NEWCASTLE UNITED FANZINE - THE ALTERNATIVE VIEW - 2016/17 SEASON
LEAVE IT TO RAFA!
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. STATEMENT: This is NOT an official product of Newcastle United FC.
Ashley the First Ten Years.................... pg46
TBAWE........................................................ pg6 Introducing Daryl murphy................... pg10
A Funny Thing happened on the Way to the Forum.................... pg50
The Perez Question................................ pg14
Feel Every Beat........................................ pg53
A Bad Debt!.............................................. pg18
Political Football...................................... pg62
A Matter of Trust..................................... pg22 Collective Strength................................. pg26 Geordies Here, Geordies There........... pg30
Ashley Ten Years After............................ pg64 Postcards From The Edge..................... pg74
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. NEVER FORGOTTEN: L.J. & M. Martin.
Leadership Material................................ pg34
60 Second Season.................................. pg76
Small Time.................................................. pg36
And Here’s to Bobby Moncur............. pg84
OUT: 10 MAY 2017.
Inertia Creeps........................................... pg38 Money Shots............................................ pg42
Turning on, Tuning in and Dropping Out. And Nerds........... pg88
SUBMISSIONS FOR NEXT ISSUE: 23 APR 2017.
Nightmare Scenario.............................. pg44
The End....................................................... pg92
© true faith.
NEXT ISSUE: TF 130.
Welcome to tf 130. We are now on the home straight and whilst this season has not been all plain sailing I don’t think there are many who could seriously complain about a team that is currently top at the start of April and is a favourite for promotion. There is absolutely no room for complacency but everyone should be positive. Obviously, things could be a lot more positive had Ashley backed Rafa in the January transfer market and brought in two players who would have got us over the line as well as started to build for next season and life in the Premier League. Instead Benitez was let down by Ashley. That in its turn has put something of a damp blanket on this season. There are now tf 4
serious questions whether Rafa will be the manager who leads us next season, hopefully on our return to the Premier League. The alternative is Rafa fails to receive the guarantees he needs to start part two of his rebuilding of the club and leaves. Were that to happen I believe it would break the back of Newcastle United in so far as many supporters are concerned. I think I’d find it hard to continue to support the club under Ashley and pack it in until he’s gone. I desperately hope it does not come to that but with Ashley’s record, no-one can be confident he doesn’t throw away another opportunity to move the club forward. I’m not going to kid on the team we are watching is a
tf 130 March 2017 email@example.com
brilliant one. I don’t think it is. Whilst I think it has good character, lads who care about the club and feel some affinity with the support I do thin k it lacks an edge, isn’t street-wise enough, maybe lacks some leadership and devilment. But as we sit top of the table that seems to be over the top criticism! It’s not meant to be but we can’t ignore the games we have been expected to win comfortably at home this season and failed to do so. I do think the way Rafa has drilled the team maybe works better away from home and where we have less of the ball. That might suit us well in the Premier League against more celebrated opponents. At home against teams who are unquestionably playing above themselves, it maybe isn’t as effective as we’d
expect the team to be. However, Rafa has had one transfer window to transform the team. Last summer he moved players who had consistently failed us but managed to bring in massive fees. Money was recycled into rebuilding a team to get us out of the division and a £30m profit was made. Right now, all of that looks like it is going to plan. It is true some of Rafa’s signings last summer have not yet worked out but given the fees involved they are small beer to the likes of Cabella, Thauvin, Mbwia and Mitrovic whilst we can’t even contemplate Riviere, Obertan, Marveaux and many others. The overall prognosis is the club is improving and if anyone thinks it has been an easy trick for Rafa to have pulled off then I invite them to www.true-faith.co.uk
take a look at Aston Villa and Norwich City – the two sides that were relegated with us last season and who are at varying stages of stagnation and decline. Anyone imagining getting out of this division is an easy trick to pull off should have a close at those clubs. Our main rivals are Brighton under the admirable management of Comrade Chris. That is a club which knows this division well and has been building for years to get out of it. It is a club with deep roots of development and investment. We should appreciate the progress Rafa has made in having a team which has the edge over a team which I think will survive in the Premier League next season with something to spare. My synopsis with eight games to go is – it’s sometimes not pretty to watch, we are far from brilliant but the whole club is progressing and this is only the first season in what I hope will be many more under Rafa as he invests his expertise into our club and supports it in fulfilling something of its potential. Off the park, it’s a mixed picture. Thankfully w*ng* will come off the shirt at the end of the season. Charnley has boasted of a new deal that will be
The development will not benefit United in the short term and surely means St James’ Park can no longer have its capacity increased
amongst the top ten in the PL. There are rumours of an online Chinese betting website. Isn’t that all the modern thing? United has also played a blinder in supporting Gallowgate Flags and is reacting very positively to the Newcastle United Fans Foodbank initiative which is quickly becoming one of the biggest in the UK. Both the Gallowgate Flags and Newcastle United Foodbank initiative are fantastic demonstrations of what can be done when the club and support work together in an atmosphere of mutual respect and positivity. Long may it continue! However, the development of land adjacent to the St
James’ Metro Station via a development company acting for Ashley is a cold, brutal reminder of the nature of the man who owns Newcastle United lock, stock and barrel. The lease on the land for development was acquired by Ashley with the purchase of what we understand to be Newcastle United. The development will not benefit United in the short term and surely means St James’ Park can no longer have its capacity increased as the Gallowgate End was the only conceivable part of the ground where expansion was feasible. This seems to be an absurd decision looked at through the eyes of people who want the best for United as Chelsea, Spurs, West Ham, Liverpool,
Everton and others are at various stages of expanding capacities. Under Ashley we are falling further behind. The return of the Newcastle United Supporters Trust to the Fans Forum is a positive development but let’s not kid ourselves that was not largely brought about by rule changes for the Football League and that the bare minimum is still being done in this area. Anyway, for the time being let’s focus on getting back into the Premier League and giving Rafa and the team the support they need. If Ashley wants to fuck the club over by failing to back Rafa then we’ll deal with that then. Until then Keep On, Keepin’ On…
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thru black & white eyes 26 Jan - A full week to prepare for Oxford in the cup, a game that is probably trickier than many fans think. The manager is making noises about late deals being done but that’s not his style, so god knows what he thinks of the lack of incoming players. I also think a lot of the noises he makes in press conferences are lost because of a perceived slight language barrier some people don’t take Rafa as literally as he means to be taken. On the team selection ahead of Saturday Rafa was asked about putting out a weakened side. ‘I have to’ was the response but very people have commented on it. It’s more of an issue than you think.
28 Jan - Not a good day in Oxfordshire. I travelled down knowing the score. The manager was explicit about the team he put out. There were other issues than the result. It was a terrible day regarding away support. Which was non-existent. I’ve heard people saying ‘it’s the team’s job to ‘get the fans going.’ If that’s you you’re a customer, not a supporter and you view it as the team’s job to ‘get you going’. Go and watch Ice Hockey or something. There was a massive brawl in the second half in the away section about team selection and it was generally unpleasant place to be. United should have been 4 up at half time but ‘fan favourite’ Mitrovic failed to convert
any of the sitters he was presented with, including a penalty. A young team faded badly and we go back to concentrating on promotion. 31 Jan - A farcical day ends in Townsend on the bench for Allardyce’s moribund Palace and the deal is dead. We’re back where we’ve been numerous times before under Ashley. This time it’s different though, as we’ve a manager who won’t stand for Ashley’s games and lack of interest. 01 Feb - Two points thrown away after a calamitous own goal against QPR. We were poor (again, at home against a poor side) but still created enough to win the game comfortably. Perez missed a host of good chances and
received grief fro the SJP crowd. Not good enough. The game shadowed into insignificance when Rafa conducted a furious post match interview were his dissatisfaction at not being backed and seemingly kept in the dark about anything that was going on. Trouble ahead. 03 Feb - The Story about Rafa walking just won’t go away as local respected journalists are briefing that he’s on the move in the Summer if he’s not backed. How has it come to this? We’re in the best shape ever as a support, there’ll be 52,000 there against Derby in the second tier and we’ve got this shit to deal with again. It defies logic. Rafa gives us a massive rallying call against
Steve Mcclaren’s Derby. Apparently, according to McClaren’s cheerleaders and the anti United media, Derby could catch us. We beat them fairly comfortably to go 16 points clear of them with 17 games to go. 05 Feb - I wouldn’t normally comment on TalkSport a station which trolls fan bases to hopefully incite them to call in. However after the Derby win the Jim White show lead on Newcastle United and how Rafa Benitez should ‘quit whining’ about lack of funds and ‘get on with the job’. The same station, the very next day, leads with the exact same topic on the evening show. This is a club by the way, that no one cares about of course. At the time of writing only three clubs have ever had more points of this stage of a Championship season than Rafa’s NUFC. I believe the club, or at least those www.true-faith.co.uk
close to Ashley, are briefing the media against him. It’s sickening. 08 Feb - Myself and the editor spoke to respected local journo George Caulkin about the Rafa situation. Listen to it here. 10 Feb - United play 3 of the bottom 6, as well as Norwich City before our mental run of three away games against the top three clubs we can play. Norwich is the most difficult of the four games coming up and realistically we need a minimum of eight points from them to put ourselves into a good position starting with Wolves. We don’t want to be heading into Brighton away not in the top two or with a bit of cushion. A big month ahead... 12 Feb - We get this run ff to a winning start at Wolves. Mitrovic scores and then is hooked at half time as he’s a danger
to himself and his team mates. Regardless of your opinion of him as a player, he’s having a stinking season. Paul Lambert is angry about stuff but his team hardly registered a shot on target. That tends to lose you games, Paul. 14 Feb - The games are coming thick and fast for us. This time we pick up a creditable draw with Norwich when it should have really been all three points. Another two goals gifted to our opponents. This has got to stop, but overall a good result. Huddersfield win again with a 92nd minute winner at Rotherham. They can’t keep stealing points like this, but it’s a worry we’re not further ahead of them considering our tough run of games. 17 Feb - Matz Sels admits he needs to leave the club to improve at this level. Credit to him.
19 Feb - We play Villa and then Bristol City in the next week as United look to pull clear of third place before the Brighton game at the end of the month. I hate Villa. Some people agree, others don’t. Regardless we need to win the game to increase the lead to Huddersfield to eight points (albeit they have another game this week). Come on United. 20 Feb - Villa are brushed aside two nil and all is well with the world. We put in a professional display and won comfortably despite being largely poor on the night. Gallowgate Flags introduced their first surfer flag, which looked fantastic and overall it was a good night to be a fan of Newcastle United. I get the feeling many of the games this season will be scrappy, dour affairs. It’s good that the side has the ability to get through games like that unscathed. We know have tf 7
thru black & white eyes a game in a similarly poor vein of form a Villa, in Bristol at the weekend, but we can rarely put two wins together in a week after playing midweek (I know Monday is pushing it a bit). 24 Feb - Despite United being top (though that will change regularly) it’s not Brighton who are looking over their shoulders, it’s us, according to much of the national media. We’ve had this with so many teams this season, who all fall away. Norwich, Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday and now Huddersfield. The latter’s win in midweek probably put’s Norwich’s challenge t bed but their
run will end soon, they aren’t that good. 26 Feb - A frustrating weekend for us. Huddersfield finally stopped winning so this was a great chance to stay top and extend our lead over them to 7 points. We did neither in the end after starting the game as if 2 0 up. Good comeback, bad performance. Mitrvoic and Perez were abysmal again. We can’t keep playing them. Looking ahead know to a massive three games. By a week Tuesday promotion could be secured as soon as early March. Either that, things could stay as they are or we could be majorly
up against it. I’m looking forward to the challenge, I hope the players are to. 29 Feb - The moments that make it all worth while. There’ve been loads of times in recent years that I’ve wondered what I was doing. A man in his twenties who devotes large amounts of his spare time and money on football. Football which gives you so little back. Football which ignores the people it depends on. It’s a relationship that gives most fans so little. And then there was tonight. GET. IN. 2 March - After United’s brilliant win at Brighton
(which sees us top of the league) David Wagner of Huddersfield has been bigging up United. He also reckons we’re set for the best ever game and crowd at their ground. Unthinkable isn’t it. Like Leeds and loads of others, United’s visit will be their highest home gate in their ground. Not a cup final though. Nope. We’re not the big draw. Just coincidence (again). 4 March - Rafa did this. 5 March - still on cloud nine. I wasn’t in Huddersfield due to a prior engagement and ended up having to drive
back from Weymouth to NE25 the day after the win. Wasn’t going to drink on the Saturday night because of the drive. Rafa’s United happened though and I can now advise you that the 7 hour drive was horrific. Worth it. Couple with Brighton’s hammering at a terrible Forest side we are now 5 points clear. We have two really tough games coming up so i doubt that’ll last but still, what a week. What a team. 8 March - This league is relentless. A draw at Reading is a good result (their home form bettered only by Brighton) but it could have been all three. Our promotion rivals won tonight so our gap is reduced. Ny the end of the game the team look utterly exhausted. Rafa mentions it post match. We could do without the leagues best away side (bar ourselves) in NE1 on Saturday. www.true-faith.co.uk
10 March - The news that Yedlin could miss the rest of the season is dead bad, as he’s dead good. He’ll be a miss. Fulham’s manager reckons they can turn us over due to our run of games (4 games in 11 days) and their ability to exploit the space we leave. We’ll see. 12 March - Hugely disappointing from United who were never at the races. Problems all over the park but Anita was poor and two of the goals came from his wing. Tom Cairney excelled against a flat and leggy United midfield. Must do better at home. However we’re still top of the league for a reason. I hear people say that we ‘need’ to sort out the home form. I’d love us to, but we ‘need’ to keep picking up points at the rate we have all season. It’ll see us promoted.
13 March - More bad news after yesterday. Clark went off injured and looks set to miss at least the Birmingham game. Yedlin could be out for the season. That’s two of our back four that will be missing for the foreseeable. They’re also two of our best performers of late. A blow. 15 March - Fulham’s gaffer reckons we’re nailed on for promotion despite having six points from us this season. The good news is Fulham have to go to Huddersfield, so that’ll be hard for the home side. 17 March - Ructions as Huddersfield are hammered 4 0 at relegation strugglers Bristol City. It wasn’t a remotely close game as the Terriers collapsed in front of the watching nation. Great Friday night
entertainment. That turns the game at Birmingham into a freebie. Brighton have a really hard game at Leeds so fingers crossed it could be a weekend where we extend our lead over the chasing pack. 19 March - A dull game in a dull city. United dominate but can’t get the break through. Leeds’ defeat of Brighton means that it’s been a far better weekend than we had initially hoped for. There are those who would have been happier if we’d have won but not extended our lead to seven points of third place. Birmingham never fancied anything more than the point they set out to achieve. One more point towards promotion. Time for the final push. ALEX HURST - FOLLOW ALEX ON @tfalex1892 tf 9
The transfer deadline is on the horizon, and Newcastle supporters can always rely on the shrewd tactician, that is Rafa Benitez to produce. A manager who has a renowned reputation, as being one of the most respected names in football, especially on the continent. I must admit the signing of Daryl Murphy was one that took me by surprise. However, I’ve always maintained that a squad should have a strong blend of youth and experience, and in Murphy, we have acquired a centre forward who has a bustling style, one who was a regular scorer for Ipswich, as well as providing valuable experience. He is a hard working pro,and would leave all his effort out on the pitch. Murphy, initially was finding it difficult to break into the squad early in the season, but the Irishman from Waterford showed an outstanding attitude, he waited and trained hard before getting a start in the EFL Cup vs Wolves in September 2016, we comfortably progressed to the next round that
night. An old fashioned centre forward, using power and strength to hassle defenders, win the headers, as well as providing through balls for Gayle or Perez. I’ve been mightily impressed with Murphy. This, for me epitomises Rafa’s approach to the game and transfers. Clearly, our manager had an eye for Murphy, and looked
to use his experience as a player, however knowing the Championship so well was going to be a key factor in the coming season. It would get better for our seasoned
Daryl Murphy tf 10
striker, with Dwight Gayle picking up an injury Murphy has found starts more frequent, not bad for a player who could have been viewed as a utility squad player when the ink dried on the contract. The big striker’s career has been decorated with a range of clubs, an Ipswich stalwart, that has regularly scored as the Tractor Boys have looked to end their long absence from the Premier League. Four separate spells at Portman Road, as well as a stint on Wearside, Sheffield Wednesday and Waterford United in his home land make up the profile of former employers. Daryl has also represented his country with proud distinction. The Magpies striker has featured regularly for the Republic Of Ireland, a total of 24 caps have been accumulated to date since www.true-faith.co.uk
making his debut against Ecuador in May 2007 . I’ve been most impressed with his link up play, and was delighted to see the net bulging in the FA Cup tie against Birmingham, when an instinctive finish, being in the right place, at the right time to open the scoring at St Andrews. The team had to settle for a draw, thankfully we managed to negotiate the replay on home soil and progress. I’ve no doubt that the robust striker would have felt a slight weight off his shoulders. For strikers, goals are what ultimately define you, and for Daryl Murphy getting the first one would have allowed him some breathing space, and let the fans get a closer look at our new signing. I was in attendance at the Rotherham match and thoroughly enjoyed being
back in the thick of the match action. There is something majestic about winter games, especially under the lights . It was a workmanlike Rotherham side who had came to St James’ with a specific game plan. Come of the hour come of the man. Daryl Murphy, brought down a flighted ball, muscled off the defender’s close marking, and sent a stunning shot into the top corner at the Gallowgate end.Yet another goal for Murphy It put us firmly in the driving seat in first half injury time. After that, there was little doubt about the final outcome. An accomplished 4-0 victory. It was good to see Ayoze Perez getting on the score sheet, someone with such talent has found the physical nature of the Championship a steep learning curve. For me,
Daryl Murphy, brought down a flighted ball, muscled off the defender’s close marking, and sent a stunning shot into the top corner at the Gallowgate end
Murphy’s knowledge of this league will prove invaluable. The away trip to Brentford was on paper, always going to be a formidable fixture, traditionally Newcastle have never fared well in London, indeed the late Sir Bobby Robson managed to secure our first capital victory in that infamous Highbury triumph. The instinctive goal scoring of Dwight Gayle (what another outstanding signing he has been) put the Toon Army in front. We were brought back down to earth with a bump, when Brentford levelled. With the game looking like it was heading for a draw, up stepped Perez, who bent in an audacious cross with the outside of his right foot, Murphy timed his jump perfectly, and beat the
goal keeper to the ball and headed in the winner, with around eleven minutes left. A rapturous acclaim from the fans, a vital victory, more importantly for our summer signing another vital goal in the statistics column, with every point integral to our imminent return to the top division, a run of three goals over the course of three hectic fixtures, has proved that Daryl Murphy isn’t just a number to fill the subs bench, quite the contrary. The winner at Griffin Park, for me conveyed Murphy’s approach, a physical player, who put his head in where it hurt to score. The modern day players; some of whom, may have shirked challenging the keeper, convey the attitude that as long as the wages are picked up little else
matters. Our latest goal scorer goes against that ethos, Murphy is of the old school, traditional mantra, where players have earned their stripes and look to pass on invaluable experience to younger players in the dressing room. I for one am delighted our summer signing has found the net, those goals will prove essential when the long, gruelling season comes to a close in May! Thank you Daryl Murphy, and another masterstroke of a signing from Rafa, you have transformed the club , the affinity you have with the fans is a very special bond. When listening to your interviews, you’re a born winner, as well as looking for constant improvement; a hallmark of a perfectionist!!.
I believe our new captain, like Rafa, symbolises a togetherness and a determination that hasn’t been seen for many years...
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Graham Carr has had a mixed set of results with his recruitment in the last few years. There have undoubtedly been successes but there has also been some clangers. When it comes to Ayoze Perez though the jury is still out.
QUESTION A player who arrived on Tyneside for little money and expectation, Perez wasn’t expected to feature very often in the First XI and possibly even be sent out on loan. However the loan never materialised and after another poor transfer window that saw big players not replaced, the Spaniard was called upon more than expected. Perez stepped up to the mark though and started to develop a habit of scoring goals in big games. Winners against Spurs away and tf 14
Liverpool at home, along with the fans voted goal of the season at West Brom gave fans the impression that we’d unearthed a hidden gem. Ayoze since hasn’t really lived up to the promise he has shown despitesome glimpses of quality. He has scored goals but never made it in to double figures in a season. Of course it hasn’t been helped by the weaknesses of those www.true-faith.co.uk
behind him but in the big games he was often seen as someone to bring on with half an hour to go rather than someone who would stand up and be counted. When Rafa came to try and fix the sinking ship, one of the first players that was called out as someone he looked forward working with was Ayoze and although it was an easy story for the media with his Spanish connections, it did give some initial hope about our forgotten man in an ultimately forgetful season. When we did get relegated last season I, like a lot of fans was gutted at the time but www.true-faith.co.uk
the fact we kept Rafa filled everyone with optimism for the future. Rumours circulated over the summer that Newcastle had rejected bids from some European giants for Perez, which seemed like a signal of intent that we weren’t going to take relegation lightly. A forward line of Perez and Mitrovic looked deadly on paper, especially if it was to be fed by the likes of Shelvey, Ritchie and Atsu. As we examine the season so far you’d be hard pressed to find a fan who thought either Perez or Mitrovic have had a good year so far.
The comparison between Mitrovic and Perez is an interesting one. Mitrovic gets battered on Twitter and Facebook for having a bad game but if the same happens with Perez the abuse is significantly more muted. The only reason I can fathom for this is the transfer fees that we’re paid for each player. Granted Mitrovic cost over £10 million more than Perez but it’s not exactly the players fault how much a club decides to pay for your services. Along with this despite their contrasting physiques, Mitrovic is actually over 10 months younger than the 22 year old Perez. So should we actually be expecting
The comparison between Mitrovic and Perez is an interesting one. Mitrovic gets battered on Twitter and Facebook for having a bad game but if the same happens with Perez the abuse is significantly more muted.
more from Perez, especially considering he’s had 24 months more experience in the Premier League than Mitrovic? Or is it a another case of United not being able to develop its young, raw talent such as Good, Vuckic, Campbell, Tozer et al? Watching Perez the lack of time on the ball and physicality has undoubtedly affected Ayoze who wasn’t used to the lack of respect shown in the Championship compared to the Premier League. The fact Diame started so disappointingly probably helped Ayoze as he got more game time than he perhaps deserved. Personally I think part of the reason for his poor form is that Ayozehas started to believe his own hype too much. I went in to the season thinking Perez would hit nearly 20 goals and be in and around our player of the year award, something I think he believed too before tf 16
a ball was kicked. Some of his lacklustre performances though make me wonder if he’s even good enough for England’s second tier. One thing that isn’t helping Ayoze is his social media presence. Every weekend he posts a picture of with generic message like ‘big game today’ or ‘howay the lads’ with a picture of himself in action. To me it looks and sounds like a managed account, something that doesn’t sit well with supporters. In my mind if you’re not going to post your own updates, don’t have a social media account because those good intentions end up getting thrown in your face when things turn sour. Ayoze has shown glimpses of his quality at times in this league. The double against Ipswich and cross for Murphy’s winner at Brentford was something only a handful of players at the club are capable of. He followed it up with a
solid and hardworking performance against Rotherham but poor games against QPR and Derby where his bravery and decision making was poor. More sustained and consistent effort is needed, as he’s now gained a reputation of being a luxury player - excellent when things are going well but anonymous when the backs are against the wall. Altogether I think Ayoze does have what it takes to make it to be a regular in the top leagues but it won’t be without hard work. He needs to knuckle down, become physically stronger and concentrate less on building his own brand off the pitch. Being in his early twenties these are the key years that shape your career and if he can show us all what he’s capable of then there’s no reason he can’t eventually get his big money move to one of Europe’s best.
The double against Ipswich and cross for Murphy’s winner at Brentford was something only a handful of players at the club are capable of.
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Our cup runneth over! Apparently our kind hearted benefactor has loaned us another £33m. The reason why he’s made this princely gesture has been the subject of much heated debate on social media?
A BAD DEBT! A quick glance at the comments on the Evening Chronicle website (I do in-depth research for these articles you know) gives some insight on what our supporters think. And they’re not universally complimentary! The consensus is that the loan is “creative accounting” and a “tax fiddle”. That “Ashley can’t loan money to the club he owns”. That he “takes out millions in dividends”. That it’s to fund a “huge transfer splurge in January”. That parachute payments and a £30m surplus on summer transfers were “more than enough to finance our relegation”. There’s others tf 18
but you get the picture. So is any of this true?
Well, we can safely dismiss some of these claims. Ashley hasn’t taken a penny out of the club in the form of dividends (unlike his predecessors). And the club is a separate legal entity so he can loan as much of his personal wealth to it as he likes. A loan is more ‘tax efficient’ than capital for additional financing as normally you’d pay interest on the loan (thereby reducing profits and tax). But as Ashley doesn’t charge interest on the loan, I can’t see how the loan can be linked to avoiding tax efficiency.
The main contention though is whether the loan is to fund a transfer blitz in January (hooray) or simply to keep NUFC’s head above water paying the bills (boo).
Miles Starforth of the Shields Gazette gives his insider insight: “Understand £33m loan made available to Newcastle by Mike Ashley is NOT a transfer kitty. Intended to mitigate impact of relegation.” So what’s more likely? Well that depends on how skint we are! If www.true-faith.co.uk
we’ve got a few bob in the bank then we may very well spend some of that cash on transfers in January. If not, the money will be used simply to keep the lights on! So what is our current financial position? The truth is we don’t know. Last season’s accounts won’t be published for another couple of months. But what we can safely say is that at the back end of last season, there was very little cash in the bank. In March 16, Ashley declared “[There is] virtually nothing left now. They have emptied it”. Ah, I hear you cry, but we pocketed £85m in transfers during the summer. Well, not quite. Whilst NUFC have a policy of paying transfer fees up front, most clubs www.true-faith.co.uk
pay instalments over a longer period so the likelihood is that we haven’t received anything like the full £85m. And at this point, I should point out that we’re talking about cash in the bank rather than accounting profits. The two are very different things. It may be that the club is profitable but still struggle to pay their players. It’s cash that pays the wages. Cash is king. Whilst it’s unlikely we’ve received the full £85m in transfers, we can safely assume we paid in full for our purchases if we’ve followed our recent transfer policy. That’s about £55m out the bank over the summer (roughly on a par with the wife’s spending on toiletries over the same period). And the TV money has
shrank by about £35m following relegation (from an estimated £78m last season to £43m this season – parachute payments plus Championship TV money). If we’d stayed up, we would have received about £118m with the new TV deal that went live this season. Ouch. Whilst we’ve trimmed the wage bill with some of our top earners leaving the club, we should not delude ourselves. Our wage bill will still be colossal by Championship standards. Whilst season ticket revenue from our stoic support has held up remarkably well following relegation, my view is that the loss of TV income combined with our strategy on transfer fees and relatively high
Ah, I hear you cry, but we pocketed £85m in transfers during the summer. Well, not quite. Whilst NUFC have a policy of paying transfer fees up front, most clubs pay instalments over a longer period so the likelihood is that we haven’t received anything like the full £85m. tf 19
wage bill has left NUFC in a financially vulnerable position (but nothing like as vulnerable as Sunderland if they had been, or were to be, relegated).
may have loaned us last season). We know from experience that Ashley will not capitalise that loan (which effectively means writing it off). He’ll want it repaid.
So, whilst I hate to be the prophet of doom, my view realistically is that the £33m loan is unlikely to be used to fund signings in January. It’s simply to pay the players’ wages.
The likelihood is that the loan will only be repaid when Ashley sells the club which, from recent comments reported in the press, I’m still convinced he’d do in a heartbeat if the right offer came along.
But what does Ashley’s additional loan mean for the long term future of the club? I’ve got a horrible feeling that history will repeat itself. Let me explain. Regardless of whether the £33m is to fund signings or not, Ashley’s total loan to the club is now at least £162m (plus anything he tf 20
The trouble is that the additional £33m debt will make United even more unattractive to prospective buyers so we’re likely to be stuck with Ashley for even longer. His stubbornness will not allow him to accept losing money on his financial investment in
United (£140m purchase price + minimum £162m loan = at least £302m invested by Ashley). To make the club more attractive to sell, I reckon he will gradually look to reduce the net debt. This is what he did following our previous relegation. Our net debt in 2010 was £150.4m. By 2015, this had almost halved to £80.7m. Ashley did this by a mixture of cost cutting, selling our best players and siphoning off the huge TV money. It took five years after the previous relegation for Ashley to open up the purse strings on transfers. If we are promoted, it wouldn’t surprise me if history repeats itself.
This is what he did following our previous relegation. Our net debt in 2010 was £150.4m. By 2015, this had almost halved to £80.7m. Ashley did this by a mixture of cost cutting, selling our best players and siphoning off the huge TV money. www.true-faith.co.uk
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This is an opportunity Newcastle United cannot afford to pass upon. Rafael Benitez is the manager of our football club, and in the summer if all continues to go to plan, we will be a Premier League outfit once more. With that comes massive financial gains and in turn huge scope to unlock the potential that has lay dormant for so many years, especially under the Ashley regime. Once promotion is hopefully achieved (yes I have hope again) this is when it will get very interesting. For this club to kick on from there we know that Rafa needs the backing of a certain Mike Ashley, the question on everybody’s lips is, will he get it, can we trust this man to deliver it?
OF TRUST CHRIS WOOD
Roll back to 2007 when news broke that the club had been bought out by a billionaire ‘tycoon’, I thought good times could only be around the corner for our club. We had hope, and after Fat Sham had been giving his marching orders and Kevin Keegan installed as manager things were looking up. Sadly since then, that is really the first and last time we have had hope under Ashley. Keegan was undermined in his role as manager. The disastrous appointments of the likes of Derek Llambias and Tony Jimenez who ‘knew nothing about football’ in the words of Keegan himself was the beginning of the end for the only man so far to stand up to the regime. To have a man like Dennis Wise appointed as director of football defies belief. Ashley basically surrounded himself with people who he knew, or people who he knew would do as he says without question, all with little to www.true-faith.co.uk
no knowledge on the day to day running of a football club. All of the above prompted me to look at Sports Direct, and the recent and dramatic downfall of this company. In the news for all the wrong reasons, working conditions, pay, share prices plummeting as a result etc. The downturn in fortunes for Sports Direct strike worrying similarities with that of our club. Directors at Sport Direct include without naming names, a former policeman, Mike Ashley’s brother, a young inexperienced ‘businessman’ and also Ashley’s daughter’s boyfriend (a former nightclub promoter!) Again surrounding himself with people in a similar fashion that he has done at Newcastle, and again seeing it fall flat on its arse! Enough of Sports Direct though. I could talk forever about the mistakes this man has made since buying
our club, if we thought appointing Joe Kinnear as manager was bad enough, he then excelled himself and brought him back a second time as Director of football. Insomnia, Kebab, aye nice one Joe! Cup competitions were seen as a distraction, the appointment of managers who wouldn’t of been given a job at ANY other Premier league club at the time in Pardew, Carver, McClaren. The re-naming of St James Park, and Shearer’s bar, the defacing of our stadium with them horrid blue and red logos. The sickening sight of w*ng* plastered across the front of our black and white shirts, oh and of course two relegations to go with all of that!
Since the appointment of Rafa Benitez though in March last year, all has been quiet and calm at the club, despite relegation to the second tier.
Since the appointment of Rafa Benitez though in March last year, all has been quiet and calm at the club, despite relegation to the second tier. That is testament to the respect and belief that us, tf 23
the players and staff all have for the man. His CV commands that respect but so to does the way he conducts himself around the club and the city in general, Rafa is a class act. As we approached the January transfer window things were ticking along nicely on the pitch, but a few injuries, the AFCON and a suspension to Jonjo Shelvey highlighted to Rafa where the squad needed strengthening. After the success of our summer dealings I had no doubt these areas would be addressed and Rafa would get the men he wanted. Then midway through January an article appeared stating that Ashley had stuck his oar in and was calling the shots again over transfers. I refused to believe it, I was furious that in my eyes a journalist was trying to rock the boat. How wrong could I be! As the window closed with no
incomings, that article all of a sudden made sense. Rafa made it clear that he wasn’t happy and left us all in no doubt that he had no idea what had gone wrong especially over the Andros Townsend deal. For me you strengthen from a position of strength (something we didn’t do in the summer after our 5th place finish). Two additions that Rafa wanted would have as well as virtually securing promotion this season, made the work required on the team this summer a bit easier too. That Ashley has reared his horrible fat head again is a worry, and a lot of the respected north east journalists have reported that Rafas future is uncertain at the club if he doesn’t get the necessary insurances he needs in the summer. Do I trust Mike Ashely to do the right thing......not one bit! This
is a man after all who has been found guilty in a tribunal for constructive dismissal of a club legend Kevin Keegan, and admitted to ‘repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and fans of Newcastle United’. If the worst happens and Ashley does not back Rafa then I really don’t know what will happen to our football club, can you really say you can continue to put your time, efforts and passion into it if he deprives us of what we need? I know I can’t, and for a lot it would surely be the final straw. Rafael Benitez is the man we WANT to lead our club, he is the man we NEED to lead our club and is the man we MUST have to lead our club. Do not destroy or shatter our hope Mike Ashley, as it is the only thing we have left. In Rafa we trust.
Then midway through January an article appeared stating that Ashley had stuck his oar in and was calling the shots again over transfers.
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On October 22nd 2016 St James’ witnessed the greatest goal of NUFC’s recent history. The opening goal in the 3-0 win over Ipswich was the epitome of footballing substance - the essence of a football purist vision. Despite the goal receiving appreciation amongst fans and social media, it received little attention from the mainstream media and the aforementioned acclaim from fans has been diluted over the short period since. It has become clear that the goal will not be remembered alongside Shearer’s Everton volley or Cisse’s Chelsea wildcard, the latter being more a case of fortune than skill. Those goals have been put on a pedestal, so why is it that a moment of such a star aligning quality is not met with the same enthusiasm.
COLLECTIVE STRENGTH tf 26
24 passes constructed the first goal against Ipswich. All 11 players were involved in the glorious move, a systemic manipulation of space straight from the first whistle. The privilege belonged to Ayoze Perez, but a goal of this nature owes as much to every player involved as it does the scorer. The final touch is in principle another pass as it is no more important than every other pass in the sequence. Without each pass there would be no goal at all - every stroke of the ball bearing equal weight. Argentina’s second goal in their defeat of Serbia and Montenegro at World Cup 2006 is considered one of the very best team goals, yet it endures something of a lukewarm reception in comparison with great individual moments. Consider the way the media and fans alike enthuse over Maradona’s streak of inspiration that left England’s World Cup 86 team flummoxed, or a young Michael Owen’s whippet-like run through the Argentina defence at France 98. The 2006 team goal is superior to a number of great goals that receive more attention, but is not www.true-faith.co.uk
canonised with the others. 26 passes, including the final ‘pass’ into the net, constructed a divine move of collective imagination, that didn’t so much slice through the Serbia and Montenegro side, as it gradually and brutally invaded them. Argentina transitioned from defence to attack with the menace of a sniper, Esteban Cambiasso with the final lethal touch. Aesthetically, you can’t separate the merits of team goals and individual brilliance, but as an emblem for the beautiful game the collective endeavour of a team goal asserts itself. Maradona and Shearer’s fate were in their own hands. In theory less can go wrong with the chance of success going it alone – no matter how audacious the effort. When a team build a move that requires measure and patience the burden may be shared, but it relies on every player to use their brain and make the correct decisions. Anybody can run fast or hit a shot from range that might come off every once in a while, but there is no match for the artistry of a clear mind - when
and where to pass, to go backwards if needed, when to take on a man and have the vision to be aware of how play can unfold. On the occasions this is displayed throughout a team it is football in its purest form, the way it should be played. This style of play is overlooked in England because people don’t spare any time for foreplay always impatiently rushing to the money shot. Forwards is a religion. Predominantly, people will see the most direct route to goal only and discredit players that don’t share that view, Vernon Anita or David Batty for example. Similarly, retaining the ball is the best possible form of defence, but a last ditch tackle is held in higher esteem. This attitude is not exclusive to football as a spectator sport either and it has hindered England for generations – from the national team down to grass roots. If Perez had fluffed his volley into the Leazes End and the spell of possession had come to nothing more than keeping the ball for a passage of time the move would be forgotten altogether. This style of play should
24 passes constructed the first goal against Ipswich. All 11 players were involved in the glorious move, a systemic manipulation of space straight from the first whistle.
always be encouraged and appreciated with knowledge of what it can produce, but St James’ would ordinarily groan with disapproval at the backwards and sideways passing. Conceivably the team would have been excused on this occasion simply because the move was put together directly from kick off, but at virtually any other point in the 90 minutes a disapproving cacophony would have risen from the stands. Later in the very same game, impatience was growing at Karl Darlow for continuing to play out from the back – as if nothing had been learnt. If Cambiasso stretched any more than he already had and the ball cleared the crossbar, there would have been no compliments paid to Argentina for their style of play in the media other than a momentary acknowledgment at the end of the move. Patient would
become slow, lacklustre and ponderous. The problem is that possession based team goals are appreciated less than spectacular solo efforts because of an institutionalised scepticism towards the philosophy that produces them. A constructed team move only receives its congratulations if it comes to fruition, but it is never broadly commended for its intentions as a style of play if there is no goal at the end of it. Goals of individual brilliance should always be merited and receive the attention they deserve. David Ginola’s volley that put Fencvaros to the sword is a picturesque moment of genius, but the gradual build of team goal does not grab people as obviously as the sudden punch of a long–range shot or vicious volley. The obviously spectacular, or the goal scorer at the
end of a move receive the plaudits, but moments of beauty occur all over the pitch. It’s about how Argentina bide their time, the way Juan Pablo Sorin nonchalantly brings down a high-bouncing ball before playing it backward to change the angle of attack, or the flick of the outside of Riquelme’s boot in a quick one-two. During the fifth goal in the famous trawling of Manchester United there is a quick exchange of passes between David Batty and Rob Lee that contain as much creativity as Albert’s arc. Lee is retreating before he slips the ball to Batty with the outside of his foot, Batty stabs the ball back with a touch of backspin on the greased turf, and on receiving the return Lee is able to work the ball out to Albert. All three passes go backwards – evidently, how you get there is as important as the destination.
The obviously spectacular, or the goal scorer at the end of a move receive the plaudits, but moments of beauty occur all over the pitch.
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The day started around 8:30am at Central Station. The destination, Edinburgh, to take in my first experience of The Capital Derby between Heart Of Midlothian and Hibernian. I was lucky enough to get a ticket in the away end through lifelong Hibs fanatic, previous True Faith contributor (Toonspotting) and all round goodfella Callum Kane. Thetrain on the way up was pretty quiet despite groups of supporters from both clubs jumping on my carriage at Berwick and Dunbar. Something that I was struggling to process given the inevitable violence that would ensue if Newcastle and Sunderland were to cross paths in similar circumstances.
DAN GORDON Follow @dgordon1990
GEORDIES HERE, GEORDIES THERE... Hearts 0 Hibs 0 Scottish Cup 5th Round, Tynecastle Stadium, Sunday 12th February 2017. After getting off the rattler at Waverley I jumped in a taxi to meet Callum and his pals down a boozer next to Tynecastle for a few pre match nerve settlers, what
wasn’t an issue despite the national ban on peeve being sold before 11.30am on Sundays north of the border. On arrival it was evident straight away that Hibs
had taken over Murrayfield. People drinking, singing and dancing all over the place, most looking like they hadn’t been to bed let alone just got up. I find Callum and we shoot to another bar that isnt bursting at the seems. One of the first things that I’m made aware of is the impressive Murrayfield
Stadium, situated by the road we are walking down. Callum: “Imagine having the second best stadium in your own postcode.” Fair point inst it?... A few Tennents in and I am already being given a crash course in the glourious (and not so glorious) history of Hibernian F.C from characters I’ve only just met. People informing me of the many Mavericks who have donned the Green and White of Leith. George Best, Franck Suazee (God) and former NUFC keeper Ronnie Simpson to name a few. Stories are told of hooligan rivalries with www.true-faith.co.uk
Aberdeen and the petrol bombing of the 80’s. But even more unnervingly I am made aware of a man called Wallace Mercer. The former owner of Hearts during the early 90s who controversially threatened to buy Hibernian F.C to simply put them out of business. Hibs fans set up groups to oppose this takeover but also threatened Mercer with countless death threats, subsequently resulting in the Hearts owner to be under Mi5 guard and moving home to the south of France. Mercer lost his battle with cancer in 2006, but you’d struggle to find
any Hibees with sympathy for a man who tried to take their club away for good. Cue the chants “TELL ALL THE HEARTS YA KNOW, WALLACE MERCER IS DEAD AND WERE NO, (HES DEED) WE JUST WON THE CUP, SO LETS DIG HIM UP, WALLACE MERCER IS DEAD AND WERE NO!” and on that note we head off for the match. A five minute walk around the corner from the bar and we arrived at the the Roseburn Stand of Tynecastle where the 3,500 Hibees are situated. Hibs fans call it “the pink bus stop” due to its faded and tf 31
weathered state (sounds like the shit hole of someone we know...). The atmosphere as we walk through the rickety old concourses is electric. Hibs fans rightly gloating about last season Scottish Cup Final triumph over Rangers and expressing their dislike for the “Fanny” Mark Warburton who manages the Glasgow club. We get to our seats just in time for kick off and the usual exchange of abuse is being dished out, but Hibees are returning the insults with a lot more humor than the slack jaw Hearts fans to our right “15,000 BORING BASTARDS!”. The match got underway and after five minutes the Home side had a great chance from ten yards out, only for the Hibs keeper Marciano (nicknamed Rocky) to smother the shot. The rest of the half was a real scrappy affair due to the industry of Hibernians centre mid pairing of McGinn and Bartley who didn’t give the Hearts a second on the ball. Half time. 0-0. Hearts tf 32
frustrated, Hibs content. Five minutes into the second half and Hearts had a sliced effort smartly saved by the feet of Rocky Marciano. The Gorgie club were starting to cut a frustrated figure as their hoof ball tactics were being dealt with at ease by a street wise Hibs side. As the game went on you felt the momentum swing in the favor of Hibs and the fans felt it too by serenading the the completely silent Tynecastle crowd with a twenty minute rendition of Runaround Sue (The Leith Mix): “HIBS! HIBS! WOOOOH!WOOOOOH! HIBEES 3 RANGERS 2... JAMBOS KNOW THAT ITS TRUE...F**k YOUR 1902 (the year hibs last won ‘the big cup’ before last seasons triumph)”. During this show of unbelievable support The last real chance of the game fell to the vetran Holt, after a great burst down the left from Cummings he managed to square it across goal only for the big man to be half a yard short
of getting the ball in the right hand side of the post. The final whistle blew to an appreciative away end that will take the jambos to a replay. After the game there was a fair bit of coin throwing and some Nazi salutes/union jack waving from the Hearts fans, have a day off you boring bastards. The rest of the day was capped off by kicking about a few bars inMurrayfield and Leith, drunkenly conversing about all the things pissed up football lads talk about. In the haze of all this I registered someone telling me the real reasoning for the dislike between Hibs v Hearts: “People think its a Catholic v Protestant thing. Its not all that. Its a class thing. Hearts think we’re shite cos were from around Leith. Calling us spoonburners and shite. Well I F**king love Leith, rather be from here than with them boring middle class bastards.”
The atmosphere as we walk through the rickety old concourses is electric. Hibs fans rightly gloating about last season Scottish Cup Final triumph over Rangers and expressing their dislike for the “Fanny” Mark Warburton who manages the Glasgow club.
Jamaal Lascelles joined us along with current custodian, Karl Darlow from Nottingham Forest back in 2014. In a somewhat unheralded transfer he was then ludicrously loaned back to his former club. This was NUFC, pre Rafa when we did everything wrong.
Leadership Material Nick Clark
Such was my disdain for our club during this period, I didn’t think much more about either of these two apart from occasionally having a peak at Forest’s results. However, I noted midway through that campaign they were ‘live’ on TV v Birmingham, so I decided to watch. The only things I can recall about the game were that Forest lost 3-2 and Lascelles looked awful. Late in the game, a rather gangly, journeyman striker called Clayton Donaldson received the ball just outside the penalty area, turned Jamaal and then proceeded to plod a few yards before burying the ball with our man treading water in his wake. “Typical”, I thought. We’ve managed to buy www.true-faith.co.uk tf 34
someone less mobile than ‘iron Mike’. When he returned to us, I was therefore duly underwhelmed. He didn’t get too many opportunities at 1st team level. Those that I saw didn’t fill me with too much enthusiasm. However, his life at SJP was about to change. Following a regulation defeat at Goodison Park it has was widely reported that he made his feelings known most vociferously regarding the lack of interest & fight to the rest of the team. As Rafa arrived just a few days too late to save McClaren’s well holed vessel Lascelles became a www.true-faith.co.uk tf 34
mainstay at the centre of our defence. In the vainglorious attempt to hold on to our Premiership status, Lascelles embodied the new fight & purpose suddenly injected into the club. I’ve always preferred a central character who leads by example. A guy who can drag his team over the line if necessary. Barry Venison and Kevin Nolan were such characters, and Jamaal seems to be a Captain in a similar mould. To further the case for his defence, he is the very antithesis of transient ‘stars’ such as the sheep hearted Sissoko, Wijnaldum etc. And refreshingly, none of www.true-faith.co.uk
the big “I am” bullshit we had to listen to from Steven Taylor. Just a determined, head down lad who appears to be fiercely proud of being the leader on the pitch at United. I guess though, the real question re Lascelles is, is he good enough? I believe that this is impossible to answer properly at this stage in his career. I think we’ve all seen performances which could help you argue the case in either direction. At the tail end of last season, he was superb. I remember particularly his match saving tackle v Palace at home being very reminiscent of the famous Bobby Moore one
v Brazil. His performances during this period were excellent. Contrast that with the start of this season. A number of dreadful games lead to Rafa having to rest his Captain. For my money, the jury is out on Lascelles. His pace and mobility concern me, his leadership, improved positional sense, height, presence and desire give me hope. Let’s not forget, he’s still in his early twenties and has only played circa 100 games. With Rafa’s continued guidance, he’s got to have a chance. I for one, truly hope he can lead us back into the top flight, and then be good enough to play there.
I’ve always preferred a central character who leads by example. A guy who can drag his team over the line if necessary. Barry Venison and Kevin Nolan were such characters, and Jamaal seems to be a Captain in a similar mould. tf 35
Social media is a f**king tumour on modern life. An echo chamber for narcissists embarrassed in equal measure by spare time and self importance. What sort of person
TIME declares to the world “See – told you I was right.” Often when they’ve been proved hopelessly wrong. Who are these people? Are they even people? I told you we were right about Alan Pardew - bark scores of people currently touring the country to see their team play in towns that are viable venues for a UKIP party conference. Pardew left Newcastle in the top ten, 18 months and £80m later we sit a division below him. Not that Newcastle should be measured in relation to
Alan Pardew, why not just forget he ever existed? Of course, he never should have been given the gig at St James’ Park in the first place, yet in the same breath he wasn’t as hopeless as many like to present as fact either. And I think the NE3 student tf 36
types would have been a lot better off buying their A-Level biology books instead of that Pinocchio flag. Though it has to be said, Pardew was disliked for non-footballing reasons too. Many Newcastle fans hate Pardew because they know he could do something they can’t – make their wives cum. Is there a newly born smalltime outlook from some Newcastle fans? Sweating the small stuff, being overly negative and ill willed towards individuals. Maybe that’s a feature of social media and modern life in general, but it appears apparent among clusters of our support. What is the obsession with tweeting and talking on and on about Moussa Sissoko and Gini Wijnaldum? The former was laughed at for saying he wanted to play in the Champions League. Then when he does, he’s laughed at for being shite. Leave it alone. These Mags remind me of the Mackems 15 years ago. F**k me, Sissoko plays Monaco away on a Tuesday night, we play Barnsley. The same goes for Wijnaldum, a place on the bench at Liverpool is greeted as some kind of victory by some. Let it go. He used to play for us, plays for a better team now. So what? Yeah, these players were inconsistent last season. They were still Newcastle’s better players though, hence why clubs were willing to pay £30m and £25m for their services. It’s the players that stay at club who are
the ones that were really shite and on over inflated salaries that no other club could possibly justify. Jonjo Shelvey may lord it up in the Championship, but earning £80k a week and running rings around someone on a tenth of his salary isn’t really that impressive. He didn’t do it when it mattered. Watching Shelvey at Southampton last season, you could be forgiven for thinking he was turning out in his own Leukaemia charity match such was his lack
not a big fan of celebrating mediocrity. That gets you nowhere, see Coloccini, Enrique and Jonas. They all played leading roles in our relegation of 2008/09, hung around as they were on big money and had been awful all season. Then go on to perform to an extent, before ultimately have their careers undone by complacency and for Jonas - generally being a bit shit. Nothing personal, I just don’t think he was very good at his job.
I love what Rafa Benitez is doing, but the feeling I get from our support feels a bit Poundland Man Utd. Misplaced arrogance, which in the Championship translates as small-time. of mobility. Incidentally, his subsequent relegation to the bench coincided with our 6 game unbeaten run. As for Mitrovic. I bet Paul Dummett wishes he was born in Serbia. Well, probably not, but you get the point. Calling for parts of your city’s transport infrastructure to be named after a footballer who scored twice against Preston - is the most Mackem thing of all time. Mitro, it’s exactly the same sort of shitey over personal nickname they’re fond of as well – Super Kev, Mickey Gray, Bally, Benty. It would be great if Shelvey and Mitrovic can perform when up against elite players. I hope they do, but in the mean time I’m
I loved the way Newcastle bounced back under Chris Hughton - a lesson in stoicism. I love what Rafa Benitez is doing, but the feeling I get from our support feels a bit Poundland Man Utd. Misplaced arrogance, which in the Championship translates as small-time. Not that any of this nonsense actually matters when you put it into context – we’re all slowly dying a painful death, whilst working for people we couldn’t give a shit about. And in 50 years time your legacy will live on in your children who will live under the sea, where no one will have ever heard of Alan Pardew, Moussa Sissoko and Gini Wijnaldum. www.true-faith.co.uk
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The January transfer window was the quietest we can remember for United, yet it’s implications could conversely have a more profound effect than the vast majority of transfer windows of yore. There’s no point dissecting the ‘activity’ in the window because, well there wasn’t any. No incomings at all and only Tiote finally exiting the club a week after the domestic window closed. Or slammed shut, as is the accepted terminology. Given that barely any business tends to get done early in January, with clubs for reasons unknown favouring a mad scramble on the 31st, alarm bells weren’t really ringing when no transfer target was spotted having a tab outside the Raby on Shields Road and we weren’t seriously linked with many players.
Townsend was mentioned for a return to NE1, which most, if not all fans would have welcomed and McCarthy from Everton was mooted but no strikers were even talked about, which seemed slightly odd given that this was our obvious weakness. We struggled badly when Shelvey was suspended but managed to bumble
through, albeit with a chastening FA Cup exit and a diminished lead on the chasing pack and although we’ve missed for me our best player this season, Dwight Gayle, we’ve still managed to score a few goals and stay on top of the pile and in reality, those two players aside, we’ve pretty much got like for like cover in
Gareth Harrison - Follow @truefaith1892
every position and that hasn’t changed because of the transfer window. Most fans seemed to be of the mindset that in all probability, the current squad was good enough to get us promoted, whilst acknowledging the problem of trying to attract Premier League quality players to take a punt on a Championship side regardless of their gates and potential. Likewise, there wasn’t much clamour to bring in a Jordan Rhodes ‘good at this level’ striker who would have served their purpose in six months and would be surplus to requirements come a return to the top flight. However, as the month started to draw to a close, there were whispers that Rafa viewed things differently and had indeed identified targets with the expectation that the club would close the deals that he saw as being necessary www.true-faith.co.uk
to guarantee a return to the big league. Alarm bells really started ringing on the 31st. By mid-morning, it looked like a deal could be done to bring Townsend back but by the evening, he was named on the Palace bench at Bournemouth and that deal was clearly off. The noises coming from the Press the following morning hinted strongly that Rafa wasn’t pleased with the failure to land any of his men and supporters started to have horrible flashbacks of things ‘not looking like they did in the brochure’. The QPR game that evening was awful in every way – a terrible performance, awful atmosphere and then startling post-match interview from Rafa when he effectively laid in the open the feeling that he had been shafted by the club. At this stage, it is worth reiterating the overwhelming view that
Rafa is holding the club together single handedly and has done since the moment he walked through the door. There are maybe 0.1% of fans that seem to have something in for the manager, but without a more suitably PC word to describe those folk, they are certifiably mental. There was a short term panic that Rafa could walk immediately, but the word from those in the know was that he would ‘review’ things in the summer, the insinuation being that he would hang around to take us up before binning it. It is as clear as the nose on my face (and I’ve got a massive nose) that Rafa doesn’t need to put up with any of the shit from Ashley that desperados like Pardew and Maclaren lapped up. He’s not only a man of honour, let’s be perfectly honest about this, he’s also too good to be managing a basket case second division team. He’s still here down
It is as clear as the nose on my face (and I’ve got a massive nose) that Rafa doesn’t need to put up with any of the shit from Ashley that desperados like Pardew and Maclaren lapped up.
to the crowd, but that won’t be enough to keep him forever and there is a horrible nagging feeling when you see Ashley back in the stands with Graham f**king Carr, that all of the good work that has been done over the past twelve months is about to be hoyed out of the window. The week up to the Derby game seemed to go on forever and the response from the stands and indeed the team was perfect. Rafa’s name was shouted from the rafters and the team dug deep for a good win but there was still the nagging feeling that everything has just been put on hold until the summer. I listened to the
TF podcast with George Caulkin and as excellent as it was (as ever) it left a sickly feeling in my stomach over what might be round the corner. I can’t see a situation that doesn’t see us promoted, without being too complacent. Of the chasing pack behind Brighton, only Huddersfield cause me any modicum of concern but it could all be immaterial if Rafa walks once he’s seen us through to promotion. In every way, Rafa is the last chance saloon for Ashley’s NUFC. If he leaves in acrimonious circumstances on the back of unfulfilled promises in this window, then camels backs will be broken in
their tens of thousands and I fear to think what would happen to the club. I’m still clinging to the theory that this is a power struggle within the club and by coming out and stating his dissatisfaction, that Rafa has played a clever hand. Ultimately though, even if that were to be true, then why should he need to do that? Equally, as revered as Rafa is by the fan-base, there is ultimately one man that will make the decisions at United and as we’ve seen time and time again over the past decade, those decisions are largely disastrous. God help us.
I’m still clinging to the theory that this is a power struggle within the club and by coming out and stating his dissatisfaction, that Rafa has played a clever hand.
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Following our relegation in May my main hope in terms of transfers was to sell the heartless brigade. Get rid of those players who were only using Newcastle as a stepping stone, those lacking the commitment and desire necessary to play for our great club and those who only put in a performance when it was against a top six club. I didn’t just want Rafa to sell them, but to also achieve the maximum return possible. At least let them have some contribution to Newcastle United. In addition to this I wanted to see the back of our longer term players who are past their best.
MONEY SHOTS The likes of Cisse, Coloccini, Taylor, Obertan and Tiote. Whilst I have liked most of these players in the past I did think their time at Newcastle was over, even if they could do a job in the Championship. It was a shame Townsend wanted to go. He was our best player in the second half of last season. But as Rafa said, we only want players who want to play for Newcastle. So if a player would rather play under Alan Pardew at Crystal Palace then I am happy for him to leave.
Then it was a case of moving on (one way or another) the failed Graham Carr signings such as De Jong, Thauvin, Saivet & Cabella. Getting top dollar for these players just wasn’t going to happen so loaning them out or taking big losses was all we could hope for. In summary I wanted as many of the non performing current players out as possible. So based on that I don’t think Rafa could have done much better. Townsend was my only disappointment.
That said I would have taken him back in January.
In terms of expectations for players coming in I
reminded myself that we are Championship team now and the calibre of players we need is more solid and workmanlike. I didn’t expect any marquee signings and hoped we could build a squad capable of an immediate return to the Premier League. One thing I was also hoping for was an end to the era of buying cheap European players. I wanted to see players who could handle a long physical season in the Championship. Dwight Gayle has been the best of Rafa’s transfers.
Then it was a case of moving on (one way or another) the failed Graham Carr signings such as De Jong, Thauvin, Saivet & Cabella.
I did question paying £10m www.true-faith.co.uk
for someone who sat on the bench at Palace but that is the going rate for a British striker. Diame & Ritchie seemed like real coups. Both leaving premier league teams to play in the Championship can’t be ignored. Although all Newcastle fans would argue that playing for us rather than Hull or Bournemouth is a no brainer, the Townsend transfer shows just how much appeal the Premier League has. Ritchie has been decent for most of the season (on fire in January) and Diame is now showing what he can do after a slow start. I liked the signing of Isaac Hayden, a young intelligent English midfielder with a good pedigree after coming through the ranks at Arsenal. Bolstering the defence was a must. So the additions of Grant Hanley and particularly Ciaran Clark were welcomed, taking our centre back count to four. Lazaar and the pacey www.true-faith.co.uk
Yedlin have added decent defensive cover at full back. Also pacey is Christian Atsu, who has been a very good loan addition. I hope we make the move permanent as I think he has some good raw talent. But the most significant signings for me were Jesus Games and Daryl Murphy. Both of these players signified the end of the previous failed transfer policy of buying young payers with resale value. The real blemish on transfers this season has to be Matz Sels. He wasn’t cheap either. I’m sure we could have signed a better keeper with Championship experience allowing Darlow to start the season as first choice. At the end of August Newcastle United had the deepest squad in their division with two players in every position. Imagine being able to say that in previous years. To assemble the strongest squad in the Championship at a net cost of plus £31m is a job well done. Overall I think the transfer
activity has been very good. The squad assembled by the end of August is definitely good enough to get promoted as champions. The small wobble we had in December did make me think we should get reinforcements as there is so much at stake. Adding no players January was disappointing, but not as much so as the restarting of the old Mike Ashley interfering rumours. I’m giving Rafa 9/10 for his transfer activity. The only negatives being Matz Sels and no additions in the January window (if the latter can even be down to the manager). Otherwise all of the signings have been positive. Whether that be in performance, adding competition to the squad or rubber stamping Rafa’s control on getting the players he wants.
I’m giving Rafa 9/10 for his transfer activity. The only negatives being Matz Sels and no additions in the January window (if the latter can even be down to the manager).
I do question whether the calibre of some of our squad in the Premier League. But that will hopefully be a problem for another day. tf 43
In sensational developments today mike Ashley has sold Newcastle United to his old friend Donald trump. The actual cost is unknown but itâ€™s thought a life long supply of Slazenger soft fit joggers and pairs of New Balance trainers were included in the deal for Mr TrumpMr Trump has just held his 1st press conference, here is what he told reporters. JOHN LESLIE
Q: what made you buy Newcastle United Mr Trump? A: Well I already own a golf course here in Scotland so I thought might as well buy a football club. Q: what are your first plans? A: Tomorrow we will start building a wall around the stadium to keep people out (after getting advise he later retracted this statement saying it was locker room jokes and of course there will be entrances in the wall to let some people through). Q: What about a new manager? A: With advice from my old friend Mike I have decided to go for a dream team on Mr Harry Rednapp and Mr Sam Alidyce. Apparently they are as big crooks in the football world as I’m am in business so we should get along great. Q:What about transfers? A : There will be a total ban on buying players from the so called 7 countries. Any players that are already here from them, to give them a taste of their own medicine, will have their feet cut off and sent back from where they came from. Q: Can you run a football club and be president at the same time? A: Well my old comrade Putin is running things back home so it shouldn’t www.true-faith.co.uk
be a problem. Q: We hear you have a new sponsor Mr Trump. A: Kentucky Fried Chicken have come on board. Part of the deal was a new nickname so instead of the Magpies we will now be known as The Chickens. We thought the fans wouldn’t mind this as it’s a similar type of bird to the Magpie. Q: The chickens Mr Trump! A: Yes , originally it was going to be The Nuggets but thought it was a bit silly, and you couldn’t have a man dressed up as a giant nugget frightening the kids at halftime. Oh and the Gallowgate end will now be known as the Family Bucket Enclosure. But I would like to tell the great people of Newcastle I’ve fought tooth and nail and kept their beloved St James. The ground will now be called The St James Super Bowl. Q: What about Colonel Sanders? A: I’ve been told he’ll be on the bench this Saturday. Q: The Big change Mr Trump is the renaming of the club. A: Yes as from today the 1st team will be known as AFC AMERICA 1 and the under 21s AFC AMERICA 2. Q: Has the FA objected to this? A: How can they, I own
the copyright on the word America? (He turns around and says to one of his advisors, “Who the f**k is this FA and why wasn’t I told about them?” “We’ll look into them Sir”. Q: Mr Trump, have you heard about the great rivalry with neighbours Sunderland? A: Yes it’s all under control, in fact as we speak the wheels, or should I say missile, is in motion. Q: Have you been down to the Bigg Market Mr Trump? A: Mike took me there last night. Met some of the local lasses as you call them , And their strange language By the end of the evening my nickname was Wor Trump Pet. And I can tell you that wasn’t the only thing that got blown last night. (He later retracted this saying it was locker room banter and not all ladies from Newcastle were whores and bitches). Q: Finally Mr Trump do you want to win the premiership? A: No, I want to be no. 1. As Mr Trump leaves he turns around to the reporters, raising his fist in the air, and shouts “HOWAY THE BUDDIES!” tf 45
Ten years ago, the world was a merrier place. A cheerful time before the world economic crisis, the Islamic State and Donald Trump. An era where Newcastle enjoyed 14 successive years of top flight football including stints in the Champions League, Wembley finals and world record signings. And then one fateful day in May 2007, Mike Ashley arrived at St James’ in a cut price Sports Direct shell suit. Economic ruin, war in the Middle East and political turmoil followed. Admittedly, not all of these world catastrophes can be placed directly at the feet of Ashley. But he has been responsible for Newcastle United’s finances over the last ten years. Has Newcastle’s financial situation improved over those ten years? Let’s look at the evidence to assess his monetary stewardship, or lack of it, over his tenure (or at least up to 2015 when the latest accounts are available).
Profit There’s little doubt that when Ashley took over NUFC, they were a financial basket case. They were haemorrhaging money on an industrial scale having squandered fortunes on woeful players particularly under the managerial regime of laughing boy Graeme Souness. This culminated in the club reporting a record loss of £34.2m in 2007.
Newcastle United P & L before tax
Andrew trobe 36.2 32.6 18.7
Apparently Ashley wasn’t actually aware of how bad the books were at NUFC having reportedly failed to carry out due diligence (I bet he hasn’t
regretted that decision much!). But there’s no doubt that Ashley has turned NUFC around in terms of profitability.
absolutely nothing to do with Ashley whatsoever. We’d still have received it if Ant and Dec were running the club.
difficult, if not impossible, to compete with these clubs on the pitch. 140 120
Indeed there’s not a single Premier League Club that has generated more profit than NUFC in the last 5 years prior to 2015. Leicester fans, eat your hearts out!
Where Ashley IS responsible for growing revenue is in respect of our Match Day and Commercial revenue. And here he has failed miserably.
Premier League Profit/loss before tax - total for last 5 seasons NEWCASTLE UNITED
-34 WEST HAM -34 HULL -37 STOKE -70
LEICESTER LIVERPOOL CHELSEA
So how’s he done it? By on-field success generating additional revenue or due to cost cutting, selling our best players and a Sky TV windfall? I suspect you may already have guessed the answer to that but let’s take a look at the actual evidence. Revenue NUFC’s revenue has increased by an impressive 48% since Ashley took over. However the devil is in the detail. The reality is that the only growth has been as a result of a centrally negotiated TV deal by the Premier League and Sky. This increase has www.true-faith.co.uk
40 20 0 2007
ARSENAL WEST BROMICH ALBION
Both revenue streams have actually fallen under Ashley’s command. In 2007, Newcastle had a higher revenue than Tottenham. In 2015, Tottenham generated £70m more than Newcastle. The revenue gap between NUFC and the likes of Liverpool have widened massively over Ashley’s tenure. And this is the key point. It’s our ability to generate income relative to other clubs which has slipped so badly under Ashley. We’ve not just stood still. We’ve gone backwards. And this means that we will find it increasingly
With the reduced Match Day and Commercial income, we’ve become far more reliant on our broadcasting income (to be fair, that isn’t something unique to NUFC). However this reliance on the Sky TV money makes the club very vulnerable when that income stream is vastly reduced following relegation. If Ashley had managed to grow the Commercial and Match Day income streams, the impact of relegation would have been softened somewhat. It may also have meant we were able to buy another player to help us get back in the top flight.
If Ashley had managed to grow the Commercial and Match Day income streams, the impact of relegation would have been softened somewhat.
100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100% 100%
Costs So whilst we’ve established that Ashley has failed miserably to grow revenue, has he been any more successful in controlling costs? The answer to that is undoubtedly yes. The next question is whether or not that is a good thing? The answer to that is possibly. The main cost for all clubs is players’ wages. Newcastle’s wages since 2007 have increased by £5.3m or 9%, a pretty mediocre rise. Since 2007, Tottenham have increased their wages by 130%. Oddly enough, Spurs are now competing for the title whilst NUFC have been relegated. In 2007, NUFC had the 5th highest wage bill in the top flight. In 2015, we had the 17th highest (only Hull, Burnley and Leicester had a lower wage bill). You don’t require a financial genius to tell you that better players will demand higher wages. A failure to keep up with the wages paid by other clubs will unquestionably mean inferior players and a poorer product on the pitch. But a balance has to be struck. Football clubs should only pay the wages that they can afford. Accountants, Deloittes, recommend clubs should aim for wages to take tf 48
up no more than 50% of revenue. Anything over 75% is considered unsustainable. Ashley has managed to reduce the wages : turnover percentage to 51%. Whilst this is laudable, the preferred method to achieve this is by increasing turnover. Spurs have the same wages : turnover % but, as highlighted above, they have achieved this by generating more income. Ashley has achieved it by keeping wages down. 100% 80% 60% 40% 20% 0% 2007
Wages to turnover
Transfer spending Ultimately, it is for the owner of a football club to support their managers in the transfer market. Has Ashley done this? The net transfer spend before, and after, his buyout suggests not (source: Transfer League). Not accounting for inflation, Ashley has basically made about a quarter of the transfer funds available that managers under Shepherd & Hall enjoyed. And this is at a time that
Not accounting for inflation, Ashley has basically made about a quarter of the transfer funds available that managers under Shepherd & Hall enjoyed. Newcastle
Before Ashley Buyout £262,145,000 £133,075,000 £129,070,000
After Ashley Buyout £279,900,000 £257,100,000 £22,800,000
all Premier League clubs have received a massive financial windfall from the Sky TV deals.
while Randy Lerner has cancelled repayment of £180 million of loans at Aston Villa.
Debt When Ashley bought the club in 2007, the net debt stood at £67.3m. Shepherd had effectively mortgaged the club to the hilt, securing loans on virtually all the club’s assets (training ground) and future income streams (TV, sponsorship). In Shepherd’s defence, it could be argued that this was to finance significant stadium development and backing his managers in the transfer market (not always wisely - see Graeme Souness)
Since 2015, the net debt has almost certainly increased again (although we don’t know by how much exactly). Ashley will almost certainly look to reduce this debt if we are promoted to the top flight. Experience has shown us that he will do this by reducing costs and selling players.
This debt increased to a peak of £150.4m in 2010 following relegation before dropping to £80.7m in 2015. Whilst this is £13m higher than Ashley inherited, there’s no longer any external bank debt with the remaining loan of £129 million being entirely owed to Ashley. To be fair, the switch from external to owner debt has saved a lot of money in annual interest payments (which were as high as £8 million in 2008). But less welcoming is Ashley’s refusal to convert his loans to equity (effectively writing the debt off), as is the case with many football club owners. For example, Ellis Short has capitalised around £100 million of loans at Sunderland www.true-faith.co.uk
No normal business encapsulate the hopes, dreams and passions of an area like football clubs. The financial turnaround has been made possible by serving up an awful product to an astonishingly loyal customer base. It’s a tragedy that whilst the Premier League has seen an unprecedented windfall in income through the Sky TV deal, NUFC have been starved of transfer funds.
160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 2007
Mike Ashley loans Gross debt
Cash at bank
Summary If NUFC were a “normal” business, the turnaround in their financial fortunes under Ashley would be lauded by the financial press. But football clubs, particularly NUFC, are not normal businesses.
We asked the question earlier whether Ashley’s success in generating profits was as a result of cutting costs, selling our best players and a Sky TV windfall. The answer, I’m afraid, has been shown to be all too clear. tf 49
Anybody you know been in for a chat with the Mr Ashley or the Managing Director lately? No, well they should have been.
A funny thing happened on the way to the Forum… NEWCASTLE UNITED SUPPORTERS TRUST The English Football League (EFL) agreed to some rule changes at their 2016 AGM about minimum levels of supporter engagement. Clubs must now hold at least two meetings/fans forums per season to which its supporters (or representatives) are to be invited in order to discuss significant issues relating to the club. Clubs must be represented by the Club’s majority owner, board director or other senior executive. Where the meetings are not open to all supporters the supporter representatives must be elected, selected or invited in line with basic democratic principles and individuals cannot be excluded by the Club without good reason. These changes came about after much lobbying by the Football Supporters Federation (FSF) and Supporters Direct (SD) on behalf of supporters and supporters trusts across the country. A Department for tf 50
Culture Media and Sport Select Committee set up a Government Expert Working Group to look at supporter ownership and engagement. After dragging its way through several years of inactivity the Select Committee were prompted by supporters organisations to take some action in the lead up to the last General Election. The Labour Party had outlined some radical commitments to supporter representation at Board level but these came to nothing following their defeat at the ballot box last year. The EFL have adopted a set of commitments in the EFL Handbook for a minimum level of structured dialogue between clubs and supporters. These have now been set out under Regulation 111 – Supporter Engagement. This is a significant step change in ensuring that clubs give supporters regular opportunities to discuss the issues that matter
to supporters with the relevant senior club people. There should be at least two meetings a year. These new meetings must give supporters the opportunity to meet with owners/ directors/senior executives and must be in addition to any ongoing relationships between supporters and the Supporter Liaison Officer. So if you have some burning issues you want raised with Mr Charnley, Managing Director at NUFC find out who is representing you at the Club’s Fans Forum. There are representatives from all parts of the ground and for a variety of different fan groups. Check the Club’s website for details of who they are and their contact details. Better still join Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST) at www.nust.org.uk to be kept up to date with what’s happening because the Trust have been invited back onto the Fans Forum. Interesting timing eh?
Clubs must now hold at least two meetings/ fans forums per season to which its supporters (or representatives) are to be invited in order to discuss significant issues relating to the club.
Their Fans: 8 - Enjoyed themselves, as you’d expect. Media View: ‘Another day of FA Cup pain as awful United crash out’ (Chronicle). In-Form: None of them. OXFORD UNITED 3 NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 Kassam Stadium, FA Cup 4th Round, Saturday 28th January, 3:00pm, Att: 11,810. So where does this result and performance rank in the recent catalogue of FA Cup horror shows? It’s got to be up there surely? Presented with an eminently winnable fourth round draw, United chucked it all away courtesy of a dubious line up, awful finishing and cack handed defending. We had marginally the better of the first half and Mitrovic alone could have had a hat trick, fluffing two clear cut chances when clean through and then winning a penalty only to put the spot kick straight at the keeper. The second half was a different matter altogether though and we conceded within a minute of the restart. We failed to deal with a corner properly and Hemmings was able to force the ball over the line after it was headed back across goal. We created next to nothing of note and were undone with ten minutes to go, again from a corner, this time with Nelson getting to the cross with some ease to nod past Sels. The humiliation was complete five minutes before the end from, yep you guessed it, another corner. This time the scorer, Martinez simply wasn’t marked at all and looped his header over the terrible Sels. The full time whistle was greeted with an angry reaction from what was left of the away support in the ground and although our only focus this season is on promotion, this non-performance was simply unforgivable. Newcastle United: Sels, Gamez, Good, Hanley, Haidara (Ritchie), El-Mhanni (Gouffran), Hayden, Barlaser, Perez, Lazaar, Mitrovic. Our Fans: 4 - Odd following, understandably pissed off by the end.
Out of Form: A collective shocker, with bonus points to Mitrovic who should have had it won in the first half. Rafa Watch: I can’t really understand the thinking behind playing a stronger team in the 3rd round than the 4th, Good’s inclusion was odd but even then, the line up should have managed more than that. It was a seriously poor result.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 QPR 2 St. James Park, Championship, Wednesday 1st February, 7:45pm, Att: 47,909. A shocking performance saw us end up with a barely deserved point in a game where we came within a whisker of claiming what would have been a completely undeserved three. There was little hint of what was to come when we took the lead inside the first minute though. Haydens pull back was knocked to the edge of the area and the onrushing Shelvey lashed it home. That was pretty much the sum total of our input in the first half though as they visitors completely dominated. Only a mixture of poor decision making in front of goal and a couple of excellent stops from Darlow meant that they were denied a leveller until just before the half time whistle, when poor marking left Conor Washington in space to convert from close range. We did pick up in the second half and a lung bursting run from Hayden saw him swing over a lovely cross straight onto Ritchie’s head which the winger duly nodded home. Perez than had a nightmare – shooting straight at the keeper when a pass would have left Ritchie with a tap in, then passing when a shot was much the better option shortly after and Gouffran was only denied by a fine stop from their keeper. As the match became more feisty (Sammy being on the end of an awful tackle which saw their defender leave his studs down his back), we looked like we’d got away with the victory before disaster struck on 90 minutes. Lua tf 53
Lua (the Junior!) lofted an aimless looking ball towards the area, but as Darlow advanced off his line, a bandaged Ciaran Clark directed a backwards header straight over the keeper and into the net. Not a good night all round. Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden, Shelvey, Gouffran, Perez (Diame), Murphy (Ameobi). Our Fans: 4 - Edgy, critical, unhelpful. Their Fans: 4 – Not many of them, the ones that turned up were OK. Media View: ‘Disappointment for Benitez as Toon lost initiative in title race’ (Mirror). In-Form: Darlow saved us from a certain defeat and was easily our best man. Out of Form: We were pretty poor in most departments – Perez badly needs some time out. Rafa Watch: Difficult week all round, magnified by the worrying noises coming out after the match over the transfer window. NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 DERBY COUNTY 0 St. James Park, Championship, Saturday 4th February, 3:00pm, Att: 52,271. United produced the perfect antidote to the turmoil bubbling under over the last week with a fine performance both on and off the field. Whipped up by a fantastic Gallowgate Flags display and vocalising their love for the gaffer, the crowd visibly lifted the team in the first half after the poor display in midweek. We dominated possession without doing too much with it, before taking lead in slightly spawny circumstances just before the half
hour. Mitrovic did well to hold the ball up and lay it off to Ritchie and his effort from the outside of the area took a big deflection, taking it past a stranded Carson in the Rams net. Diame should have doubled the lead just after but fired a chance straight at the keeper and Mitrovic scuffed an effort wide just after the break which could have killed things off. Perez was brought on to a refreshingly great reception after Hayden went off injured and the Spaniard almost doubled our lead when he got on the end of a Shelvey free kick, only for their defender to block his effort close to the line. Derby looked a very ‘McClaren’ side, enjoying possession but doing absolutely f**k all with it, until they threw caution to the wind in the last ten minutes. An otherwise anonymous Tom Ince made a rick of a chance straight in front of goal and hearts were in mouths in the final seconds, when Yedlin headed off the line from a Bent header. Anything less than three points would have been harsh on us and the whole afternoon was very enjoyable. Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Hanley, Dummett, Ritchie, Hayden (Perez), Shelvey, Gouffran (Lascelles), Diame, Mitrovic (Ameobi). Our Fans: 9 - Excellent, probably the best all season at SJP. Their Fans: 8 - Great turnout, ‘proper’ club. Media View: ‘Benitez feels fans’ love after Ritchie earns leaders vital win’ (Telegraph). In-Form: Dummett was tremendous and didn’t give Ince a kick. Out of Form: Gouffran was pretty anonymous. Rafa Watch: A reminder, if it was ever needed of the regard he’s held in.
WOLVES 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 Molineux, Championship, Saturday 11th February, 5:30pm, Att: 24,876. Definitely one for the ‘ground out victory’ files was this one, but a huge three points nonetheless and whilst we’re sticking with the clichés, it is as we all know the mark of champions to win ugly. Phew, I can stop that now. There is actually very little to say about the game itself – for a spell in the first half it looked like we were going to be down to ten men as Mitro walked a fine line, first picking up a harsh yellow for bumping into their man, then fortunately deciding not to show a second yellow when he went in studs up on the keeper. The Serb then pounced just before the half time whistle to stab in from six yards out to send us in
NORWICH CITY 2 NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 Carrow Road, Championship, Tuesday 14th February, 7:45pm, Att: 26,841.
at the break with the decisive goal of the game.
A crackers game with bags of incident saw us take a good point from Carrow Road, but it could easily have been all three. The visiting fans had barely picked themselves up from swooning after witnessing a forward pass from Colback, but young Ayoze latched onto it and coolly put us ahead inside the first thirty seconds. The lead didn’t last for long though, as we shot ourselves in both feet with some howlers. First, a long ball was humped up to Jerome and he brushed Lascelles aside all too easily before squaring to Murphy for a tap in. If that was bad, what followed just a few minutes later was even worse, as another long ball to Jerome wasn’t dealt with and Darlow raced from his line only to completely shank it on the edge of the box, leaving the striker to stroll forward and tap it into an empty net – a certainty for ‘Blooper’ DVD’s of years to come.
He didn’t appear in the second half to save himself a dismissal and we hung on for most of the half, although in fairness a lot of their pressure involved balls into the box, which Darlow manfully dealt with, whilst the centre back pairing stood firm under pressure. The game ended with jubilant scenes in the away end, Shelvey blowing kisses and the home fans throwing their toys out of the pram. Lovely.
Both defences were almost comically poor and it was a minor miracle that the score remained at 2-1 for another hour before Lascelles made some amends for his earlier clangers, getting on the end of a Perez cross to lash a volley home from a tight angle at Ruddy’s near post. We could have won it when Perez had half a chance when being put through but in the end, most of us would have taken a point at the start of the night and that’s exactly what we got.
Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Murphy), Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran, Diame (Perez), Mitrovic (Atsu).
Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie (Atsu), Colback (Diame), Shelvey, Gouffran, Perez, Mitrovic (Gayle).
Our Fans: 8 - It’s a shite away end but the support was excellent.
Our Fans: 7 - Good turnout, decent voice.
Their Fans: 6 - Didn’t like getting beat, oh no.
Their Fans: 7 - I like them as a support, minus the constant, irritating ‘On the Ball City’ dirge.
Media View: ‘Mitrovic fires Magpies to narrow victory to move side back to top’ (Mail).
Media View: ‘Benitez hails Magpies character as late Lascelles goal rescues point’ (Shields Gazette).
In-Form: Defensively we were very good – I think Clark was our top man for me.
In-Form – Colback was alright (relatively!)
Out of Form: Diame was quiet again.
Out of Form: Darlow won’t be watching that one back too regularly.
Rafa Watch: Had them set up perfectly and there is beauty to be had in these sort of victories.
Rafa Watch: I think he’d have taken that, albeit with some frustration around the goals we conceded/chances we missed.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 BRISTOL CITY 2 St. James Park, Championship, Saturday 25th February, 3:00pm, Att: 52,131.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 ASTON VILLA 0 St. James Park, Championship, Monday 20th February, 8:00pm, Att: 50,024. A sweet victory in so many ways put us back on top of the pile in a game that will mainly be remembered for one beautiful incident. The atmosphere was built up nicely by a fantastic Gallowgate Flags display, featuring the new crowd surfer, but the feel-good vibes didn’t really translate to the pitch for most of the half and in truth, the visitors were the better side. Gayle worryingly went off injured after half an hour to be replaced by Mitrovic and we took the lead slightly against the run of play just before half time. Gouffran got the final touch after the ball had bobbled around from a corner and the goal put a spring in our stride. We were much better in the second half and doubled our lead in fantastic circumstances on the hour, again from a corner. Lascelles met the cross by Shelvey but his effort seemed to have been blocked on the line by Lansbury only for him to backheel it into his own net in comedy fashion – the announcement of the ‘goalscorer’ being met with possibly the loudest cheer at SJP this season – have that you little twat. We coasted to our victory in the end and poor, poor Villa are starting to get worried about back to back relegations, which would obviously be terrible. Ho ho. Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback, Shelvey, Gouffran (Atsu), Diame, Gayle (Mitrovic). Our Fans: 8 - Flags were mint, support was patient. Their Fans: 5 - Made some noise to be fair, but shocking songbook. Media View: ‘Lansbury own goal condemns Bruce’s side to fifth straight defeat’ (Birmingham Mail – arf, arf!) In-Form: Dummett is quietly having a great season and edged MoM here. Out of Form: Gayle wasn’t fit from the off. Rafa Watch: Important win, well orchestrated. tf 56
A proverbial game of two halves saw us put in a horror show performance in the first and improve dramatically in the second to earn a point. City came here just outside the relegation zone but were two up inside the first twenty minutes. The first, a header from Wilbraham looked offside while the second was a shocker – a breakdown in communication from the on-rushing Darlow and Dummett which presented Cotterill with a tap in into an empty net. Stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before. We were fortunate to go in at the break only two down. We improved in the second half, aided by the minging Colback being hooked and got one back on the hour – an Atsu cross that bobbled in off Shelvey and a defender and the goal spurred us on as we bombarded the visitors. It still took until eight minutes from time to get an equaliser though – another scruffy goal going in via Clark’s head and possibly a defender and although we pushed for a late winner, it wasn’t to be. A defeat ahead of our three massive games would have been a nightmare, so glass half full and all that. Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback (Diame), Shelvey, Atsu, Perez (Gouffran), Mitrovic.
Our Fans: 6 - Mixture of grumbling and full on backing to the team. Their Fans: 6 - Plenty of them, not the noisiest. Media View: ‘Clark claims crucial point after disastrous start’ (Shields Gazette). In-Form: Atsu played well and put loads of decent balls over. Out of Form: Darlow had another aberration, Colback and Mitrovic were both garbage. Rafa Watch: Thought the game was crying out for Murphy to come on personally. www.true-faith.co.uk
In-Form: Atsu and Ritchie both played really well out wide. Out of Form: Gouffran looked uncomfortable up front and isn’t a good enough finisher to play centre forward. Rafa Watch: Massive result, timed the substitutions perfectly when it looked like he’d left it too late. HUDDERSFIELD 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 3 John Smiths Stadium, Championship, Saturday 4th March, 5:30pm, Att: 23,213. BRIGHTON 1 NEWCASTLE UNITED 2 AMEX Stadium, Championship, Tues 28th February, 7:45pm, Att: 30,230. An incredible late fight back saw us snatch victory from the jaws of defeat in a pivotal game in our push for promotion. The omens weren’t good when we fell behind on the 15 minute mark from another piece of highly dubious (read:shit) refereeing. Clark and Murray were both grappling with each other from a corner, but Huddersfield fan Bobby Madeley pointed to the spot and Murray himself stroked the spot kick home. To be honest, the home side never really pushed on their advantage and we were the better side for the vast majority of the game. Gouffran made a balls of a chance to level when the keeper fluffed a clearance straight to him and Atsu somehow hit a shot straight at the keeper just before the break as we finished the half with our tails up. The game looked to be drifting away from us though until Murphy emerged from the bench with quarter of an hour left and made an instant impact, winning everything in the air. Our equaliser finally came with ten minutes to go in comedic circumstances. Atsu’s shot was going nowhere when it looped off Diame and over the keeper and defender on the line to nestle in the top corner. Total fluke. The Mags in the away end scented blood now though and blood they got when Ritchie hit an incredible 70 yard ball which Atsu took in his stride before squaring to the onrushing Perez, who calmly sidefooted his shot past Stockdale, to spark anything but calm scenes in the away end. The victory was massive and the body blow to the Seagulls equally as important. We never win games like that! Newcastle United: Darlow, Yedlin, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback (Murphy), Shelvey, Atsu, Diame, Gouffran (Perez). Our Fans: 8 - Delirious scenes at the end. Their Fans: 5 - Sharp buggered off when the second went in. Media View: ‘Diame freak goal and Perez complete comeback to send visitors top’ (Telegraph). www.true-faith.co.uk
The elation from Tuesday night turned into full on jubilation as we won what was arguably the most important game of the three, to put clear daylight between ourselves and Huddersfield in third. The victory was a classic away performance too, soaking up pressure and conceding possession whilst hitting them on the counter attack with devastating effect – had on, had on this can’t be Newcastle United I’m talking about here!
We got off to the perfect start when Ritchie won a penalty inside the opening ten minutes, after his heels were tapped on the edge of the box and he picked himself up to smash the spot kick straight down the middle in front of the jubilant Mags. Huddersfield had the majority of the ball but we doubled our lead through a clever finish from Murphy on the half hour. The striker looked to have lost the long ball he received from Shelvey but he managed to claw the ball back from the keeper and thread a finish past the keeper and defender from an acute angle. The Terriers piled the pressure on in the second half and got themselves back into the game with 20 minutes to go, when the ref levelled things up after awarding us a 50/50 penalty, by returning the favour to the home side after a push by Shelvey, with Mooy making no mistake from the spot. They threw the kitchen sink at us, but we tf 57
sealed it in the final moments, when the keeper came up for a corner and looked to have got back in time to intercept a punt upfield from Clark, but ended up on his arse on the half way line to allow Gayle a clear run at an empty net. Delirium. Biggest win of the season. For all our dominance in the first half, we started to run out of ideas in the second, albeit never being at risk of losing the game until Colback, who is absolute f**king cack, unnecessarily tripped a player over in a dangerous position for the 342nd time in a black and white shirt and from the resulting free kick, Mulgrew was for the second time this season the man that sealed it – poor goal as well, a proper daisy cutter. As for Colback man, Jesus – he reminds me of Alan Smith i.e utter gash. Poor result to start the year. Newcastle United: Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback (Gouffran), Shelvey, Atsu (Yedlin), Diame, Murphy (Gayle). Our Fans: 9 - Tremendous. Their Fans: 9 - Excellent also – really got behind their team. Media View: ‘United have one foot back in the Premier League’ (Chronicle). In-Form: The centre half pairing were first class, as was Dummett again. Out of Form: I can’t really think of anyone that didn’t do their job. Rafa Watch: Got it spot on, 3-1 win with 20-odd percentage possession? Tactical genius.
READING 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 Madejski Stadium, Championship, Tuesday 7th March, 8:00pm, Att: 23,121. After vanquishing our two nearest rivals, the final part of our epic trilogy (should have been a Hollywood screen writer, me) saw us put in a professional display to gain another great point at the team in fourth. We nearly conceded in the first minute and the last but inbetween were reasonably comfortable as fatigue inevitably started to show. Ritchie came closest for us in the first half when he hit the post but tf 58
it was a game of very few major opportunites. We did go for what would have been an unbelievable third win in the latter stages, throwing Gayle into the fray but Reading nearly nicked it at the end when they hit the bar from a shot from the edge of the box. A defeat would have been cruel though and when me and my mates were chatting after the Bristol City game as to what would constitute a good return from these three games, the perceived wisdom was that four points would be decent, five would be fantastic. We’ve got 7 and we’re going up. Newcastle United: Darlow, Gamez, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback (Diame), Shelvey, Perez, Gouffran (Atsu) Murphy (Gayle). Our Fans: 7 - Fantastic turnout for a midweek game anywhere, let alone one hundreds of miles away. Their Fans: 6 - Tories. Media View: ‘Benitez’s Toon show resilience to make it a magnificent seven’ (Mirror). In-Form: Given the week they’ve had, you have to take your hat off to all of them. Out of Form: Gouffran is starting to fade a bit as the season comes to a close. Rafa Watch: 7 points from those three big games – brilliant.
NEWCASTLE UNITED 1 FULHAM 3 St. James Park, Championship, Saturday 11th March, 3:00pm, Att: 51,903. After the highs of the last three games came a distinct low as we were played off the park by a Fulham team that were as impressive as we were piss poor. Chief architects for them were Cairney and Sessegnon and it was the former who gave them the lead quarter of an hour in, curling a shot into the top corner past a static Darlow. They dominated the half and we couldn’t get near the Scottish midfielder, let alone create anything of our own with the entire team looking off the pace. The second half started terribly, when they doubled their www.true-faith.co.uk
lead inside five minutes of the restart. Shite goal to concede, Dummett making a hash of a nothing cross and slicing his clearance to Aluko, who had the presence of mind to backheel into the path of fullback Sessegnon, who made no mistake, finishing into the bottom corner. The 16 year old made it three when running onto a ball which completely dissected the defence, again finishing coolly – there was still nearly half an hour to go at this point and we could have been facing a proper scudding. Murphy came on and made an instant difference and pulled a consolation back with a fine effort from the edge of the box but they still had time to blaze a penalty wide right at the death, when Sessegnon was denied the chance of attempting his hat trick from the spot. Not a good day at the office. Newcastle United: Darlow, Anita, Clark (Gamez), Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback, Shelvey, Atsu, Diame (Murphy), Gayle (Gouffran). Our Fans: 4 - A mixture of whining and trying to support the team. Their Fans: 7 - The best following they’ve brought as far as I can remember. Media View: ‘Sessegnon shines as Magpies suffer jointheaviest defeat of the season’ (Telegraph). In-Form: I’m tempted to say Cairney, but Murphy was the only one of our lot that emerges with any credit. Out of Form: Collectively rotten but special mention to Diame, who was especially shit.. Rafa Watch: We’re still top, we’ll still probably go up but the one up top didn’t work here and hasn’t worked at other times at home.
much with a centre midfield comprised of Colback and Diame and so it proved in a game of few chances, with the home side seemingly expressly set up to contain United. The first half saw the main talking point of the match when Ritchie was first to react when a Perez effort was palmed out by Kuszczak, but he was given as offside when he turned his effort home – debateable decision. We huffed and puffed a bit in the second half but never really came close to threatening again but mind neither did they and the fact that their keeper was given man of the match was as much to do with the paucity of quality from the outfield players as it was for a string of world class saves. The international break arrives at a perfect time for us – players and fans alike could do with a couple of weeks off before the final push begins. Newcastle United: Darlow, Anita, Clark, Lascelles, Dummett, Ritchie, Colback, Diame, Perez (Shelvey), Gouffran (Atsu), Murphy (Gayle). Our Fans: 7 - Good turnout again, decent noise given there wasn’t much to get excited about.
BIRMINGHAM CITY 0 NEWCASTLE UNITED 0 St. Andrews, Championship, Saturday 18th March, 3:00pm, Att: 19,796. Another point on the way to promotion, which was given greater significance after defeats for Huddersfield and Brighton over the weekend after a dour match at St.Andrews. We were always going to struggle to create www.true-faith.co.uk
Their Fans: 4 - Very poor, loads of empty seats and an air of apathy. Media View: ‘Kuszczak saves Birmingham’ (Mail). In-Form: Murphy is a constant handful. Out of Form: Diame was poor again I thought. Rafa Watch: Good away point, no matter which way you look at it. Gareth Harrison - Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892 tf 59
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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
lasses, veteran fans, season ticket holders, exiles and whatever else you care to mention.
true faith and in fact we welcome those that are completely opposite in honesty.
You don’t need to be a previously published writer or have any fancy qualifications. All we care about is whether you have a love for Newcastle United and a will to inform and entertain your fellow supporters. We don’t care if your opinions are the same or are similar to the editorial position of
You might want to write detailed exposes of the United financial and business model or you might want to do a matchreport or you might want to do something we’ve never ever considered. We also like dipping our toes into the waters of music, film and fashion
so if that’s your forte, just drop us a line as well. Don’t forget, we welcome all cartoonists, photographers and designers to join us as well, so whatever your talent, we can put you to work with the aim of establishing true faith as the best fanzine for the best supporters in the whole world. All emails to editor@ true-faith.co.uk tf 61
Time and time again, the FA has failed to reform itself and this led to a recent debate amongst our Parliamentary representatives which should interest all supporters. Newcastle United Supporters Trust believe that supporters should have a much stronger voice when decisions are made about the game. At the moment there is just one supporter representative on the FA Council of more than 100 people and the FA is too weak to regulate greedy or exploitative club owners. On the 9th February MPs passed a vote of no confidence in the Football Association’s governance of football in this country and backed recommendations to increase supporter representation on football’s governing body. Time will tell whether this public expression of dissatisfaction by our Parliamentary representatives will lead to any meaningful changes.
Peter Fanning Vice Chairman, Newcastle United Supporters Trust
Political Football tf 62
The motion for debate was brought by Damien Collins, Chair of the Culture, Media and Sports Select Committee. The F.A. has been placed under increasing pressure to reform its governance structure with the Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP setting a deadline of April 2017 for the organisation to comply with the new code of standards for sports governing bodies. Of course, with football playing such an important part in so many people’s lives whether participating, volunteering or supporting, from the grassroots to the professional clubs, alongside a powerful independent regulatory role must be an updated and representative governance structure. Clive Efford MP said: “The historic construction of this organisation clearly needs reform. I favour the Football Supporters’ Federation’s r e c o m m e n d a t i o n s . We should have fans’ representatives on the board of the FA. The time has also come for fans’ reps to be on the boards of football clubs. It is the www.true-faith.co.uk
fans we turn to when we look to save clubs that fall into difficulties. They are of the communities from which those clubs have sprung.” Sports Minister Tracey Crouch MP warned the FA that it risked losing public money and could face intervention if it didn’t offer appropriate reform proposals by the end of March 2017. A number of those MPs attending including Blackpool’s Gordon Marsden MP and Peter Dowd (Bootle), backed recommendations proposed by the FSF to increase the number of supporter representatives on the FA council to five and to have a supporter representative on the FA board. Jason McCartney MP said: “That supporter representation could help increase the diversity of the top of the decisionmaking levels in English football. “Fans are serious about reform. It is now time for the FA’s executive board and council to crack on and deliver those reforms.”
Its been argued for years that the FA was an organisation run by too many stuffed shirts in county blazers out of touch with grass roots sport. The fact that there’s only one supporter representative, currently Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the FSF but there are representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and both Oxbridge Universities says everything you need to know about the FA Council. So, does last month’s debate mean that things are looking up for football supporters. Probably not! It’s undoubtedly a step forward to get the debate in Parliament and a degree of publicity that goes with it. But look behind the main points set out above and what do you find? A backbench motion such as introduced by Damien Collins MP has no legal force and only 17 of our 650 MPs bothered to attend. So, clearly not high on the parliamentary agenda.
The fact that there’s only one supporter representative, currently Malcolm Clarke, Chair of the FSF but there are representatives from the Army, Navy, Air Force and both Oxbridge Universities says everything you need to know about the FA Council
Do you remember where you were on 23 May 2007? I do. I was enjoying some refreshment with other comrades resident in the TF gulag when news came through that Mike Ashley had bought Sir John Hallâ€™s 41.6% stake in Newcastle United at one pound per share, for a total cost of ÂŁ55,342,223 via his company, St James Holdings Ltd. Hall had taken advantage of the fact that his partner in crime, Freddie Shepherd, was in hospital to conclude the deal. I am not saying that there was joy unconfined but I do remember doing a little jig at the time. If I remember correctly our esteemed editor (may praise be upon him!) even went so far as to throw in an extra slice of stale bread into my cell.
WALLACE WILSON FOLLOW @WallaceHWilson
Ashley TEN YEARS AFTER tf 64
You have to remember the context for such celebration. Hall and Shepherd had overseen a steady decline in the fortunes of the club which included taped conversations of the latter describing Geordie women as ‘dogs’, bizarrely calling Alan Shearer ‘Mary Poppins’, and laughing about the mark-up the club charged for replica shirts. Add to that a suspicion that there was skulduggery involved in Shepherd’s business charging the club for use of an empty warehouse and concern over how close the regime was to certain agents (Shepherd’s son was an employee of Wayne Rooney’s agent, Paul Stretford, while Willie Mackay seemed to be involved in every deal United were making usually for crap players) and the mood of discontent was both understandable and plain to see. Shepherd, understandably, wasn’t as keen as Hall to sell his shares but Ashley pressed www.true-faith.co.uk
home his advantage to leave our Chairman isolated and without any influence in the club. He took Ashley’s money and walked. With him went any opportunity for a degree of local influence over how the club was run. Although Ashley was heralded as a ‘British Billionaire’ who would have an understanding of football culture in reality he was as divorced from local realities as any Russian oligarch. Leadership is determined by personal characteristics rather than geographical origins. Looking back to the first days after he took over, Hall praised Ashley and highlighted the fact that he was a billionaire, more able to compete with the likes of Abramovich while also having a better understanding of our football culture. There have been some positive aspects to Ashley’s regime. His billions meant that he was able to loan the club money without paying
the banks’ interest. On the negative side those loans have not gone away. He hasn’t changed them into share capital as some other rich owners have for their clubs and no doubt there will be a reckoning should he ever come to sell the club. Just before Shepherd left he had appointed Sam Allardyce as manager, an appointment which did not meet with universal approval, although most Mags were prepared to give him a chance to show he could manage beyond the limited approach adopted at Bolton.
You have to remember the context for such celebration. Hall and Shepherd had overseen a steady decline in the fortunes of the club
Initially it looked as if Ashley was indeed prepared to invest, supporting Fat Sham in buying a raft of players over the remainder of the summer transfer window. Unfortunately his transfer record was disastrous signing David Rozenhal, Cacapa, Habib Beye, Alan Smith, Joey Barton and Mark Viduka. Allardyce was in charge for 24 games, tf 65
winning eight and losing ten. He only lasted a less than inspiring eight months under Ashley leaving ‘by mutual consent’ in January 2008. All the players brought in were on long, lucrative contracts which was to have a significant impact on Ashley’s transfer strategy over the coming years as he felt that he had been taken advantage of by both the manager and the players’ agents. Obviously it is a foul calumny to suggest that there could be any suggestion of mutual gain by the manager and agents regarding the signing of players. Nevertheless, in future Ashley would ensure any such possibility would be removed by looking for greater return on his investment, focusing on recruiting young players who would appreciate in value. All would be overseen by a Director of Football and Managing Director who he could trust to look after his money rather than a transient manager. tf 66
This approach, focusing on profit rather than team building, would be the central core of the club’s strategy going forward, drawing inspiration from Arsenal’s success over the recent years. Unfortunately, Ashley did not appreciate the importance of having a manager like Arsene Wenger to co-ordinate the strategy, pulling off the trick of making money while also improving the team. The approach resulted in two relegations during Ashley’s tenure and is a policy which has continued to undermine any attempt at team building. Initially, however, the appointment of a genuine Newcastle United icon, Kevin Keegan allayed any fears as Tyneside looked forward to another golden era under his direction and inspiration. Ashley was seen on the terraces drinking with supporters and was known to go into local boozers before and after games. He had said when
taking over the club that he wanted to have some fun and it looked as if he was being true to his word. When Keegan left after just eight months in charge, claiming that his position as manager was undermined by not having the final say over transfers despite being given assurances that this would be the case, the mood music changed dramatically. The writing was on the wall when, two weeks after Keegan’s arrival, Dennis Wise was appointed as Executive Director of ‘football related matters’.
All the players brought in were on long, lucrative contracts which was to have a significant impact on Ashley’s transfer strategy over the coming years as he felt that he had been taken advantage of by both the manager and the players’ agents.
At first KK stated that Wise would report to him and Wise himself stated that “He’ll say yes and no. He has the final word, no-one else. Everything that happens will be run past him. I’m not going to bring players in behind his back - I’m not into that”. As the close season approached Chris Mort reiterated “Kevin will www.true-faith.co.uk
have the final say”. In fact, the policy had changed and it wasn’t long before Keegan realised that it ‘wasn’t like it said in the brochure’. James Milner was sold and, despite promises that a replacement would be recruited (talk of Sebastian Schweinsteiger coming in from Bayern Munich), the only arrival was Ignacio Gonzalez. Gonzalez was signed to gain ‘goodwill’ from two South American agents, despite Keegan’s strong objections that he knew nothing about him. No evidence of any advantage in South America was ever seen. Keegan resigned on 4 September and set about gaining redress from the club through the courts. A year after the resignation the Premier League Arbitration Panel found that KK had been constructively dismissed and awarded our erstwhile manager £2m in damages. The Tribunal also declared that the club admitted to
‘repeatedly and intentionally misleading the press, public and the fans of Newcastle United’ while describing the evidence given to the Tribunal by Mike Ashely and his fellow executives as ‘profoundly unsatisfactory’. The club responded that it would not be making a comment on the matter. However, this episode, more than any other, consolidated in the public’s mind that the regime was not to be trusted and would be prepared to lie and mislead supporters as a matter of policy. It’s a position of trust has never been recovered partly as a result of the club’s apparent disengagement from the support as evinced by the decision to exclude the Supporters’ Trust from the Fans’ Forum and a general couldn’t-care-less attitude from the regime. It was this attitude which led to the agreement with W***a to provide shirt sponsorship, a corporate decision of such crassness and ineptitude
that it was difficult to believe. In a similar way, the decision to appoint the Mirror as the club’s preferred media partner overlooked the impact this might have on relationships with other newspapers, relationships which were crucial in portraying an image of the club to the fan base and other interested parties. The club at this time were just bouncing from one PR disaster to another and it seemed as if no-one understood or cared what was happening. Keegan’s departure introduced us to another feature of the Ashley regime, the tendency to appoint completely unsuitable people to positions of importance within the club. The appointment of Dennis Wise was bad enough but the temporary appointment of Joe Kinnear was completely bizarre.
Keegan’s departure introduced us to another feature of the Ashley regime, the tendency to appoint completely unsuitable people to positions of importance within the club.
Kinnear had been out of football for four years the he arrived at SJP on 26 September 2008. His
record would charitably be described as ‘patchy’. He had enjoyed some success with the Wimbledon ‘Crazy Gang’ but the rest of his career in England at Luton Town and Nottingham Forest had seen a succession of poor results. His record overseas in the Middle East, India and Nepal was also poor. He also had well documented health problems. Barely a week into the role Kinnear made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he indulged in an expletiveladen rant in his first press conference. He was actually serving a two match ban carried over from his days at Forest when he started at SJP. After his fifth game in charge he faced another FA charge for calling Martin Atkinson ‘a Mickey Mouse referee’. Four games later he was sent off by Mike Riley for ‘using abusive and insulting words towards an official’ then seven games later he was sent to the tf 68
stands for an incident with Hull City manager Phil Brown. Despite dragging the name of the club through the dirt, generally making us a laughing stock and an unimpressive record in charge of won four, drew six, lost four, Ashley appointed Kinnear permanently in December 2008. In the January transfer window that followed, Kinnear managed to alienate players by calling Charles N’Zogbia ‘Charles Insomnia’ which led the player to say he would never play for the club again while Kinnear was manager. Matters came to a head when Kinnear was taken ill before the game at West From on 7 February and subsequently underwent triple heart bypass surgery. Chris Hughton was named caretaker manager.Kinnear’s record in charge was won four, drew nine, lost eight 21 points from 21 games. Despite all this and the fact
that he would not be able to work for another three months Kinnear claimed that he was offered another two year contract after we were relegated in 2009. Amazingly, of course, he was eventually appointed as Director of Football in 2013, a post he held for eight months. Why would Ashley make such an appointment? The Daily Mail suggested that Kinnear was a drinking pal at his local pub, the Orange Tree in Totteridge. The effect of the appointment was for another of Ashely’s controversial appointments, Derek Llambias, to tender his resignation as Managing Director.The club statement at the time said ‘Joe will report directly to the club’s board as the senior executive in charge of all footballrelated matters. Graham Carr and Alan Pardew will report to Joe’. Once again, Ashley was looking to appoint someone he trusted to protect his money rather
Barely a week into the role Kinnear made headlines for all the wrong reasons when he indulged in an expletiveladen rant in his first press conference
than someone who could take the club forward. Llambias had been chosen by Ashley to replace Chris Mort, the lawyer who had overseen the takeover of the club. Again, he seems to have been chosen on the basis that he was a close friend rather than for having any expertise or experience in sports management. Llambias was heavily implicated in the misleading of Keegan, media and supporters highlighted by Keegan’s tribunal. He was also central to the renaming fiasco which saw St James’ Park become ‘sportsdirect@ StJames’Park for a period while also engineering the departures of both Alan Shearer (after saying ‘we want him to be manager 110%. He’d be the perfect appointment’) and Chris Hughton, who had taken the club back up to the Premiership at the first time of asking. The mask slipped in one spectacular rant in November 2011:
‘Kevin Keegan can’t take pressure. His f****** head is all over the place’. ‘Shearer, for this, destroys us. He gave all the responsibility to Dowie (Shearer’s assistant manager). Rubbish! It would never be the right time. Shearer? There would never be the a right time in football’. ‘He (Chris Hughton) would never have taken us where we want to be. That’s my decision by the way (to sack him). Chris can’t make decisions. With Chris he couldn’t cope with where we are mentally. We are aggressive. You need to be aggressive. I don’t want a manager who can’t argue. You guys don’t understand how f****** horrible we can be’. ‘Carroll is worth f*** all!’ Llambias replaced Chris Hughton with a close personal friend, Alan Pardew who, after one successful season, was granted an eight
year contract. Interesting to see how their reputations have changed over the last few years. After a good spell in his first managerial appointment at Reading, Pardew had been a serial failure at West Ham, Charlton and Southampton before emerging as the surprise candidate to replace Comrade Chris, a manager few supporters wanted to see leave SJP, especially after he had just overseen a 5-1 thrashing of our nearest rivals. After a nondescript end to the first season back in the Premier League Pardew performed the minor miracle of getting the team up to 5th place, largely on the back of dominant performances from Yohan Cabaye in midfield and goals from Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse. Fans were looking forward to the team kicking on and challenging for a Champions League place but the only player recruited in the close season
Llambias replaced Chris Hughton with a close personal friend, Alan Pardew who, after one successful season, was granted an eight year contract. Interesting to see how their reputations have changed over the last few years.
was Vurnon Anita, a bits and pieces player from Ajax. It exemplified the lack of ambition under Ashley and his approach of maximising profit without overextending risk. Inevitably it backfired spectacularly as we tumbled down the league necessitating more investment in the January window. Having secured Premiership status the same mistakes were repeated in the summer when supporters could see obvious needs for team improvement. To be fair to Pardew, he could see the same and spoke about them to the media after leaving the club but he wasn’t prepared to confront Llambias and Ashley. After joining Crystal Palace in 2015 he made numerous oblique references to the difficulty in working under the system but he towed the party line while in Ashley’s employ. Instead he was prepared to tolerate a system which stated
that the Cups were not a priority, that didn’t want to spend money on a squad to compete but rely on a group of favoured ‘purple’ players to maintain Premier League status at the least possible cost. They were only interested in survival not realising competition for places is one of the most important elements of making a sporting side competitive. Maybe the only positive thing Kinnear achieved during his two tenures at the club was to send Llambias out of the door, even if he was replaced by Lee Charnley, reinforcing Ashley’s preference to appoint people who he knew and believed would be grateful for the job. Where Llambias was toxic, Charnley was out of his depth but knew his primary responsibility was making sure that Ashley’s money was not at risk and continuing the policy of recruitment for profit rather
than team building. In this he was assisted by Graham Carr, another granted an eight year contract by Llambias. Carr, of course, is still a member of Ashley’s court and, worryingly, still appears to hold some influence as a result of the profits made from a few signings which financially have compensated for the many steamers he has inflicted on the club. Maybe not so financially successful when figuring in the cost of two relegations from the Premier League gravy train! Charnley had risen to the top of the pile almost without trace and it was difficult to see how he was qualified to run such a high profile business. His first major decision was to replace Pardew temporarily with John Carver, a decision which went so spectacularly wrong that the club were almost relegated just five months later.
His first major decision was to replace Pardew temporarily with John Carver, a decision which went so spectacularly wrong that the club were almost relegated just five months later.
Prior to the final game of the season against
West Ham which would determine our fate, Ashley decided to give an interview to his preferred outlet, Sky News, to try to rally the troops. In it he admitted that responsibility for the potential relegation lay at his door but added that he would not be leaving the club until it won something. Many regarded that as a threat rather than a promise. However, he was also clear in passing on responsibility for football decisions to ‘the football board’. This attempt was to lead directly to our relegation of 2016. The structure set up by Ashley meant that there was never a clear line of accountability and these structural problems were exacerbated by the weakness of the Managing Director, Lee Charnley and his apparent reluctance to make a decision, probably www.true-faith.co.uk
following the style which had led him to succeed in the business so far. The appointment of Steve McClaren as Head Coach sealed the deal as Tufty admitted later that he was not assertive enough in asking for players who would improve the team. To be fair to Ashley and Charnley both eventually realised that they had run out of road and appointed a world class manager in Rafa Benitez but only after more vacillation and delay as Charnley sought to justify his original decision. It meant that the opportunity to use the transfer market to correct failings in the team was missed in January with the consequences that we are still living with today. The drift and failure of previous seasons has also seen a change in the
make-up of the fan base for the club. Older supporters have given up and been replaced by a younger crowd, encouraged by a more flexible approach to pricing, something which is to the current regime’s credit. They may have been pushed into it by a haemorrhaging of support but it has had the effect of reducing the cynicism built up over the years. Ironically the growth of social media over Ashely’s tenure has possibly meant that expectations of immediate success have increased. We have all read the comments on various websites from ‘supporters’ who never go to games who know better than a manager who trainsc the players every day and has
The appointment of Steve McClaren as Head Coach sealed the deal as Tufty admitted later that he was not assertive enough in asking for players who would improve the team.
won every trophy available to him in real, not virtual, football. The confirmation of Rafa’s appointment last summer marked a sea change in the club’s approach. At a stroke the confusion caused by the ‘Football Board’ was removed and clear lines of accountability apparently agreed and signed off. Benitez understood the importance of the club’s support, going out of his was to cultivate a positive relationship. The NUFC Trust have been brought back into the fold of the Fans’ Forum as part of this process and the manager himself has been involved directly in attending club projects such as those operated under the aegis of the NUFC Foundation (another aspect of the club which has flourished under tf 72
Ashley). There is a feeling at the present time of a club once again with a sense of purpose which had been lost for so many years. Along the way there have been numerous other failures. Do I need to revisit the Sports Direct Arena farrago? The failure of the club’s Academy to achieve Category A status, Ashley’s decision to sell the lease on Strawberry Place exclusively for his own benefit, the continuing lack of investment (although promised) in the club’s training facilities and a youth development programme that appears moribund. That’s not to forget the excoriating disgrace of Jonas Guitteraz during his treatment for testicular cancer and the club as well as Alan Pardew confirming their reptilian characters.
But the current truce between supporters and club is still fragile situation as highlighted by the furore caused by the failure to sign players during the last transfer window and Rafa’s apparent dissatisfaction at how this happened. So much depends on our manager remaining at United and being given the resources he requires to continue his work in re-engineering the club from top to bottom. The fact that the re-appearance of Ashley sitting with Graham Carr at a couple of away games can call all of this into doubt demonstrates how little trust there exists with his regime. For Ashley, Rafa Benitez is the bar tender in the last chance saloon. If he leaves we may as well call ‘Time, gentlemen please’.
So much depends on our manager remaining at United and being given the resources he requires to continue his work in re-engineering the club from top to bottom www.true-faith.co.uk
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Postcards F rom The Edge Paully
It now looks as if it’s a three camel race for the automatic promotion places as we approach the supposed ‘business end’ of the season. That saying baffles me; what business do the latter stages of a football season relate to? A pet shop, perhaps? Also, does the prior part of the season not count as much? I’ve been extremely confident all season that we will go up as champions and I still firmly believe that we will. We have three pivotal away matches coming-up and I think that we will be several points clear after them even though we are currently one point off top. We are a better team away from home as Rafa sets us up perfectly to soak up pressure and counter. Also, the lunatic asylum who whinge their daft bollocks/ boobies off at SJP do not seem to attend away matches meaning there is less pressure on the players to perform. It is only the minority but the way they behave at home matches is beyond a joke. There have been incidents where players have experienced grief due to playing a backwards pass (subsequently retaining possession) even though they had absolutely nothing else on. The same moaning cretins then berate players for playing a misplaced long pass. I’d love to know what these people think that they achieve by spreading their vile negative germs and I’m convinced they don’t know the meaning of the word ‘supporter’. I’m
going to erect a massive tent on Leazes Park and liaise with NUFC to screen home matches inside of it so that the moaning brigade can all congregate and spend a few hours booing until their lungs collapse. Speaking of SJP, hats off (another idiotic saying but again I’ll use it) to all of those involved with the ‘Gallowgate Flags’ campaign. They have breathed life into the beautiful old ground and increased the atmosphere tenfold. Some of the flags are absolutely brilliant especially the ‘Gan Radge, Neck Cowies’ one with a picture of Rafa looking as if he is chewing his nut off. I fully expect us to be a Premier League team next season but I am very fearful that Rafa will not be present in our dugout. This season had been going smoother than a precision train made completely out of Galaxy chocolate until press speculation at the start of January surfaced that our owner had started meddling again. The rumours were that he wasn’t happy with some of our signings and he wanted Alan Carr’s old man to again be heavily involved with transfer dealings. You know, the tried and tested www.true-faith.co.uk
You know, the tried and tested method which seen us relegated last season not forgetting the humongous influence that Carr had on the appointment of that grinning, Dutchspeaking buffoon.
method which seen us relegated last season not forgetting the humongous influence that Carr had on the appointment of that grinning, Dutch-speaking buffoon. Rafa stressed the need for one or two extra bodies every time he was questioned by the media and his frustrated and angry comments after the QPR match about our lack of business left me sweating more than Josef Fritzl when he appeared on MTV Cribs. If Ashley really is unhappy about our summer business than he is more idiotic than I thought. Rafa’s net spend over two windows was MINUS £30 million and he had to completely rebuild a broken club never mind squad. The turnaround in players last summer was phenomenal and he signed players to simply get us up who will be moved on. You need a big squad with experience in this league as it’s a long haul arse of a season and it is certainly not as easy as the majority of us expected it to be (myself
very much included). You just have to look at how the other relegated teams are currently fairing. Villa are well and truly in the smelly brown stuff and a second relegation could possibly be on the cards. What a terrible shame that would be. In comparison, their net spend since going down equates to an astonishing £50 million and they have actually spent £35 million more than us on new players yet all you hear the peanut-brain pundits (Hi Paul Merson) spout is how we have apparently bought the league. Rafa cut an extremely outraged figure when the window SLAMMED SHUT (Gan and boil your daft heed and your daft yella tie, Jim White) and it’s blatantly obvious that there are going to be crucial make or break talks once this season is over. Bizarrely, I was a lot more confident that he’d stay last summer even though we were a Championship club then I am of him staying next season if we are a Premier League club. Rafa is no mug
and he won’t put up with Ashley’s buffoonery if he is indeed acting himself again. It is common knowledge that he wants to manage in England and I can see the West Ham hot seat being available and he was a tadpole’s pube away from joining them until some small club in Madrid came a calling. Call me cynical but Ashley’s master-plan may have been to use Rafa to get us back up and then revert to standard. I’ll be very surprised and elated if Rafa is our manager at the start of next season but I have more trust in those ISIS lunatics than I do in Ashley after the previous nine years. The ball is very much in his court but sadly it is his ball and he’ll do exactly what he wants with it so no doubt he’ll burst it and hand it over to the managerial dream team of Pardew and Kinnear. On that final note, I’m off for a severe long lie down. Keep The Faith In Rafa We Trust. tf 75
SEASON Players: Wilson, Chandler, Hudspeth, MacKenzie, Mooney, Gibson, Urwin, Clark, Gallacher, McDonald, Seymour, Curry, Loughlin, Maitland, Spencer, Boyd, Park, Harris, McKay, Low, Hampson Division: First Division. Champions. A hell of a leap from last season, where United finished 10th. This time around, Newcastle won the First Division, nabbing 56 points in 42 games, coming in 5 points clear of former Champions Huddersfield. Manager: Directors Committee.
Trainer/Coach: James McPherson carried on in his role as trainer/coach and did a brilliant job this season, winning the title. Highest Attendance: A new home attendance record was set this season, as a massive 67,067 clicked through the turnstiles in the middle of March to see the derby at St. James’ Park against Sunderland, and the vast majority of them went home happy. United beat Sunderland 1-0, the solitary goal scored by a certain Scotsman by the name of Hughie Gallacher. Lowest Attendance: The lowest turnout this season occurred in Wales, with only 14,048 coming to see a 1-1
draw in mid-September away to Cardiff. In NE1, the lowest attendance was in early April, as United closed in on the title, a crowd of 26,059 watched the Black and Whites run out 3-1 winners. Average Attendance: As one would expect with a team challenging for the title, the Tyneside public couldn’t get enough of the side this year, and the average attendance jumped some 7,000 from last season. This season’s tally was 36,513 from 21 home games. If you add the one home cup game we had this year (3rd round win over Notts County) that figure drops ever so slightly to 36,333. Biggest Win: United leaned on their forward line to fire them to glory this season, and that bore out in some of the scorelines, with the Magpies scoring 4 twice, 5 three times and 6 twice and 7 once, goals were in full flow on Tyneside. The biggest win by a five-goal margin, and this happened numer-
ous times. A 6-1 victory over Blackburn in late-October, 5-0 win over Cardiff on Christmas Day, and another 6-1 win over Arsenal in early-April were just some of our standout results in an unbelievable season. Adding in the cup, the biggest scoreline of all was recorded as Newcastle went goal crazy against Notts County at home in the third round of the FA Cup. United were 6-0 up at half-time and ended up running out 8-1 winners over a side who would finish 16th in the Second Division (Incredibly, South Shields finished 19th in the Second Division this year). Worst Defeat: Thankfully, we didn’t have too many of these, but we did suffer an early season embarrassment of sorts, suffering a 1-5 reverse at home to Burnley in only our second home game of the season. Something of Interest: Sensationally, Newcastle won the league! Fancied going into the season, the Magpies didn’t disappoint,
with Hughie Gallacher a focal point of an attack which just couldn’t be tamed. It didn’t take long for the Scot, or NUFC, to start the season with a bang, beating Aston Villa at home 4-0, with Gallacher netting all four! Come to the New Year, Sunderland and Huddersfield were racing neck-and-neck with us for the title, but a vital 1-0 home victory in the derby (in front of a record setting SJP attendance), quickly followed by another 1-0 home win over Huddersfield (both games decided by a single Gallacher goal, by the way..) meant the title ended up on Tyneside. A 3-2 home win over Spurs put us on the edge of glory, and despite a defeat at Huddersfield in our next game, a point away to West Ham in the game after was enough to give us our first title in 18 years. Magic! A quick nod to the ridiculous form of Hughie Gallacher, who netted an outstanding 39 goals for United this season, giving us a massive chance to lift silverware come seasons end. Mentioned in Dispatches: The cup was an eventful chase this year. United kicked off in the 3rd round and laid claim to a brilliant www.true-faith.co.uk
8-1 win over Second Division Notts County. Gallacher and McDonald both notched hat-tricks. Then it came to Round Four, and a game against famous amateurs Corinthians. All easy, you’d think, but the game was played at our bogey ground, The Crystal Palace, and it almost caused United embarrassment on the biggest scale. The amateur side took the lead in the game, before United levelled and then netted two late goals to spare the blushes. We would go out in the next round against a Second Division Southampton side as we turned out focus to our continued title challenge. National Interest: The first transatlantic phone call took place in January, from New York City to London. The BBC puts out its first live sports broadcast this year, a Rugby Union international between England and Wales. Football would be broadcast live a week later.. 23 people died from severe weather in the winter, winds reaching up to 112mph battered the whole of the UK. In March it was announced about 1,000 people a week were dying from an influenza epidemic. Cardiff win the FA Cup in April, and
are the first side from outside of England to win the trophy. Joe Davis wins the first ever World Snooker Championships which are held in Birmingham. He’d go on to win the tournament every year until 1940.. Britain’s first automatic traffic lights are trialled in Wolverhampton this year.. Total Solar Eclipse takes place over Northern England and Wales in the winter.. Comedian and singer Ken Dodd was born in November this year. Regional Interest: Colonel Porter Jim Porter launches a new beer targeted at working men in the North East and gives it the rather catchy name of Newcastle Brown Ale. It remained a local brew until the interests of capital decided it should be brewed in Tadcaster, North Yorkshire thus robbing the city of one of its iconic brands (sic). Guinness has no plans to move production of their Irish Stout from Dublin to Manchester I hear.The brewing of Newcastle Brown Ale coincides with United’s last league win. The two events are a pure coincidence I’m sure.
The brewing of Newcastle Brown Ale coincides with United’s last league win. The two events are a pure coincidence I’m sure.
Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892
Heading into the 1962-63 season and a 2nd in Division 2 since relegation in 1961, United would turn to a familiar face in an attempt to reclaim the glory years of returning from 3 FA Cup Final’s victorious in the early 1950s. Having been an unsuccessful applicant when the board turned to the recently sacked Charlie Mitten, the inspirational Joe Harvey, who had captained the winnings sides of 1951 and 1952, was seen as the man to revolutionise club and in particular, “sift out the deadwood, examine what was remaining and then go into the transfer market myself” as Harvey recalled later.
And Here’s To Bobby Moncur
Marc Corby Follow on @NUFC_1980_1994
Signing midfielders Jim Iley and Dave Hilley as well as bringing striker Ron McGarry with him from Workington, Harvey also turned to the 1962 FA Youth Cup winning side before the season’s end. In a fixture at Luton Town, United would select an 18-year-old Scottish defender named Bobby Moncur in a 3-2 victory. Moncur appeared tf 78
again in visits to Charlton (2-1) and Rotherham (1-3) but 4 defeats in the final 9 games meant Harvey’s men dropped from 4th to a 7th placed finish. Making a Gallowgate debut in a 1-0 win over Portsmouth in October 1963, Moncur would make 3 appearances for a 2nd season as United finished in 8th, some 16 points behind www.true-faith.co.uk
the promoted two. Also promoted from the ranks were Frank Clark and David Craig who, the latter in particular, were making the full back places their own. As Bryan ‘Pop’ Robson became the latest youth player to be given a chance, United played all 4 youngsters in a 0-1 loss at Northampton which would be a first defeat of the 1964-65 season. Robson, who would contribute 7 goals in 20 games, Craig, who was to miss only 2 games all season, and the ever present Clark were true successes as United were promoted as Champions based on a “They’ve got the ball, you want it, so go out and get it!” formula by the manager. Moncur played 11 games but wouldn’t be seen after the month of November for the 2nd successive season. As a youth player, Moncur’s key attributes were in support to the attack rather than defensive abilities and, having turned 20 in January, was expected to move on to Norwich having failed
to hold down a starting place. The deal broke down late and United’s return to the top flight saw him surprisingly make 20 starts as survival was achieved in 15th. United started the following season disastrously as England’s 1966 Word Cup success triggered a change in formation where teams would start to use twin centre backs. Not even the record signing of striker Wyn Davies could help a struggling side as only 4 wins were achieved going into 1967 and United were bottom. Moncur had started 18 games but would lose his place for the incoming John McNamee and start only 5 of the final 18 games. His final 2 appearances would assist 1-0 victories over Stoke and Leicester that moved United out of the relegation spots but he’d be dropped again as The Mags secured survival by 4 points thanks to home victories over West Ham (1-0) and Southampton (3-1) and an overall run of 6 wins in 9 matches.
Entering the 1967-68 season, United would lose 3 of the first 7 games without Moncur or hard man McNamee making an appearance. Moncur would return against Coventry (3-2) and, once McNamee replaced John McGrath, a 3 way battled between Moncur, McNamee and Ollie Burton would commence. Burton had entered United’s history books twice by being the first substitute to enter the field of play followed by becoming the first substitute to score.
In a fixture at Luton Town, United would select an 18-yearold Scottish defender named Bobby Moncur in a 3-2 victory
Sitting 13th, the new look defence would ensure The Mag’s were harder to beat as 25 games returned 10 wins, 11 draws and a www.true-faith.co.uk
seasons high of 5th. Since returning Moncur never looked back and started the final 34 games. His development into a rugged, determined and a superb reader of the game made him first choice centre back and Newcastle United Captain. A poor run of 1 win in the final 12 games included 5 successive defeats and a final place of 10th but Moncur’s game
had improved to such an extent that he was capped by Scotland in May 1968 against The Netherlands. “I never doubted my ability personally, but I know there were plenty that did” Moncur said at the time. “Once I got the chance of a good run in the first team I knew I could stay there” he added, 3 years since almost being jettisoned.
An amazing combination of circumstances resulted in Newcastle qualifying for the Inter Cities Fairs Cup. Set up to benefit European cities that organised trade fairs, a change restricting a city to a ‘one club entry’ rule meant that Everton, Tottenham and Arsenal missed out. Holders Leeds, Liverpool and Chelsea all qualified ‘fairly.’ Optimism wasn’t high. Prior to the 1968-69 season, Harvey had managed only 4 wins in the 17 ties played in his 6-year tenure that also included a shock cup exit to Southern League Bedford in 1964. With the introduction of the League Cup in 1960, United had failed to progress beyond the 4th round in either domestic trophy under Harvey.
Moncur’s game had improved to such an extent that he was capped by Scotland in May 1968 against The Netherlands.
As Willie McFaul replaced Gordon Marshall in goal, 1 win in the first 12 games saw United in 20th position. An injured Moncur hadn’t kicked a ball yet and would be absent as The Mag’s progressed 4-2 over 2 legs verses Feyenoord in Europe and miss 2 games in the League Cup that United were now out of. Moncur’s return had an immediate impact. His commanding and inspiring presence contributed to 6 wins in 11 games that included 3 successive clean sheets and movement up to 11th. His partnership with Burton now considered Harvey’s first choice, United had also knocked out Sporting Lisbon 2-1 as ‘Pop’ Robson, now also a first team regular, had 14 goals for the season. 1 win in 6 league games and an FA Cup exit didn’t appear to matter as all attention was on Europe and, despite losing the reliable Craig to injury, Real Zaragoza went out on the away goals rule following an aggregate 4-4 score. 15th in March, United appeared to be reinvigorated as a 1-0 win over Burnley started an 8 game unbeaten run in the league and further progress in the Fairs Cup. Portuguese side Vitoria Setubal appeared in shock when they arrived into a blizzard and United took advantage winning 5-1. The 2nd leg was a different story as United were kicked all over the park and Moncur was spat www.true-faith.co.uk
following a 0-0 draw at Ibrox where McFaul saved a penalty, the 2nd leg at St James Park saw events off the pitch overshadow one of Newcastle’s greatest nights.
on in a 1-3 defeat. That could not stop Newcastle defying the odds though and Glasgow Rangers were waiting in the Semi Finals. 2 wins in the final 5 games meant a 9th placed finish but this appeared immaterial as, following a 0-0 draw at Ibrox where McFaul saved a penalty, the 2nd leg at St James Park saw events off the pitch overshadow one of Newcastle’s greatest nights. As 2nd half Jimmy Scott and Jackie Sinclair goals put The Mags in command, the masses of Scots on the Gallowgate End poured onto the pitch causing a riot. McFaul would later recall, “Suddenly bottles were whizzing over my head and, even before play
was stopped, I’d sprinted towards the halfway line to get away from the trouble… it was frightening.” The final 10 minutes were eventually played out and, despite the Evening Chronicle leading the match report with a heading of “The night soccer wept for the name of Glasgow Rangers,” Newcastle United has reached a European Cup Final at their first attempt. Moncur would praise enthusiastically Davies saying: “It is not only a matter of what he can do with that head of his, but what influence he has on the other team. Often he destroys them before a ball is kicked.” With Robson, whose 30 goals was a first tf 81
for a Newcastle striker since George Robledo in 1952, alongside him, the return of Craig and new signing Preben ‘Benny’ Arentoft victorious in 6 of his 10 appearances so far, Tyneside was optimistic of belying last season’s lowly status. 8 days later, St James Park would be packed again and those unable to gain entry would take a view precariously on the rooftops behind the Popular Side. The visitors would be the Hungarians Ujpesti Dozsa who had beaten the newly crowned English Champions Leeds 3-0 in the Quarter Finals. “But for the brilliance of Szentimihalyi, Newcastle roared on by 60,000 fans might have built a commanding lead by halftime” said the Daily Mirror match report. “Soaking up Newcastle’s incessant pounding like a sponge, Ujpesti seemed to be achieving their objective of a goalless draw, until the 63rd minute…” “It was not the goal thrust of Robson or the aerial brilliance of Davies that finally penetrated them but the boot of the unlikeliest
man afield, skipper Bobby Moncur, who was normally chained to United’s own penalty area as a destroyer” wrote John Gibson in his ‘Newcastle United, Pictorial History’ book. Moncur had chosen the Cup final to score his first goals for the club in an unforgettable first leg. Moncur and Newcastle were no less impressive in the 2nd leg in Budapest on June 11th. Despite being 2-0 down at half time and looking dejected, a Harvey team talk included a bold prediction that “foreigners fold like a pack of cards” if United were to score… “I’m terribly proud of my boys and I know the whole
city of Newcastle will be thrilled” said Harvey, who turned 51 on the day of United’s 6-2 aggregate triumph. The calm, rock solid and unexpected goal-scoring hero Moncur alongside Davies, later described by Harvey as “the most courageous player I have ever seen,” were arguably the standout players in what would remarkably be United’s last trophy success. “Joe Harvey never liked me to go beyond the half-way line as a rule!” said Moncur shortly after the win. “All the way through we received tremendous support from the Newcastle fans which culminated in a never to
be forgotten homecoming with Joe Harvey leading the fans with ‘The Blaydon Races’”. As United entered 1970 in mid table and unsurprisingly out of both domestic cups, a 2nd European campaign saw ties with the ‘less attractive’ Dundee United (3-1) and Southampton (1-1, won on away goals) book ending a 1-0 victory over Porto. Anderlecht were drawn in the 4th round and before the first leg in Belgium, United were in fine form having lost only 3 in 18 league games that included 10 undefeated and 6th. A 0-2 defeat meant Newcastle had it all to do in the 2nd leg but having turned it around to lead 3-0 on the night, a late goal sent the visitors though on away goals as the tie ended 3-3. Winning 3 of the last 6 games including a 5-1 hammering of Manchester United where Robson scored a hat-trick, ensured a finish in 7th which was a best since 1950-51’s 4th place. Moncur had started in all but 2 games. An inconsistent United may have had 2 runs of 7 undefeated games but never got higher than 8th in a 1970-71 season that saw Moncur playing in every game until the final day of the season and score his first league goals in home victories over Burnley (3-1) and Everton (2-1). Out of the first rounds of the domestic cups again, 4 games in the Fairs Cup were www.true-faith.co.uk
more memorable. A 3-1 aggregate win over Italian giants Inter Milan included a goal from Moncur as well as the opposition goalkeeper sent off after bizarrely punching the referee in retaliation to a Davies challenge. Sadly, the 3 season European adventure would end as the relatively unknown Pecsi Dozsa would win 5-2 on
penalties after both sides won their home legs 2-0. One of Moncur’s proudest moments was leading Scotland out in the Home International against England at Wembley but, having carried a ‘niggle’ for weeks, further inspection following a game v Denmark confirmed internal bleeding in the calf and Moncur was tf 83
destined for months in plaster. Harvey’s long ball strategy had terrorised opponents on occasion and none more so when many of Europe’s finest were swept to one side. However, it would have an alleged effect on players such as Robson who claimed the style, alongside a bust up with Harvey, would be why he left for West Ham the previous March. Davies, the motivation for this tactic, would also depart as Harvey turned to a new look strike force of John Tudor and record signing Malcolm Macdonald for the 1971-92 campaign. Gambled in the 2nd match of the season at Tottenham (0-0), Moncur would play 5 more times before being subbed at half time in a 2-2 draw with West Ham at home. “I think it’s the only time I’ve ever felt I couldn’t go back out again, no matter what” the courageous captain reflected later. Missing the following 5 months, Moncur said at the time, “I had to try very hard to be part of the set up. “I didn’t watch many matches, I just felt jealous of the lads for being able to run out on to the field every Saturday afternoon.” Despite the incoming Macdonald and provider Terry Hibbitt, Harvey’s team didn’t blend and United lost 6 of the 8 games since Moncur’s injury and sat bottom. However, another inspired Harvey signing appeared to kick start Newcastle’s tf 84
season. Tony Green arrived from Blackpool before 6 wins and 3 draws in the following 12 games pushed an improving United up to 16th.
Winning 3 of the next 4 games, United finished in 11th place thanks in the main to Supermac who scored 30 goals in his first season.
Moncur returned in the shock FA Cup replay defeat at Hereford before The Mags beat Manchester United, featuring George Best, Denis Law and Bobby Charlton, on their own patch. If ever a week could summarise Newcastle United that would be it.
The first half of the 197273 season saw Newcastle as inconsistent as ever in the league. 6 wins and 6 defeats, of which 4 came when Moncur was out injured, in the opening 13 games left United in 12th. Moncur’s return made United harder to beat as
8 wins and 8 draws were achieved in the following 20 games to push United into the top 5. The inevitable end of season collapse returned 1 win in 9 games and a finish in 9th. Cup defeats to lower league teams were becoming the norm and it was no exception this season as Blackpool and Luton left Gallowgate victorious. Introduced before the previous season, United would go out to Ipswich over 2-legs in the Texaco Cup Semi Final but the likes of Roma, Bologna and Torino were beaten in the Anglo Italian Cup before Fiorentina, in Florence, were defeated 2-1 in the Final by “playing them to death in the process” as Harvey recalled.
Now 30, Moncur played the opening 17 games of the 1973-74 season of which United won 9 and were in 2nd place with genuine hopes of the title. Again, a Moncur injury had a detrimental effect on results as 5 defeats in 7 games saw a drop to 9th. At this point Newcastle had reached the 5th Round of the FA Cup for the first time since 1961 as lowly Hendon and Scunthorpe were both defeated in away replays before 2nd Division tf 85
WBA were hammered on their own turf. Macdonald would later describe the game as “The finest team performance I’ve ever played anywhere for anyone.”
An appalling league run of 4 wins in 26 games saw a 15th placed finish but all attention was on the FA Cup as Moncur would grab ‘the winner’ in a remarkable 4-3 victory over
Nottingham Forest the 6th Round. A pitch invasion when 1-3 down meant the result was annulled by the FA but United progressed 1-0 after a 3rd meeting and Captain Moncur would lead Newcastle out in a first FA Cup Semi Final since 1955.
Before the Final, over 36,000 turned up at St James Park to watch Moncur score as United won the Texaco Cup coming from behind to beat Burnley 2-1
Before the Final, over 36,000 turned up at St James Park to watch Moncur score as United won the Texaco Cup coming from behind to beat Burnley 2-1. Sadly, Harvey’s men failed to www.true-faith.co.uk
show up at Wembley and an awful performance ensured Liverpool won comfortably 3-0 and, as Bill Shankly had managed his last game for Liverpool, Moncur had played his 357th and final game for Newcastle. Surprisingly dropping a Division to join Sunderland for £30,000, Moncur made 101 appearances and played a part in their promotion in 1976. Departing for Carlisle at the end of the year, he’d become manager the following season and have future Mag’s Neil McDonald and Peter Beardsley in his ranks. Further unsuccessful managerial stints at Hearts, Plymouth Argyle and Hartlepool followed before the end the 1980s. Made a freeman of Gateshead in 2008, defeating cancer twice in his 60s is without doubt
his greatest achievement. Moncur, who turned 72 in January 2017, remains a Newcastle United club ambassador and despite being seen as perhaps a ‘Mike Ashley Yes Man’ amongst many supporters, he still has an evident dedication and intense love for the game of football and in particular ‘The Magpies’. Frank Brennan is regarded as the finest central defender to ever play in Black and White but Moncur is certainly one of the most accomplished and is considered by many as a heroic figure too. Some might argue that Moncur’s legendary status has been enhanced by the omission of trophy success in the 48 years that have followed that 1969 Cup Win, but, seldom playing a bad game, Moncur, alongside Bobby
Moore and Jack Charlton, was considered one of the best defenders in Britain at his peak. You don’t get higher praise than that.
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We Could Send Letters é, an Recently I started a spring clear out. Or tried to. I am that tired clich et stubs “inveterate hoarder”. I’ve got letters going back a good 30 years. Tick gumption to gigs I’d forgotten I’d gone to, or to games I can’t believe I had the there; (or funds) to get into. England v Scotland at Wembley in Euro 96? I was up by as the colourful ticket reminds me. The overriding memories conjured rised that ticket, however, are not the obvious ones. I remember being surp resembled how shit Wembley was as a ground (cramped seats, concourse that for not a Bulgarian train station), and a fat Chelsea fan giving me an earful singing the nasshunal anfem. “Wot are you, a fackin wanker?” Quite. Another ticket shows that I got into in the disabled section for the semi final at Old Trafford in 1999. That ticket - it must have been photocopied - looks like the worst fake ticket ever. I’m surprised I got in. But it brings back funny memories, especially being chased out by a load of wheelchair-bound Spuds fans after celebrating Shearer’s rocket. Happy days. Then there’s a stub the other Old Trafford, where I saw Sachin
Tendulkar on his debut series in England in 1990. He was tiny, and it didn’t seem “fair” that India had allowed this little lad to bat against big buggers like Angus Fraser and Devon Malcolm. He still made runs. That brings up another reminder. Never go on a first date to a test match. And, sifting through a mound of stubs from late 1989, I am reminded that I saw The Sugarcubes at the Mayfair and Nirvana and Tad at the Riverside. And that United guess what - spoilt what would have been a golden stroll down memory
RICHARRD FOSTE ry Incendzia Maga ine
lane. Cover your eyes while I tell you that they lost a bloody boring match against West Brom in the League Cup and drew 2-2 each with Port Vale. I think they conceded a goal in the last minute. I could look it up online but where’s the fun in that? Paper memories are amazing. And the old letters from my friends are extraordinary. Full of an openness and patient intelligence and humour no-one seems to have time for in this digital age. Back in the 1980s and early 90s, I had a poetry
writing mate who used to send outrageously eccentric letters, full of all sorts and I don’t know what. In a florid hand, too, and with references to poems and shizzle. Often these references made their way on to THE COVER OF THE ENVELOPE. Given things like letters would appear unexpectedly on the mat, there was always the chance that my flatmates would see them. Or - much, much worse - the landlord. Word could get around the Columba club or the WMC, or the Windmill, or the Half Way House, or the Greyhound
Turning on, tuning in g n i p p o r d d n a out. And nerds. www.true-faith.co.uk
We British, to a greater or lesser extent, have been living in the fantasy world of Association Football for an awfully long time. We created it, peopled it, exported it and used it to frame our life experiences. that I’d been getting letters from a southern softie. Or much worse, someone who was showing off using big words. Imagine these turning up in Felling. I could get ostracized. I may have to move to Heworth (Ed: but never Leam Lane). Like Marwood, I still get the fear. But I’m glad I’ve kept them. Because it reminds me of how people used to be when they wanted to communicate to their friends. Without going into too much detail, the effort of sitting down and writing a letter seems like learning how to use a lathe now. I’m not trying to be misty eyed about the past. The internet is, on the whole, a wonderful, if terrifying thing. But the one indisputable point about writing letters is that you had the space to compose your own communications. You weren’t caught up in a tide of news, and didn’t feel the pressure to comment or slag things off, just to “be noticed”. Or merely feeling the overbearing NEED to post that weeping with laughter smiley. That gets right on my wick. Fantasy or Reality at SJP? www.true-faith.co.uk
The internet is a drug, a never-ending loop. We seem to live in a world where fantasy and reality are bedfellows. And making distinctions between the two is, for many of us, becoming an unnecessary chore, or a gateway to impotent rage. Information plays out a weird double purpose now; both as an irritant and a sedative. Tim Leary’s invitation to turn on, tune in and drop out has come true, though not in the way that the Good Doctor envisaged. Lots of people seem to turn on, tune in and drop out to a version of themselves projected on a handheld device. Maybe that’s why we get Dudes rocking up (Ed: ahem) at SJP only to stare at their phones all the way through the match.
they aren’t going away. Anger is like a hot coal, and burns the one who holds it close.We British, to a greater or lesser extent, have been living in the fantasy world of Association Football for an awfully long time. We created it, peopled it, exported it and used it to frame our life experiences. And this digital/media/ consumer idiocy is just its latest phase. Once seen by our Victorian forefathers as a way to get the working man fit and healthy and nearer to God and the recruiting office, the C21st version of football is for many a mildly pleasurable form of Groundhog Day that - in the wider scheme of things
- keeps the peace. Football has always been about social control in this country; channelling unformed male passions into product, and ensuring those who need to use violence to find their inner Spartacus do so in a car park in Peterborough, and not on the steps of Number 10. And the digital elements of football, harnessed to the correct form of capitalism, aid this nexus. Currently, grown men wearing replica football kits they bought online, stalk the streets willy-nilly, buying tins of Gentleman’s Relish and car waxes from our supermarkets.
Whilst irritating those who like to pay money to watch real people representing a real city kicking a real football about in the company of other real, sentient human beings, we should use the moronic behaviour these smartphone-addicted fans display to our own moral and fiscal advantage. Firstly, we should accept tf 89
Teenagers channel their sexual awakening through computer games starring Wayn e Roon ey, and overdose on emoticons on Twitter. The authorities approve. I get the feeling that, if Putin invaded the UK, there’d be special dispe nsati on in the surrender treaty to keep showing Matc h of the Day to keep us all quiet .
“healthy option” fashions in mashed up chicken guts in a bun. The game itself will be relayed on a virtual pitch and - should the urge to shop prove too pressing - glasses with important developments in the game can be hired. Customers can also interact by posting their favourite emoticons. Especially that crying with laughter one. The one that gets on my wick. What could be better? I suggest we ring up someone with money to get the government’s ear to launch this, Richard Branson, Jimmy Nail, Julian Assange, Ed Balls, Sue Perkins. Someone like that.
How we can exploit this? Times are uncertain. Mrs admi nistra tion May’s needs to temper the disgruntle ment of a considerable percentage popu lation . the of Government fearfulness will mean grants will be readily available to those who can create British jobs for British workers; especially those who don’t fancy the polytunnels of Linco lnshire. Here, digital football can be the midwife. My humble suggestion is as follows.We petition the government to allocate funds to build a second St. James’ Park. A new temple catering for the digital Mags, albeit in somewhere like Killingworth or Pelaw. A “state of the art” shoppingcum-fitba’ complex that has free WIFI, a range of unisex boutiques offering desirable footwear and perfumes, and 24 hour piped music of a soul/ r’n’b variety (interspersed with half-arsed renditions of Blaydon Races). Not forgetting cheerful outlets that dispense the latest, tf 90
Nerds and Analogue Sound After all it’s the future of football innt. But then, what will “the future” hold for us anyway? Maybe the total ditching of our sociocultural past. Recently, a brilliant piece appeared on a website I write for, the Quietus, abou t conc erne d digitizing our existing arch ives. anal ogue Apparently “much of the recorded recent history of humanity is currently disintegrating.” The article states we have 15 years to sort it otherwise we lose huge slices of this audio / visual history. The same article suggested that, on some old websites (you know “old ones”, ones older than 15 years old), the music files can’t be reactivated. Think of that. We are already unable
Armand Schaubroeck Steals - I Wish To See Color to access old digital information. No one cares about curating old digital stuff, and old analogue equipment can’t be made anymore. With this in mind, I’m less worried about what Trump or Putin will do in the future than I am about nerds. Nerds are shaping our world to such an extent that all our actions will, in some extent, soon be based round the thoughtforms of youths who spend most of their lives staring at screens in their bedrooms, covered in the residues of fried chicken wings whilst wearing filthy teeshirts covered in cartoon characters. Their footballfan equivalents see all problems solved through
the pairing of Aguero (cost - 3 bitcoins) with Sammy Ameobi (cost - an island on Minecraft made by an 11 year old) on Football Manager 2036. Mark my words; these people will be testing apps for wiping our bottoms when we are frail and gibbering and in that G4S-run, NHSapproved workhouse in 20 years’ time. Nerds will destroy our past and create a Brave New Hell. But heck. It’s spring. What I most hope for most is - Gobshites and Humbugs and Lunatics of the world permitting is enjoying watching the rise of Newcastle United football club, led by Señor Benítez, resplendent in all its fierce majesty.
The Homesick - Half Aryan
Fire Engines - We Don’t Need This Fascist Groove Thing
Rip Rig + Panic - Peel Session 1981
Žen - Slavenska bajka
What I most hope for most is - Gobshites and Humbugs and Lunatics of the world permitting - is enjoying watching the rise of Newcastle United football club
Cocaine Piss - Plastic Pants
The Caretaker - Everywhere At The End of Time Bernays Propaganda Skopje 2016 Remix EP
Las Kellies - Friends and Lovers www.true-faith.co.uk
Ludus - My Cherry is in Sherry tf 91
JOSEPH THOMAS PUSH IT ALONG Well the transfer window is well behind us and unfortunately Rafa was prevented from bringing in any players, or should I say that the club chose not to bring in any suitable players, to be more diplomatic. Ultimately I don’t personally think it will stop our promotion ,but if this an example of what is to come ,I suspect there will be a stand-off at the end of the season because I don’t think Rafa is the type of guy whose ambitions are limited to avoiding relegation from the Premiership if we were to be promoted.. WHY WALK WHEN YOU CAN RUN? Can I just say a word of praise for our away tf 92
following? To have sold out our allocation for every trip is a great achievement. It’s fair to say that we don’t have many ‘local’ games, so the mileage clocked up by many is worthy of praise. The recent Brighton/ Huddersfield /Reading trips in one week is just an example .The other thing is that I suspect on many occasions we could have doubled our allocation and still sold out. INVISIBLE Fair play to those involved in setting up the NUFC Fans Foodbank initiative. Kicked off by NUST with others joining in, followed by the experts from Newcastle West End Foodbanks, it’s really taken off. It’s sad that
Foodbanks are necessary in this day and age but it’s great to see our supporters responding. Bringing a contribution is becoming part of match day routine for many. THE DARK PAGES I, for one, and I suspect I am far from alone was disappointed to see the development at St. James Car park behind the Gallowgate approved by the Council. It prevents any future development of the ground and even if you weren’t in favour of such an extension it appears that the money from the development won’t be going into the clubs pockets....no need to guess where it will be going. Short term thinking on behalf of the Club that’s for sure.
Rafa has brought us back our pride, both in our club and our City. Rafa has introduced great change. We feel like a football club again. If he is allowed to develop the ‘project’ further we could have some great days ahead. www.true-faith.co.uk
NIGHT LIGHTS I attended the first Gallowgate Flags quiz at nine bar and it was a cracking night. It was great to see so many fans brought together for such a positive cause, and backed by the club. Once again another fans initiative and it’s great to see the flags in all their glory. The surfer flag reminds me of the Keith Barret flag in the early 90’s...great times. ONE BRIGHT STAR Over the course of the season we have had some outstanding performers and some great individual performances. For me the most consistent player, and I accept it will probably not be everyone’s view, is Ciaran Clark who I think has turned in solid performances week in week out. It’s a mangers dream to know that he can rely on certain players to perform to a high level each week which then allows him to adapt the team in other areas depending upon the opposition. HAVE YOU MADE UP YOUR MIND I have to say,on the negative side, I am disturbed by the reaction of some fans to a defeat / draw on those rare occasions during this season. I personally hate the ‘expect to win’ approach. I always ‘hope’ to win but nobody at any standard of football should just ‘expect’ to win. This is real life football, we are www.true-faith.co.uk
playing against opponents who want to win as much as us. Sometimes things just don’t turn out as you might expect. That’s the beauty of football. 22 DREAMS I’ve just read the Martin Hardy book, Touching Distance. It was a great read and brought back so many memories, both happy and sad. It was an era I’m glad I was there to witness but I have to say reading the book, in the context of where we have been over the last few years, left me feeling pretty down. We were so close and I’m not convinced we’ll ever see those days again. COLD MOMENTS There’s some controversy about having away fans next to the pitch should we be promoted. The club
have made representations against this at SJP which I’m sure are reasonable. I’m torn between the two arguments because I partly believe that having away fans close to the pitch may well ‘up the ante’ from our perspective and pave the way for a better match day atmosphere. LIGHT NIGHTS I can’t write an article without praising our away form this season. 13 victories on the road is absolutely superb. After years of following Newcastle away I’ve long been accustomed to accepting defeat away from home as the norm. We haven’t been the best of the travellers over the years. I love to see us grinding out the results. ALL I WANNA DO Our reception away from
home has varied during the course of the season. In some places we have been warmly welcomed, in others we’ve been treated with resentment. Strangely it always seems to be the teams nearer the bottom of the table who seems to have given us a better reception. Whilst they have been desperate for points they have welcomed our support. AND FINALLY One year ago we weren’t even a football club.Rafa has brought us back our pride, both in our club and our City. Rafa has introduced great change. We feel like a football club again. If he is allowed to develop the ‘project’ further we could have some great days ahead. United! tf 93
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