Unfortunately, we did anything but rise again as Carver’s team put the lie to his pre-match statement that no team of his would be lacking in effort or commitment in a local derby. We were absolutely abject, probably the worst derby performance in living memory. One positive was that it provided the catalyst for the setting up of ashleyout.com which attempted to show to the nation what we already knew about our owner’s stewardship of what used to be a proud, local institution ingrained in the fabric of the city state. U n s u rp r i s i n g l y there was a poor turnout at Anfield where we lost 0-2 to a Liverpool side which tf 105
was trying to come to terms with the loss of Luis Suarez. £50 a pop might have had something to do with it as well, mind. Sissoko managed to get himself sent off for two stupid fouls within a minute and once again the suspicion was that ‘important’ players were bailing out physically and mentally. It says a lot about the way the club was responding to their tailspin down the league that the biggest story in the run up to entertaining Spurs was the boycott planned by ashleyout. com in front of the Sky cameras. Thousands found something productive to do with their time even though they had already paid for tickets and the story was all over the national press. It was a turning point in the press coverage as the national media at last woke up to what was happening at SJP. tf 106
There was little reaction on the pitch, however, as we allowed Swansea to come from behind to win 3-2 at the House of Pain. So we made our way once again to the East Midlands with little expectation of success. Leicester were making a great attempt to get out of the relegation struggle as Nigel Pearson turned their season around. There was a belief about them which was completely lacking in our dressing room. Even so, no-one could see the level of incompetence, lack of commitment and general fuckwittery that Newcastle demonstrated that day. Within seconds of the start Leicester took the lead as they tore into our defence, establishing a dominance in every area of the pitch. Seasoned Mags were saying that it was the worst display they had ever seen and that is a pretty high bar. We finished with 9 men after Janmaat and
Williamson were sent off but John Carver managed to make most of the headlines by accusing Mike Williamson of deliberately getting himself sent off because he didn’t fancy it. Carver admitted after the game that it might have been a reaction to a words spoken between the defender and his coach at half-time but effectively he accused one of his team of cheating his fellow players and the fans. It was clear that he was completely out of his depth and hitting out at anything and anybody in his panic. After we managed a draw at home to West Brom Carver had the nerve to say that he’d got the reaction he was looking for to finally
end the record breaking 8 game losing sequence but we were still dropping down the league. A game against already relegated QPR offered an opportunity to lift ourselves to safety but despite taking the lead we threw it away and lost the game. QPR were shit but we managed to outdo them in a game notable for Emmanuel Riviere’s only Premiership goal for the club via a miskick. Another who was way out of his depth. Carver reckoned it was too hot to play. By this time he was auditioning for a starring role in the Theatre of the Absurd. Other results meant that it was between us and Hull for the final relegation slot. You could tell that the pressure from ashleyout.com and the general animus around the club was having an www.true-faith.co.uk
effect when Mike Ashley broke radio silence before the West Ham game and did a piece to camera with a friendly Sky reporter without any challenge over his role or the disaster he was overseeing. The West Ham game saw a return to the pit of hate that St James’ Park can be on a good day although we were fortunate in finding West Ham in holiday mode. Jonas Gutierrez deservedly took the plaudits as he made one and scored one to preserve our Premier League status. The crowd saluted him and the strength of character he had shown in coming back from a battle against cancer, character which had been notably absent from the rest of the team since the turn of the year. Pleasingly he completely blanked Carver when he tried to join in the celebrations after his goal which clinched the victory. His reward was to be paid off in a telephone call from Carver. Anyone
with any sense would have seen that Jonas was exactly the sort of character that was needed in the dressing room. Ryan Taylor was also paid off in a buy-one, getone free deal. It was apparent that Carver could not continue in the role although he refused to give up hope on whichever world he was inhabiting at the time. Eventually, Charnley put him and Steve Stone out of his misery and we could start speculating about who would be next on the list. Primary recruitment criteria were that the candidate should be cheap, preferably unemployed, desperate and willing to accept a deal where he took responsibility for performance without any power to influence events. After a silly season story linking Patrick Viera with the job, Steve McClaren was appointed after Derby sacked him for failing to get them promoted, thereby allowing him to meet all the
criteria. There then followed a protracted struggle to find anyone of stature who would work under the terms and conditions offered. Eventually we ended up with Paul Simpson who was unemployed and a promising young coach from Valencia, Ian Cathro, who made it clear in interviews that the job was a way of getting back to the UK while enhancing his CV for a bigger job in future.The support was divided over McClaren’s appointment, some referring to his success with Middlesbrough and FC Twente while others referenced his more recent career at Wolfsburg, Nottingham Forest and Derby County, particularly the collapse of the latter’s promotion bid. Sales of umbrellas in the town plummeted. A poorly organised trip to the USA followed but not before we signed the Dutch Footballer of the Year and PSV captain,
Georgino Wijnaldum for a near record £14.5m. We followed it up by signing Aleksandar Mitrovic for £14m from Anderlecht and Chancel Mbemba for £8m from the same club. We added Ivan Toney from Northampton Town for £500,000 for the development squad and things were looking up. Following Graham Carr’s relentless pursuit, Florian Thauvin was brought in from Marseilles for £12m and Remy Cabella went in the opposite direction as we swapped one slight French tanner ball player for another. Unfortunately, what we thought was the start of team building turned out to be the end as the club’s model of signing players to develop and sell on continued, just at a higher level in the market. There was still no thought being given to team building or the need for experience, particularly of the Premier League.
Nevertheless, there was a degree of optimism when we returned to SJP which wasn’t altogether dispelled by a 2-2 draw with Southampton and a brief cameo appearance by Mitrovic in which he managed to get himself booked in less than a minute. He was also booked shortly after coming on as a sub away to Swansea, although by then Janmaat was once again dismissed as he failed to get to grips with Swansea flyer, Montero. The 0-2 defeat provided a chilling perspective of the work that remained to be done in team building and organisation. McClaren suggested that he may be able to do something about the latter with a creditable draw against ManU at Old Trafford as he changed the way the team was set up and frustrated the hosts. However, we didn’t actually have an attempt on target although we went tf 108
close through Mitrovic hitting the bar and Thauvin being inches away from converting a cross. Spirits rose as we looked forward to playing the Gooners but it all came to naught as Mitrovic was sent off for a clumsy challenge and the game became an exercise in damage limitation. The defeat left us in 18th place going into the international break but we had anticipated that we would struggle with a difficult start to the season. We resumed with our final visit to the Boleyn Ground. West Ham had struggled at home until they met us but they were far too good with Dimtri Payet dictating proceedings. He had been dismissed as a possible signing during the summer because he was too old. He certainly looked spry enough on a dispiriting Monday night in East London. Dimitri Payet is 28. Watford at home was next up and offered a real
opportunity to record a victory which would raise spirits and help to alleviate the growing sense of alarm that we were still stuck in a downward spiral. Unfortunately, Troy Deeney absolutely bossed Colocinni and we lost 1-2 dropping us down to 19th. Never mind, we thought, we are taking the Cups seriously this season, Big Mike said so. It didn’t look like that was the case as a Sheffield Wednesday reserve team completely embarrassed a strong NUFC selection and deservedly ran out 1-0 winners. It was as bad as any other performance given over the year, which is pretty damn bad. Once again, we were promised a reaction and, glory be, this time there was one as we took a 2-0 lead against champions Chelsea, who were enduring a crisis of their own. Wijnaldum marked himself out as a player to watch (probably
only for this season) and Perex showed how stupid it had been of McClaren to restrict him to the odd sub appearance to date. Up alongside Mitrovic he looked a real handful and the big Serb also showed he could put himself about. The fact that Chelsea came back to force a draw with two goals in the last 11 minutes did not undermine the optimism created by a battling display, optimism which was reinforced by an excellent first half away to Citeh. Unfortunately, the sky fell in in the second half as Sergio Aguero scored 4 in 13 minutes and we collapsed once again to a humiliating defeat. The nature and frequency of these collapses was a continuing cause for concern as it revealed a lack of spirit and belief in the camp. Nevertheless, McClaren was spinning the Chelsea game and the first half against Citeh as evidence that a corner had been turned but we were www.true-faith.co.uk
still looking for our first win as we entertained Premier League new boys Norwich City. Four goals from Wijnaldum, plus a corker from Mitrovic and another from Perez provided a welcome 6-2 win. In reality the game was much closer than the scoreline suggested but it was a good way to prepare for the upcoming derby in the dark place. We looked like a side which had regained its belief as we bossed the first 43 minutes, passing the ball for fun even if we didn’t create much by way of chances. Unfortunately the old adage that you need to take your chances when you’re on top came back to haunt us as Colocinni let Fletcher (Fletcher!) run away from him and barged him over in the box. Johnson put the pen away but only after Colocinni had been sent off. The decision was rescinded a couple of days later but by then the damage was
done and they picked us off as we pressed for an equaliser with ten men. 0-3 wasn’t a fair reflection of the play but it was still six in a row as once again we gifted them three points. The only consolation is that I don’t think even 6 points from us will be enough to save them this season. The defeat dropped us down to 19th but we had another opportunity to move up the table with a home game against Stoke who weren’t doing much better than us. Despite an improved display, an inspired Jack Butland got Stoke an undeserved 0-0 draw. It took us up to 18th but facing a six-pointer away to Bournemouth and that’s a sentence I didn’t think I would ever be writing. In a mirror image of the Stoke game, Bournemouth absolutely paralysed us but couldn’t take their chances as they came up against an
inspired Rob Elliott. Our one class piece of play between Wijnaldum, Mitrovic and Perez gave us something to hang onto and that’s precisely what we did, moving us up to the heady heights of 17th as a result. Our 2015 nemesis, Leicester City, were next up at SJP. Despite the fact that the performance against Bournemouth had been woeful, McClaren made much of the fact that we had held out for a win, a sign of the new, hard-nosed professionalism which the squad now possessed. That statement was exposed as soon as the game kicked off as Leicester were fitter, stronger, more committed and had a greater sense of purpose and belief. Jamie Vardy equalled the PL scoring sequence as he took advantage of slack marking by Colocinni to score at the Leazes End. Two more Leicester goals in the second half gave the
scoreline a more realistic look as fans turned on McClaren and his team. It is difficult for a manager to be be truthful about an underperforming team if he wants to retain the dressing room but McClaren’s positive words had been exposed as complete and utter tripe. What he was saying suggested that he was taking the fans for fools, a mistake also made by Pardew which ultimately led to his departure. McClaren apparently read the riot act to the players, with key individuals being told that they weren’t doing enough. It would be nice to think that they included Colocinni, Sisoko, Tiote, Cisse and a few others. By Friday McClaren was saying that he was confident of a reaction. There was in that we took the lead against a Palace side turned over by the mackems earlier in the week. Instead of capitalising on this the defence crumbled
Although it will live in the memory, it will do so for the wrong reasons - cup debacles, the club at war with its support, highlighted by the development of ashleyout.com, the tragicomedy of John Carver’s reign as caretaker coach, the club’s treatment of Gutierrez... as heads went down and players went missing. Palace 5 NUFC 1 meant that for the first time the national press, including the preferred media partners, the Mirror, are claiming that McClaren was on borrowed time. Incredibly we actually did see a reaction as we outfought Klippity Klop’s Liverpool and secured a completely unexpected 2-0 home victory. It will probably be enough to keep McClaren in a job for a few more weeks but it obviously begs the question why our best displays this season have been against ManU, Chelsea and Liverpool. Although the Head Coach’s ability to motivate players must be called into question there is a lack of personal pride in performance which has seen too many not do the basics of working hard,
running off the ball, putting a tackle in and generally doing the minimum expected of professional sportsmen. Deadlines mean that this article has been drafted before we play Spurs away, followed by another potential six-pointer at home toVilla, now managed by Remi Garde. Garde, of course, was one of those discounted by Charnley in his search for a manager so that is a big game for both our coach and his managing director. Losing could have profound implications for both. This year has not been kind. Although it will live in the memory, it will do so for the wrong reasons - cup debacles, the club at war with its support, highlighted by the
development of ashleyout. com, the tragicomedy of John Carver’s reign as caretaker coach, the club’s treatment of Gutierrez, the failure to appoint someone of substance to the manager’s role who would challenge the prevailing mindset at the club despite apparent interest from some impressive candidates, a continuing failure to improve the team, preferring to focus on player trading rather than team development, a sixth derby defeat. The stats alone are damning. Of the 35 league and cup games we have played during 2015 to date we have only won 7, drawn 6 and lost 22, scoring 33 goals and conceding 64. Not only are the numbers bad but they conceal the sheer awfulness of some of our performances which
have ben as bad as any I have seen following Newcastle for over 50 years. As well as the shameful performances against Leicester we have seen us losing at home to a second division reserve team, allowing our neighbours to out-fight and out-work us in six consecutive derbies and effectively given up the fight to compete at the higher levels of the division. I think that’s enough to be going on with but it has indeed been an annus horribilis or pain in the arse as Cicero might have called it. Let’s hope we can get a few points before the next transfer window opens and that those in charge finally realise that building a team is a matter of balance not profit. Get the results and the money will look after itself.
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Last year, I had the pleasure to speak to Bernard Sumner about the direction of the album that New Order were working on. “Much more electronic - very dancefloor orientated” he said. Twelve months later New Order released ‘Music Complete’ and Mr Sumner was true to his word, as the band have put something out that ranks up there with their best.
New Order Music Complete Warehouse Project, Manchester 6/Dec/15, Last year, I had the pleasure to speak to Bernard Sumner about the direction of the album that New Order were working on. “Much more electronic - very dancefloor orientated” he said. Twelve months later New Order released ‘Music Complete’ and Mr Sumner was true to his word, as the band have put something out that ranks up there with their best. The lead single ‘Restless’ doesn’t do the album justice, but to be honest it’s a grower. From then on in the beats and electronics come to the fore. ‘Singularity’ is an icy blast that evokes Joy Division and has some of the most heartfelt lyrics ever written by the band
as there is a reference to Tony Wilson, Rob Gretton and of course Ian Curtis - “For all lost souls Who can’t come home Friends, not here We shared our tears” ‘Plastic’ is a Moroderesque blast of electronic disco that may or may not be about a certain bass player, whilst ‘Tutti Frutti’ and ‘People on the High Line’ are probably the most fun tracks the band has ever recorded. I’m writing this having seen New Order three times and these tracks are already massive singalong faves. It’s also worth pointing out that South Shields lad Richy Ahmed has remixed ‘Tutti
Frutti’. Well done sir!! I’m not a fan of the Brandon Flowers duet ‘Superheated’ - it’s just too pop sounding, but overall, ‘Music Complete’ is a total winner. The live shows were brilliant as well - with a reworked ‘Waiting for the Sirens Call’ standing out, but to be honest all the songs were amazing.
New Order Music Complete Get it here
I’ve been quiet on the Emile Strunz front, but I made by Radio 1 debut in October, and my latest remix was big in New York. I’m playing Madrid in January, and I have a number of other projects due out too. Merry Christmas all.
NEIL JAMES SMITH
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You don’t need to be a previously published writer or have any fancy qualifications. All we care about is whether you have a love for Newcastle United and a will to inform and entertain your fellow supporters. We don’t care if your opinions are the same or are similar to the editorial position of
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The secret d iar y of Lee Ryder
age d 44 and a half. 12/06/2015
Ah couldn’t believe this shit again! Ah piped up, “Am ah fucking hearing things again, here, like?! Ah gets part one of a quick interview with Well after the radio silence put on yours truly and the Thompson Schteve despite not being invited, and your sending Duggy to do part two of a proper sitty House scribblers in general, doon interview? Last time we got the Charnley word came out that we’d interview ya gave it to fucking Neil Cameron! get sloppy seconds on a Divvent give iz that ‘But Lee, the fans want to Steve McClaren interview. hear your toon/retro/man of the people’ shite Punters reading this might again, it just doesn’t wash, this time!” John think, ‘lee, what’s the big replied, “Err, calm doon, kidda, calm doon! Last deal?You’re a fucking lyrical gangster of regional sports writing, time ah thought it would do Cams the power of good to get out of your shadow! Same this time you’re getting the interview even if with Duggy! You’re the main man, Lee! The top it’s a day later than the rest?’ Ah lov e dog of the Thompson House sports stable! The me punters, me loyal readers, they’re two lads need to have a go themselves! Plus it the people who got me where I am by wouldn’t be fair on Steve to get the full Monty reading my shit hot pure fucking gol d Ryder grilling in only his first week Would it?” dust toon stuff, but bless them, they don’t Ah couldn’t fucking believe this shit, like. Gibbo understand the snub the Ronny Gill had to thought I was the top dog of the Thompson swallow by getting this interview aft er the House stable? Wow. A real compliment from a rest. Anyways, after hearing about us getting Ronny Gill legend! Ah thought, ah well, let Duggy invited up to Casa Saint Jimmys for a belated have the interview. Good experience for the kid. interview with Schteve from Margaret on the Ah then made a quick phone call to Steve Wraith reception desk ah dusted meself dow n, asking him for a quick chat with got my dictaphone and notepad and Pav about THAT entertainers pen and headed out of THHQ ready side, seeing that Wraith was to catch up with Schteve where somehow Pav’s agent. After ah left off in the bogs. Ah left the a very tense ten minute call building only to see Gibbo and between former Toon Army Mark ‘Duggy’ Douglas chatting in foot soldier Ryder and the street. As ah got near them ah former bouncer and one time heard Gibbo say to Duggy, “Give general acquaintance of the me a ring when you’re finished. Krays, Wraith, we settled on a Ah’ll see you in the Bacchus twenty note deal to get Pav’s after you interview McClaren, Mr new number that the baldy cunt Glenfiddich for me if yer buying!” made Pav change his phone to. tf 114
Ah got another great retro toon tale and poor Duggy had to decipher Schteve’s nonsense interview as the daft ginger twat still thought he was half Dutch. Lol! Laters, diary!
22/07/2015 ‘Yeeee Haaaaah’, diary! ‘Rollin’ rollin’ rollin’! Keep the toon news rollin’, Keep the toon news rollin’ Geordie Pride!’ I want to wake up…..in a city that doesn’t sleep! ‘Viva!!!! Las Vegas!’ ‘Do you know the way to San Jose?’ Guess where I’ve been? That’s right diary! Sacramento! Ah got up this morning and took an ‘elevator’ doon to the ground floor in the hotel ah was stopping in for covering the trio of Stateside toon games. Obviously ah knaa not all me readers have been to the good ‘ol US of A, so ah thought I’d not only get ah’ll the craic off the likes of Schteve the Boss and Super future England Captain, Stevie ‘Tayls’ Taylor, no not just their craic, diary, not just the write up of our games as well, nah, not just that shit, ah thought ah’d hoy in some culchara, culchuru, err, some yank phrases and places of interest. Ah’d started off in Millwaukee, home to the Fonz who’s almost as cool as me, then California where Clint Eastwood had ‘made their day’ by being a mayor once and had supped some Broon ale into the bargain, then ah finished off in Portland where ah struggled to find a famous person if ah’m honest but had a laugh with the ‘regular Joes’ who made up their support. Ah’d telt them ah was a famous journalist in the UK and they were fucking eating oot of me hand with all me tactical formation talk about ‘soccer’. Ah was ‘Tailgating’ with some US Mags which is basically eating and drinking out of the back of a car which was fucking ok with me, like, when one of them pulled iz aboot something ah’d said aboot California, he said, “Buddy, California is the ‘Golden State’, not the ‘Sunshine state’, that’ll be Forida” Ah telt him ah’d be in a ‘right fucking state’ if ah drank any more of the www.true-faith.co.uk
blooter they were chucking doon me neck, but like Ruud’s understanding of the Tyne & Wear derby, they just didn’t get it. Anyways, the pavement was a ‘boardwalk’, the mustard they had wasn’t as hot as proper English mustard and me Steve McQueens didn’t need a belt nee more such was the sheer amount of bait on offer! Lol! Ryder and out!
10/08/2015 Another season, another dollar, diary! The busy days of an award winning sports journalist cranks up that little bit more when the big kick off comes around and I’m not talking about any battles of Bath Lane but the new season! With the likes of the new boys, Georginio ‘Gini’ Wijnaldum, Chancel ‘Do you’ Mbemba ‘the time’ and Aleksandar ‘heed the baal, lick the flange’ Mitrovic joining the ranks of the NE1 superstars alongside Schteve the boss, coaches Cathro and Simpson, there was plenty of fresh material for the boy Ryder to get to grips with. Ah thought me loyal Toon Army readers would be champing at the bit to hear about the new men on the Tyne so ah was on it quicker than a PL centre forward chasing a Willo fuck up. Ah thought where better to start with our new boys than getting the thoughts of former net botherer, one Michael Quinn once of the St. James’ Parish, now entertaining the masses on national radio. Quinny as always, was fucking sound and said he was looking forward to seeing the new lads in action and me loyal readers had another great scoop about the new contingent from a true black & white legend. Class! Ah also tried something groundbreaking in sports journalism as ah knaa if you stand still in this game you become yesterday’s man, which reminds me, ah must give Roger Tames a bell, anyways, ah decided to track down an expert lip reader from the Tyne & Wear deaf association and bought him a ticket in the East Stand as well as finding him some binocilar, binucol, err, a telescope type thingy so he could lip read the main men in the dug out and ah could share Schteve’s match day thoughts in the morras Ronny tf 115
Gill. Ah met the lip reader, Peter Piper in the Percy supping a pint or two after the game and he handed me his notes which ah was positive were going to have some real coaching bits of gold dust in them. Ah thanked Peter, bought him another pint and bunged him the £50 ah’d secured from the expenses. Ah raced back home and looked at his notes;
COACHES TRANSCRIPT S McClaren - SM Paul Simpson - PS Ian Cathro - IC 01.34: IC “Vurn, droap back, son! Jack! help Gini!” 01.39: PS “Go on! go on Moussa son!” 01.49: SM “Stop the cross! don’t let him cro.....Ah for fuck sake!” 02.12: PS “Get it over, Hads..... Yeeeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!” 02.33: PS “Good ball Gabby..... Yeeeeeeeeeesssssssss!!!!!!!!.” 03.04: SM “Get tight! stop the cross!...........Fuck off!” 03.11: PS “Fancy a chinkees later on, boss? There’s meant to be loads in that China Town.” 03.12: IC “Di the dee that deep fried shit, everything battered, ken?” END OF TRANSCRIPT. ah couldn’t believe that was just it, like! fifty fucking quid, a match ticket in the east stand and a lend of cockeyed Mala’s telescope for fuck ah’ll!! Ah phoned up Peter the lip reader but he telt iz that most of the time they were covering their mouths with their hands so’s journalists couldn’t tell what was being said! The fucking crafty bastard!! Ah secretly doffed me cap to the main man in the SJP dugout and settled for me match write up and a ‘five things we learned today’ piece which included that Paul ‘Simma’ Simpson liked Chinese food which ah knew me punters would love to hear about. Anyways, it’s good to be back. Laters!
03/11/2015 Get up Get on up Get up Get on up Stay on the scene Like a Sex Machine. Well diary, it’s been a while, ah knaa, the life of an award winning sports journalist just whizzes past like a Jack ‘Ginger Pirlo’ free kick. Ah’ve been busy on the ground ah’ll season trying to get new contacts in the McClaren era NUFC , but ah still didn’t quite have the same ear of Shuper schteve as ah did of The King Pards and wor John, coach Carvs. Ah did however decide to get some fresh insider blood to replace me old nark, Remi ‘word-on-the’ Streete because ah knew that as as much as me loyal readers love the likes of Quinny’s patter, the younger fans will want to hear a current NUFC star give their views. Ah’d arranged a meet and a bung to get one of our black & white heroes on the secret Ronny Gill payroll with an insider pipeline straight through to yours truly, the Knight from the Bigg Market. The craic was we’d meet every now and then at Cafe Rouge on Grey Street so’s me nark would feel safe in his own surroundings so to speak as ‘Rouge’ was a french word and the place was a Frog restaurant and, zut alors, me nark was from the country that gave us Platini, Napoleon and the brilliant ‘allo ‘allo. The craic was we’d meet up at ten bells but, not for the fist time, the mighty sword of the Knight had put a spanner in the works, ah was running late as ah’d had a secret midnight rondevoo, rendeavous, err, a meeting with one of the Polish cleaners at Thomson house who had fallen for the North Shields Valentino. Ah’d went along to her flat after she’d put ah kids to bed and tried out me ‘Kamagra’ tablets that were endorsed by none other than Sky Saturday legend, Chris Kamara. The pills were a viagra substitute that were a bit cheaper off the internet and ah only popped them as the lass was nee Wendy Taylor and ah’d been on the hoy earlier on so they www.true-faith.co.uk
were a back up for the always reliable ‘sword of Ryder’, not that ah’d need it of course! Anyways, the lass who had fell for me charms and especially me famous smooth patter had to keep getting up to change the bairns nappy and feed it it’s bottle which was a right pain in the arse for yours truly, she tried to explain to me what was gannin on but she could barely understand English and eventually, at four in the morning ah managed to get a quick two minutes of tantric bliss and got to the vinegar stroke before the sprog wanted fed again. Ah got back to me ken and ah was oot like a light and slept in! Anyways, luckily for me, Sylvain was still in the Cafe when ah got there half an hour late, stinking of last nights beer, aftershave and Nadia’s perfume, not to mention Cow & Gate baby milk. Ah quickly ordered what the French midfield maestro was having and jotted down the gold dust he fed me as ah fed mesel with pain perdu brioche washed doon with cafe au lait. Ah bunged £50 to ‘he’s’ Slyvain ‘he probly thinks this song is about him’ and hot footed it over to Thomson house to write up a ‘I’m raring to go’ article from the Frenchman and then headed home to get some much needed kip. Eeee, the life of an Anglo-Italian fanny rat, eh? Lol. Laters.
13/11/2015 Well diary, here’s me on the top of the NorthEast pole when it comes to the ‘United beat’ as me old mentor Alan ‘Olly’ Oliver used to call it, on the top rung trying to keep the rest at bay, and it seems every year there’s a new pretender out to try to snatch me crown. Ah gets to work this morning and ah’d barely got me arse down on me chair when Gibbo walks up to iz with a young’un in tow. “Alreet, Gibbo? Fuck me, is it work experience already? The year’s flew. Is the kid on his works experience? Alreet, son? What school do yi gan tee?” Gibbo stopped iz and said that the bairn was the Ronny’s latest sports writer, a kid called Chris Waugh. Fuck me, ah thought! He’s just a bairn, but bairn or no bairn, the man, or should ah say, boy, who would be King, would soon be after my top perch at Thomson House’s Sports section. Gibbo then showed me his piece for tonight’s www.true-faith.co.uk
Chronicle where the cheeky little cunt had tried to copy the Master by writing a nonstory from new coach Paul ‘Simma’ Simpson after he’d heard the Toon’s number two on BBC Newcastle’s Total sport! The wide little bastard! Ah’d have to watch this one! Ah then showed the kid my piece for tonight, going back to THAT match at Anfield and getting Pav’s take on the Collymore 4-3 defeat. The kid then said he’d heard ah was great on our club’s past great players and games. Ah gave him the Ryder glare that ah once gave to a Watford fan at Vicarage Road back in me supporting days and said, “Are yee trying to be funny, son? Trying to tek the piss or what? See that fucking award on me desk? The Trinity Mirror regional sports writer of the year award? Ah didn’t get that by writing stories ah heard off the wireless?” Ah actually had done that very thing but when the little twat had got me back up ah wasn’t worried aboot little details like the truth, ah then carried on, “Look here, kidda. When your balls drop, come back to iz, but for now, remember where yi are and who you’re talking to, ah’ve fried much bigger fish than yee’ll ever be!” Gibbo then jumped in and said the kid wasn’t trying to be funny and the lad himself was obviously shiting it as he stammered that he was a big fan of yours truly and meant no offence. After ah’d calmed doon ah’d realised ah probably had gone a bit overboard but the kid had to know who was the real boss was in the NUFC press pack and it was the former toon foot soldier ‘Knght’ Ryder ah’ll the fucking way! Lol. Anyways, time forra pint with me old mate, Mala, the cockeyed tosspot! Ha ha. Laters!
for Ed: We’d like to thank David was these er, secret diaries. This l the last in the series and we al e has hope you have enjoyed and Le . managed to see the funny side tf 117
The problem when writing about stagnation and regression is that it starts to become, well, stagnant and regressive. What else can possibly be written or said about Ashley’s flawed blueprint for Newcastle United? There is very little left to write, but so much more to do.
aspiration exists and apathy looms large. A fragile, distracted and leaderless dressing-room lacks quality in almost every position.
Recent form more than suggests that relegation is a real possibility, but it is not that lessons have not been learned, it is that Ashley and his acolytes will never depart from their dogmatic notion of ‘value’, myopic to how it fails consistently to translate into the running of a competitive, supposedly aspirational, sporting institution. Cynicism and pessimism has gone viral and is soaked into the fabric of everything surrounding the club. Good people have come to hate and resent the emotional investment they have made over a lifetime. Loyalty, stoicism, dark humour, blind faith? We’ve got the t-shirt, hat and trousers. Most have watched worse players in worse conditions. Few have ever felt so detached.
When Charnley talks about NUFC being the best they can be ‘pound for pound’ the he should expect people to ask how best they can spend their time ‘pound for pound’. Tribal, emotional pulls set football apart in terms of patronage. As Nick Hornby once mused, supporting a football team is a bit like boasting that you have eaten at the same restaurant for years even though the food is rubbish. That was what was so ironic about the call to arms last year from club sources Moncur, Coloccini, among others. An outright refusal to engage with the local media, elected representatives or the NUST, but then “it’s your club” when the wheels come off. Cue the improved communication (cough) this year through the manager’s email bulletins. Like the bad boss who occasionally buys cheese scones for a team meeting to ‘re-connect’, it is simply the worst type of emotional intelligence.
Mediocrity is tolerated at every level. No meaningful
Ironic also is the fact that people are thinking more www.true-faith.co.uk
like a customer. In the crudest terms, why is NUFC worth the time, effort and money? Time away from from family, time away from pursuits that do not make you feel angry, deflated, used and ignored. Look, I’m p***ed off. Seriously p***ed off. Yes, yes - I know. If you want a happy ending, go and watch a Disney film. It’s just that I always believed that there would a day, one b*stard day, when it came together for us and now it seems further away than ever. After 32 years, I am not sure I can keep doing this. Not because of our elusive relationship with success, but that the club actively fears aspiration and momentum. Smaller clubs having better teams is one thing, but smaller clubs being betterrun is gut-wrenchingly unforgivable. Swansea, Southampton, Crystal Palace, Leicester, Stoke and Watford are demonstrably better led. West Ham are upgrading their profile and accommodation next year at Olympic Park. Everton and Spurs are set up to finish at least 20-25 points clear of us every season. Not sure I can take that anymore. Billy Furious, the once resident sage of The Mag, once talked about the ‘the club we are and the club we should be’ and how it can corrode your sanity. I’m about there now. Long-standing social routines in a nearby city centre remain the thread on which the whole escapade is hanging, though oncewww.true-faith.co.uk
A 25 year-old watching Newcastle since age 15 will have had Souness, Roeder, Allardyce, Pardew (bad) and Carver to countenance the all too brief spikes under Keegan and Pardew (good). popular watering holes are visibly quieter after games as Joe Public file away to lick their wounds and kick the dog. I would never dream at having a dig at anyone still putting their hardearned into the SJP coffers. A 25 year-old watching Newcastle since age 15 will have had Souness, Roeder, Allardyce, Pardew (bad) and Carver to countenance the all too brief spikes under Keegan and Pardew (good). Hard to take when tales of relative good times (19932004) from fathers and older brothers will have been woven into your NUFC psyche. The Direct Debit culture almost balms the wounds. Imagine looking at yourself handing over £25 £35 in cash every game and then watching the current
fayre? Yes, the invisible electronic payment which sneaks out of your current account alongside the gas bill almost desensitises the sense of being cheated. I read recently Pavel Srnickek talk about feeling “already 2-0 up” with the crowd at SJP, “playing in our own part of England” back in the mid to late 1990s. Now we are the opposite - resigned, cynical, genuinely fearful of fixtures, applauding ‘effort’, consoling ourselves in the odd moral victory and trapped in a vortex of mediocrity with no end game. There will be much talk of direct action, boycotts and social media campaigns in the coming weeks and months. There can
be no talk of off the field distractions so far (writing before Liverpool at home) as people have sat on their hands until after games. Players cannot talk of toxic atmospheres thus far but it is coming, make no mistake. Need a lie down in a dark room? It feels like we are already in one. STOP PRESS Newcastle United 2 Liverpool 0; just walked in from SJP and good to see smiles on faces again after an enjoyable result against a decidedly off-colour Liverpool. Ah, behold - the twinkling winter cityscape from the Strawberry balcony after a fine win among friends. Probably get humped 6-0 by Spurs next week. tf 119
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