NEWCASTLE UNITED FANZINE - THE ALTERNATIVE VIEW - 2016/17 SEASON
THE COMEBACK KID
E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org 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.
Redemption Song................................... pg40
Supporter or Customer?....................... pg42
Introducing Ciaran Clark...................... pg10
Feel Every Beat........................................ pg47
Being Paul Dummett............................. pg14
Rafalution inside your head!............... pg56
Geordies Here, Geordies There, Rotherham to Rio................................... pg16 Falling in Love Again.............................. pg20 Football Tops: Iconic or Are fans being short changed?............................ pg24 Mild Irritations......................................... pg30 Newcastle Pundits.................................. pg32 The Story of Skinhead with Don Letts ........................................ pg34 Other Directions....................................... pg38 www.true-faith.co.uk
Spent Forces.............................................. pg58 I am a Mag!............................................... pg62 Postcards From The Edge..................... pg66
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.
60 Second Season.................................. pg68
NEVER FORGOTTEN: L.J. & M. Martin.
Mobiles, Life A Users Manual and the Strange Cases of Sandwich Lady and Hot Dog Man.......................... pg70
NEXT ISSUE: TF 129. OUT: DEC 2016.
Craig Bellamy........................................... pg74
SUBMISSIONS FOR NEXT ISSUE: XX NOV 2016.
The End....................................................... pg84
© true faith. tf 3
Welcome to tf 128. Things are going rather bloody well aren’t they? I’m writing this all up after a 2-0 win at Leeds which was emphatic as it was comfortable. For those of us that er, enjoyed the white knuckle trips to Elland Road in the grand old days of yore the ease of that win was almost disarming. Whatever the events of the last ten years have done to their club, Leeds supporters seem a more agreeable bunch compared to the Neanderthals that once congregated on street corners and under subways. I almost felt sorry for them. Almost. But back to Newcastle tf 4
United. I have rarely seen our team play with more composure, professionalism, commitment, unity and determination. The team is a mirror of its manager with his knowledge of the game, attention to detail creating a completely new culture at United. We are in pole position and as is being repeated more and more, the only team that can beat Newcastle United is Newcastle United. Rafa has created a completely new spirit and environment at United. There is competition for places, a variety to our play but what is delighting me is the graft being put in all over the pitch. I accept
tf 128 Nov 2016 email@example.com
players will make mistakes and have off-days but these players never let their heads drop, seem to be a strong collective unit and all look and make noises like they want to be here. Compare that to where we were 12 months ago when we had little belief in Steve McClaren and too many of our players had their minds elsewhere. The key difference of course is Rafael Benitez. Newcastle United has won the lottery with this man running our club. The key now for everyone at United from Ashley down to the tea-lady is to keep this man happy, give him what he wants and help
him achieve everything we can on Barrack Road. We still have the League Cup quarter-final tie at Hull to think about and despite being in a division below The Tigers, we travel there with confidence and expecting to get a result. I occasionally stop myself and become stunned at how positive I am about the club right now, the manager we have, the players representing us and how everything in our garden is looking. I do occasionally hear words of counsel from longsuffering supporters about the fears Ashley will capsize the good ship Newcastle United and that can’t ever truly be discounted but www.true-faith.co.uk
in the here and now I’ve decided I’m just going to enjoy the ride. The media is starting to cast glances ahead of the January transfer window with some names thrown about as possible arrivals at St James’ Park. We’ll all have our theories about where the team and squad needs to be strengthened but you know, unlike some dopey online X-Factor style vote for your preferred line-up and various other click-bait nonsense I’m more than happy to leave it to Rafa because that man sees things we cannot see. He’s the man to listen to rather than generate the white noise of football nonsense. Our football club is fun again. We are having a laugh and the buzz is back around the whole environment. Rafa is being compared to Kevin Keegan but he’s nothing like him and neither is his team. The team plays completely differently. That said the impact is starting to resemble those heady days of the early 90s when our beloved KK got us on the march. I full expect we will have 40,000 season ticket holders at the start of next season whilst Championship clubs, if they can, will see their stadiums taken over by
We are in a strong position on and off the park but United has no greater twin assets than its manager and the people who pay to watch it and who love it.
buoyant armies of Black & Whiters. Its a great time to be supporting United and I’m delighted for the supporters, particularly younger Mags who haven’t had much to shout about over the last few years. I do think we’ll be promoted and I do think we’ll win the league. What comes after that remains to be seen but I’m certain Rafael Benitez has no interest in just keeping United ticking over in some doomed attempt to rehabilitate his reputation or provide
a shop window for mercenaries just passing through. Unless I’ve very much misjudged Rafa Benitez, our manager is a real football man who wants to test himself and his players against the best in the country. We are all realistic enough to realise how difficult it is for our club to go up against much wealthier and established clubs but to coin a phrase, we want to follow a club that wants to compete, do the best it can and stretch itself.
We are in a strong position on and off the park but United has no greater twin assets than its manager and the people who pay to watch it and who love it. We all hope you really enjoy this issue. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to this issue and remember the door is open for you to be part of Newcastle United’s longest running and most widely read fanzine. If you want to be a part of what we do here and elsewhere, just drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org Keep On, Keepin’ On…
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thru black & white eyes October 13 - As usual the international break bored everyone to absolute tears. Gareth Southgate’s lack of qualifications for the job have become his greatest asset. Clean sheets against Malta and Slovenia will probably land him the gig. You probably don’t care but I said before the Allardyce appointment that England don’t need a full time manager. Since November 2007 they’ve lost something like one in fifty qualifiers and even that was a dead rubber (that’s very rough maths from me), then stunk out the tournaments. It’s so easy to qualify give it to Southgate and then get Rafa to win it in Russia as long as he’s allowed to tap up any good players. October 15 - So back to business for Rafa and the team. If you’ve read any of my match previews this
season to date I’ve argued strongly that our opening set of fixtures were, well, rock hard – right up to the Norwich game. We’ve done very well so far and have actually dropped points against teams placed in the bottom half of the table bar Huddersfield. Of the teams we face leading up to the next international break, none of them are in the play-off places. Time to make hay between now and the Birmingham game at the start of December. With Norwich and Brighton playing each other soon and both encountering some difficult games I’m not betting against United pulling well ahead of the rest by this point. October 17 - Beating Brentford was very January – May 2010. So comfortable. Brentford came to St James’ with the
best defence in the league and conceded three goals in a 49-minute spell where we looked like we could score when we want. That’s now Brighton, Wolves in the cup and Brentford where we raced out of the blocks and won the game in the first half. We should have been in that position against Norwich. It’s promising. October 19 - Three game weeks are the norm for the next two weeks as United head to Barnsley. The lack of injuries is amazing. Rafa doesn’t rotate as much as people make out, realistically three changes is the norm and there are a set of players. That level of rotation will still play in our favour as the games pile up but the fact that Rafa went out and brought injury free players to the club, is getting undervalued somewhat.
October 21 - TOP OF THE LEAGUE. Another game another win. Another Dwight Gayle brace. He’s some player. His second goal at Barnsley won’t get the credit it deserves. No other United player scores that goal and the finish was sublime. He’ll take us up. The game at Barnsley provoked a bit of debate on social media and the true faith match report. A six thousand strong away support on a Wednesday night (I think) is impressive. That said, United are on fire and have Rafa Benitez. We’ve always said that if anyone managed this football club properly and planned to take it where it needed to be, it would take off. The sycophantic back slapping some of our support give themselves is nauseating but like much of this sort of ‘humble brag’
– RT’s and likes are the aim. And no one retweets ‘expected levels of support again.’ Thousands also watch live at a beam back in the club’s bars. October 23 - Ipswich needed to start well at St James’ to get anything. They didn’t touch the ball in the 60 seconds all eleven United players had a feel and then they went 1 0 down. Job done. Leon Best was back. Not bad value for money, that lad, once. Jack Colback has been on the winning side in his last eleven starts or something. Underrated in this league. And I’m a big fan of Hayden. The win sets us up for a double header against Preston in a week. SJP charging sensible prices in half term week. Expect a big crowd. Everyone is looking forward to it, most of all ‘Mitro’s’ excitable fan club who are desperate to see him start ahead of Gayle as he apparently ‘tries hard’ and ‘understands us’. I like the kid and he’s got talent but going on as if he’s a modern day Shearer helps www.true-faith.co.uk
no one, most of all him. If you sing ‘Mitro’ after 10 minutes of each away game then you’re directly calling on the manager to take the country’s top scorer off for the bloke who can’t really run and needs three chances to score. Back Dwight Gayle. Preston have just turned over Norwich, in Norwich which has to be respected and their rise since a shoeing at the average Brentford has been phenomenal. Then again, so is Rafa. October 25 - Well. That was fun. 49,000 mags packed into St James’ to watch a good old fashioned hammering. Forget about the ten men. It was a stroll 11 v 11. Mitrovic scored two and went radge. Boos for Matt Ritchie taking a penalty due to the strop of the Chosen One. Pathetic. A minority, but pathetic. He played well by the way Mitrovic. Not well enough to start Saturday but well enough to remind doubters like me that there’s a player there. Atsu dazzled and missed an open goal, we
struck the post three times and missed at least four other sitters. And we scored 6 (six). It’s a great time to be a mag. Premier League or not, this is the strongest squad I’ve seen us have as an adult and I’m 28. We’ve had more quality in first elevens but never depth like this before. Rafa is building a football club and the people are responding. So many of these players are too good for this league and it’s starting to show. October 26 - its Hull, away. With Man Utd, Arsenal, West Ham and Liverpool left in the draw that’s kind. Very kind. I don’t want to get ahead of myself but I’m 28 and have never seen United play in a domestic semi-final in the flesh. What a chance to do so. The allocation will be interesting…Hull have very few fans and regularly fail to get anywhere near a sell out at the KC. We’d sell their whole ground out at £9 a ticket. October 27 - The away game at Preston has people (me included) about Wolves
at home. I still have no idea what happened that day, as we’d just beaten Derby at walking pace and then put 6 (six) past QPR. I’m sure Rafa won’t make the same mistake again but Preston’s home form is good and they’re expecting the biggest crowd for a standard league since, well, ages (15 years?). Nothing to do with United apparently. Expect that a lot this season; “yes it’s our biggest crowd in decades but it has NOTHING to do with you” or “we don’t normally take many away from home but have taken 3,200 to St James’s but it’s NOTHING to do with Newcastle as a city or club.” Anyway, Dwight Gayle has picked up an injury so Mitrovic will start. A great chance for him. October 29 - We got through it, just. I think we were comfortable all game. Before the last 5 minutes Karl Darlow’s made one save. That said we created almost nothing and they should have got something out of the game. We move tf 7
thru black & white eyes on, top of the league. A great big away allocation again but a different feel to Barnsley. No moaning and an appreciation of great three points. You can’t cruise to wins in second gear every week. Mitrovic took his goals well. The Keeper was a little suspect on both but there’s more our striker could have done with either attempt. He actually two-footed the ball into the net for the second goal. I think the kepper made a wise choice to keep out of his way. October 30 - It’s only the morning after the drive back and Brighton’s five goal defeat of Norwich has sunk in. ‘People will only look at the score line’ said Alex Neil. Aye, they probably will, Alex. Are there more deluded
football managers? He’s pissed me right off after each of our three games against his sides. But that’s a surrender, almost a vote of no-confidence from his players. To lose like that to one of your nearest rivals suggests something is up. I’m all for it of course. Other sides in the division so nowhere near the consistency to challenge us and Brighton. Norwich’s troubles another welcome. With a week off it’ll be interesting to see how they get on against Leeds, who are flying by the way. November 1 - Mid-week without a fixture creates space for a lovely loyalty point meltdown regarding tickets for Leeds and Hull. Both go on at 125 points. Most people know the
score. Some whine. Many are young and they get some odd back up from people saying bizarre things like ‘the young’uns need a chance to build their points up’. You know the best time to build your points up? 2007-2016. When I built mine. Every game 0 points bar the derby and maybe the occasional boxing day away + Bournemouth. This season Fulham, Bristol, Derby, Villa, QPR, Barnsley and Preston have gone to zero points. I think 16 out of 19 games last season did. I wasn’t born with my loyalty points. It’s taken 10 years of doing around 10 a season, most of which we have been rubbish, to get to where I am. If I didn’t get tickets for say, Burton as it was 150, you know what, fair enough. Those
lads and lasses going more regularly than me deserve it. Generation Snowflake. November 3 - Gayle gets a deserved player of the month award (no, Mitrovic wasn’t nominated) and Rafa obviously scoops the manager award. He has all of the coaching team accept it. What a man. Neil Warnock heads to SJP on Saturday. One more game to go before another international break and although Gayle has been declared fit, I doubt his hamstring will be risked with the two-week break coming up. November 5 - United beat Cardiff and that’s us seven points clear of the play-off places. Quite a turn around since the last international break. Norwich’s implosion
continues at pace. We all know. It was United that did it. Losing that game (deservedly) at the end of October has done Alex Neil in. He may never come back from it. I’m delighted. It was only two and a half weeks ago they were to pull further ahead of us at the top of the league as we drew with Bransley at the break and they found themselves two up at Fulham. We’ve never looked back since going top of the league that night. Eight wins in a row. Leeds are on fire and they’ve sold out Elland Road for a league for the first time in about 15 years. Nothing to do with United though. Legends Day by Gallowgate Flags was also a tremendous success. November 8 - Just as all seemed to be rosy in the garden (and it still very much is) Shelvey has been accused of using racially motivated language to insult a Wolves player www.true-faith.co.uk
at the end of that awful game in September. It’s a disappointing accusation and until details are released and the player found guilty or not, there’s not a lot more to say with this little information available. November 15 - Nothing has really happened in a week as it’s internationals again. Some good news though United are paying Nexus to put on extra transport for the Sheff Wed game which has been moved to 19.45 for television. It’s going to be messy that day. Though the club will still have a few quid from the game being televised and the fact tickets are £30 for the game (which will sell out) it’s still something the club didn’t have to do. They’d have picked up almost no criticism if they hadn’t done it. The same with the beam back at St James’ for the Hull game. It’s not just on the pitch things have sorted themselves out.
November 16 - Rumour of United approaching Newcastle Brown Ale to replace Wonga as club sponsor from next season. The owner of the ‘brand’, Heineken, have apparently rejected the offer. That hasn’t stopped your graphic design types letting their imagination run wild. Brown Ale has no connection with the city and is brewed in Stoke. United are making new history, so going back to an old sponsor for nostalgia’s sake is a backwards step unless they stump up the cash. United need the money and Rafa needs the money. I’ll take an obscure Malaysian beer over Brown Ale if United are getting the rewards financially. Huddersfield, Brighton and Norwich all drop points. If we win at Leeds that’s a nine point lead over third in mid-November. If only we’d appointed a manager with Championship experience eh! Brighton drawing to
an average Villa suggests they’re not as good as everyone thinks they are. They’ll be closer to the chasing pack than us for most of the season. November 20 - The victory of Leeds reminds me of the game at Derby. Also Rotherham. Barnsley too. Start well. Score. Sit off. Score again. Game over on 60 minutes. These away wins are becoming so routine and enjoyable that for the first time in years I expect United to win away from home. Rafa will love the clean sheet. Three goals conceded in nine away games is a frankly ludicrous statistic. This is the same football team that served up Chelsea, Everton and Southampton away this year. Rome wasn’t built in a day, but that’s most likely because Rafa wasn’t on the job. ALEX HURST - FOLLOW ALEX ON @tfalex1892 tf 9
I must admit that I was very surprised when we signed Ciaran Clark from Villa in the summer. It was a real test of the “In Rafa We Trust” philosophy I have lived my life by since he walked into St James’ Park in March this year.
INTRODUCING: CIARAN CLARK Clark was, after all, part of that shocking Villa side which plummeted into The Championship after finishing bottom of The Premier League last season, conceding 76 goals in the process and ending up with a goal difference of -49. Villa fans were quick to point out his failings. The fact he hadn’t been able to hold down a regular place in his favoured position of centre-half ahead of the abysmal Joleon Lescott didn’t sit too well with a lot of NUFC fans, either. “He has an error in him every game” said a lot of Villa fans. Show me a footballer who doesn’t make mistakes….. even Lionel Messi makes them. When a defender or a goalkeeper makes a mistake it usually ends up with a goal being conceded. Aston Villa had been on the decline for years, their defence was under constant pressure in almost every game, is it not just law of averages that mistakes would be made? He certainly wasn’t alone in that side. tf 10
Another issue to consider is that players who come through the academy generally get a harder time from supporters when things don’t go well. Think Steven Taylor, Shola Ameobi and recently, Paul Dummett. Taylor and Shola had their cult following but some of the abuse they got was disgraceful, and I’m sure some of our fans would have been quick to point out how rubbish they were to fans of any club who signed them from us.
they can lose their identity. Ciaran Clark is a centre-half. That is blindingly obvious to anyone who has seen him play for us this season. At the time of writing Clark has been an absolute revelation in a black and white shirt. Played 11, Won 10, drawn 1, lost
Clark also seems to be a victim of being labelled “Mr versatile” by previous Villa managers. Thrown in at the deep end as a kid into a poor side was always going to be tough but when you are the player the manager looks at to solve an injury crisis in other positions then your job is made 10 times harder. The ability and attitude to play wherever you are asked is admirable but has been the downfall of many players over the years as www.true-faith.co.uk
0. GD +22, 6 clean sheets and has scored 2 goals. He is keeping Chancel Mbemba, who many would have said was our best centre-half at the start of the season, out of the side. He has formed a rock-solid partnership with our skipper Jamaal Lascelles and is looking everything the Villa fans said he wasn’t when we signed him. He is strong, quick, reads the game well and very confident at carrying the ball out of defence. The fact he is left footed has added a nice balance to our back 4. Clark was born in London in 1989 and joined the Aston Villa academy at the age of 11. He would go on to captain the Villa Academy’s Under 18 team to their first ever league title. He also captained the Villa reserves to the Premier League Reserve South title, beating the mackems (Reserve www.true-faith.co.uk
North winners) 3-1 in the play-off final to win the Reserve League title for the first time. Villa academy director Bryan Jones was tipping him to be called up to the Villa first team at the age of just 17 and in the 2008/09 season Martin O’Neill gave him a squad number and he was on the bench for a UEFA Cup match against CSKA Moskow. An injury to Curtis Davies led to him making his Premier League debut against Fulham. He was included in the Team of the week for his performance but he struggled to make it back into the side that season with the manager preferring the more experienced defenders at the club. Villa went on to finish 6th in 2010. From this point on Villa
began their decline that ultimately led to relegation last season. Randy Lerner decided he wasn’t prepared to put any more of his money into the club after seeing little or no return on his investment. Clark was as much a victim of this as anybody else. Rushed into the side along with 5 others from the 2008/09 Academy title winning squad, he was used as a left back and a central midfielder by both Gerard Houllier and Alex McLeish. Never settling into his preferred role as a centre half until new manager Paul Lambert played him there. Unfortunately for Clark and his reputation this was the season where Villa conceded a club record 69 goals. Some fans would never forgive him for being part of that defence.
He has formed a rock-solid partnership with our skipper Jamaal Lascelles and is looking everything the Villa fans said he wasn’t when we signed him
As the years progressed and Villa became a bottom half tf 11
Premier League side, Clark struggled to hold down a regular place in the side, he is yet to play more than 30 league games in a season but one thing that has never been in question is his attitude and his willingness to stand up to a challenge. Something which you couldn’t say about the previous owner of the Number 2 shirt on Gallowgate. He has faced plenty of criticism in his career but has never hidden from it. Instead he has used it to drive him on. Again, this isn’t something you could say about Collocini or a number of other “shirkers” we have had to watch at SJP over the last few years. At international level, Ciaran captained England at Under 18, Under 19 and under 20 level. Comparisons
were being made to the likes of John Terry and he had ambitions of playing for the full national team but after his Villa teammate Richard Dunne discovered Clark’s mother was Irish he mentioned it to Irish officials who then persuaded him his international future lay with The Republic of Ireland. His comments about joining a massive club seems to have irked Villa’s supporters and probably explain some of the bitter remarks about him since he signed for us given their bizarre hatred of Newcastle United. They really are a strange bunch of supporters. Villa’s manager at the time, Roberto Di Matteo was desperate to keep him and was said to be livid when he found out Clark had a release clause in his contract.
Time will tell as to whether he has just found his level or if this is a classic case of a player going stale at a club and needing to move on. “I probably needed that fresh start in my career” he said recently. He has also spoken highly of Rafa Benitez and how he feels he is actually improving as a player for the first time in a number of years. His form this season has been superb and he looks unrecognisable from the player I thought we were signing. Long may it continue and as the January transfer window approaches I have no doubt eyebrows will be raised over who we sign and who we sell but we all just have to remember these 3 simple words…. Rafa Knows Best.
He has also spoken highly of Rafa Benitez and how he feels he is actually improving as a player for the first time in a number of years.
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I could be wrong, but it seems that nearly all teams fans have a ‘hate figure’. He’s usually the player who receives a groan when his name is announced in the starting XI. If his first pass is astray, or touch cumbersome the groans quickly turn to something more hostile.
Being Paul Dummett .It’s also been noted that players who represent their local club are given shorter shrift unless they happen to be a budding superstar. Again, I’m not sure that this is a definite everywhere but there are certainly many instances of it up and down the country. I recall reading a few years back that such was the vitriol a young Sammy Lee received from his fellow Liverpudlians he was actually found in tears after some matches. Like the butt of our supports’ angst he was unfortunate to be found mostly playing on the flanks. With Anfield’s sidelines being so close to spectating area he could hear every curse tf 14
directed his way. Our local hero is one Paul Dummett. A Geordie lad living the dream, playing for his team and in front of his own people. Like Sammy, I’d imagine he could tell you a tale or two about some of the abuse he hears from the Milburn and East Stand paddocks. I don’t know about you, but I abhor bullying. It’s a particular bugbear of mine. In the collective mind of our crowd he is seen as the weak link and therefore an easy target and this makes me uncomfortable. I feel for the lad because I believe he is a promising player played out of position giving 100% week in, week out. www.true-faith.co.uk
As a footballer I’ve long felt that his biggest weakness is pace. When United is ever stretched and he is left exposed by a speedy winger, admittedly it can look pretty bad. Another thing which makes our support grumble is his final ball. I can’t fully argue here, some of them are pretty woeful. However, his poor balls are nearly always when he has a bit of time. As part of a swift move he can deliver some excellent stuff. I recall recently such a passage of play v Norwich. Please watch again his instinctive cross which Matt Ritchie headed onto the bar. If it goes in, Dummett would’ve been rightly lauded. Unfortunately for him, it’s forgotten about. If Dummett was playing a bit further up the www.true-faith.co.uk
touchline, as I believe Watford’s plan is with the similarly one paced Janmaat or infield as a second centre back I believe he’d be happier. I have to admit, I’m blown away by what I’ve seen of Yedlin on the other flank. His pace and movement are clearly something Paul could never deliver. It may well come to pass that we see a similar type of left back brought in in the nearish future. If that does happen, I sincerely hope that Dummett remains. He can fill in, in a number of roles and I would really rather not be watching another Watson, Clark, Thompson, Hughes, Simpson etc scenario where we see our cast offs go on to have very satisfactory careers elsewhere.
On top of everything else, and without wanting to go all ‘Smashie & Nicey’ on you (ask your Dad) he appears to be a sound fella. I’ve noticed a number of occasions where he has done pretty unheralded charity work. Most recently, a trip to a young United daft lad’s house who is tragically suffering with leukaemia. Up until recently, I couldn’t care less about most of our squad. Like many of you, I actively disliked some of the wasters. I say to you, Paul Dummett is the polar opposite of wage packet tossers like Sissoko etc.
Like many of you, I actively disliked some of the wasters. I say to you, Paul Dummett is the polar opposite of wage packet tossers like Sissoko etc.
I think many of you should pause to think before you grief the lad after his first error on the 26th minute. tf 15
The day after our 2-0 victory at Derby I embarked on a trip of a lifetime, with my 21st just around the corner I planned to do something special. South America had been on my list of things to do from a young age, watching TV programmes such as Fifa Football Mundial on sky made me want to visit the likes of Rio and Buenos Aires to sample the action and feel it for myself!
MATTY WILLIS Follow @mattywillis_1
GEORDIES HERE, GEORDIES THERE... Rotherham to Rio Over our 15 night trip we visited Santiago, Buenos Aires, Iquazu Falls and Rio. We did some amazing things such as hiking through the Andes in Chile and visiting the falls of Iguazu in both Brazil and Argentina as well as venturing to Uruguay on the ferry from Buenos Aires for the day, to the world heritage town of Colonia de Sacramento, a real life Beamish! We also managed to get to Ciudad del Este, Paraguay’s second biggest city, which lies just
over the border from the falls in Brazil. That place I can only describe as mental! During our time in South America our main aim was to get to as much football as possible, we managed 6 games in the 15 days. 1 in Santiago, 4 in Buenos Aires and 1 in Rio. Santiago and Buenos Aires were both successful and went smoothly after a lot of revision and where, what and how to get to games and obtain tickets etc. We managed to get
to a San Lorenzo game in Buenos Aires, as many will know they are the home of Fabricio Coloccini. In the neighbourhood of Flores (one I can only describe as the Wild West) not a place to venture to, we were welcomed inside the ground by locals and saw a 2-1 victory for San Lorenzo. Sadly, Coloccini didn’t feature due to an injury he had picked up the previous ‘fecha’. Buenos Aires is a city I’d recommend to everyone who loves football, it lives football. If you go though, please try to see more than just Boca and River! Don’t
During our time in South America our main aim was to get to as much football as possible, we managed 6 games in the 15 days. 1 in Santiago, 4 in Buenos Aires and 1 in Rio.
get me wrong, they’re impressive but you get so much more of a feeling for the Argentinian league elsewhere! So Argentina was done pretty much of my own bat! Then it came to Rio, I had John, fellow true faith writer and Rio resident to turn to! The help was superb. Originally we were over the moon to see that Flamengo would be at home. Flamengo are the most supported side in the world and Rio’s biggest club. They play at the world famous Maracanã, but unfortunately they are currently playing away from Rio due to the Olympics still having the rights to the stadium until October, not to worry. This left us with only one game in Rio. Vasco da Gama, the second biggest team in Rio, with over 20 million supporters for the black and whites. A couple of days before the game I was in touch with John, told him we’d be doing the Vasco game, to which www.true-faith.co.uk
came a response that a student of his is a Vasco fan and heading to the game. John put us in touch with Fabricio who we arranged to meet outside the Maracanã around 90 minutes before the game. There he was, outside the main entrance to pick us up and take us over to Vasco’s São Januário stadium. The ground is in a neighbourhood not really recommended to go to for tourists, so the help of Fabricio was superb. I had managed to get by
in Buenos Aires with my minimal Spanish but in Rio, Portuguese was lost on me. Fabricio made this a doddle for us. We parked up on the steep banks of a favela and wandered down to the ground. Some brilliant street art outside and on the way to the ground caught my attention, the place had a real football feel. Fabricio took us to the ‘socios’ ticket office, where he managed to get us 2 tickets in the members section with the assistance of a very kind old lady in front.
This left us with only one game in Rio. Vasco da Gama, the second biggest team in Rio, with over 20 million supporters for the black and whites
We walked along the main road at the back of the main stand, packed with fans and street BBQ’s, people having cans on the street. Fabricio took us in to the entrance of the members stand, a friendly welcome by other locals and as we went through the turnstile, to our right was the trophy room. We were taken in and guided around, got to see the Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League) from their victory in the late 90’s, along with other league and cup titles they’d won! Very dissimilar to Newcastle ey? Well, what wasn’t too dissimilar was that last year Vasco got relegated to the second flight of Brazilian
football a bit like United, Vasco, born in 1898 and playing in black and white! Vasco sat top prior to the game and hosted Atlético Goianiense who were in second spot. After locating our seats, Fabricio gave us the low down on the ground and the players to watch out for before the game started. Vasco lead 1-0 at half time but could have been 3 or 4 to the good! After a slow start to the second half, much to the locals’ delight, Vasco grabbed a second and killed the tie, leaving them 11 points clear in the automatic promotion slot with 11 to play! Hopefully we’ll be in this position come March!
The full experience at Vasco was brilliant and we left with a warm feeling, one of the best things though was the fact we were able to go and learn about Vasco and its history, as well as watch the game. Different to our experiences in Buenos Aires and that was down to the help of John and most definitely Fabricio, so thanks to them! Brazilian football is great, the standard was surprisingly very good, along with the atmosphere despite there being a relatively small crowd in, one thing we did notice in South America is that football is a massive ‘family’ event, kids, mothers, fathers, grandparents, the lot! They all attend games together, for us the myth
We were taken in and guided around, got to see the Copa Libertadores (South American version of the Champions League) from their victory in the late 90’s.
about it being unsafe to go to games on the continent couldn’t be further from the truth. If you’re respectful and willing to learn and embrace their traditions, they’ll welcome you with open arms! This was epitomised at Vasco! After the game we said our thank yous and good byes and headed back to the city, ready to hit ‘Lapa’ for the night! Lapa, the Bigg Market of Rio, only 100x better! Numerous cocktails and samba music ended off what had a been a brilliant day! The rest of our stay we did all the things you’d expect in Rio: Christ the Redeemer, Sugerloaf Mountain, Copacabana and Ipenema. As well as head to the most famous favela in Rio, Rocinha. A brilliant experience and something I’d recommend to many to
do! Our penultimate day consisted of an afternoon on the Copacabana, trying to be Shearer! Which was one of the best things I’ve ever done, to have a kick around with the views of the beach, Sugerloaf in the distance and some sun above, wow! After a brilliant few hours we then headed back to get sorted and out for the last supper. You can’t go to Rio and not have rodízio! An all you can eat meat buffet, consisting of many different cuts of meat, beef, pork, lamb, chicken and ostrich to name a few. The restaurant we went to was superb, it’s the best meal out I’ve ever had! After sampling chicken heart I can surprisingly say it’s not bad! A taste of sausage wrapped in chicken skin! A perfect way to end a perfect trip in a brilliant
city, country and continent! As I write this, I’m sat on the plane home and will land back on Tyneside just in time to get picked up and head straight to Barrack Road to see United host Norwich! After that I’m sure it’ll be 2 days of rest before heading on to Rotherham! Rio to Rotherham in 5 days, what dreams are made of ey?
After sampling chicken heart I can surprisingly say it’s not bad! A taste of sausage wrapped in chicken skin!
I recently celebrated my ten year wedding anniversary. As I sat in my car outside of a Morrisons petrol station with a bouquet of carnations, I chewed on my biro and tried to think of those magical soppy words that women love to read, those words that feel so unnatural to the men writing them.
FALLING IN LOVE AGAIN DAVID McAVELIA FOLLOW @DavidMcAvelia
As I tried to recall romantic events I could reference in my note of love and devotion I couldn’t help but think of the time we were so close to divorce. Our marriage nearly fell apart, all because of a tube of Slazenger tennis balls. On the evening in question I returned home from work as I had done a thousand times before. As I walked into the kitchen I spotted the bright pink sticker, the unmistakable gaudy pink label highlighting Sports Direct’s bargain of the century, “Was £7.99, now £1.99”. tf 20
I lost my cool. Voices were raised, tea cups were thrown and only after a few nights spent in the huffy bed did the wife and I start speaking again. The incident that kicked off Armageddon in my family home will seem pathetic to most people, downright petty to others.To fans
I just couldn’t stay away. Admittedly I’ve spent more time watching nonleague football of late but the lure of St James’ was too great when my lads asked to watch Newcastle. of Newcastle United I think you will understand. I refuse to shop at Sports Direct. In 2015 Sports Direct’s profit reached £240m so I doubt Mike Ashley was too concerned that I was spending my money in JD Sports instead. However, during a time when Newcastle fans have suffered desperately under his regime the Newcastle United name was being used as an advertising vehicle for Ashley’s cheap sports store. Ashley Out, Support the Team - Not the Regime and stadium boycotts have all done their best to blow away the toxic cloud hanging over the city but we reached a new low when these groups started to argue amongst themselves. The fans felt powerless. I admire those who tried to make a change and respect those who decided not to go to games but as a father of two boys I just couldn’t stay away. Admittedly I’ve www.true-faith.co.uk
spent more time watching non-league football of late but the lure of St James’ was too great when my lads asked to watch Newcastle. Why should my kids suffer because of my stubbornness. So, my family have been issued with strict instructions, do not buy anything from Mike Ashley. Every penny spent in that store would end up in the pocket of a man who seems to be single handedly bringing down my football club. If my family want a Donnay umbrella, a Slazenger basketball, an oversized NUFC mug, a Karrimor set of golf clubs or heaven forbid a Firetrap tracksuit, they’ll have to find it elsewhere. During shopping trips when we’ve walked the length of Northumberland street trying to find kids football boots the wife has muttered the words “I’m sure we could find some in Sports Direct”; words I
typically chose to ignore for risk of fisticuffs outside Primark. I wondered whether Mike Ashley was a conspiracy, a superhero villain raised in a deserted warehouse on the banks of the Wear, created with the sole purpose of destroying NUFC from the inside. In May 2015 when Mike Ashley finally came to our screens and proclaimed we were not for sale and that he would not leave until we won a trophy my head was in my hands. We were doomed. But then came Rafa. This mild mannered gentleman with the sultry tones of a foreign waiter at a Spanish holiday resort and the pot belly and goatee beard of a foreign waiter at a Spanish holiday resort. Much like Shirley Valentine, we’ve been swept off our feet. It’s too early to say whether this is a holiday romance that will end in tears or a marriage made in heaven but the early signs are good, tf 21
this one’s a keeper. So is it time to be thankful to Ashley and the board for having the foresight and genius in appointing Rafa? Not likely…. It was make or break for Ashley in March 2016, does he continue to hire puppet coaches who will happily report to a leadership team made up of an accountant and a chief scout or does he find a real leader? Is Ashley willing to hand control over to a true football manager, one who picks the players, picks the team and runs the team as it should be run? He had to. R a f a made h i s mark early o n
in his tenure. Before he was even appointed as permanent manager he walked through Newcastle’s Benton training facility and forced them to replace the indoor playing service. If you’d not seen it, the 3G astro turf resembled your Nanna’s kitchen lino. It was soon replaced by a 4G surface that most high schools in the country have had for the past two years. Ashely was starting to listen; listen to a manager with trophies, a reputation and balls. Rafa was telling Ashley that he wanted full control of Newcastle United. Ashley had to bow down. Picture the alternative, had Ashley appointed Neil Warnock or Ian Holloway and purchased another squad of 19 year old French midfielders St James’ would have imploded or raised to the ground. There’d be riots on the streets of Newcastle whilst Sky Sports pundits
continued to make cheap headlines about our unrealistic expectations whilst other fans tirelessly mocked our so called “big club” status. It’s too early to say whether Rafa will reach the Messiah status of Keegan but he’s already cementing himself in Geordie folklore. As much as I’m delighted with Rafa’s appointment there is a more important message here, Ashley is now running the club in the proper way. We have a proper manager and a functioning reporting structure that takes power away from a team of businessmen to a footballing mind. This should not be ignored, this historical event is up there with other events in history such as the fall of the Berlin Wall and the French Revolution. So Mike, thanks for finally seeing sense. I think your hand was forced and you would have had a riot on your hands if you hadn’t, but thanks anyway.
As much as I’m delighted with Rafa’s appointment there is a more important message here, Ashley is now running the club in the proper way. We have a proper manager and a functioning reporting structure that takes power away from a team of businessmen to a footballing mind.
I’m still not setting foot in Sports Direct though. www.true-faith.co.uk
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Football tops have always been highly symbolic for all football supporters. For me, the vibrant colours are defining and clearly distinguish a particular club, however nowadays, it appears that clubs change their team’s design and colour schemes, with alarming regularity. Moreover, fans are left to contemplate value for money, I would argue that the strips are being mass produced as a marketing ploy.
Football Tops: Iconic or Are fans being short changed? SAM WILSON And yet, sales from the retail outlets and the club shops indicate, that football tops are selling with regularity every close season. It gives the impression that as always, fans are loyal consumers, however how long before fans say I can’t afford my team changing kits every season? Thankfully, for myself the teams I have supported have the same colour scheme, both Dunfermline and Newcastle United. Many outside observers could say that it’s a bland outlook for a team’s kit. For me, however Dunfermline’s finest kit was the one worn by the great side of the 1960’s. A classic, cotton, candy striped shirt, accompanied by black shorts and tf 24
socks. Nowadays, shirts are made from nylon material, which snags easily, and doesn’t provide the same identity or durability, compared with years gone by. Fans unfortunately have little choice but to fork out in excess of £40, sometimes more. In such times of financial difficulty, in some cases austerity, it feels most unjustified. Football clubs, in the main are aware there is a market for football kits; therefore the cycle is continuous in that a product is readily available and there is a demand from club’s supporters. In this context, I convey supporters as customers; as essentially that is how fans are portrayed. In the modern era, fans are not
an integral fabric of the club, compared to years ago. For me, my favourite Newcastle kit is the 1996 Grandad collar one, where the fabric appeared to be made of cotton. A heavier shirt , one which was iconic and stylish. The alternative change kit was purple and blue hoops. The two shirts were hugely successful in terms of sales, and still are to this day! For me, however I look upon that kit as highly symbolic, one which re-kindles memories of free-flowing football, and players who provided flair and pure sporting theatre. Many clubs, in recent times have faced the possibility of their colours changing, or www.true-faith.co.uk
the badge being altered. Both dilemmas stimulate a range of views and debates, in amongst supporters. Cardiff City had their owner look to change years of tradition and history, by altering the team’s colours from blue to red. Hull City had the long standing debate, over the naming rights of the club being changed from Hull City to Hull Tigers. Rightly, fans have reasons to feel aggrieved, our own club under Ashley’s stewardship, have been left with a huge degree of frustration. The Sports Direct Arena, was a massive PR blunder, for me it was an insight into how Ashley looked upon the name change, as an
opportunity to bleed the club dry in terms of advertising. The lack of investment in the squad, prior to Rafa Benitez’s reign was damning. Buying young players from the continent, some with raw potential and talent, only to sell them on and make a healthy profit. A superb business model, but one from the fans point of view portrayed an owner, who was happy to accept mediocrity, so long as the club stayed up. Last season saw the inevitable relegation, despite the new manager’s best efforts. The current kit is sponsored by W*ng*. The sponsoring of shirts, in general leaves a lot to be desired. I personally, won’t buy the
new kit due to the payday lender being emblazoned on the new kit, and has been for a few seasons now. To me, modern day kits are awash with logos, and it takes away from the identity of your club and what they mean to you. The W*ng* deal for me, morally and ethically is wrong. I do praise the club however, in that the sponsor was removed from the junior kits. I think that this was a positive change. I hope in the future, the shirt sponsor goes back to a local business or company. It would be good for the local economy. I don’t doubt, that there would be many interested parties putting forward their names?
The Sports Direct Arena, was a massive PR blunder, for me it was an insight into how Ashley looked upon the name change, as an opportunity to bleed the club dry in terms of advertising.
The Newcastle kit in the 1970’s was very simple, but effective. The iconic stripes, with the club crest in the middle, very different to the current one. Of course, there were no names on the back just numbers. Although I wasn’t born at that time, I feel that it was a striking kit, whenever I see photos of the strip. A well known phrase of, if it isn’t broke don’t fix it, applies to the football shirts debate. I’ve heard, many observers from other teams convey that black and white strips aren’t that exciting. I would imagine it’s a matter of subjective opinion? I would argue that Newcastle have had some iconic kits, and coined a nickname, due to the colour of their shirts. I may be wrong with my origins, in relation to the nickname- Magpies, Toon fans let me know. The Grandad collar kit, the early 90’s shirt with McEwan’s Lager on it, I recall viewing photos of our changed kit, with Greenhalls on the front. A yellow and green strip, where Liam O’Brien, famously curled an outstanding free kick over the Sunderland wall and into the net, at Roker Park. Elegant shirts, where there are an endless amount of memories and joy. For me, each kit has a special resemblance to a season, or particular era in the clubs proud history. The 1997 kit had the black tf 26
Its brilliant too see a lot of the “retro” kits coming back, into the public domain. I’ve seen many outlets, where the Grandad collar shirt, as well as the purple and blue hooped shirt are for sale. It defines, in my mind how much affection and pride the fans had, and clearly still do, for famous shirts from the past. shield on the back, where the name and number would be. I found this a very innovative idea, which made the design of the overall kit all the more striking. I loved the rounded collar on that shirt too. Its brilliant too see a lot of the “retro” kits coming back, into the public domain. I’ve seen many outlets, where the Grandad collar shirt, as well as the purple and blue hooped shirt are for sale. It defines, in my mind how much affection and pride the fans had, and clearly still do, for famous shirts from the past.
had Shamrock Roverssame colours as Celtic, and a Newcastle team. With me being a Dunfermline fan too, it allowed me to have two teams in one. It really was a case of using the imagination when playing Subbuteo. I wasn’t around, when it was at it’s height. I do have a renewed, version of the game at home. It provides endless amounts of imaginary cup wins for both my clubs. A rarity for both! We hope that one day, a “retro” Newcastle kit comes back onto the pitch. It would be top seller, I’m convinced!!
A retro pass time
and hobby for many: Subbuteo, also had a simplistic kit design, but it was highly effective and allowed you to be innovative with your collections. I www.true-faith.co.uk
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truefaith1892.bigcartel.com tf 27
true faith has been established since 1999 as one of the most successful, influential and best-selling fanzines in the country. Its success is based upon the contributions of Newcastle United supporters. As we move into the digital age and take up the opportunities for new forms of supporter expression, true faith is at the forefront of the new fanzine culture and develops its digital fanzine (what you are reading now), its match-day e-newsletter, The Special, its Podcasts, its video-blogs and of course the website. We hope to be positioned for anything else that develops over the next few years as well.
Write for true faith true faith has always provided a platform to fans to write about their club and give their own opinions on what is currently going on at United as well as the different perspectives of our club’s history and the wider game. Oh, we love a bit nostalgia and history. There is no typical true faith writer, they come in all shapes and sizes and include home and away zealots. young lads and www.true-faith.co.uk tf 28
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“When people ask me about England … well, if I was still at Newcastle, I’d be pretty keen on that England job. But, with all this here, I’m left thinking: ‘Why would I really want to leave Palace now?’ Obviously, I’d like to win trophies, and that’s very difficult even if we did come ever so close last season. But that isn’t the only way to measure success. Success can be a legacy. Maybe I can create one here so that, one day, people look back and say: ‘When Pardew was there that was a great period for the club.’ Alan Pardew, 21st October 2016
With the garden so rosy at SJP, flying high at the top of the league, looking forward to a winnable cup quarter final and thoroughly enjoying everything about the club once more, it seems slightly churlish to give a second thought to Alan Pardew but his recent interview with the Guardian really did jog the memory as to what a total c*** the man is. I feel slightly conflicted when it come to Palace. I’ve got a good mate that is a lifelong home and away South London Palace lad and he’s one of those blokes that you know you can just enjoy a proper football crack with. I enjoy seeing him a couple of times a year and chewing the fat over a few beers and in recent years we’ve been in total agreement over the current Selhurst Park boss. I spoke to my mate the day we appointed tf 30
Pardew and I remember his reaction then. ‘He’s a horrible slippery f***er, it’ll end in disaster’. Even after Pardew’s promising start with us and the fifth place finish there was always a nagging feeling that he was a phoney and a wanker stemming all the way back to the manner of his appointment and the Andy Carroll bulls**t that was spun on deadline day in his first window. It’s fair to say that his career at NUFC has been well covered in these pages over the years but when Ashley somehow managed to pull a few quid out of Palace for his services, NE1 breathed a collective sigh of relief. The media would have it that he was ‘forced out’ of the club but in reality he went for double his money to a job with less scrutiny and pressure – I don’t blame him for that mind you, who
wouldn’t be tempted to do exactly the same but in Pardew’s smarmy mind, he would have it that the move showed he was no yes man, making his own mind up whilst swimming against the tide of hostile natives that made his job impossible.
Gareth Harrison follow @truefaith1892
Whatever, he was gone and I was back on the phone to James, my Palace mate. To say he was underwhelmed would be an
understatement and we got talking about the standard media line that Pardew was a ‘Palace legend’ after his career as a player down there. ‘Hardly’ said James ‘He was generally s**t when he played for us and scored that goal in the semi from nowhere – he was never a ‘legend’ Still, he took them to the cup final, when his twattishness shone to the fore with that cringeworthy dance on the touchline when they took the lead. There was many a sigh of relief across the North East when we were spared the sight of his trekking up to the Royal Box at Wembley to pick up the FA Cup but with the FA scratching around for a new English manager after the Euro debacle, the spectre of Pardew getting a shot at the England job started to rear it’s head. To be honest, I was praying he got it. I’ve got little to no time for the national team and his inevitable capitulation, coupled with the increased media spotlight that would shine on his, cough, ‘past’ were he to be appointed filled my heart with glee. I suppose we got the next best thing, www.true-faith.co.uk
when fellow charlatan Fat Sam disgraced himself in a matter of weeks, simultaneously leaving the Mackems plum in the s**te, but part of me still hopes that Pardew gets the opportunity to humiliate himself on a world stage. Which brings us, I suppose to the quote mentioned from the Guardian piece at the start of the article. Let’s dissect it and try to explain succinctly just why Pardew is so detested on Barrack Road. ‘When people ask me about England’ – As far as I’m aware, no people have ‘asked you about England’ Alan. It appears to be a figment of your own inflated ego. Infact, the FA preferred someone they knew to be as dodgy as f***, who they’d explicitly knocked back years earlier to your many charms on account of the fact that he’d finished 17th in the Premier League the prior season. ‘well, if I was still at Newcastle, I’d be pretty keen on that England job’ – Hmmm. Your record at Newcastle was largely dreadful, Alan and if the
FA aren’t coming running in their hour of abject desperation now, they certainly weren’t when you were up here. The tone of your response tends to suggest that in some way the Palace job you currently hold is a bigger or better gig than the one at United. Alan, sweetheart, the club was too big for you and the job was too big for you. ‘Success is a legacy’ – Palace are currently fifth bottom in the Premier League after bladdering £40m on the summer on Benteke, who has been largely awful and our old friend Andros Townsend who moved supposedly to further his England career but is currently rotting on the bench. Some legacy. one day, people look back and say: ‘When Pardew was there that was a great period for the club.’ – No, Alan. Come roughly midDecember when you’ve been peddled and we’ve collectively laughed our cocks off at you, what people will actually look back and say is ‘Thank f*** that arsehole has gone’.
Palace are currently fifth bottom in the Premier League after bladdering £40m on the summer on Benteke, who has been largely awful and our old friend Andros Townsend who moved supposedly to further his England career but is currently rotting on the bench.
Just like we did. tf 31
It’s no secret Newcastle United haven’t had the best of times in recent years. Show-stopping individual performances have been few and far between, the coaching practices have been laughable and the managerial appointments have been, well, let’s not mention too much about those. All in all, Newcastle have put themselves in the media firing line, and allowed to pundits a free shot. Nevertheless, it seems like the majority of ‘experts’ find too much pleasure in taking a dig at United. There are many examples in which this is the case. Take Soccer Saturday, for example. Saturdays off work mean sitting in front of the TV watching tf 32
Jeff and the boys having a good old natter to each other, but some of the panel seem to take an extreme dislike to Newcastle. Paul Merson and Charlie Nicholas get a special mention. Merson has a welldocumented past and is lucky to have landed such a well paid gig at Sky but some of his analysis is dreadful. Earlier this season, he claimed all Newcastle players had to
do was ‘give it their all’, and he would pleased. Sorry, Paul but giving 110% doesn’t make up for the fact our defence was utterly hopeless this season. There have been numerous other times in which Merson has belittled and slated the club.
AARON STOKES FOLLOW @AaronStokes96
Next, Charlie Nicholas. As previously mentioned, critics have every right to publicly slam Newcastle in their analysis after the www.true-faith.co.uk
goings on at the club recently but Nicholas made a comment this year that completely took the biscuit. Back in April, the Scot describe this season’s Newcastle side as ‘possibly the worst team that has ever played in the Premier League’… Poor old Charlie must be forgetting the Aston Villa side that lost 27 of their 38 games this season. Or the Sunderland team that got relegated under Mick McCarthy. Oh, and that fantastic Derby County side that only acquired 11 points all season back in 2008.
be ‘detrimental’ on the squad. He has also stated on numerous occasions that the NUFC job was his least enjoyable during his time in management. This season he has had his say once again, this time claiming that St James’ Park isn’t the easiest place to play at, because of the fans. How he can genuinely come out and say that us fans are to blame for the showings on the pitch this season
is easy to see why Alan Shearer sticks up for Newcastle whenever he gets a chance. He may rant and rave but he understands the club. He has been a fan, a player and a manager. He gets what it means to support NUFC. However, as the page turns and a new chapter is dawns upon Newcastle United, we can only hope that a good season in the Championship will be
It seems as if Nicholas’ memory is deteriorating as he enters old age, despite attempting to stay youthful with his vast amount of sunbeds and diamond earrings. Switching from one Sky studio to another. We have former Magpie boss Graeme Souness. Souness had a 16 month tenure at the club and managed to fall out with a number of high profile squad members. Craig Bellamy famously had a particular nasty spat with the Scotsman. However, since leaving Newcastle all the way back in 2006, Souness has made a habit of twisting the knife when it comes to his former side. Over the years, the 63-year-old has claimed that the‘high expectations’ of the Geordie faithful can www.true-faith.co.uk
is simply incredible. Newcastle United fans stuck by their team week after week this year, even when times got extremely tough. Nobody can deny that. People think because Souness managed at Newcastle he instantly becomes an expert on the club. That man will never truly understand Newcastle United. For this reason, I feel it
the start of a new era for the club on the pitch, and off the pitch when it comes to the pundits. A Rafa Benitez revolution could be what it takes for pundits to stop sticking the boot into this football club. As I’ve said, over the last few years we can have no complaints when it comes to criticism, but sometimes it feels over the top. tf 33
As soon as I saw this advertised my heart began to race. BBC4 tend to produce exemplary music pieces, never afraid to tackle subversive aspects, usually fronted by poignant, intelligent and appropriate experts. I’m fascinated by the history of youth subculture, add in that it’s a Don Letts production and I’m totally sold. A true figurehead of the Punk music scene and a pioneer of introducing black music to a wider audience; from his days as legendary DJ at The Roxy, his foray in to musicianship as a member of Big Audio Dynamite, to his ongoing exploration of music in his Culture Clash show on 6 Music; he’s an award winning documentary maker who adds credence to any project. Skinheads are my early childhood. 2 of my young uncles were white, workingclass, disillusioned lads
standing firmly on the fringe of society during the social decline of the early 80’s and consequently drawn to the Skinhead revival. Harrington’s, Doc Martens and button-down shirts. Both of them living with us, at times, in my Mother’s immaculate council house. A 5 year old girl who knew no different, I was treated like royalty by their circle. They would regularly take me and my sister to Whitley Bay Ice Rink. Never paying a penny and ‘insisting’ that the most talented skaters escort my sister and I
around the ice. I simply thought people were nice to me; realised later that they were terrified of them. But they were halcyon days as I recall. I’d encourage you to watch Shane Meadows’ stunning 2006 film ‘This Is England’ which encapsulates the early 80’s revival. There’s a scene when they go on the rampage around the estate, owning their environment in a somewhat tribal way, a sense of belonging, togetherness and utter abandon. Not necessarily an example to follow,
The Story of Skinhead with Don Letts BBC4 Fri 14/10/6 @ 9pm VICTORIA Follow on @VLJ1976 tf 34
The Story of Skinhead with Don Letts - BBC Documentary HD - 54:34 but a familial feel and it resonated. I recall the music of the time as well. I remember the sounds of Bob Marley, The Clash, Madness. I consider myself lucky to have had such an introduction to culture and music. I wonder if perhaps it is this that led me to become so passionate about football, that feeling of belonging and togetherness on the terraces as a 15 year old? An outlet for the frustrations of life. Never scared, in it together and truly no other feeling like it.
I am a huge fan of The Clash and through learning of their musical origins, so deeply entrenched in Black music, I became fascinated by the multi-culturalism of the original Skinhead movement of the 60â€™s. I moved to Nottingham when I was 18, a truly multicultural city, living at times in predominantly West Indian areas with their brightly coloured supermarkets and effervescent characters. I lived there for 13 years and still miss the colour and sounds that only a truly multi-cultural environment can create.
So, on to the documentary. It did not disappoint in any way, in fact far exceeded my already heightened expectations. I became interested in Skinhead culture through musical exploration and looking back at the influences and history of music I love.
The documentary begins with the images we are all used to seeing, youths in Harrington jackets rioting. Then follows a chronological exploration of the subculture discussing the roots of the original movement in London, where post-Windrush
Jamaican music and sharp style melded with the disaffected working class white kids on Council Estates finding themselves in an unexpected union during a time of contradictory emerging racism. The very roots of Skinhead being the absolute embodiment of multi-culturalism and not the populist racist theorem that so many seem to peddle. It then moves on to the shift in style and ethos adopted in the late 70â€™s by the new, young generation of Skinheads, and we begin to see some distortion of the origins. The look is slightly different, borne out of terrace culture. Visiting football fans travelling from the North to the London clubs seeing Skinhead gangs and adopting the look, the uniformity and often the hooliganism.
The very roots of Skinhead being the absolute embodiment of multiculturalism and not the populist racist theorem that so many seem to peddle.
And it strikes you as terribly sad that what most people now associate with Skinheads, these angry white men with right-wing views, actually began as the complete opposite; the coming together of black and white to create a truly multi-cultural movement during a time of racist emergence. An infamous handbook with a racist undertone, and the beginning of NF infiltration widens the schism between this new generation of Skinheads and the original Skinheads who now see the Punk movement as something they can perhaps attach to as a revival, despite Punk being experimental art school individuality, compared to their structured working class uniformity. Punk was perhaps about not belonging, Skinhead is all about belonging. Another shift in the early 80’s saw the 2tone movement take the truly integrative roots and ethos of Skinhead on to the stage, with wonderful unions of black and white. Sadly the continuing polarisation resulted in unwelcome violence within the different factions. Letts speaks to numerous figures integral to the scene, Pauline Black of The Selecter speaks openly
and eloquently about these problems; trying to perform during a barrage of Sieg Heil’s. The documentary then covers the movement through the 80’s and how the newer skinheads adopt a military look, with tattooed faces and abhorrent views. And it strikes you as terribly sad that what most people now associate with Skinheads, these angry white men with right-wing views, actually began as the complete opposite; the coming together of black and white to create a truly multi-cultural movement during a time of racist emergence. It closes with a nod to a new wave of original Skinheads, many of the older revivalists applauding anyone brave enough to adopt the culture, given the stigma now attached to it. As someone deeply passionate about multiculturalism I hope that this
documentary will help to dispel some of the myths about Skinheads and remind us that although there is clearly a warped aspect to some Skinhead movements, the foundations were very different; hijacked and subsequently distorted. It’s a fantastic look at the whole of the subculture. One of my most beloved artists is Jimmy Cliff and I have Skinhead culture to thank for this introduction. I was thrilled to discover he was playing at The Riverside last year and duly attended hoping for a great night. And it truly was, a coming together of so many different people from all walks of life to celebrate an amazing Jamaican musician. There were plenty of Skinheads in attendance and the atmosphere encapsulated what I imagine original Skinheads intended. A big group of people, celebrating harmoniously the wonder of reggae music.
Listen to the playlist here Soul Survivor Val Bennett
Elizabethan Reggae Boris Gardiner
Return Of Django The Upsetters
Skinhead Moonstomp Symarip
Dollar In The Teeth Lee “Scratch” Perry & The Upsetters
Get Down and Get With It Slade
Spirit In The Sky Norman Greenbaum
Bad Moon Rising
Creedence Clearwater Revival
Black Skinned Blue Eyed Boys The Equals
The Liquidator Harry J. All Stars
Anarchy In The UK Sex Pistols
Tell Us The Truth Sham 69
If The Kids Are United Sham 69
One Step Beyond Madness
Too Much Pressure The Selecter
A Message To You Rudy (feat. Rico Rodriguez) The Specials
Ghost Town The Specials
Oi! Oi! Oi!
Police Oppression Angelic Upstarts
Clint Eastwood The Upsetters
Tribute To Drumbago (aka Last Call) The Dynamites
The Law Andy Capp
Online merchandising operation
NORTHUMBERLAND WE ARE THE MAGS £17.00 Visit site
COUNTY DURHAM WE ARE THE MAGS £17.00 Visit site
Back in 2008, when Harry Redknapp turned down the chance to replace Sam Allardyce on Tyneside, and later became the man in charge at White Hart Lane, both us and Spurs were of a similar stature. The sale of Moussa Sissoko on the stroke of this window closing though, brings into sharp contrast the fate of the two clubs concerned since the departure of the current England manager.
United had been Premiership mainstays for years without making any meaningful impact on the division; meandering around mid-table, a long way off the relative glory days of the Keegan and Robson eras; Tottenham likewise. Failing to land Redknapp though, Mike Ashley opted to try and make a good first impression, he himself still the proud new owner, and conjure the return of our old Messiah. That didnâ€™t go so well did it? Harry took the Londoners on to bigger and better things - steadily up the table, a run in the Champions League and a decent showing in the domestic cups. It seemed to put them on a sound footing as now they are seen as top 4 contenders and were odds on to be runners up last term, until tf 38
their capitulation at St James Park to an already condemned Newcastle United that is. Meanwhile, we endured a relegation that saw Kevin Keegan, Chris Hughton, JFK, and Alan Shearer all have a go, and years of being force fed s**te - shackled to our loyalties, eyes pinned open like the scene from The Clockwork Orange. Finally, the ship has sunk, and we are back once again in the second tier, seriously in danger of being stuck down there forever. But now we have Rafa and, whilst not wanting to jinx www.true-faith.co.uk
it, he just might possibly be embarking us on a similar path to the one Spurs took under Harry. In his most recent Q&A, the spaniard speaks of the club’s successful ’trading’ in this most recent transfer window, a feat we have been starved of for as long as I can remember. One thing that Tottenham have done to lift their recent fortunes above ours is, year on year, some good old fashioned wheeling and dealing. They have consistently identified the weak links in the squad and upgraded them with a clear idea on style and direction and every now and then, selling their most fashionable players for stupid money to fund it all. The true miracle that Rafa has performed has been to win the trust of those holding the pursestrings;
and what Mr Ashley will like very much is that despite securing 12 new signatures, we concluded business heavily in profit. Yes, Benitez was selling players that he hadn’t bought himself, but the Sissoko that actually won his £30 million price tag in the Euros, did so with the momentum and confidence the arrival of Rafa last season injected. The players that he has targeted seem to be, on first impression at least, well worth the money in a grossly inflated market. Most importantly for the club and for us though, is they also appear a vast improvement on the last lot! Perhaps not in terms of raw talent; they might not all be able to do a thousand keepie uppies, or spin so fast they forget to take the ball with them sometimes (no names mentioned).
In effort, commitment, team spirit and a desire to win though, the new look to the squad already looks leagues above that which came before. There are now a majority of young promising professionals that are hungry to learn, and under Rafa’s tutelage, will make pretty decent Premiership players one day, and at the very least, might make us another cool 30 mill. It is hard to not overdo the praise for this man, but if the club hierarchy continue to allow Benitez to call the shots, we might be waving a salute to Sissoko (and some of the other greedy, lazy toe rags) on our way up in a few years time. Eee Eye, Eee Eye, Eee Eye Oh!
There are now a majority of young promising professionals that are hungry to learn, and under Rafa’s tutelage, will make pretty decent Premiership players one day
When Mike Ashley arrived at Newcastle, the club had one thing in abundance, potential. The team had been in the top flight of English football for many years, as always had a great fan base and Jake Swinburn boasted a host of international footballers Follow @jakeswinburn in their playing squad.
Ashley’s early days at Newcastle, while not a disaster, were, to say the least, eventful. His first transfer window at the club saw investment in the playing staff, with the likes of Joey Barton, Mark Viduka and Alan Smith brought in, by manager Sam Allardyce, alongside many other household names. It was, however, the change of manager that would be the biggest talking point of that season. Cult Kevin Keegan, still loved on Tyneside for his exciting, attacking football, came in to replace Allardyce, who had faced much criticism for his own, more pragmatic, style of football. Keegan’s second tenure would not last long though, after arriving on January 16th 2008, he was gone in the September, following a disastrous summer off the pitch. Chris Mort had left his role as Managing Director of the club and been replaced by Derek Llambias. Signings had been tf 40
made without Keegan’s permission, most notably Spanish Striker, Xisco, who joined for a relatively large fee from Deportivo La Coruna.
promoted in good style, at the first attempt before making a good start to life as a Premier League manager, before he too felt the wrath of Ashley’s axe.
Naturally, the fans sided with Keegan over this debacle and the owner, who had showed so much promise when arriving, was now left with his reputation in tatters and the fans against him.
After more underwhelming managerial appointments, mediocre seasons, poor decisions and listless football, we are brought nearly up to date. Newcastle fans had to wait until a second relegation was all but confirmed, last season, before any hint of forward
As if to make things worse, Joe Kinnear came in as manager and immediately turned on the local press, in an exceptionally explicit rant. The club never really recovered and despite the best efforts and intentions of the temporary manager, Alan Shearer, for the last period of the season, they were relegated to the Championship.
Ashley has now seemingly found the man he trusts to take the club forward and desperation or not, he has backed him well.
Chris Hughton took over as manager, after talks with Shearer broke down, getting the side
thinking was seen from Ashley. It did, however, eventually come. In March this year, superstar manager, Rafa Benitez was given control of the first team, in a desperate attempt to keep the club in the top flight. As we know, Benitez was unsuccessful and was not given ample time to achieve this. At the beginning of preseason, Mike Ashley was, for the first time in years, successful. He was successful, not only because he persuaded Benitez to stay and continue his work but because he gave the Spaniard full control over footballing matters at the club, so that he was able to mould the club to his own, very successful, image. Ashley has now seemingly found the man he trusts to take the club forward and desperation or not, he has backed him well. Benitez brought a number of quality players to the club in the summer, most notably Mo Diame, Matt Ritchie and Dwight Gayle and while the club turned over a profit of over Thirty Million Pounds in the summer, this seemed more like Benitez clearing out the dead wood than Ashley selling important players, as he has in the past. The season has started with a lot of promise, the style of football has changed, as have the playing staff and seemingly the philosophy of the club. There seems to be much more of a www.true-faith.co.uk
winning mentality, which will undoubtedly have been brought to the club by Benitez. Taking all of this into account, as well as some of Ashley’s other unforgettable, infuriating decisions. For example, the fiasco regarding the renaming of St James’ Park. Can Ashley be forgiven, now that he has employed a well-respected manager and given him the control that he needs to have a chance of making the club successful again? The short answer, in the eyes of many Newcastle fans, is probably a resounding no. One good summer does not negate the years of neglect that Ashley has showed to the club that he owns. Nor should it mean that supporters should readily forgive the contempt that he seemingly held them in for so long. However, it does seem like the penny has finally dropped with Mike Ashley, he seems to realise now that the biggest positive influence he can have on the club, is to relinquish control slightly and intrust
it to people with experience inside of the game. Ashley also seems to be realising that replacing departed players is vital to the success of the club, something else that he should not need to be commended for but after not doing it for so long, it does show that he is learning and improving as an owner. In addition to this, when looking at owners of some other clubs, perhaps Ashley is nowhere near the best of a bad bunch but he is not the worst either. Newcastle fans should be willing to forgive Ashley for his prior mistakes but only for as long as he continues to show the improvements needed to make himself and his football club more successful. Ashley must continue to back Benitez in the way that he has this summer, he must allow Benitez to work with minimal interference and must continue to invest in the playing staff. In summary, never has the famous phrase “forgive but never forget” been so apt in football.
However, it does seem like the penny has finally dropped with Mike Ashley, he seems to realise now that the biggest positive influence he can have on the club, is to relinquish control slightly and intrust it to people with experience inside of the game.
Football has evolved exponentially in the last 15-20 years. The money that has been pumped in to the Premier League by Sky and billionaire businessmen wanting a play-thing, has trickled down to the lower leagues over the last few years, meaning that the beautiful game is in danger of becoming ugly.
SUPPORTER OR CUSTOMER? As the finance levels and wages have propelled, often at the cost of the every day fan, the expectations have risen and the affinity between players and followers has never been further apart. This has led to the question - are we still a supporter or now a customer? Being a season ticket holder at St. James’ for over twenty years the money seems to have had a detrimental impact to both the atmosphere and attitude on a match day. Stadiums have let negativity creep in to football and nowadays it seems to have become more acceptable to hurl tf 42
abuse then encourage our XI. I can understand that a lot of this negative feeling in Newcastle’s case stems from years of underachievement. Being someone who was born in the mid 1980s I was lucky enough to be brought up watching some of the best football this club has ever witnessed. Peter Beardsley, Andy Cole and Les Ferdinand made me love my club and be proud to support my local team. When I went on holiday and people found out you were a black and white, they would instantly have something to say, even if it was just “Alan Shearer”.
In the years since Bobby Robson left, the club has begun to feel like a drag, falling from one over hyped disaster to another and losing some of the identity that made the club unique. Instant business-like results have become a necessity with every club, with it, a lot of the trickery and unpredictability in individual play has disappeared, which has not been helped with every club in the land adopting the defensive minded 4-5-1 formation.
Stadiums have let negativity creep in to football and nowadays it seems to have become more acceptable to hurl abuse then encourage our XI.
This ill feeling has found its way into our stadium with stray passes and www.true-faith.co.uk
unsuccessful take ons now greeted with a groan or tirade of negativity. My opinion has always been that professional footballers don’t have to be told if they’ve made a mistake, they will already know. If they don’t realise the leaders of the team or the manager should be telling them. Supporters are their to do exactly that, support.
In the football world, pundits criticise what a defensive player has done incorrectly to cause a goal rather than praise the fantastic piece of skill or instinctiveness that has actually led to the ball ending up in the back of the net. This has carried on to stadium level with some fans now seeing a distribution of blame represents knowing what you’re talking about.
The negative attitude in football seems to be indicative of that in society. The media is constantly fuelling an us vs them attitude against anyone who has made a success of themselves. Also since the emergence of social media, people seem to prefer to single people out for mistakes and hide behind a avatar than praise someone who has done something truly amazing.
A case in point at the moment is Paul Dummett. Granted, Dummett is not the best left back we have had at the club but you certainly can not complain about a lack of effort or a shirked tackle. He gives 100% every week. I doubt Rafa looks at him as his long term first choice but if he does see potential, I’m not going to disagree with a Champions League winner.
That said I’m not pretending
that I have never had dark days and given criticism not at all. I have booed at the final whistle and have criticised players but in a year that is one of the most important in our recent history, it is pivotal that we do all we can to get this club back where it belongs.That’s because if we fail this year, this club could be in serious trouble. Benitez will go and I’d be surprised if we can support the wages our sizable squad requires, meaning Lee Charnley will be looking to sell again and bring in players and a manager on a budget. Something that will fill a lot of fans with anxiety. Yes some results will be frustrating, some players will underperform but that is life. Players and staff alike will benefit a lot more from a positive atmosphere rather than a toxic one.
This ill feeling has found its way into our stadium with stray passes and unsuccessful take ons now greeted with a groan or tirade of negativity.
When I look back at my favourite game since the early 90s, the one that really springs to mind isn’t necessarily a spectacular result but to me highlights how powerful we can be together. The 4-4 draw with Arsenal will always be remembered by those who weren’t there as a collapse by Arsenal but I remember it as a club who had had enough bur saw a glimmer of hope. As soon as Diaby was sent off, even at 4-0, the belief and growing confidence from the crowd touched everyone wearing a black and white shirt. I have never seen an Arsenal team panic and pass the ball as poorly as they did in the final 20 minutes of that game and that
was purely down to the mood in the stadium. It made the Gunners suffocate. If we can do that to perennial Premier League contenders, imagine what we could do to Championship teams. Therefore if were not winning at home against so called inferior opposition, I think the best message is to resist booing off the team at half time and instead drive them on. The positive atmosphere generated by Gallowgate Flags is a great start but unfortunately the only thing that will improve the stadium is the attitude from within and forgetting previous heartbreaks. I know this will not
happen overnight and Mike Ashley’s years of content underinvestment and healthy balance sheets did make me fall out of love with my team and feel like a customer ploughing money in to an already wealthy man’s pocket. However the appointment and subsequent locking down of Rafa Benitez has made me feel like a supporter again. I trust we will get promoted this year, I believe we have the best squad in the Championship and I know we have the best manager. We now can cling on to something we haven’t had in a while - faith. So next time you go to a match leave the negativity behind and make Newcastle, United.
The positive atmosphere generated by Gallowgate Flags is a great start but unfortunately the only thing that will improve the stadium is the attitude from within and forgetting previous heartbreaks.
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.
T S A C D O P Y L TF WEEK W O H S O I D A R D AN We’re on Radio Tyneside every Friday 6:30-7:00pm and prematch every Saturday match at 13:30 listen on 1575 MW or online here.
Listen here The Podcasts regularly include guests and special
Like everything true faith does, they are absolutely FREE.
Our listeners tell us they variously listen to the true faith Podcasts via their smartphones on the way to and from matches via public transport, in the car, or
just as anyone would listening to the radio in the house etc The Podcasts aren’t a closed shop and if you would like to
join the podcasts as a contributor, just get in touch with Alex via the TF Weekly Podcast Twitter account and we’ll see what we can do.
NEWCASTLE UTD 3 BRENTFORD UTD 1 St. James Park, Sat 15th October, 3:00pm, Championship, Att: 51,885. For all the pre-season bravado about us waltzing the league, our first game served as a reality check as we lost at the Cottage in front of thousands of travelling Mags. We started with no less than five new signings on the pitch but it was the familiar failings on the road of profligacy in front of goal and leakiness in defence that saw us flop. In fairness, we weren’t helped by a terrible refereeing display that saw us denied at least two clear penalties. The first came in a poor first half when handball claims were waved away and we paid, conceding a poor goal on the stroke of half time, when giant Matt Smith headed home unmarked from a corner – the lad was a plank and Lascelles was nowhere near him. The second half was no better as we struggled to string
two passes together, with the midfield in particular devoid of any forward impetus – three holding midfielders at Fulham? If anything, they were marginally the better side but we could and should have levelled when Ritchie blasted straight at the keeper with the goal to aim at and we also had another good shout for a penalty when their centre half charged down Ritchie’s shot with his hand but in truth we weren’t good enough. For me, it’s not the worst thing in the world to get a kick up the arse at this early stage though. Newcastle United: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles (Hanley), Clark, Dummett, Atsu (Yedlin), Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran (Lazaar), Perez, Gayle Our Fans: 7 - Canny, with a few lulls in noise Their Fans: 7 - Good few of them, bit predictable with the songs Media View: ‘Gayle bags two more as Newcastle go second’ (Mirror) In-Form: Shelvey was tremendous Out of Form: No-one Rafa Watch: Another big tick in his box is the rejuvenation of Shelvey.
BARNSLEY 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 Oakwell, Tue 18th October, 7:45pm, Championship, Att: 18,597. A cracking night under the old fashioned Oakwell floodlights saw United climb to the top of the table in front of thousands of fans down from the North East. The first half was fairly non-eventful and we struggled to get much of a hold on the game, albeit a game that Barnsley also struggled to make a mark on.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 3 IPSWICH TOWN 0 St. James’ Park, Sat 22nd October, 3:00pm, Championship, Att: 51,963. A very straightforward victory saw us cement our place at the top against a poor Ipswich side. We took the lead inside a minute, before the visitors had even touched the ball after a lovely passing move that culminated in a Shelvey ball being knocked into the box by Dummett and steered home by Perez with a sidefoot volley. Lovely stuff. Ex-Mag Leon Best hit the bar for them in the first half but that was as threatening as they got. Into the second half and we doubled our lead with twenty minutes or so to go in a similar fashion to the first goal – the excellent Shelvey spraying a ball wide to Ritchie, whose cross was again steered home by Ayoze with a firm finish. The Spaniard returned the favour to the wing man with the magic hat when he played a one-two to leave Ritchie to complete the move with a fine effort curled into the bottom corner with the outside of his boot. We’ll definitely have tougher tests than this.
We didn’t have to wait long in the second period to take the lead though, our first coming from a really scrappy finish from on-fire Dwight Gayle in front of the travelling hordes. He scooped a finish high into the roof of the net after a scramble from a corner and we never looked back from there. The front man finished things off with a far more aesthetically pleasing finish with twenty minutes or so to go, latching on to a Ritchie through ball to lob the advancing keeper. From where we were stood in the away end, he looked second favourite to reach the ball when it was played, but his pace and composure was first class and I’ve noticed that he very very rarely misses the target when given an opportunity – he’s looking like a class act and we are looking the real deal. Newcastle United: Darlow, Anita, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu), Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran, Diame (Colback), Gayle. Our Fans: 9 - Magnificent, almost 6k under the floodlights in a proper away end. Their Fans: 7 – Dead canny bunch, I’ve got loads of time for them. Media View: ‘United go top and they’re loving life in the Championship’ (Chronicle). In-Form: Gayle looks the absolute business – his second goal looked even better from the away end. Out of Form: Diame laboured all night. Rafa Watch: Choked off any threat in the first half and we were comfortable by the end – tactically bang on. tf 48
Newcastle United: Sels, Anita, Mbemba, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Aarons), Shelvey, Hayden, Perez (Lascelles), Gouffran (Colback), Gayle. Our Fans: 7 – Canny Their Fans: 7 – Also canny Media View: ‘Perez and Ritchie honour Sir Bobby Robson’ (Guardian) In-Form: Great to see yon Ayoze back in the goals Out of Form: No-one played poorly Rafa Watch: Has got the best squad in the league but is enhancing them with his presence and nous. www.true-faith.co.uk
NEWCASTLE UNITED 6 PRESTON NE 0 St. James’ Park, Tue 25th October, 7:45pm, League Cup 4th Round, Att: 49,042. An amazing night at SJP saw us progress into the quarter final of the league cup in a love in featuring an incredible 50k supporters. Everything went right for us from the moment that Mitro headed home a precise Ritchie cross on 20 minutes and Diame made it two with arguably the goal of the night, crashed home from the edge of the box a few minutes before half time. He then pulled off without a doubt the miss of the night when he fluffed an open goal when it looked much harder to fail to score but we were cruising at 2-0 at half time. The only nonsense of the night saw Mitro fighting Ritchie over taking a penalty shortly after the restart but the magic winger telt him to fuck off and stroked a fine spot kick home – silly really. To his credit, Mitro didn’t sulk and scored a remarkable goal almost straight after, beating what seemed like half a dozen defenders inside the box in
a rare show of style and subtlety before crashing in for 4-0. Diame scored another beauty with a few minutes to go, curling an effort into the far corner and Ayoze rounded things off, sidefooting home a cleared corner in stoppage time with the game famously ending with Mitro dancing on the pitch to ‘his’ song. Brilliant. Newcastle United: Sels, Yedlin, Mbemba, Hanley, Dummett (Anita), Ritchie (Perez), Colback (Shelvey), Hayden, Atsu, Diame, Mitrovic. Our Fans: 10 - Fantastic, an amazing turn out for this stage of the competition and a genuinely memorable night. Their Fans: 7 - Canny midweek away turnout and fair play to the ones that stayed to the bitter end. Media View: ‘Magpies run riot to reach EFL Cup Quarter Final’ (Mirror). In-Form: Everyone - Ritchie probably nicked Man of the Match for me. Out of Form: In a six nowt win? Rafa Watch: The attendance spoke volumes about what he’s doing for this club and city.
PRESTON NE 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 Deepdale, Sat 29th October, 3:00pm, Championship, Att: 20,724. A fairly forgettable game saw United run out as winners against PNE for the second time in a week, but without any of the swagger that we displayed days earlier in NE1. After a belly full of ale in a grim looking Preston on a dank and drizzly day, nearly 6,000 Mags struggled to stay awake in a first half that could only really be described as boring. Rafa knows exactly what he’s doing though – without trying to sound like some Billy Big Bollocks prick, NUFC are a big draw on the road and there’s nowt wrong with taking any sting out of our opponents to hit them in the second period and cometh the hour (goal time related pun), cometh the man when Mitro scored a great goal, taking a ball from Ritchie in his stride before planting his shot low in the bottom corner to send a packed away end mental. He made it two with twenty minutes to go, bulleting a header from a Yedlin cross straight at their keeper and then following in his fumble to tap in from an inch out. We looked comfortable for the win but they really rallied in the last ten minutes and hit the post, pulled a goal back just before stoppage time and put our hearts in our mouths when they had a decent looking penalty appeal turned down but everything is going our way at the minute – funny how that happens when you’re top of the league eh?. Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin (Hanley), Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu), Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran, Diame, Mitrovic (Perez).
Our Fans: 9 - Another whopping away turnout, some ale had been sunk. Their Fans: 6 - Hoying a coin off Yedlin’s heed wasn’t owa clever. Media View: ‘Mitrovic at the double as ugly coin throwing as ugly coin throwing scenes mar win’ (Express). In-Form: Mitrovic took his goals and led the line very well. Out of Form: Shelvey had one of his quieter games and Diame was poor again. Rafa Watch: The contain in the first half/capitalise in the second routine is working a treat.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 CARDIFF CITY 1 St.James’ Park, Sat 5th November, Championship, Att: 51,527. We ground out yet another victory on our best run in years but with some tired legs after a non-stop run of games, there were some tired legs by the end. We got off to another lightning start and were ahead inside three minutes. Mitrovic turned provider after his purple patch of late, rolling defenders in the box before unselfishly squaring for Atsu to finish. The half was almost too easy for us at times and Cardiff looked every inch a side at the bottom of the second tier and with United still in second gear, we doubled our lead moments before the interval when Gouffran steered a ball from Yedlin low into the bottom corner. The second half was a different kettle of fish though and Cardiff gained a foothold in the game – there seemed nothing to be nervous about though until they pulled one back with a quarter of an hour to go, when Whittingham fired in from the edge of the box but
despite a couple of hairy moments late on, we were able to hang on for another three points to stretch our lead over the chasing pack. The break will do us all good – the players to get their strength back and the fans to give their livers a rest!. Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Lascelles, Clark, Dummett, Atsu (Diame), Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran (Anita), Perez, Mitrovic. Our Fans: 7 - The flags at the start were mint. Their Fans: 2 - Shite turnout, thought better of them. Media View: ‘Atsu and Gouffran earn Magpies seventh straight Championship win’ (Mail). In-Form: Clark has been excellent since coming in and is on a really good run of form. Out of Form: Shelvey, Perez and Mitrovic were all quiet. Rafa Watch: The team are probably ready for a rest during the international break but the run he’s taken us on over the past month and a bit has been.
LEEDS UNITED 0 - 2 NEWCASTLE UNITED Elland Road, Sun 20th November, 1:15pm, Championship, Att:36,002 Another trickly looking fixture and another comfortable victory that stretched our lead at the top to five points. After a remarkably sedate journey to (and from) the city centre to the ground, Leeds were subdued on the field as well as we were all over them for the first quarter of the game and our pressure finally told in bizarre circumstances when Rob Green characteristically flapped a long ball from Colback to Gayle, who tapped in from about an inch out. They had their only real spell of pressure in the 15 minutes leading up to half time but we went in deservedly ahead.
We killed the game off within ten minutes of the restart with a really well worked goal, when some lovely fluid passing put Anita in out wide and his perfect square ball was knocked in by Gayle. He might have had a few of his gnashers knocked out in Liverpool but he’s owt but toothless in front of goal. We coasted the rest of the game and in the end it was all very routine. Nine wins on the bounce and no sign of stopping any time soon. Newcastle United: Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback (Hayden), Shelvey, Gouffran (Diame), Perez, Gayle (Mitrovic). Our Fans: 9 - Outsang them. Their Fans: 7 - The least intimidating visit I’ve ever had there. Media View: ‘Gayle’s double secures another Toon win as fans unite in memory of Gary Speed’ (Telegraph). In-Form: Another two for Gayle as the stand out. Out of Form: No-one, it was an excellent team performance. Rafa Watch: Just gets better and better. Gareth Harrison - Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892
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In the dark days of early 2015, I’d finally had enough. Years of incompetence, unnecessary upheaval, and taking my support for granted had ground me down. Ashley, Kinnear, Pardew and Carver had done what Westwood, McKeag, McGarry, McFaul and all the rest could not. I’d given up. I left the ground one day and walked out on my season ticket with several games to go and resolved not to return until there was real change. Now with Benitez here and the upturn in mood he’s brought, is that enough to make me and thousands like me return?
The Prodigal Returns Mark Brophy
We’d had bad times before at Newcastle, sure. My forty years of support had seen plenty of catastrophic decisions, settling for mediocrity or worse, and players and staff who were a disgrace to their position. It really wasn’t just getting beaten every week. The difference this time was the sense of having the mickey taken out of me. That the club thought they could do what they liked, skimp on what was required, leave the club unfit to compete and I’d just keep on turning up and giving them my money. One of the big complaints about football in the modern era is that fans should be more than customers, more than consumers of entertainment. In our case, tf 54
we were being treated neither as customers nor investors, both of whom are fully expected to withdraw their business if they aren’t satisfied. We were a cash cow, a source of inexhaustible funding. My part of the deal was to hand over the cash no matter what and that was the end of my involvement. No effort would be made to do what I wanted, no token gesture. We weren’t being treated as fans either, but with unconcealed contempt for our aims and wishes; as useful fools. Well, that money belonged to me, not them, and there was no way I was giving them any more of it while they acted that way. When McClaren was appointed that summer
and things started badly and got steadily worse, I knew I’d made the right decision, for me anyway. Tens of thousands of you didn’t agree and that’s fine. I wasn’t starting a campaign, just redefining my own relationship with the club, taking back control to coin a phrase. After over twenty years with a season ticket I’d be getting my football purely via the telly and local non-league games, and I hope you don’t think I’m gloating when I say I probably had a more pleasant season than most of you. But things did change at the end of last season. Those final 10 games following the arrival of Benitez, when we improved almost enough to achieve
When McClaren was appointed that summer and things started badly and got steadily worse, I knew I’d made the right decision, for me anyway. Tens of thousands of you didn’t agree and that’s fine. I wasn’t starting a campaign, just redefining my own relationship with the club, taking back control to coin a phrase.
an unlikely survival, brought hope within the failure. The summer following his acceptance of a permanent role has ramped up the encouragement. The squad has been transformed. Not in a flashy way, just filling gaps that have gaped at us for years, bringing in good players for the level we’re at, and getting rid of the so-called stars who’ve poisoned the atmosphere at the club for so long, those who don’t want to be here and those who simply aren’t good enough. The fact that we made a profit on our transfer dealings is neither here nor there really but all rolled together it’s a signifier that we seem finally, after many years, to be conducting ourselves the right way. Trying to build a balanced squad and first team rather than filling it with lopsided potential profit is breaking new ground for us but it’s a welcome development. Less obvious but just as important in its own way is the club’s recent deportment.
such a difference to the goodwill the club can generate. In short, it feels like the time could be right to make a fresh start. To forgive, to try again.
Representatives, and not just Benitez, saying and doing the right things around the region makes
In the change is that money
The fly in the ointment is that I’ve been fooled by Ashley too many times before. Every time things take a marginal turn for the better, every time we spend a bit of cash I think he’s got it at last, the penny has dropped and he’s realised that if he ran Newcastle United as a sporting endeavour rather than an exercise in balance sheet gymnastics he might actually make more money out of it. But he never has. Mike Ashley has always gone back to his old ways, the penny-pinching, the pointless gambles, the rash appointments. Why should this time be any different? If it’s not then temporary improvement shouldn’t sway those of us who have chosen to stop participating because of the way he runs things. end though, the that matters here it’s no longer the men who run the
football side of the club. They can set their budgets and plan their cashflows but it is Benitez who coaches and picks the team, Benitez who okays incomings and outgoings, and Benitez who sets the mood and the policy throughout the club. The only way Ashley could revert to type from his hands-off role would be to sack the manager, and he may be unpredictable but he’s not crazy. Now the football is overseen by someone to whom the football is what really matters, I’m prepared to break my self-imposed exile and I’d be surprised if others weren’t too. Indeed, I’ve already attended my first game in 18 months and what a change it was from the last one I saw before that. I might never get a season ticket again - my time away has shown me that I don’t need to attend every game to enjoy my football. If I go when I want to then the bond hasn’t been broken, just the leash has been lengthened and I always have the option of withholding my custom should the old mistakes crop up again.
Now the football is overseen by someone to whom the football is what really matters, I’m prepared to break my selfimposed exile and I’d be surprised if others weren’t too. Indeed, I’ve already attended my first game in 18 months and what a change it was from the last one I saw before that.
Have you ever been in a bar on a Saturday afternoon at 5:15pm (or post match for the modern kids) where a TV interview has hushed the whole bar with the exception of the odd person shouting ‘turn it up’?
In my last piece for this fine publication I suggested, Shearer aside, it’s the managers of our football club that have become heroes in our modern history rather than players. This has been backed up by the superb Gallowgate Flags Legends display coming up in the near future. Check it out and donate Again, I have found myself having to travel away on a Sunday afternoon for work. Hating hotel rooms I ventured out to find a local boozer to watch the Slovakia v England match. I’ll not lie during the game there was noise, passion, frustration and joy (at the end) while the game was on. However I am finding a pattern. Once the game is over no-one cares what players or the manager has to say. Music comes on and people get on with their lives. We have been no different in NE1 over the years. Let’s not kid ourselves. Not many people really cared with tf 56
what the likes of Allardyce, Roeder, Souness, Pardew and to some extent Chris Hughton (at the start of his reign) had to say.
this month. If you are in doubt of the credibility of the man check out the company he kept during the International break.
The reason in my humble opinion: Credibility. KK has it, Bobby has it (£10million good reasons proves this. Congratulations to everyone by the way @ SBRfoundation) and Rafa has it. People, not just punters like me and you, want to listen to what they say.
Football is a wonderful game and anyone who has played at any level will relate to the fact you will never win every game. Sometimes you lose when you don’t deserve to, sometimes you win when you don’t deserve, sometimes you get battered and you deserve it and other times you hammer another team when it all goes right. That’s the game we all love.
How many bars, clubs and households around the North East have went deathly silent when one of these people speak about our beloved game? Some enthusiastic nods and cheers after some great wins. Some nods and groans after an honest assessment after a defeat. You see we are not charlatans, we expect to lose the odd game and we expect honestly from players and managers. Rafa is the only second division manager to be invited to the UEFA elite coaches forum earlier www.true-faith.co.uk
That word credibility though. Rafa Benetiz has it. He has it in abundance. His CV speaks for itself. It’s in the public domain for all to see. This guy isn’t an Allardyce, Roeder, Souness and with the greatest respect a Chris Hughton. This is Rafa Benetiz. An unbelievable football manager. A Scouse mate of mine told me when he became
our boss that his tactics would frustrate us, he would be defensive when everyone in the stands would be quietly thinking ‘just go for it’. He also said that after 90 mins of this we would win a lot more games than we would lose as his attention to detail and ability to read a football game is second to none in world football. So far he has been spot on about Rafa 100%. So if we are 1 down, nils at half time or lose at full time lets not boo eh? It’s s**t! I promise you Rafa knows best.
That word credibility though. Rafa Benetiz has it. He has it in abundance. His CV speaks for itself. It’s in the public domain for all to see.
You all also know it as after the Brighton game my post match pint was interrupted by a 3 minute silence once Rafa appeared on the telly to give his thoughts on winning a game 2-0 without playing with a centre forward. What he has done with the squad over the summer is another article all together. Welcome Rafalution!
the tf 57
When Newcastle were last relegated in 2009, there was a myth (probably started by Mike Ashley) that the club shrewdly held on to a core of players deemed to possess the required character to take the club back to the top flight at the first time of asking. The truth was rather different.
Source for all transfers: www.transferleague.co.uk
SPENT FORCES ANDREW TROBE
The reality was that Newcastle’s finances were so crap at that time, Ashley tried to peddle every player he could possibly get cash for in order to recoup the costs of relegation. Viduka, Owen, Martins, Bassong, Beye and Duff were all sold in a fire sale for about £25m. It was later revealed that we would’ve even accepted £1m for Andy Carroll. Not a single player was purchased in that fateful summer (loanee Danny Simpson and Mike Williamson arriving later). The only players that we didn’t sell were those on long lucrative deals who were quite happy to see out their contracts picking up £60k a week in the Championship. And no tf 58
clubs were gullible enough to take them off our hands on similar wages. See Alan Smith as Exhibit A. We started the season without a recognised right back, with Nile Ranger as our only fit striker and an inexperienced caretaker manager in charge. Fast forward 7 years to our latest drop. Has anything changed with regard to our transfer strategy following relegation? Well, far from failing to buy a single player, Newcastle have actually managed to squeeze a dozen “over the line” during the summer for approximately £55m! How does that compare with other clubs in the Championship? Well, we’re top spenders in the Division. Indeed only 7 clubs in the
top flight have spent more. Hooray!. All hail King Mike?!! Well, not quite. Whilst Newcastle have undoubtedly spent pretty heavily in the summer and brought in a hatful of players, that isn’t quite the full story. They’ve also sold pretty heavily too. In
fact, no club in the UK has made more money from sales in the summer than Newcastle. Players out
Elias Fritjof Sørensen Daryl Janmaat
perennial under-achievers, Aston Villa. The table shows that they’ve spent nearly £40m more than they received. To put this in context, Newcastle could have spent an additional £70m to gain parity with Villa’s summer outlays. If that’d been the case, even I might have wagered some of my hard earned on a swift return to the top flight. And that’s not the full story. Aston Villa are a complete financial basket case. The latest accounts (14/15) are simply awful: the largest
loss in the Premier League, a decline in revenue, a wage bill that’s out of control, falling attendances, smallest cash balance in top flight, the list goes on and on. In short, they are probably in a similar, if not worse, financial position to NUFC in 2009. Any yet despite these financial shortcomings, they have still outspent NUFC on a colossal scale. How? It’s all down to the owners. Aston Villa are owned by an American, Randy Lerner,
who has been trying to sell the club for years without success. In 2015, Lerner was worth about £1b. Ashley was worth about £5.6b (although that wealth will no doubt have plummeted with the reduction in the Sports Direct share price). Like Ashley, Lerner obviously wants out yet his financial generosity to Aston Villa is eye-watering. The accumulated losses that Villa suffered had resulted in debt rocketing to £189.8m. Since then Lerner has capitalised £175m of that
Bottom of the transfer league. Boooo!
Now I personally don’t think we’ve done bad business in the summer and have brought in more cash than I would have expected for several of our underperforming “stars”. But let’s not try to dress this summer up in any other way than the facts reflect. In 2009, we made a profit on players following relegation of £25m. This summer we’ve made a profit on transfers of £30m.
Brighton & Hove Albion
So what’s the position once purchases and sales are factored in?
So what, I hear you cry? All clubs must go through this financial ‘balancing’ process following relegation. Well, let’s compare ourselves with fellow relegation sufferers, and www.true-faith.co.uk
debt reducing it to £30.6m. Capitalising basically means that he has written off the debt (it’s converted to shares which can only be recovered if he sells them). That debt is taken off the balance sheet. Contrast that with Ashley. NUFC’s net debt rose to £150m after relegation. In the last reported accounts (2015), that net debt has reduced to £80.7m. But unlike Villa, this debt has reduced on the back a painful exercise of reducing costs, selling players, increased profits, awful to watch football and two relegations. If Ashley had done the same as just about every other billionaire owner in the Premier and capitalised his loans to the club, Newcastle could have reinvested those profits in playing staff and we may not be in the position we find ourselves now. Lerner, despite the club making huge losses in the Premier (which will be even huger in the Championship) has refused to follow the Ashley model after suffering relegation(s). He has backed tf 60
the club with another huge cash influx to spend on players. It’s a remarkable gesture considering his own personal wealth (relative to Ashley) and the bottomless money pit that is Aston Villa. To be fair, Lerner’s problem historically hasn’t been his financial support for the club. It’s been backing the wrong managers with mountains of cash to purchase poor players. Ashley too has appointed some awful managers but maybe he has got lucky with Benitez (at time of writing, NUFC have moved up to 2nd whilst Aston Villa languish in 17th). It’s the ability of Benitez that has made Newcastle supporters optimistic about the future and persuaded the bookies to make them favourites for promotion. It‘s certainly not as a result of any financial backing from Ashley. Despite NUFC making a large profit in their last reported accounts, Ashley has chosen a familiar path to 2009. Maybe that gamble will pay off. It would
be churlish to say that Benitez has had to suffer the same restrictions as Chris Hughton did in 2009. He’s seemingly spent well and there’s competition for places at the club which we’ve not seen for some years. But the stakes are huge. The new TV deal in the Premiership is worth a minimum of about £115m. The TV money in the Championship is peanuts in comparison. We’ll pick up an estimated £38m (including £35m parachute payments) this season, a difference of £77m. And each successive season we fail to get promoted will mean that we get less in parachute payments so that gap will grow. Comparing Lerner’s and Ashley’s approach to relegation couldn’t be starker. Ashley want’s to minimise the financial loss and is prepared to gamble on promotion on the cheap. Lerner has shown that he is prepared to invest in the playing staff and to hell with the financial consequences. It remains to be seen who will prove correct.
If Ashley had done the same as just about every other billionaire owner in the Premier and capitalised his loans to the club, Newcastle could have reinvested those profits in playing staff and we may not be in the position we find ourselves now.
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.
What motivates our interest and preoccupation with football and Newcastle in particular? Are our feelings and concern for our football club any different to supporters of other clubs? Why do I feel motivated to read everything I can in relation to spurious news about the club at every opportunity? Why at this time of the season is an erstwhile thoughtful family man, so consumed and excited by the end of the phoney war of pre-season and the start of a new campaign? How has this football worm managed to lodge itself in my brain stirring up emotions over which I have so little control?
I AM A MAG! It is after all only football...... Was Bill Shankly right all along? Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it is much more serious than that. Let me put things in perspective. I’m a 57 year old man living in East Anglia. I call myself a Geordie, but I’m not. My Grandfather was born in Newcastle but my maternal family were South Yorkshire miners, my paternal grand father was a shop steward in the Welsh steel yards. When it comes to rugby I feel Welsh tf 62
through and through. My parents moved to the North Tyneside coast when I was 7 to pursue their teaching careers, fifty years ago! I remember the weekend we moved to Whitley Bay, meeting the local kids and thinking ‘what is this language they’re speaking?’. I quickly learned to understand them and I swiftly fell in love with the place. I adored living by the coast. My grandparents had moved up from Yorkshire with us and my grandfather and I used to enjoy going to the fish quay in Shields to watch the trawlers being
unloaded and the fisher women at work. I was out of the house all day in the holidays and weekends. I loved discovering Northumberland ( still my favourite county), the Borders, the proximity to the Lakes and Scotland, Durham. I was at home. I remember the launch of the big ships and the crowds that would gather. I remember the smell of the brewery when in the city with my Mum. I remember hearing the sound of a crowd when walking round the town centre and learning that it was the crowd at the football match cheering a goal.
I remember hearing the sound of a crowd when walking round the town centre and learning that it was the crowd at the football match cheering a goal. www.true-faith.co.uk
I enjoyed playing with a ball (any ball), I liked table tennis, tennis, cricket, rounders, and football. Wherever there was an open space boys would be kicking a ball around, sometimes the odd kid would be wearing a striped black and white shirt. I learned this was the kit of the local football team. Long Sands on a Sunday with a low tide would see half a dozen football matches with people,of all ages joining in. Anyone was welcome to join in these matches and they self refereed themselves with barely a complaint. The worst ‘injury’ would be when someone smeared themselves in dog s**t. Playing with friends just for the sheer joy of it till we’d run ourselves to a standstill. School was the same. We had no grass pitches to play on at breaks or lunchtimes so it’s would be a tennis ball and the concrete posts of the basketball hoops would suffice for goals, 40 a side. There was little football on tv but as I grew older an interest in football grew despite my fathers complete disinterest. I remember seeing pictures in the Journal of the beer bottles piled high after a big game against Rangers and the reaction of the locals as though they’d been invaded by the Picts once more. I was round my friend Graham’s house when the special colour edition of the Chronicle came out to celebrate winning the Fairs Cup. My interest was www.true-faith.co.uk
awakened...... What bad timing 3 is us started to go to Hillheads Park to watch Whitley Bay every other week. How we adored Billy Wright. We built up our rituals (Bovril, a pie and 10 fags between us) and got to know the characters in the ground. At 13 my best friends elder brother took me to my first match at St James’ a drab 0-0 draw with Coventry City. We all know how your first game can grab you, the journey, the build up, the walk up the back of the Gallowgate, the singing, the surges, the peanut sellers, the programme, the chats, the journey home, the massive crowds heading back into town, the Pink, the chat, the feeling of belonging, the shared experience. I was a Mag. A varied bunch of us would attend as many games as we could and it became a part of us, the worm began
to drill into our brains until it was securely lodged. Is the particular species that ‘infects’ the brain of a Newcastle supporter a distinct species? Are the symptoms any different to that of say a Hammer, a Gooner or indeed a Mackem. All football supporters share a focus for this disease. We all share a breadth of emotion over which we have little direct control. The emotions vary in degree and regularity depending upon the success or otherwise of the object of our attention.There has been many a time I wish I could have it removed, this part of the brain that is occupied by football. All of those afflicted with the same species of Newcastle worm are aware of the pain, disappointment and frustration that comes as a symptom. I don’t doubt that supporters of other teams go through the same range, but our ‘devotion’
I was round my friend Graham’s house when the special colour edition of the Chronicle came out to celebrate winning the Fairs Cup. My interest was awakened...
is rarely rewarded with the satisfaction of real success. We don’t know the impact that success may have on our general well being, quelling the sense of incompleteness. Along the years there have been moments of ecstasy (Hillsborough 74, Old Trafford Semi finals, hat tricks against Barcelona, thumpings of Spurs, Howay 5-0). There have even been periods of prolonged hope and excitement. Ultimately though (as we’re all too aware) there has been little proper tangible reward for the investment of time, money and emotion we have all made. Sunderland have had their FA Cup, Ipswich, Norwich, Derby, Forest, Portsmouth, Southampton, Whitley Bay and North Shields etcetera etcetera etcetera have all achieved a level of success that has evaded our club. Still the worm remains. Despite all we have been through in recent years since the awful sacking of Bobby Robson, a period in which we’ve endured one of the most solidly depressing periods in the clubs history. In the 50 years of worm infestation that I’ve experienced there have been bad times but this has been one of the worst. The flame nearly went out. Things were very bad. Here I am a 57 year old man on holiday with his family writing about this thing that semi haunts me ( am tf 64
I truly mad and deluded) and yet... and yet.... there is a glimmer of hope, the candle hasn’t completely extinguished, the worm has turned. I do believe that what we experience as supporters of our football team is unique. I believe that there is something special about Newcastle United. I believe that when properly harnessed there is a passion and power that cannot be matched. That is something that comes from the people who support this great club of ours. When I moved to the North East I learned that it is a unique and special place. The rich history of the region, the sense of place, it’s geography on the fringes of England, the social awareness of the people of the region, the shared camaraderie and shared economic experience of the last few decades. Yes, this football club holds too important a part in many of our lives. As Bobby Robson so famously put it (as we all know)...
It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.” I can’s speak for the world wide fan base, but what I do know (apart from some supporters who adopted us during the Keegan era in particular) is that if you approach someone
It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city.
“What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. www.true-faith.co.uk
wearing club paraphernalia (and remember I have lived in East Anglia all my working life) invariably they or their family will be from the North East or they will have lived, studied or worked in the area. We’re not a glamorous club (certainly in recent decades). This attachment of the club to a historically and regionally bonded supporter base is what makes us different too. In my supporting life time we have had a number of managers who probably understood this, Harvey, McFaul, Roeder, Keegan, Robson and Finally Rafa. The structure and ownership has not always been set up for success and success has certainly not been easy to produce. Is it finally possible that the Stars have aligned? Has Ashley finally realised the benefits he could recoup by ‘getting it right’.? The reflected impact on his awful company could be huge in a truly positive way. He can make money from us ( look where we were in terms of global incomes amongst football clubs during the peak of the Keegan period) we know that’s part of the deal. He could undo all the damage he’s done and change how he is viewed by the wider public (if this interests him at all). We finally have some hope. We have a manager with integrity. A man who does understand what position www.true-faith.co.uk
this club holds in the community in which it is based. He understands that a club is not just the 11 mercenaries (and this has been the case on too many occasions) who represent us on the pitch. A club is a part of the community, it does matter and when properly run can take a leading role. Rafa and his family understand this, his daughters (apparently) played a large part in persuading him to stay. His wife does a lot of excellent charity work in the North West. Rafa too was a strong supporter of the ‘Justice for the 96’ campaign. He knows that despite the marketisation of football, in the lives of those (of all denominations) infested by their particular species of football worm, that it means more than just entertainment. God knows there have been so many occasions
when entertainment is not the most appropriate descriptor for what we’ve endured and witnessed on the pitch. If it was purely entertainment the stadium would barely have been filled. Our infestation is a particularly bad case and has been nearly fatal to the body politic. Please help ease our suffering Rafa, we are behind you and together we are united. We can make our club something to once more be proud of. We know you get this Rafa, I only hope you can get it across to the players you’re in charge of. If they start to get it right this could be the best period of their footballing careers, the time when they have the pleasure of playing in front of a public who, believe you me, will give you loud and long support if you only give us something to get behind.
We finally have some hope. We have a manager with integrity. A man who does understand what position this club holds in the community in which it is based. tf 65
Postcards F rom The Edge Paully
So winter is upon us; Greggs are selling their Festive Bakes; that annoying period when fireworks are blasted off every night for about two weeks which causes dogs to drop even more turd on to footpaths has thankfully been and gone and all is absolutely wonderful at the black and white parish. Reverend Rafa has us perched at the top of the league and we are currently eight (well, nine when you factor in our goal difference) points clear of third top which is remarkable considering our opening two defeats. The so-called expert pundits (a.k.a gobshite bellends) who deemed that Rafa would completely flop in the Championship have crawled back under their shabby rocks. They came up with this warped theory that he would fail due to the fact that he had no experience of managing in this league. Yes, that’s right. The highlyrespected coach who has won 11 major trophies both domestically and in Europe for teams in the three big European leagues would struggle to adapt to the second tier of English football. I don’t even think that the new president of the USA would come out with such ludicrous bollocks. It’s like saying “McIlroy has shot some wonderful rounds at the likes of St. Andrews and Augusta but would he be able to do likewise at Heworth Golf Club?” or “O’Sullivan has won hundreds of matches and hit two 147 breaks at the
Crucible Theatre but would he be able to perform on the green cloth at the Newcastle Labour Club?”. They also didn’t bother looking at Rafa’s managerial C.V to find out that he already has one promotion under his belt during his only season at Tenerife. We’ve played some cracking stuff especially at home and we’ve already dished out two 6-0 obliterations and it would not have flattered us in either if we had of hit double figures. We are currently averaging 2.3 points and 2.2 goals per game and that physics-defying injury-time comeback at home to Norwich looks absolutely vital. If they had of held on to their lead then they would have ended the match seven points ahead of us. That defeat seems to have hit them harder than a hammer-blow that MC Hammer in his prime could not have delivered and as things currently stand we are 10 points ahead of them. It has given us a humongous impetus and we have since won the following seven matches and have barely been troubled bar www.true-faith.co.uk
goals; 85 golden boots in both of the Premier League and La Liga and an array of Ballon d’Or trophies that you could not fit inside of Nellie the Elephant’s humongous trunk but they will struggle to adapt to the Championship – EXPERT PUNDITS VERDITCT – FLOP SIGNINGS”.
Remember how the rest of the country reacted to our fans being completely exasperated of watching dour, turgid hoofball as well as constantly listening to smarmy bullshit waffle from that obnoxious lid-piece who currently (well, he might not be by the time you read this) manages Palace? www.true-faith.co.uk
some idiotic decisions by the officials. The standard in the Premier League doesn’t seem so bad having witnessed many bewildering decisions this season. One of the Cardiff forwards was level with me in the 4th row of the Gallowgate yet the linesman failed to flag. I assume he thought that as we were cruising, Lascelles had nipped away early for his half time pint so kept his flag down. Our two big summer signings were always going to stand out in this league similar to a giraffe at a penguin convention (that’s the animal and not the delightful teadunking biscuit). Both Gayle and Ritchie have good records in the top flight and more importantly have previous experience in this league if you believe the so-called expert pundits. I’m so pleased that we didn’t sign Ronaldo and Messi in the summer as both singings would have been ridiculed due to the fact that neither have played in the Championship before. “They may have a combined 2.1 billion Champions League
Both singings look a class apart as does Harry Potter’s archenemy in the middle of the park. He came back in the summer looking leaner than an anorexic sausage dog and in far better shape than when he arrived in January. He is dictating proceedings in a swaggering nonchalant fashion and he really should play with a cigar in his gob whilst reading a copy of the current month’s ‘Mammoth Melons’ (TITS OOOOOT). His switching of play and cross-field passes are sublime and he could quite easily pick out the back an extremely small ladybird from 70 yards. The signing which has pleased and certainly surprised me the most is Ciaran Clark. Most of our fans seemed underwhelmed when he signed probably due to the reaction of the Villa fans who were ecstatic to see him leave. I’ve got no time for those tossers but I always take on board opposition fans’ opinions on their players or managers as they watch their team every week. Remember how the rest of the country reacted to our fans being completely exasperated of watching dour, turgid hoofball as well as constantly listening to smarmy bull-shit waffle from
that obnoxious lid-piece who currently (well, he might not be by the time you read this) manages Palace? “Deluded Geordies” they bellowed; “Be careful what you wish for as you won’t get better” they screamed. Of course, we knew better as we had to put up with the nonsense. Clark looks very assured and his leadership qualities are evident to see and the fact that the Chancellor is getting nowhere near the team speaks volumes of his performances. I’ve criticised Charnley quite often in the past so it’s only right that I praise him when he deserves it. Rafa speaks very highly of him and it seems that he was pivotal in convincing Ashley to bin his idiotic blueprint and allow Rafa complete control so fair play to the shiny-headed speccy one for that. Both Ashley and Charnley must surely know that they have hit 24 Jasper Carrott gold with Rafa. Not only has he galvanised a club that has been firmly rooted to a life support machine for several years but he also brought a humongous feel-good factor to the whole of the city. He is fully aware of how important it is to unite the club with the local community and it’s easy to see how the Liverpool fans loved him just as much for his human side as for his tactical side. If Ashley screws this up then the club is dead and for once I am totally confident that he will not. As I’ve said that, no doubt Joe Kinnear will be in charge by the time you read this. tf 67
SEASON two points ahead of West Bromwich Albion.
Players: Mutch, Hampson, Hudspeth, Mooney, Spencer, Gibson, Low, Cowan, Harris, McDonald, Seymour, Bradley, Hunter, Keating, Urwin, Clark Jr., Tate, Curry, Russell, Mitchell, MacKenzie, Maitland, Loughlin Division: First Division. A better finish than last year’s 9th placed finish, as United finished 6th, picking up 48 points from 42 games. Huddersfield won their second-ever title, the second coming a year after they won the league last year. They won the league with 58 points from 42 games, coming in
Manager: You know the drill. Directors Committee. It was ever thus.. Trainer/Coach: After last year’s F.A. Cup win, it was no surprise that James McPherson continued in his role as trainer/coach of the players on our books. This was his 22nd season in the role. Highest Attendance: 52,000 was the biggest attendance we got in the league, as you would expect, it was for the derby. Newcastle beat Sunderland 2-0 in the middle of February, Cowan and Urwin with the goals. Including the cup, a gate
of 58,713 surpassed our home derby. A 2nd round draw at home to Leicester was the occasion. Lowest Attendance: A crowd of 8,000 saw our final home game of the season in mid-April, with the season having fizzled out. United lost 1-0 against a Bolton side who would go on to finish 3rd, 3 points behind Champions Huddersfield. On the road, a crowd of 5,066 at Bury saw a 0-0 draw in February. Bury would finish one place above us come season’s end. Average Attendance: Our average gate grew by about 200 from last season’s cup win. 26,019 was the official average attendance in 21 home league games. If you throw in two home cup games against Hartlepools United and Leicester City, the figure jumps to 27,902. Best win: Plenty of threegoal wins this season, but only one four-goal victory. An early season 4-0 home
trouncing of Blackburn Rovers was not only our biggest win, but our first victory of the season after a run of four games without a win to start the season. Neil Harris was the hero on the day, bagging a hat-trick. We also won the home derby this season, running out 2-0 winners as Cowan and Urwin got the goals. Worst defeat: United were never really spanked this season, but did suffer two 0-3 reverses towards the back end of the season as our hopeful title challenge fell off track. In late-February, we lost by that scoreline away to Cardiff, a disappointing result as the Welsh side would only finish mid-table. Mid-April also saw us fall 0-3, away to Tottenham Hotspur. This defeat came two games after we occupied top of the table as the season drew to a close, so was a killer. Spurs would finish one place behind Cardiff, www.true-faith.co.uk
and wouldn’t pull up any trees. Leaving United to curse their performance. Something of Interest: A case of ‘what if’ this season, as United led the pack with five games to go, only to falter down the home straight, gaining only three points from a possible 12 and finishing way off the pace. Three consecutive wins in the space of 14 days (Preston at home, 3-1; Burnley away 3-1; Leeds United at home 4-1) raised optimism on Tyneside that the Black and Whites were going to follow up last season’s cup success with a league triumph, but it wasn’t to be and defeats in four out of the final five games dropped us down to 6th as team of the moment, Huddersfield, picked up the trophy once again. Mentioned in Dispatches: Over the years, certain defenders, usually the two full-backs, could catch forwards out with a well-drilled offside trap. Year after year, United, and their full-backs in particular, were fantastic at this. The full-backs of Hampson, Hudspeth and McCracken devised the plan and it worked to perfection. Teams around the land tried to copy it. Despite finishing 6th, United only conceded 42 goals this season. However, it would all change. With many clubs trying to do employ the same tactic, it effected the spectacle of the game. The law-makers would change the rules at the end of the season to www.true-faith.co.uk
Over the years, certain defenders, usually the two full-backs, could catch forwards out with a welldrilled offside trap. Year after year, United, and their full-backs in particular, were fantastic at this. The full-backs of Hampson, Hudspeth and McCracken devised the plan and it worked to perfection. ensure a more attacking game on the field. National Interest: John Logie Baird successfully transmits the first television pictures with a greyscale image.. In October, the first double decker bus with a covered top deck was rolled out in London.. The carmaker, Vauxhall Motors of Luton, is bought out by American giant General Motors for $2.5m.. Footballer Nat Lofthouse was born this year.. As was ex Prime Minister Margaret
Thatcher *spits*.. Regional Interest: The Hatton Gallery in Newcastle (part of what would later become Newcastle University) is opened. It is still open today and one of the city’s most important and frequently visited. Work begins on a suspension bridge between Gateshead and Newcastle. It would later become known as the “Tyne Bridge”. Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892
Sometimes we need to look in the most unexpected places to address an issue that is close to home. When everything seems to be all too be much (man), there is comfort, and sometimes insight or salvation to ut found in attending to a private passion, or hobby. We often read abo fing the nefarious goings on of the neo-liberal elite, what with them stuf s themselves full of prawn and mayo sandwiches or ransacking minibar The in discreet roadside motels in Gloucestershire or other such places in Home Counties. Taking the pressure off running the world, and dealing re. with financial meltdown and the rise of the new right must be a cho We can forgive them their odd indulgence. My grandfather used to tend ng his tomatoes and dream of the 1945 landslide on his allotment in Felli daft during the icy apogee of Thatcherism. I read stupid books or listen to records when I need to sort something out. In my roundabout way, I want to address an issue that is puzzling me. I want to have a word about mobile phones at fitba’ matches. Of course, mobile phones are useful and they can do a lot of good in this crazy world of ours. But, at the match, they are queering the pitch [sic!] and making the simple
unnecessarily complicated. So I’m going to use one of my private passions to build up to a clumsy metaphor about mobiles, all the while employing a intellectual French author. The sort of person people like Iain Duncan Smith spent his adult life warning you about. That person is Georges Perec, and
the book I’m going to write Nothing wrong with that about is Life A User’s Manual. of course (and yes, I SAID THERE’S NOTHINGWRONG Perec’s book is brilliant WITH THAT). But you should but not one for the faintexpect leisurely disputations hearted. In short, it’s human that go nowhere in particular, life as described through a and a lot of big words. It’s a block of flats in Paris. And ally daft undertaking (unsurprisingly), it’s very heroic of the most useless French which I admit, may and full facts and anecdotes ever sound a wee collated. I imagine it to be bit highbrow. an intellectual, non-football
the d n a l a u n a M s r e s U Mobiles, Life A dy and La h ic w d n a S f o s e s Strange Ca
n a M g o D Hot
RICHARD FOSTER Incendiary Magazine
Now, I can just about fathom the lunatics going mad on Twitter about a game they cannae see, because they are lunatics. But when I read in one match report of Callous Gadfly Youths watching their screens at the match, I think a point of order has to be raised. take on the inside of John Motson’s head. Perec was a lexophile and delighted in resurrecting obscure terms that had lost their relevance. We get treatises on obsolete words such as URSULINE (fem. nn.) which, we learn, is a “Small ladder leading to a narrow platform onto which fairground gypsies had their trained goats climb.” “Readers with long memories” may also think of the ‘Tunnel of Goats’, an entertainment appearing in an early episode of popular comedy programme, Father Ted.Was there a lost Romany connection between the two entertainments? We can only guess. It’s not a book you can take down the Metro Centre to show off with, that’s for sure. But once sucked in, it’s difficult to shake Life A User’s Manual off. We get stories of love, and loss, the ambitions and tribulations of the building’s inhabitants (past and present), presented through their personal belongings, obscure terminology, or accumulated bric-a-brac. Other chapters highlight the emotional and financial cost (and, ultimately, the www.true-faith.co.uk
downright irrelevance) of those worldly possessions and opinions we all hold dear. Its greatest lesson (if we can take lessons from weirdo things such as books) is that patience and tolerance of life itself is the key. Things and people come and go and although we do rage on, especially at closing time, ultimately we all turn to dust. We are cast back into the firmament to reform elsewhere; maybe as an itchy fibre in a pair of John Carver’s socks, or a shopping bag blowing down the West Road. The reason I’m rabbiting on about this tome so much is that the title is good. Very good in fact. I think quite a number of us could try to get our own users manuals in order at the moment. After all, we don’t all want to be like Wiggy across the pond, now do we? And we can apply this resolve to one thing that touches on our beloved football club. Forget for a moment if you will the impending wars over oil and gas resources, ongoing religious conflicts, climatebased disasters, Gobs**tes like K Hopkins, G Wilders, P Moron and N Farage, they
are just symptoms of an overheated and feverish age. We fans have a more pressing problem. Namely, our ways of watching the match. Or, commenting on the match via Social Media, using mobile phones. Now I know our attempts to be involved nowadays are many and varied. And they stretch back years and via other mediums; back to transistor radios hidden in pockets at weddings, or watching 70% of the back of someone’s head and 30% of a small TV, 30 yards away in a pub. I also know many can’t get to the game. I speak as a European exile, who can get to 2 or 3 games a year. So when we do go, we should embrace it, surely. We all know that watching at the match is very different than watching on any tellybox.
It is a sensual, thoroughly immersive experience made all the more ‘artisan’ with a full bladder. It’s the reason why you pay your money. Now, I can just about fathom the lunatics going mad on Twitter about a game they cannae see, because they are lunatics. But when I read in one match report of Callous Gadfly Youths watching their screens at the match, I think a point of order has to be raised. Why in Jesus Harry Krishna’s name pay to go to the game just to stare at your phone? It’ll be VR headsets and a comeback for nylon polonecks before we know it. Having said all that… Periscope, I like. Periscope I forgive, and see as an extension of the gig economy; a sort of free Air
BnB whereby those like me noticed the paucity - nay, total can get a view of the match lack - of pictures of Messrs in a sort of virtual fan setting. Ashley and Charnley. This low The very waywardness of profile has, oddly enough, the lens sometimes mirrors been mirrored in our Dear in-ground experiences too. Leader’s work life recently. I There’s always some daft think this may be down to twit in front of the camera, his ongoing conversation with and you get long stretches our elected representatives. I of Karl Darlow looking feel for Mike Ashley. We fans bored, or a steward whose of the football club he runs antics plainly mark him out are well aware that he can as a moron, and it’s all the be a tad misunderstood in more entertaining for that. his dealings with those he Further, I think I may have doesn’t know socially. Just stumbled on a way to screw think, for a moment of his some money out of a well- mishandling of Alan Pardew, meaning arts council,or guilt- a haute couture prophet and laden, post-Brexit, “keep footballing genius whose the natives quiet through major failing was a simple, the arts” Government boyish love of the tanning initiative, through using bottle. A throwaway vanity Periscope. Imagine the that Mike never understood. Sage or somesuch white- We need say no more. It walled ivory tower hosting seems Mike has unwittingly an installation of 20 or 30 slipped up a bit again. Take different Persicope streams, this Sandwichgate kerfuffle s blown up to over 20 feet reported in the dailie the high, of Newcastle United recently. I am certain that of away at somewhere like sandwich lady at the centre perly Ipswich, or Barnsley. I the row had been impro who know many an arty type briefed by an underling y’s who would thrill at the misinterpreted Mr Ashle a selfie ‘dissonant dichotomies instructions to get Mike thrown up by the multiple with all those MPs. it when he interfaces, the realtime could then look at business projection of the societal came back from the place that trope of displacement in a meeting in the ly, as far new space’. Hmm. All we was, so unfortunate MP delegation need are 30 Mags prepared away from the all know the to Periscope and a platform, as possible. We ss makes. But or “App” (as I believe they demands busine to the sandwich are called) able to present to return s. Leaving the all the streams together at lady’s action the seat in the once. Surely we can find a camera under - I am certain - the teenager to do this for free? room is result of a devastatingly simple Sandwichgate command reduced to farce by Some “eagle-eyed readers” a series of misunderstandings. of the last edition of this And one exacerbated by mighty magazine may have those with a less than full tf 72
Gaye Su Akyol - Hologram grasp of the essentially British social sensitivities round such a request. And we may rest assured that Mr Ashley, an astute businessman, upstanding member of society and well known benefactor of the sporting institution known as Newcastle United football club, will no doubt have been appalled - nay, floored - at behaviour which came remarkably close to something out of a Cold War Spy thriller. The subject of secrecy always reminds me of Hot Dog Man, who used to stand on the Barrack Road on match days in the 80s. I remember him as a sallow
sort of chap, looking like an extra in Brighton Rock. He never caught your eye, and had hands faster than a greased rabbit pelting out of a trap. His “Thing” was to give you the wrong change for the portion of reheated, processed beef/ chicken gelatine amalgam in a bun, otherwise known as a Hot Dog. What on earth happened to him? To ‘mark’ Donald Trump’s election here is a selection of music from radical Women artists from around the world, all of whom are making miles better records than him.
Group A - Deadly 16
Jessy Lanza - Oh No Carla Dal Forno - You Know What It’s Like
Maarja Nuut & Hendrik Kaljujärv - Muutuja
Klara Lewis - View
Cosey Fanni Tutti - Wired
Melanie De Biasio - The Flow
Moor Mother Goddess - Chain Gang Quantum Blues
Holly Herndon - Interference Kaitlyn Aurelia Smith - Anthropoda www.true-faith.co.uk
Having ended the 2000-01 season in 11th place for the 2nd successive year, there was an air of despondency amongst Newcastle United supporters who had expected manager Bobby Robson to rebuild the side at a similar pace to what Kevin Keegan achieved in the early 1990’s.
Marc Corby Follow on @NUFC_1980_1994 Despite ending the season with 3 wins and 3 draws in the final 7 games, the jury was still out on Carl Cort, a £7 million signing the previous summer, who, despite returning from injury to score 5 in the final 10 games, was evidently not the striker to partner an aging Alan Shearer up front. Following Everton’s Francis Jeffers refusing to talk to United despite having a bid accepted and Leeds adamant Michael Bridges was not for sale, Robson turned his attention to tf 74
Coventry City’s Craig Bellamy in an apparent change in direction aiming to utilise pace and power in an attempt to challenge for honours. United were unsuccessful in attempts to sign the Welsh International the previous summer when the board failed to release fund’s quick enough and Robson couldn’t persuade Bellamy to go against a verbal agreement with The Sky Blue’s manager Gordon Strachan. Making his name at Norwich
before a £6 million move to The Midlands, would later describe his only season at Highfield Road as “a backward step” in a dressing room that included “bitter players” jealous of his wages. Having missed numerous chances when facing The Magpies in Coventry colours and scoring only 6 goals that weren’t enough to stop City being relegated, supporters weren’t overly optimistic on the new £6.5 million signing. Aware of previous incidents in Bellamy’s ‘edgy’ career thus far, Robson “relished www.true-faith.co.uk
An unfortunate sending off, later rescinded, at Arsenal didn’t stop a 3-1 win that ended a run of 30 winless games in the capital and a rampant Newcastle, with Bellamy scoring, would win from a losing position for a 3rd successive game when defeating Leeds 4-3 in the last minute. the challenge” of “altering a players character, mould him and get the best out of him.” When an unspectacular start returned only 1 goal in 6 Intertoto Cup games which was a fortunate deflection in a 1-0 win over Lokeren, supporters pessimism appeared to be well founded. Despite failing to lose a game, United crashed out of the Cup a few days after the season’s opening league game at Chelsea (1-1). However supporters would witness Bellamy’s main attribute, his pace, in the Tyne-Wear Derby at the end of August. Racing through to equalise thanks to a sublime through ball from fellow summer signing Laurent Robert, relieved Mags were content at stopping the visitors winning for a 3rd successive season at St James Park and Bellamy bought himself time on the terraces.
4 goals for Bellamy in the League Cup included an extra time hat-trick as substitute v Brentford before United would eventually bow out at Chelsea in the Quarter Finals. However 7 wins from the following 11 league games returned a further 4 league goals including 2 quality finishes against Peter Schmeichel and Aston Villa. Somewhat overlooked thanks to a sublime Shearer strike in United’s 3-0 victory, the goals showed the new signing at his very best. Despite Bellamy going through a barren spell, United side won 5 in a row and went top of the Premier League before Christmas. An unfortunate sending off, later rescinded, at Arsenal didn’t stop a 3-1 win that ended a run of 30 winless games in the capital and a rampant Newcastle, with Bellamy scoring, would win from a losing position
for a 3rd successive game when defeating Leeds 4-3 in the last minute. Bellamy strikes in the New Year at home to Leeds and Bolton as well as at Tottenham contributed towards 31 points achieved from the 39 available. A run of 8 wins in 9 undefeated games in all competitions left United in 2nd place, 3 points behind leaders Man United and in the FA Cup Quarter Finals. One of 4 players sent home from a winter break in Spain for failing to attend a meal in honour of Sir John Hall and cautioned for common assault on a woman following an incident outside of a Newcastle nightclub in February, Bellamy’s year would quickly get worse when picking up a knock in a 1-0 win at the stadium of light. Bellamy’s importance to the team became more apparent as United lost the following 2 league games, tf 75
crashed out of the FA Cup in a replay at Arsenal and won only 1 in 6 as title aspirations all but ended. Returning as substitute in a 2-2 draw at Blackburn, it was somewhat fitting that Bellamy, soon to be named PFA Young Player of the Year, played a small part in a night of great celebration as The Mag’s clinched Champions League Qualification for a 2nd time. Later speaking of Robson’s influence on his rapid progression, Bellamy would admit, “He would talk to me like I was the best player in the world and I went out at St James’ Park feeling like I was going to play like the best player in the world.” Ending the season in 4th place, Bellamy’s 14 goals from 37 starts in all competitions was the best return from a ‘Shearer partner’ since Les Ferdinand in 1997. However the knee injury that forced him to play as sub only once in the final 13 games would also rule him out of the start of the new season.
Returning as sub at Liverpool when 2-0 down, Robson was quick to knock the adulation that reporters heaped on him following a performance that changed the game in United’s 2-2 draw: “He did well but everybody thinks he’s the saviour, he’s ‘Jesus Christ’. “He’s not ‘Jesus Christ’.” Winning only 1 of the opening 5 games, Bellamy returned to the starting line-up and would score against sunderland for the 2nd successive season after barely a minute in a 2-0 win.
incident at Dynamo Kiev that caused more concern of Bellamy’s volatile temperament. However his return at the De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam on 13th November saw arguably his finest moment in Black and White. Facing elimination from the Champions League group stages, United needed a win and Juventus to overhaul Dynamo Kiev to progress. Leading 2-0 thanks to “Classic Newcastle, Alan Shearer flicking on Shay Given’s
Missing 4 of the following 6 league games due to further knee problems, it was a 3 match European suspension for a head-butting
kick for Bellamy to race in and score”, and a 2nd half Hugo Viana strike, Feyenoord fought back to 2-2 heading into the last minute.
However his return at the De Kuip Stadium in Rotterdam on 13th November saw arguably his finest moment in Black and White
Bellamy’s winner and news of a 2-1 victory for ‘la Vecchia Signora’ (the Old Lady) ensured The Mag’s went into the history books as the first team to qualify from the group stages having lost their opening 3 games. Robson would later describe the game as “one of my favourite matches as manager.” A now fully fit Bellamy scored at Man United in a 3-5 defeat days before The Mag’s entered the 2nd Groups Stages amongst Europe’s finest. However United were brought back www.true-faith.co.uk
down to earth at home to Inter Milan when, already 1 down in the opening minutes, Bellamy was sent off for appearing to punch Marco Materazzi before The Mag’s capitulated 1-4. His dismissal after 5 minutes was the quickest in the tournaments history until March 2015. Despite his actions letting team and supporters down and Robson describing the game as “A horrible, cruel, unforgettable, unforgivable night”, a powerful run and cross ensured Bellamy forced an 89th minute
own goal from Everton’s Li Tie to gain an unexpected win over Everton 4 days later. Having trailed at half time, Shearer, himself very fortunate not to be sent off v Inter but receiving a retrospective ban later, scoring a stupendous volley to equalise 3 minutes earlier but the lack of celebrations with Bellamy after his exquisite run clearly stated all wasn’t well.
“I’ve taken a lot of stick for the sending-off and all I could do was go out there and try not to let it bother me” Bellamy said, standing alongside Shearer for the tf 77
SKY viewers. His words didn’t appear apologetic but his run to The East Stand supporters suggested a feeling of guilt. Despite crashing out of the FA Cup 2-3 at Wolves where Bellamy would cause further controversy by pointing at his Premier League badges in a mocking and arrogant manner, the results that followed still proved that the ‘problem child’ was an integral part of the side. Indeed since returning at Old Trafford, United won 12 of the league 17 games he started and although never prolific, his 6 goal contribution alongside numerous assists ensured the Mags went into April only 3 points behind leaders Man United. Incredibly, since that win over the mackems United has taken 3 points in 18 of 26 league games.
A memorable night in Milan, where an estimated 12,000 supporters backed United to a 2-2 draw, wasn’t enough to progress further and 3 successive league defeats, that included a 2-6 hammering at home to the leaders, ended all hopes for another season. Finishing 3rd to earn a qualifier for another Champion’s League Qualification ensured Newcastle were considered as one of the best sides in the country.
of the Champions League Qualifiers on penalties and failed to win any of the opening 6 league games. Having to settle for the UEFA Cup, 2 Bellamy goals helped United beat Braga before a further knee injury saw him miss the following 21 games. United, now becoming hard to beat but failing to turn many draws into wins, sat 6th upon his late January return and saw Europe as the realistic trophy winning chance.
Heading into the 2003-04 season,the board considered the February signing of the top class defender Jonathan Woodgate as the final piece in the jigsaw and wouldn’t spend a penny in the summer.
Returning to the starting XI at Blackburn, Bellamy would score in 5 in his next 6 games before an incident with coach John Carver prior to a flight to Majorca appeared to tarnish his reputation again. Although dropped to the bench, Bellamy would later claim his innocence saying, “Sir Bobby sat us all down and started blaming everything on John Carver and made him apologise to
Following on from his 9 goals in 34 competitive starts the previous campaign, Bellamy would pick up another knock before The Mags went out
Returning to the starting XI at Blackburn, Bellamy would score in 5 in his next 6 games before an incident with coach John Carver prior to a flight to Majorca appeared to tarnish his reputation again
me. “Alan (Shearer) had to say how much he rated me, too. “I could tell Alan was saying that through gritted teeth. “It was killing him.” Coming off the bench to score in this UEFA Cup 2nd Leg tie, a goal at home to Everton made it 7 goals in 10 outings for the troubled forward.
departure against Robson’s wishes of a man Bellamy would say as having “such a great impact on me as a person and player” and “was remarkable and helped me so much”, Gary Speed, and the arrival of a man seen as Shearer’s eventual replacement when retiring come May, Patrick Kluivert.
Disaster would strike United as within a matter of weeks Bellamy and Woodgate would miss the rest of the season through injury and Robson’s men would go out of the UEFA Cup Semi Final’s before struggling to finish 5th following 1 win in the last 7 games. Although missing the majority of the season, Bellamy’s return of 9 goals in 20 starts was a clear improvement on his goal ratio.
With rumours of Robson interested in selling Shearer to Liverpool, the manager would last 4 winless games to make it 1 win in 11 before being sacked. Supporters and the football world were astonished to see Greame Souness immediately arrive as his replacement.
The 2004-05 season kicked off with the shock sale of Woodgate, a severe case of conjunctivitis throughout the playing staff, the www.true-faith.co.uk
“Bobby Robson was the best manager I ever worked with. “The truth is that I admired him and revered him and that I could never quite accept the way he was forced out of the club”, Bellamy would later say of the sacking.
“Craig was a spiky character and I didn’t like some of things he did or said” Robson would recall later. “In spite of the tiffs, Craig and I have great respect for each other.” Autocratic and known to alienate key players, Souness almost relegated Blackburn Rovers the previous season but was seen as the tough disciplinarian to control an apparent batch of wayward ‘stars’ and unite an alleged divided dressing room. Officially in charge following a 3-0 win over his former side, Souness would get off to a brilliant start winning 7 of his first 9 league and cup games in charge with the highlight a 4-3 home win over Kevin Keegan’s Manchester City when Bellamy “cleverly juggled the ball before flicking a volley past James” to score an 89th minute winner.
“Bobby Robson was the best manager I ever worked with. “The truth is that I admired him and revered him and that I could never quite accept the way he was forced out of the club”, Bellamy would later say of the sacking.
a week later.
Once again Bellamy had answered the critics who questioned the negativity that surrounded him following a spat with Souness at Charlton the previous week. Taking exception to be subbed following an impressive goal scoring display in a 1-1 draw, the forward followed up public verbal’s by allegedly telling the manager that he was the best player at the club and shouldn’t be subbed. Souness would inform the media, “Craig can say what he wants to me - but in private. “Craig is a hard man to love but maybe one day I will learn to love him.”
4 successive defeats including a league cup loss at home to Chelsea followed and despite progressing into the UEFA Cup knock out stages, an injury to Shearer coincided with a return of 2 wins in 9 and the Manager’s honeymoon period was over. Although we weren’t to know it, we had seen the last of Shearer’s outstanding partnership with Bellamy as United headed into the New Year. Following a home win over Southampton that saw the returning Shearer net a penalty, camera’s focused on a lonely, ‘injured’ Bellamy sitting on the bench prior to a televised game at Arsenal
Despite Bellamy being top scorer from open play on 10 goals, Souness’ tendency to play Shearer, Kluivert or Shola Ameobi up front meant the more versatile Bellamy was pushed into a wide position. On this occasion the manager insinuated that Bellamy told players in training that he would feign injury and refuse to play if not chosen as a forward and Souness left him out of the squad. Bellamy told TV viewers he wasn’t injured, Souness replied with “He cannot play for me ever again. “He cannot go on television and accuse me of telling lies” before Shearer was later left to tell ‘the truth’ insisting, “Craig declared himself injured on Friday dinner time and then was fit on Saturday morning. “The manager - like everyone at Newcastle United - only wants players who want to play for the club, whether it
Despite Bellamy being top scorer from open play on 10 goals, Souness’ tendency to play Shearer, Kluivert or Shola Ameobi up front meant the more versatile Bellamy was pushed into a wide position
is in the position they want to play in or not.” Kluivert, who had built a good understanding with Bellamy but was not number one striker for the first time in his career would later say, “Greame Souness should have played Craig Bellamy and me in the front line all the time.”
Bellamy would back track, admitting he threatened to fake injury but would “Do anything to play for this club, even if it’s in goal” whilst confirming “I’ll never ask for a transfer request to leave this club. “This club mean so much to me. “To leave this club? I couldn’t do it.”
Within days Bellamy was jettisoned to Celtic on loan and Souness would be more cutting with his words once he’d left saying, “Craig Bellamy has been a disruptive influence from the minute I walked into this football club with his attitude to the coaching staff, to me and to his teammates.”
Life without Bellamy started with a 5 game unbeaten run before 1 win in 10 pushed The Mag’s down to a 14th place finish. Reaching the FA Cup Semi Final and UEFA Cup Quarter Final papered over the cracks as Souness sacrificed potential success by failing to man-manage the moody but talented Robert and subsequently
alienated another crowd favourite. Still only 25 years old with his peak years ahead of him, Bellamy, at a place where thousands more disliked Souness, won the Scottish Cup as a ‘Bhoy’ scoring 9 goals in 15 games. Simultaneously it became common knowledge that Bellamy had sent a derogatory text to Shearer in response to the captain pointing the blame at the defence following that humiliating Semi Final defeat in Cardiff.
Bellamy told TV viewers he wasn’t injured, Souness replied with “He cannot play for me ever again. “He cannot go on television and accuse me of telling lies”
Dressing room tales of fall outs with other players and the recently re-appointed coach Terry McDermott stating “I’ve never come tf 81
across so much hatred and unrest over one person what I’ve learned about him has astonished me,” suggested the controversy that surrounded Bellamy guaranteed a permanent move. It would be Blackburn who would benefit from the turmoil for the ridiculously low price of £3.75million. As Bellamy and Robert joined the likes of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole on a list of players Souness failed to man-manage, Robson would say of the fallout, “I handled Bellamy for 4 years, Souness couldn’t stick 4 months!” showed a clear indication that Souness’ methods were becoming prehistoric. Leading Newcastle into a relegation battle 18 months after taking over a squad that had finished in the top 5 for 3 successive seasons under
Robson ensured Souness was sacked and has never managed since. Becoming a journeyman, moves to Liverpool (where Bellamy would clash with McDermott in the tunnel at Anfield), West Ham and Man City took his career total of transfer’s to approx. £47 million. A return to Liverpool was bookended by spells at his hometown club Cardiff and, having played a part in The Bluebirds gaining promotion, became the first player to score for 7 different Premier League Clubs before retiring just before turning 35 in 2014. Scoring against Newcastle on numerous occasions, including twice in 18 days for 2 different clubs in January 2009, appeared the best response to the pantomime booing that
came from the United faithful who, although reluctant to admit they sided with Souness, used a jovial and antagonistic chant indicating he was “F**kin’ S**t scared of Shearer” after our Number 9 indicated he would “knock him out” in response to the text message. The 5 goals he scored against us once departed would suggest it slightly backfired. Rarely do players Newcastle have sold during the Premier League era go onto become better players and enjoy more ‘success’ then their time on Tyneside. A skilful player who was unplayable at times and a scorer of important goals, Bellamy may have been able to cause an argument in an empty room and have a chequered career but come kick off, you preferred him
As Bellamy and Robert joined the likes of Dwight Yorke and Andy Cole on a list of players Souness failed to manmanage, Robson would say of the fallout, “I handled Bellamy for 4 years, Souness couldn’t stick 4 months!”
For The Record: Craig Bellamy scored 42 goals in 119 (9) appearances for Newcastle United. Only 29 of those appearances ended in defeat. Bellamy’s 11 goals in 24 European appearances is 3rd to Alan Shearer (30) and Shola Ameobi (12). on your side than against you. Working in harness with the likes of Dyer, Speed and Robert to ensure Shearer had a few more years at the top and eventually become Newcastle’s alltime leading goal scorer, Bellamy’s lightning pace, relentless hounding of defenders and ability to win a match massively contributed to some memorable results and seasons that were up there with the most enjoyable supporting United.
Sir Bobby Robson described him perfectly a year before his passing in 2009: “Put Bellamy in a cul-de-sac against an opponent and he could get out of it – change of pace, feint, double feint, wriggle, pace, explosion… out!”
Bellamy joined Malcolm McDonald (2), Alan Gowling, Gavin Peacock and Andy Cole as scorers of a League Cup hat-trick. He is the only one to achieve this as a substitute.
Naming his Autobiography ‘GoodFella’ in 2013 is as premature as much as tongue in cheek but setting up and funding a self-named foundation to aid poverty in Sierra Leone and currently coaching at Cardiff academy for free Following on from Paul Gascoigne (1988) and Andy Cole (1994), Bellamy was the 3rd Newcastle player to win the PFA Young Player of the Year Award in 2002. Jermaine Jenas won it the following year. Bellamy’s last 2 goals for Newcastle both came at St James Park, in the 5th minute at The Leazes End in 1-1 draws Everton, Sporting Lisbon).
Let’s not forget the generous ovation from the majority of the crowd when substituted for Liverpool at St James Park in United’s 2-0 win in April 2012. Injuries had taken their toll and, as it was obvious his career was coming to an end, a show of gratitude was perhaps overdue. www.true-faith.co.uk
suggests, although he hasn’t accomplished his transmogrification, this passionate, intelligent and ambitious man does have decent traits and knowledge to move forward with morals. If only he had just kept his mouth shut tf 83
IN THE CITY Right then what can you say. 10 away games,10 sell outs. You cannot really ask for much more than that. If our form continues what chance a sell out for every away game? A real possibility I think. Demand seems to outstrip supply. Its at times like these where some start to question the clubs formula for distributing them but to be honest you can never find a system to suit everyone and in my view the current system is as fair as any. tf 84
STRANGE TOWN There has been quite a variation in responses to our success from fans of other clubs.Whilst fans of the likes of Rotherham,Barnsley and Brentford others have been constant in their sniping,... buying the league/financial fairplay etc. Don’t know what we did to deserve it. All rather bizarre and demonstrates a clear lack of knowledge of what has been going on at the club over recent years! TOWN CALLED MALICE Congratulations to Rafa for Championship Manager
of the Month for October. No other contender given his 100% record for the month. I laughed when people suggested before the season started that his lack of experience in the Championship would work against him. Good managers are good managers whatever level they manage at! One thing of which there can be no doubt.... he’s a good manager. BITTEREST PILL Talking of good managers leads me to the polar opposite! our former boss
Good managers are good managers whatever level they manage at! One thing of which there can be no doubt.... he’s a good manager. www.true-faith.co.uk
Alan Pardew. Analysing his record for 2016 you have to wonder how he is still in post at Palace. They have the worst record in all of the leagues in 2016. Their fans have kind of reluctantly accepted we were right all along. My guess is once he’s out of the door at Palace that will be the end of him as a Premiership manager. Never again at that level. WHEN YOU’RE YOUNG Not wanting to count our chickens and all that but it appears we may be in need of a ground reconfiguration with the introduction of a new rule whereby away fans must be housed pitch side. Seems quite a reasonable rule as far as I’m concerned. More importantly it may give the powers that be an opportunity to ‘bring back the noise’ and maybe create a singing end in the vacated area! START Following the introduction of Safe Standing at Celtic there has been an increasing build up of momentum in favour of this proposal in England. The matter has recently been discussed on merseyside at a meeting hosted by Spirit of Shankly and at the time of writing its on the agenda for discussion at the next meeting of the Premier League. There is clearly an acceptance that it’s the way forward. I know it’s surrounded in controversy but what is not being suggested is that we go www.true-faith.co.uk
Full marks to the organisers behind Gallowgate Flags. The Legends Day display was very impressive and somewhat emotional
back to the old days... this is about ‘safe standing’ BEAT SURRENDER I may be speaking out of turn here but this push by the media to get Mitro and Gayle paired together as a dream partnership is a bit annoying. The best pairing in my view is the one that Rafa chooses. He’s clearly not inclined to play the two together in his starting eleven so why don’t we just leave it at that! The line up has worked so far this season and I’ve no reason to doubt Rafa. ALL AROUND THE WORLD At the time of writing there has just been another
International break. It might be me but they seem to be happening every other week this season. Having said that I think it’s fair to say that in the last couple of games we have looked weary. Maybe the break will do us good.... Leeds here we come. THIS IS THE MODERN WORLD Full marks to the organisers behind Gallowgate Flags. The Legends Day display was very impressive and somewhat emotional. There is a lot of work involved in that type of organising and whilst the club have been supportive it must be remembered
that this is a 100% fans led initiative! So fair play to all involved. Here’s hoping it goes from strength to strength. AND FINALLY! I’ve complimented Rafa earlier in this piece and continuing that theme I think it’s fair to say that he has contributed far more than just introducing improvements on the pitch. He has succeeded in changing the whole feel around the club and the city. Long may this continue,it feels like waking up from a bad dream. Im sure he feels the warmth from supporters. tf 85
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