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E-MAIL: WEBSITE: EDITOR: Alex Hurst DEPUTY EDITOR: Michael Martin PHOTOGRAPHY: Matt Flynn, Colin Ferguson & Carl Haynes 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. 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

Editorial...................................................... pg4

Realistic Finish......................................... pg24

NUFC Summer So Far.......................... pg6

Homosexuality In Football.................. pg38

Pre-season A-Z........................................ pg10

Postcards From The Edge..................... pg42

The North Terrace Pub: An interview............................................. pg14

60 Second Season.................................. pg44

for publication - letters, articles, photos etc. NEVER FORGOTTEN: L.J. & M. Martin. NEXT ISSUE: TF 133.

Banterwankers, #LGBT, #NUFC and No More Music.............................. pg46

OUT: SEP 30 2017.


Looking Through The Windows.......... pg22

As It Was, When It Was Pre-season, 1993......... pg50

Random tournaments.......................... pg26

The End...................................................... pg56

© true faith.

Accidental Activist................................. pg16 Bright Lights............................................. pg20


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Welcome to tf 132. The longest of summer’s is almost over and after fourteen weeks competitive first team football returns to St James’ Park as we face Tottenham Hotspur this Sunday, live in front of the nation. It’s no surprise that of the initial Sky TV picks Newcastle United are featured on five weekends out of seven.  That’s more than Arsenal and Chelsea, by the way.  I’m sure the London clubs won’t be neglected for long but to put it plainly Newcastle United are still very much in the nations eye and this season there is interest from afar about part two tf 4

of the Rafa Benitez project. Newcastle United have sold upwards of 40,000 season tickets (again) and every single non-corporate seat will likely be sold for home games at St James’ Park this season.  The club in many respects is in a fantastic position, with a strong support behind it and a world class manager and coaching staff behind him.  On the pitch as well United shape up better than we have for many of our previous tilts at the Premier League. I look back at Alan Pardew’s NUFC sides (which to be fair to him, were never ever in the relegation

tf 132 August 2017

zone at any point past October during his reign) and compare what will likely face Spurs on the opening day and think that this current crop are streets ahead of what Pardew had to deal with in terms of ability and desire.  I’m looking forward to this Premier League season.  There are players with a lot still to prove at this level like Dwight Gayle, Ciaran Clark and Jonjo Shelvey who I think will surprise a lot of people who saw them play for other clubs in this league.  You’ve our new lads who are all young, hungry and talented. They’ve been scouted and all enjoyed


Newcastle United have sold upwards of 40,000 season tickets (again) and every single non-corporate seat will likely be sold for home games at St James’ Park this season

success at various stages of their fledgling careers. This is a side used to winning and winning when it mattered.  That won’t disappear overnight.  They’re also a well-coached, well drilled group of players who will be relishing the challenge.  It’s a world away from the last time we approached a Premier League campaign with the hapless McClaren in charge who had a set of players at his disposal who at best were ‘unfamiliar’ with the demands of the Premier League (particularly away from home) and at worst didn’t want to be here or simply didn’t care.  There is much to be pleased about heading into the new season. Unfortunately there are reasons to be concerned. I’m writing ten days before the start of the new season and five new players have joined United at a combined cost of £32m.  We’ve brought in just £2m in player sales and it’s reasonable to assume the club would offload Riviere, Krul, Darlow, Hanley, Saivet,    Mitrovic, Haidara, Lascelles and possibly Colback if it could.  There was never the £70 - £150m the press wanted you to believe to spend.  Mike Ashley doesn’t put money into Newcastle United for transfers and quite right too.  The financial scars of relegation are being realised as even with  a £30m from

player sales made last season, NUFC are £100m (at least) behind our rivals this season. It was always going to be a massive task for any manager.  Rafa Benitez has made it known publicly he was left frustrated about the inability of the club to land key targets before pre-season.  These weren’t £10m+ targets, but targets available for free or on loan.  Targets that Rafa did the ground work to secure their arrival and he was let down.  We have moved on from that judging by Benitez’s words at the NINE Bar talk in, but January will come around and the same issues will doubtless raise their head again.  There are only

so many failed transfer windows the manager and support will suffer. There’s still time for the club to make this transfer window a success.  They should not waste that chance. Having said that it’ll be a delight to be in St James’ Park on August 13th.  Gallowgate Flags will be back again for another season and there is the brand new signing section in the Gallowgate End to look forwards to.  The new strip is probably the best in years and we have a set of players that care.  They’re a proud bunch and so is the manager.  I really think we’ll closer to the top 8 than the

bottom 3. We need that striker though.... On a true faith front we’ll have more for you than ever before of course – all absolutely free of charge (of course).  The website is getting an upgrade and content will be online quicker after games. There’ll be more regular, shorter fanzines.   Our YouTube channel is up and running and will have a diverse array of supporter lead content. On top of the newsletters, podcasts and social media we have for you I don’t believe I’m wrong in saying you won’t find better supporter lead coverage of Newcastle United than with true faith.  Help us spread the word. Alex Hurst Editor FOLLOW @tfalex1892

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Chris Wood

NUFC SUMMER SO FAR With a little under 2 weeks until our campaign kicks off with a difficult home game against Spurs, Rafa Benitez has found this transfer window hard work and very frustrating despite managing 5 signings to date. CHRISTIAN ATSU The first through the door and by all means the simplest transfer we have completed in the sense that the transfer fee of £6.3 million had already been agreed with his loan deal last season. I always thought whether we would exercise the option to sign Atsu permanently would give us a fair indication as to how the rest of tf 6

the window was going to go. The crazy transfer fees that have followed has probably meant this deal was a no brainer as a player who more than likely will used as a squad player. I don’t think he will be a regular starter next season but he does give us another option in these areas, which we didn’t have in our last season in the top flight. Rafa has often stressed the importance

in competition for places, and to be fair to Atsu as last season went on, Rafa used him more often. This may have been a combination of the fact the player started to buy into Benitez way of playing and the drop off in form of Gouffran. I found him to be erratic at times last season but he does has the capabilities of coming up with something from nothing.

FLORIAN LEJEUNE In contrast to Atsu a transfer that seemed to drag on and on according to the media, quite what the hold up was I am not sure as again the fee of £8.7 million was allegedly in his contract as a minimum fee release clause. A quick background research shows Lejeune has been around a bit (in a similar fashion to Atsu) albeit with far more starts to his name. At 6 foot 3 he will give us a bit more physical presence which will be needed in the Premier League, how he copes with that and also the pace of the game is something none of us can even pretend to know. There have been plenty of positive media reports on him and from his early preseason games, in which he has played as many minutes as anyone, it looks like the lad is comfortable on the ball. I would expect him to start the season opener and though many expect him to partner Lascelles at centre back, I would rather and

wouldn’t be surprised to see him partner Ciaran Clark. Rafa made quite a point last season to the balance of a left sided centre half like Clark playing, so I wonder if he sees Lejeune as an upgrade on Lascelles? JACOB MURPHY Another one similar to Lejeune, where his name had been mentioned in the media for some time and the deal seemed to take an age to do. This has been one part of Rafas frustration this transfer window the fact that some deals have taken far to long for his liking, and as he confirmed at the informative and funny talk in at Nine bar with him last week, has resulted in us losing out on nearly all our top transfer targets. Read into that what you will. At just 22 and with 9 goals and 6 assists in his first full Championship season, Murphy undoubtedly has talent. Rafa was said to have been impressed by

Murphy in both his games for Norwich against us last season, but I also think this has a hint of Steve Nickson about it. Nickson has been made up from Under 21 scout to head of recruitment and was tasked with looking at players in this summers Euro 2017 Under 21 tournament in Poland. Muprhy like Atsu will offer competition in the wide areas, and also add more pace to a team that lacked in on the whole in the Championship, it’s a vital attribute in the Premier League. JAVIER MANQUILLO A deal that seemed to appear from nowhere and surprised a lot of people, including myself. When you think about it though, and going back to competition for places we are light in the Right Back area following the departure of Vurnon Anita to Leeds. All the mackems reckon he’s shite, funny that, their whole team

At just 22 and with 9 goals and 6 assists in his first full Championship season, Murphy undoubtedly has talent.

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was last season and still is! I’ll judge the lad once he has had enough coaching by Rafa Benitez rather than judging him as a player thrown into a terrible team being ‘managed’ by David Moyes. At only 23 years of age, I’m sure he can improve. He’s also another player that has done the rounds on loan, similar again to Murphy, Lejenue and Atsu, a pattern forming here? MIKEL MERINO This one came from absolutely nowhere, the kind of deals I like! By the time the local and national media started to report it, he had already had his medical and agreed terms with United. Going back to the Steve Nickson reference from earlier, Merino is another player that appeared in the Under 21 Euros, giving him plenty scope to complete all the necessary checks on the player. Merino is a left footed central midfield player, remember the balance Rafa tf 8

likes in his side aka Clark, this deal could help give that in the midfield. I’m not going to pretend I know anything about him as I don’t, but by all accounts he is comfortable on the ball as you would expect from a Spanish player and is very good at breaking up play. Almost sounds like a perfect foil for Shelvey doesn’t he! It’s reported that this is a loan deal with an obligation to buy after a certain number of appearances. This makes perfect sense to me, as we clearly need to use our finances as shrewdly as possible. One thing we are missing from all of our signings so far is Premier League experience, as unlike our last promotion team from 2009/10 we don’t have much of it in the squad already, but as we all know this experience comes at a premium price from what Rafa said last Thursday we are struggling to compete.

Looking back at a lot of our successful signings from last season, Ritchie, Gayle, Hayden and comparing them to what we have bought this season one thing stands out to me, they have all done the hard yards out on loan at various clubs or played in the lower leagues to get where they are now. This shows a certain sense of character to the players, something which Rafa rightly sees as important. They all also have so much to prove which can only make the players hungry to succeed this season and as long as they are giving their best on the pitch it is our duty to get behind them and support them. Lets not ruin these lads if they make a few mistakes, don’t groan when a pass goes astray or a header is missed. This doesn’t help them or the team, and we are all in it together this season, a message which our manager made loud and clear last Thursday.

This shows a certain sense of character to the players, something which Rafa rightly sees as important. They all also have so much to prove which can only make the players hungry to succeed this season

Howay United!!!

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Atsu - From being a fast, tricky customer with absolutely minimal positional sense his game noticeably improved especially towards the end of the season. His permanent move gives Rafa the opportunity to continue the obvious good work he’s started. tf 10

Brighton and Hove Albion - Let’s never forget that they are the Championship champions despite not actually winning it. This ‘fact’ was confirmed by a recent article on the BBC’s website. Carr - his departure is an admission that the model implemented all those years ago was failing and dead

on its arse and, above all, it looked like confirmation that Rafa had been given complete control over who came and who went out of the club. Dummett - Our very own Geordie living the dream playing for his boyhood club does seem to rather divide opinion amongst us fans Given he’s played

more minutes under Rafa then anyone else, it’d be nice to see nothing but encouragement from the stands. Howay the Lad. Everton remember when Pardew said that his NUFC ‘were in a different league from Everton’. Aye, that. We’re miles away from them at present. Rafa can change that. Full backs - Man City have spent £133 million on them this transfer window. If Guardiola doesn’t win the league or the CL then surely he must be seen as having failed? Gibson we’ve lost a supposedly brilliant prospect to a fellow PL club. Only time will tell whether the decision was based on him having little confidence in the NUFC youth set-up and eventual progression to the firstteam or Rafa simply not rating him that highly. Holland when Rafa a r ri v e d our Dutch contingent stood at 5. Anita, Janmaat and Wijnaldum have gone and does anyone really see Krul and De Jong forming part of Rafa’s plans? Idiotic - some of the reactions to the rainbow

flag. It’s a good thing. It’s here. Ignore it or embrace it but don’t use it as an excuse to air repulsive opinions. Javier Manquillo. Fans of our beloved neighbours on social media and in the local press inform us that he’s shit. Given that he’s played for Bielsa, Simeone and Michel I’m happy to trust Rafa on this one. There’s a player in there. Kick-off times - only two 1500 kick-offs in our first 7 games. Five of those games are being televised. We’re not a big club though because we’ve won nowt for years, right? Lejeune - our new centre half from Eibar looks assured on the ball based on his pre-season appearances up to and including Bradford away. Our first ball playing centre half since Colo in 2011/12? Mourinho - who isn’t excited about seeing the rivalry with Rafa reignited? Away to Man Utd on the 18th of November. BUZZING. New - the strip. Social m e d i a opinion after the Bradford friendly indicated that many male fans are perhaps buying

sizes a little too snug. No one (other than perhaps people with niche sexual proclivities) wants to see that. If in doubt, buy XL. Oratory - the art of formal speaking in public. Rafa’s talk-in at the Number 9 bar on the 27th of July not only got the optimism levels of those in attendance up to heights unchartered in many years. Premier - we’re back. And we should never be away again. Quantum physics makes as much sense as Emmanuel Rivière being paid to play football.

Given he’s played more minutes under Rafa then anyone else, it’d be nice to see nothing but encouragement from the stands. HOWAY THE LAD

Rafa - he’s still here and he’s the reason we’ll be ok despite not spending the £100 million Merson et al believe necessary to even just survive. Simon - the given name of the man who will obviously take Sunderland back to where they belong... Tottenham - Our first opponents of the season. They’re where we should have been by now, they’re where we should aspire to be. Under 20s - England won the World Cup and our very tf 11

own Freddie Woodman won the Golden Glove. It’ll be interesting to see whether he’s loaned out or kept on the fringes of the first team squad as he’s getting to the age where he needs to start playing regularly at a challenging enough level.

W*ng* goodbye you legalised loan shark bastards. I’m sure we all feel better that we’re now sponsored by a gambling firm, a much more moral and upstanding industry than payday loans.

of regular football, maybe it’s the desire to try out a new culture and climate… or maybe it’s the fact he was possibly offered a ton a week, a uniform, a zero hours contract and one of those 15 kilo Sports Direct mugs. Played his part last year. All the best to him.

Vurnon - we said goodbye to a player of whom we never knew his best position (if indeed he had one), who never really did much and who no one was sad to see leave yet still played over 150 times for the Club. Football, eh?

Xmas - the fixture release last month gives us pleasant reading for the festive period. West Ham in London on the Saturday before Christmas ought to be a beautiful and messy affair.

Zazón - as in Mikel Merino Z a z ó n . Another new, young and eager Spanish addition to our ranks. He comes to us highly rated in Spanish football and with the correct guidance and enough game time could become a real asset.

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Yoan - Gouff decided to leave. Maybe it’s the lure



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We’re blessed in NE1 (and beyond) with some truly exceptional match day boozers. I enjoy talking pubs with mags. You can tell a lot about a fan about where they drink pre and post-game. Through true faith, the podcast and Gallowgate Flags I’ve probably come into contact with more mags in the last twelve months than I had in the previous ten years so it’s been great to get to hear about the various delights NE1 offers and the journey match day drinkers have been on.

Alex Hurst Follow @tfalex1892

The North Terrace Pub: An interview Last season was my first at the Trent House. A cracking little Boozer with a brilliant upstairs with the football on. Most importantly it’s has a great pre-match vibe, attracts good mags and the beer is spot on and reasonably priced. You’ll always get served as well. I hadn’t plan to try anywhere different this season until a lad I know from school, Elliot Fulton, got in touch to say he was renovating the North Terrace Pub in town and he wanted to chat. tf 14

It was apparent that Elliot, a lifelong mag, had designs on creating the perfect prematch pub for home games. Different pubs in NE1 take different approaches to match days; from the Strawberry identifying itself as a ‘football pub’ with wall to wall memorabilia to the likes of Sam Jacks, Beyond and City Vaults putting on ‘entertainment’, to the likes of Bar Loco, Crown Posada, Wetherspoon’s and others which don’t remotely do anything special to cater for match day fans but are

still widely popular when United play at home. The idea of a new major match day pub spiked my interest though and felt it was time to sit down with Elliot for true faith. “I’d been away from home for ten years since leaving school. Living in London I worked for Heineken and just got into pubs. I initially wanted to look at a pub in London but entering the market it was just way too expensive and if you’re after running a warm, friendly

boozer maybe London isn’t the best place to start – although there are loads of great pubs down there. More importantly I wanted a pub near a football ground, and as a Newcastle fan, London just didn’t fit the bill. I’ve been a Newcastle fan all my life but was too young to enjoy Keegan’s great side or even appreciate what Robson did for us. To be honest my favourite side following United would be Chris Houghton’s promotion side in 2009/10. The mess we were in took serious character to get out of and we had that in Kevin Nolan, Barton, Shola and the rest. Added to the skill of an Enrique (one of my favourite ever players) and Jonas etc – it was some team. Then again I was at Loftus Road for the 6 0 win over QPR and it was probably the best football experience I’ve had. The away end was moving. Constant noise and positivity throughout. Most unlike Newcastle United in the last couple of years before Rafa. What I’m looking to create is the perfect pre-match

pub. Not everything suits everyone so we’ll be very open to ideas. We want to hear from fans on social media (Facebook and twitter) about what would improve their match day experience. We’ve basically got a blank canvass. The pub is being completely renovated and will look nothing like the old North Terrace – it’ll be unrecognisable so we want to know what we can do to make it attractive for fans. Of course we’ll have screens showing both games on BT Sport and Sky Sports. I’ll have to work every Saturday so I want it to be as positive and atmospheric as possible.

should be completely unpretentious – people from all over society of all ages and sexes.

I have this idea that the best match day boozer is the space where people get away from their troubles (which should happen at the game as well) and people can get carried away with the possibilities. Man United won ten in a row? Leaving the house a mag might think ‘no chance’ but when you’re our pub, with mates and likeminded fans hopefully they’ll leave thinking ‘we’ll do these today.’ The atmosphere

The pub is only half a mile from the ground and right on the edge of the University (which you can cut through) – it’s not slap bang in the middle of the City but we didn’t want to be the type of pub that was impossible to get served on a match day or not have a proper atmosphere. We’re hoping to welcome many mags to the North Terrace in the new season after our opening date on 04th of August.”

Most of all it’s supposed to be fun, enjoyable. Fans looks forward to going to the match and the match day. Rafa’s brought that back and that’s what we need next season. Positivity for the players and the team. If people come down to the pub before and after the game, then I’ll be happy to just play a small part in their day. Nothing beats watching Newcastle win at home with your friends or family and having a couple of drinks either side in a proper pub.

To be honest my favourite side following United would be Chris Houghton’s promotion side in 2009/10.

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ACCIDENTAL ACTIVIST Last week I was your average armchair Newcastle fan. Trawling through transfer news, trying not to worry about the “unsettled” Rafa Benitez, desperate for our campaign back in the premier league to get under way. This week I’ve been described by a few people as a political activist. All because of a flag. A few weeks ago I was watching the MLS highlights. Orlando is my team due to a trip to Disneyland which coincided with Orlando City’s first MLS game. This current round of fixtures happened to be on during pride month and tf 16

near to the anniversary of the brutal attack on the LGBT community there last year. Rainbow flags were EVERYWHERE. Now I know they have a very good reason to show their support for their LGBT friends and maybe it seems like we don’t, but this, along

with the very interesting work that St Pauli do to help minorities, got me wondering if anyone had ever suggested creating a NUFC rainbow flag. My first thought was not to start a divisive campaign to force and


agenda and raise money for a controversial flag. I thought that I’d message Gallowgate Flags and see if they were interested in doing it instead. You see, I’m not an activist, I’m not particularly social media savvy and, not that I felt it would matter, but I’m not even gay. I simply have people in my life who are and have been directly affected by the stigma that still remains around the LGBT community. I thought they deserved to be represented. I, to put it simply, thought it would be nice. The incredible Alex Hurst responded to my message to Gallowgate Flags pretty quickly. As I began reading his reply, I was initially disappointed. He explained that they only produce 100%NUFC flags and would knock back anything else. I completely understand and respect that stance and I was

resigned to ending it there with the knowledge that I had at least tried. He went on, however, to explain that he liked the idea and would be happy to point me in the right direction. As the discussion developed, it started to seem like there was a good chance that I could make it happen. This left me in a bit of a pickle. As I’ve already touched upon, I’m far from an activist. In fact, I’m barely “political”. I vote and, if I was pushed would probably describe myself as left leaning but that’s about as far as I go. My Facebook is mainly filled with pictures of my little girl and the odd video of Zidane or Beardsley. The last time I sent a tweet was about David Santon leaving. I hardly felt equipped to start a campaign to raise money for what I knew would potentially be a

minefield of questions and disagreements. So it took me a few days to decide if this was the right thing to do. I quickly exhausted my list of LGBT football fan contacts. I then, just as quickly exhausted

my contacts who are LGBT but not into football. I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t offending anyone

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or trying to be a mouth piece for something that didn’t represent them. That they didn’t want me represent them. But this is getting close to what it’s all about. Representation is key here. I knew before I made the fundraising page that there certainly were people who wanted to be represented by this flag. People who still feel they have to stay invisible in the crowd for fear of reprisal. There was, however, no way of knowing how everybody would feel until I put things into action. The reaction has been astounding. I would very obviously be lying if I said it has had an overwhelming support. As rough estimate I would say it’s been 50-50. Those who are in favour of it are resoundingly so. Those who express an opinion against it fall in to many categories. A quick look at any of the threads of comments will have you see some of the awful, out dated, narrow minded responses. Unfortunately, that is always going to be the case. The ones that really interested me are along the lines of “I don’t care what your sexuality is but I don’t want a rainbow flag. Keep it black and white”. That’s a great attitude to have and if everyone felt like that there would be no need for a flag. The reaction has convinced that there is still a need. tf 18

There are fellow fans who feel St James’ Park will be a safer place for them, simply by seeing a flag, one of many, waved in the crowd. Most of us can’t begin to imagine how that would feel. Opposing a flag that represents diversity and acceptance because you’re already perfectly accepting seems illogical to me. I won’t dwell too much on the comments as they’re quite easy to find for anyone who is interested. I have been told though that we should be making other flags instead. To that I say we should be making other flags as well. Anyone one can do it and myself or Gallowgate flags will be happy to help. That was the initial idea after all. If you have an idea that you feel better represents you or your group then do it. We want to demonstrate both our diversity and the fact that we unite for a common cause. The idea that one slightly different coloured flag in a sea of many should define us as a whole is madness.

A quick look at any of the threads of comments will have you see some of the awful, out dated, narrow minded responses. Unfortunately, that is always going to be the case.

I heard suggestion that this will lead to the next flag being “Rasta Benitez on a Jamaican flag smoking a spliff”. Personally, I think that’s genius and would happily stick a fiver in. I also heard the “other clubs will take the piss out of us” point being made. Do you take the piss out of Spurs for their Proud Lilywhites flag? Or out of Arsenal for their Gay Gooners banner?

If you haven’t seen them it’s because no fuss has been made about it and they’ve slipped under the radar. If you have and still feel like we’ll be made fun of, I would suggest this is the very reason why a rainbow flag is still important. As far as the “they’ve already got pride pride month” argument is concerned, imagine if you were told you could only be a proud, open Newcastle fan for a month but then had to be discreet about it for the next 11 months. It hardly seems fair, does it? There are may clubs around the country who do great work for the LGBT community in their area. Chelsea, Man city, Palace, Swansea to name a few in the Premier league and others such as Bradford, Notts County and Ipswich across the rest of the league’s. They all have LGBT supporters groups who are officially recognised by their clubs. At this moment

in time we have nothing. It is my understanding that there are already the beginnings of plans to change this although they are at an early stage. I have had tentative contact with people to see if there’s any thing I can do to help push this forward. Maybe I can, maybe I can’t be we have started a very important conversation if nothing else. Even if only 50% of people agree with me, I feel that’s enough to warrant this small but significant action. It may not represent you directly but it does represent some of us. I hope, in the not to distant future, most of us will be proud that we stood up and made a difference to something that should have deemed irrelevant a long time ago. We proudly displayed a Senegalese flag to show or support for Papis Cissé and Demba Ba. Is it so different to wave one that shows we are behind a section of

our fellow fans and, you never know, possibly even some of our players? Regardless of any label we might put on ourselves or have applied to us by others, I only had one real aim here. To show that we care for all of our NUFC family. Let the world know that we are proud, that we are all in this together, that we are, above all else, UNITED.

There are may clubs around the country who do great work for the LGBT community in their area. Chelsea, Man city, Palace, Swansea to name a few in the Premier league and others such as Bradford, Notts County and Ipswich across the rest of the league’s

tf 19

As we all know Tammy Abraham has moved to Swansea City on a season long loan, from champions Chelsea. Rafael Benitez was eager to add the young striker to his squad this season, however Newcastle missed out due to concerns about the city’s nightlife. Yes, you did hear that right, it is one of the strangest excuses I have ever heard and probably will ever hear.

Newcastle is known for being a great party city, for Chelsea to decide against allowing Abraham to spend the season on loan with the Magpies says more about the player than the city. There is no doubting Abraham’s talent; he is a player I have rated for a few years now, having watched him in youth internationals. However, this throws some doubt as to whether the young striker is focussed enough to succeed in the modern game. There’s a lot of glitz and glamour that comes with being a professional football player, some can get distracted by all the attention that comes their way, especially younger players. The money is obscene in the modern game and makes young players think they have already made it in the big time, after signing their first professional contract. tf 20

Graeme Bell

It has been a worry for some time, that a lot of young players believe they are too big for their own boots. Abraham signed a bumper new contract with Chelsea, before joining Swansea on loan, the 19-year old now earns a massive £50,000 a week. For anyone to be on that kind of money is mad, let alone a 19-year old. It is a test of the Chelsea striker’s attitude, despite the huge wage it does not mean Abraham has made it. The striker has a lot of work to do before he can call himself the finished article. I find Chelsea and Abraham quite contradicting, the player is not allowed to play for Newcastle for a season because of the nightlife, however Chelsea are more than happy to throw £50,000 a week in Abraham’s face. For a young player like Abraham,choosing between

two clubs to gain Premier League experience for a season can be a daunting task. Newcastle may have just been promoted, however all signs pointed north for the best place for Abraham to improve and develop. A world class manager, playing in front of more than 50,000 fans and Abraham would be further away from his roots. The last point can be seen as a negative but I see it as a positive point, being further away from home makes you more responsible, tough and independent with no family in the area to fall back on in hard times. Alan Shearer is a prime example of moving far from home as a young player, joining Southampton on a youth contract at the age of 15. Let’s face it; it didn’t do Shearer any harm did it! Abraham chose the easy option and could look back on the decision with real regret. Swansea is a good club, but I cannot for the life of me understand how a young player can opt against playing and learning under Rafael Benitez. We saw last summer and with Florian Lejeune, players jump at the chance to play for the Spaniard. We all love a striker up here; the club have had some real greats pull on the famous black and white shirt. Abraham would have been adored in these parts, he is a real poacher and I have no doubt he will get goals for Swansea next season. The striker must keep a

level head, something that is hard for a young player in the modern game.

find the right player for the right price. It is certainly a seller’s market this summer.

There is no escaping the fact that losing out on Abraham was a big blow to Benitez, who even spent his wedding anniversary trying to sell the appeal of Newcastle to the striker. This transfer window has been tough for a lot of teams; the Premier League TV money has made this window chaotic and thrown it out of control. In recent weeks we have seen Nathan Ake move from Chelsea to Bournemouth for a whopping £20 million, and Jordan Pickford move from Sunderland to Everton for £30 million. Those two transfers showcase how hard it is for Newcastle to

Newcastle will be hoping the window settles in coming weeks, so they will not be held to ransom by a player or club. Missing out on Abraham could well be a blessing in disguise for Newcastle, even if the player had a fantastic season for the club he would only be there for one season. Benitez and Newcastle want players that are hungry and want to fight for the club.

There is no escaping the fact that losing out on Abraham was a big blow to Benitez, who even spent his wedding anniversary trying to sell the appeal of Newcastle to the striker.

Although Abraham is a good player and has a bright future in the game, there are much better options out there for Newcastle this summer. tf 21

Whether it’s endless rumours, drawn out transfers or Mike Ashley’s penny-pinching, there’s always something to talk about during the summer transfer window at NUFC. The summer is traditionally the time when clubs shape their squad for the coming season in order to improve on the season before. Sometimes they get it right and sometimes they get it horribly wrong. Below, I look at the two best and two worst summer, Premier League transfer windows during Ashley’s tenure.

Liam Reay

LOOKING THROUGH THE WINDOWS THE GOOD Summer 2010. Having won The Championship and returned to the top flight at the first attempt the previous season, everyone was eager to see how United would approach the summer transfer window. There was a feeling at the time that the squad was nowhere near good enough to cope with Premier League football and that wholesale changes would have to be made. Surprisingly, not a single tf 22

player was sold for a fee in the summer of 2010. The loan agreements of players such as Patrick Van Aanholt and Fitz Hall ended without permanent deals being offered and captain Nicky Butt was released on a free transfer. Rather than dismantle the squad which got promoted, manager Chris Hughton brought in players in key positions to provide the best possible chance of staying up. Veteran defender Sol Campbell was brought in and although his best days

were long gone he is said to have been influential off the pitch. James Perch was signed early in the window and promising Everton midfielder Dan Gosling was signed after an administrative error at Goodison Park allowed him to leave on a free. Fans were still uneasy going into the season, the feeling was that the team needed a solid defensive midfielder and some creativity in the final third. The season started with a defeat away to Manchester

United but then took off with a 6-0 hammering of AstonVilla. Of the 11 players who started that day, 10 had played for United in The Championship the previous season. This helped to calm fears that the players weren’t cut out for the big league and reduced much of the nervousness. Surprisingly, United made their 2 biggest signings of the window even after a decent start to the season. Highly rated, midfield destroyer Cheick Tiote was signed from FC Twente and the immensely talented but problematic Hatem BenArfa was brought in on loan with a view to a permanent deal. Tiote would go on to play over 30 games that season and be vital in ensuring the club was never in danger of relegation. HBA, sadly only played 3 games before his season was ended by a broken leg. Although this summer window was unspectacular, it showed that wholesale changes to a promoted side aren’t always essential. Sometimes the momentum, team spirit, experience and belief players gain from a successful Championship season can carry a team further than people anticipate. Whether

this was the club’s plan or because Ashley didn’t want to spend much money is another story. Summer 2011. After completing our first season back in the Premier League with a 12th placed finish, Alan Pardew went into his first pre-season as United manager with the now legendary ‘Andy Carroll money’ burning a hole in his pocket after our number 9 had been sold in January. Sol Campbell and Shefki Kuqi were released at the end of May and the ‘player’s committee’ was disbanded, with Kevin Nolan sold to West Ham in June and Joey Barton being pushed closer to the exit door on a daily basis throughout the summer, eventually leaving by mutual consent at the end of August. Other senior players to leave the club were Wayne Routledge and Jose Enrique, the latter leaving after a Twitter outburst in which he questioned the ambition of the club. Something which was echoed by the majority of supporters at the time. Fans were anxious for new players to arrive and everyone knew there was money to spend. A look

back through reports from 2011 show we were linked with players such as Romelu Lukaku while he was still at Anderlecht, Moussa Sow, Joe Cole, Gervinho and Jermain Defoe among others. Hatem Ben Arfa’s loan deal had been made permanent earlier in the year and he was returning to full fitness that summer. The club moved early and signed Yohan Cabaye in June for £4.5m after Graham Carr discovered he had a buyout clause in his contract. Demba Ba was next through the door, arriving on a free transfer after a successful loan spell at West Ham where he proved he could score goals in the Premier League. Other first team players to arrive were Sylvain Marveaux, Mehdi Abeid, Gabriel Obertan, Davide Santon and Rob Elliot. Business was done early, only 2 players arriving after the season had started, which allowed them time to settle in the area and get used to their new manager and teammates. This gave us the chance to attack our very favourable early fixture list. United would start the season unbeaten in the league until late November

United would start the season unbeaten in the league until late November and go on to finish the season in 5th place.

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and go on to finish the season in 5th place. THE BAD SUMMER 2008. Where to begin with this? Kevin Keegan was back in the hot seat at St James’ Park. The fans were all on board, with thousands taking up the offer of long-term season ticket deals. We had a billionaire owner and everything was there for United to take off and help Keegan complete the job he couldn’t quite finish 12 years earlier. Surely they would seize this opportunity… 2008, however, was before we knew how little Mike Ashley cared about us or our club. This seemed to be the summer when Ashley decided to drastically cut costs and that existing in the Premier League at the minimum possible expense was the main objective. The 2008 version of Graham Carr was the unqualified, 3 man team of Dennis Wise, Tony Jiminez and Jeff Vetere who were given the job of tf 24

bringing in young players with a sell on value and hoping that Keegan would be enough to motivate them and keep the fans coming to SJP.

Players did arrive that summer; Jonas Gutierrez from Mallorca, Danny Guthrie from Liverpool and Sebastian Bassong from Metz all signed in July. They were closely followed at the beginning of August by Fabricio Coloccini.

that decisions were being made without his approval. It came to a head with the sale of James Milner. Keegan was a massive fan of Milner but he was still on the same contract he had signed when he first joined the club and was looking for a deal he felt reflected his development and was in line with other players at the club. Keegan backed him up but when the club refused to negotiate, Milner handed in a transfer request. Keegan pleaded with the club to offer Milner the contract he deserved, only relenting when he was told they would use the money they got for Milner to sign Bastian Schweinsteiger. They lied, and when Wise told Keegan to look on YouTube to see the new player he was getting, as a favour to a South American agent, he hit the roof. Milner was sold and Keegan quit.

There had been talk all summer that Keegan wasn’t happy with the involvement of Wise, and

The season was an absolute disaster. The problems that were caused during the chaotic transfer window

Having started the summer by selling David Rozenhal and Emre, United were linked with moves for Arda Turan, Thierry Henry, Andrei Arshavin, Dimitar Berbatov and Luka Modric. Modric actually arrived at the training ground for talks but Keegan was overruled and told Modric didn’t have what it takes for Premier League football. Whatever happened to Modric..?

They lied, and when Wise told Keegan to look on YouTube to see the new player he was getting, as a favour to a South American agent, he hit the roof. Milner was sold and Keegan quit.

dominated the entire season. The players played under 4 different managers. The fans protested against Ashley who decided to put the club up for sale. Newcastle lost away to Sunderland for the first time in over a quarter of a century and Joe Kinnear arrived. The season ended in relegation to the second tier after 16 consecutive years in the Premier League and the owner lost the trust of many of the supporters forever. Summer 2012. Having finished the 2011-12 season in 5th place, everyone was on a high and optimistic for the season ahead but knew that the club had work to do to maintain or improve on the European qualification. Not that they were lucky to finish where they did but even the most ardent fan would accept that a lot of things went United’s way that season. A generous opening set of fixtures, an unusual lack of injuries, everything Cisse hit ending up in the back of the net and Chelsea & Liverpool losing 24 league games between them all played a part. Nevertheless, we had finished 5th and had European football to offer new players. Linked with Raul, Toby Alderweireld, Olivier Giroud and César Azpilicueta, United decided the only senior player they would bring in would be Vurnon Anita. A player Pardew neither wanted nor needed. Parallels could be drawn to the summer of 2003, when after a 3rd

place finish and Champions League qualification under Sir Bobby Robson, the powers that be decided not to spend any money over the summer (only Lee Bowyer arriving on a free transfer). The club went backwards and never recovered. The same thing happened in 2012. The club showed itself for what it was. Not only to the supporters but also to the players who had achieved that 5th placed finish. Sometimes we forget that players want to see signings just as much as we do. They need the competition and they want to know that they play for an ambitious football club. It was the beginning of the end for players such as Cabaye, Ba and Ben Arfa. They knew they weren’t going to achieve what they wanted in football at Newcastle United. United decided to offload

a number of squad players that summer. Guthrie, Lovenkrands, Smith, Best and Fraser Forster were all either released or sold. For some reason the club decided to make the squad smaller going into a season where Europa League football meant they would be playing more games. The squad couldn’t cope, was hit by injuries and United went from 5th top in 2012 to 5th bottom 12 months later. Pardew’s managerial limitations were exposed for all to see and only the desperation signings of Sissoko, Gouffran, Debuchy, Yanga-Mbiwa and Haidara in January 2013 prevented United from getting relegated. The lack of ambition shown in the 2012 summer transfer window set in motion a chain of events that eventually saw United relegated in 2016.

and only the desperation signings of Sissoko, Gouffran, Debuchy, YangaMbiwa and Haidara in January 2013 prevented United from getting relegated.

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Qualifying for Europe in 1970 and then failing to be the Divisions top scorers in the following 3 seasons meant the short-lived pre-season Watney Cup tournament passed Newcastle United by.

Marc Corby @NUFC_1980_1994

RANDOM TOURNAMENTS 1971 however saw the introduction of another Cup seen as a benefit for ‘top’ clubs that didn’t qualify for Europe. Sponsored by American petroleum giant Texaco, clubs from England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Eire entered and Joe Harvey’s men drew Hearts in the first round. Played over 2 legs, United progressed thanks to a penalty shootout following a 2-2 aggregate score. New signing Malcolm Macdonald grabbed both goals and another in a 6-2 aggregate win over Coventry to

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reach the Semi Finals. Despite taking Champions elect derby to extra time, late goals secured a 4-2 aggregate win for Brian Clough’s side who went on to win the Cup. Despite the tournament being unattractive to many, the semi-final attendance of 37,151 was almost 4,500 more than the St James Park average.

The competition was set up in 1970 on the back of the popular decision to stage a one off match between 1969 League Cup Winners Swindon and Coppa Italia winners A.S Roma. With UEFA refusing to allow a 3rd Division club to participate in Europe, the game was organised to compensate for the Wiltshire side missing out.

Having failed to qualify for Europe for the 2nd successive season, Newcastle would enter the Anglo Italian Cup in 1972.

United would play remarkably well in the Group stages winning all 4 games against AS Roma and Como away 2-0 and

Bologna (1-0) and Torino (5-1) at home. Due to Italian side’s tendency to play-act and wind up, United had a player sent off in 3 of the 4 games and violence between opposing fans was growing throughout the tournament.

duty, an own goal and a rare strike from full back David Craig secured a 2-1 win and a 2nd European Final Victory in 5 seasons.

Onto the Semi Final, a Macdonald hat trick secured a 5-1 win over Crystal Palace that set The Mags into a final on ACF Fiorentina’s own turf. In front of a 45,000 crowd and without Macdonald who was on International

withdrawal of Irish clubs due to political pressure, aggregate wins over Ayr United (2-0) and WBA (4-3) came before eventual winners Ipswich Town defeated The Mags 2-1.

United’s Texaco Cup campaign fell short in extra time at the semi-final stage yet again. Following the

In a season where The

Magpies would play 21 cup matches, a trophy was lifted for the 2nd successive season as the Texaco Cup was at last Tyneside bound in April 1974. Unattractive fixtures meant interest had all but diminished but 2 legged wins over Morton (3-2), Birmingham (4-2) and Dundee United (4-3), set up a 3rd of 4 fixtures v Burnley in 4 short weeks. Despite failing to beat The Clarets in the league, the memorable FA Cup Semi Final victory at Hillsborough preceded Bobby Moncur’s extra time winner in front of 36,706 on Tyneside as United added silverware winning 2-1. With only 4 Scottish teams interested in participating, the format changed into group stages for the 197475 season in what would be the final year sponsored by Texaco and Harvey’s last as Newcastle manager. tf 27

A 1-2 defeat at 2nd Division Sunderland and a 2-2 draw at Carlisle left The Mags as good as out. Remarkably, a 4-0 win over Middlesbrough on NE1 earned a bonus point for scoring 3 goals and secured top spot on Goal Difference over undefeated Carlisle! Macdonald inspired 4-3 and 5-2 aggregate wins over Aberdeen and Birmingham respectively secured a 2nd successive final that would be played over 2 legs following the ‘one match format’ played as a one off in the previous season. 2nd Division Southampton were the opponents and following a 1-0 defeat at The Dell, a 3-0 win over The Saints after extra time in front of 20,615 at St James saw United retain the Cup. As a new incarnation of the Cup Texaco left behind, Newcastle, now managed by Gordon Lee, would be out of the Anglo-Scottish version before the league campaign started as 0-2 defeats v 2nd Division Carlisle and Sunderland preceded a 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough. Despite an unspectacular start to the following season and 17 players getting pitch time during the first 5 league games, Lee experimented further as 10 players made their first appearance of the season in a 0-3 Quarter Final 1st Leg defeat at Ayr. Clearly devaluing tf 28

the Cup, United were disqualified and wins over Sheffield United (1-0) and Middlesbrough (3-0) alongside a 0-0 draw with Hull in the Group stages counted for nothing. The Mags would never enter the competition again. Set up to compensate for the ban on English Clubs in European Cups following the 1985’s Heysel stadium disaster, Newcastle did not to enter the Full Members Cup in 1985-86 and would make their debut in the competition against Everton in December 1986. With the ban not including the national side, Peter Beardsley would ‘represent’ United in Europe and Worldwide when playing for The 3 Lions 15 times during his first spell as a Mag. Having eventually found form thanks to the record signing of Paul Goddard, United went into the game on the back of a 5 game unbeaten run and with midfielder Andy Thomas scoring 2 goals in the previous 2 matches. Thomas would net a brace again but it wasn’t enough as the champions elect scored 5 in return.

In 1987 The Football League announced there would be a triple event to celebrate the 100th year of the leagues foundation. A little over a year since ‘The Hand Of God’ knocked England out of the Mexico ’86 World Cup, Diego Maradona was rightly booed as his Rest Of The World side were comfortably beaten by a Bryan Robson inspired Football League XI 3-0. The following year, 16 sides from all 4 Divisions were given the chance to qualify for a tournament played at Wembley over the weekend of April 16th and 17th. United found form at the right time as, despite being in 11th place in Division 1, a 3-1 win over Chelsea concluded a run of

4 wins and 2 draws from 8 games that ensured The Mags would visit the Twin Towers for the first time since the 1976 League Cup Final Defeat to Manchester City. The run was extremely impressive as Willie McFaul’s men defeated 4th place and eventual runners up Manchester United 1-0, 2nd place Nottingham Forest away 2-0, and Tottenham, for the only time in 10 league fixtures during the 1980s, also 2-0. Prior to that, United’s Full Members Cup campaign started with a 2-1 win over Shrewsbury at a frozen Gallowgate. Ian Bogie’s only goal for Newcastle and an 89th minute winner from Mirandinha preceded a first visit to Bradford City’s Valley Parade since reopening following May 1985’s fatal fire. A late Kevin Scott goal was a consolation in a 1-2 defeat against the 2nd Division Promotion hopefuls. Kenny Wharton’s sending off for deliberate handball was the 2nd of 3 United red cards in 6 games. Despite being drawn against run away leaders Liverpool at Wembley who had beaten United 4-1 and 4-0 in the 2 games played that season, a 3-0 win over soon to be relegated Watford was a 6th Newcastle win from 16 games where only 4 were lost. Following a poor start to the season that threatened relegation after only 3 wins from the first 19 games, this was a great turnaround enhanced

by Irish teenager Michael O’Neill’s 8 goals in the previous 5 matches (1.) Games would be 20 minutes each way at the Mercantile Credit Centenary Tournament where United would face Liverpool at 10.50am and following an uninspiring match, a sudden death penalty shoot-out was needed to settle the tie (2.) In perhaps a deliberate act to keep supporters apart from travelling Sunderland fans, the Mackems didn’t face Wigan until 4.40pm and Lawrie Mac’s Third Division side would go out on penalties. However United’s surprising win over Liverpool meant a match with 4th Division Tranmere Rovers soon followed, with McFaul’s men clear favourites. (3.)



Typical United. Qualifying for the 3rd and final part of the Football

3. tf 29

League ‘Celebrations’ was again earned on merit as The Mags won their final 3 games of the 1987-88 season to finish in 8th, a highest placed finish since 1977’s 5th. A new look Newcastle would face FA Cup Winners Wimbledon at the Quarter Final Stage of the Mercantile Credit Centenary Trophy at St James Park. Despite a 0-4 hammering at Everton on the opening day of the League season, a crowd of 17,904 turned up to see new signings John Hendrie, John Robertson, Dave Beasant and Andy Thorn who had cost almost 3million between them whilst all but Hendrie broke the clubs transfer fee. For once McFaul was backed to build a team but that wasn’t without the loss of key players from the previous 2 seasons that saw a relegation bound United turn into a top 8 side. The biggest loss was Paul Gascoigne who blamed an apparent lack of club ambition forcing his move to Spurs for silverware. The allegedly homesick Paul Goddard who, following a failure to agree wages with QPR, commuted from London to Derby County having turned down a last minute chance to join Champions Liverpool. Finally Neil McDonald, frustrated at being overlooked at Right Back and used in midfield, left for Everton. A Michael O’Neill winner in the last minute of extra time tf 30

spared a penalty shoot-out and The Mags would travel to Old Trafford for the Semi Final. The Red Devils supporters were out in force as the 14,968 present was only ‘beaten’ by the 10,019 that watched QPR Quarter Final defeat at home to Arsenal. Settled in extra time, United would lose 0-2 for the 3rd successive game before the hosts would lose the final to Arsenal at Villa Park 1-2 and thankfully, the leagues ‘party’ had ended. 2nd Division Watford would knock Newcastle, now managed by Jim Smith, out of the Full Members Cup sponsored by Simod 2-1 before Christmas. In a game that featured a Rob McDonald goal, it would be final appearances for the soon to depart Darren Jackson and John Cornwall.

Division 2, 8 out of 11 home games from the start of 1989-90 were victorious before a fixture with Oldham in the FMC now known as the Zenith Data Systems Cup. Having beaten Athletic in the 3rd game of the season thanks to 2 Mick Quinn goals that was part of a superb run of 9 in his first 5 games for the club, Darren Bradshaw would make his debut for the recently departed Thorn. The 6,167 present was a lowest attendance for a home first team fixture since 5,009 showed for the

As Smith’s wheeler-dealer transfer policy made no impact in United’s embarrassing relegation to tf 30

Texaco Cup Semi Final v Dundee United when 0-2 down from the 1st Leg in 1973-74. Despite the attraction of top flight Derby to Tyneside in the next round, only 6,704 would show up 5 days before Christmas. With Sunderland and Middlesbrough in the same division, United had drew their last 3 derby games but were unbeaten in their last 7 overall before a Quarter Final tie at Ayresome Park. A 4th derby game without a win, The Mags would only have a futile 2nd leg victory over Boro in the 1990-91 League Cup to ‘boast’ about in the following 11 derby matches in all competitions. Having lost their previous 3 away games 1-2, it came as no surprise that The Mags would go down by the same score line at Nottingham Forest in their only ZDS fixture of the 1990-91

season despite Scott giving United the lead. Following the resignation of Smith and the appointment of Ossie Ardiles, a youthful Newcastle side got off to a poor start to the 199192 season losing 5 and winning 1 of their opening 10 games. Following a 2-3 league defeat a few weeks earlier, United returned to Tranmere Rovers in the ZDS Cup In another game televised on the new channel SKY Sports, The Mags would also crash out of the FA Cup on penalties at home to Bournemouth. At this stage, from their 8 televised matches shown since live games became more frequent in 1983, a 4-0 win over West Ham in November 1986 was their only victory. Having ‘held’ the AngloItalian Cup since 1973, the re-introduction of the

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For The Record tournament at professional level gave 2nd Tier sides only the chance to win the trophy. With Kevin Keegan now in charge, United were beating all before them charging to promotion and won their Preliminary Round Group thanks to a 2-2 draw at Grimsby and a victory over Leicester in front of a healthy 14,046.

(0-1) and at Bari (0-3) which meant the 4,609 that attended the final game at home to Cesena watched an immaterial game end 2-2, justifying our lowest ever gate for a first team match. Thankfully, promotion and Keegan’s continuous revolutionising of Newcastle

Texaco Cup P28 W12 D8 L8 F49 A31. Winners Twice.

Mick Quinn’s brace were his last goals for United as they progressed to the Group stages and Italian opposition. Selecting a number of squad and junior players, a 1-1 draw at Lucchese was followed by defeats at home to Ascoli

United meant these less prestige competitions were soon a thing of the past and, following a gap of 17 years, United supporters would be travelling across Europe in major competitions again by September 1994.

Anglo Scottish Cup P7 W2 D1 L3 F6 A9 Anglo Italian Cup: Winners P12 W7 D3 L2 F26 A12. Winners Once. Full Members Cup (Simod, ZDS) P9 W3 D1* L5 F18 A21 Centenary Celebrations P4 W1 D1** L2 F1 A4 *United lost on penalties ** United won on penalties

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Realistically just where can Newcastle United expect to finish next season? Being a Newcastle United fan can be a blessing and a curse. Undoubtedly one of the biggest clubs in the country, with an incredible fanbase, there isn’t many greater feelings as a fan than watching Rafa Benitez’s men do well. However, despite claiming to be some of the best fans in the league, supporters have a tendency to unnecessarily worry. A lot.


In some respect, the overthinking and paranoia can be justified. Mike Ashley’s reign has been shrouded with broken promises and mind-baffling decisions when it comes to the running of this great club. But you only have to look on social media this summer to see Newcastle fans just love to worry. For that reason, I am excited for the transfer window to

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close and for the season to get underway, simply so I don’t have to hear fans moaning about the possibility of a signing who may not even be interested in a move to Tyneside. However, once the season starts there will be a new worry on fans’ minds and I sense it will be about where the club can finish this season. It’s an interesting situation and a tough one to call, but realistically,

where should Newcastle be aiming to end the season?

Being realistic A large amount of followers will probably be happy with a mid-table finish, as long as the club aren’t involved in another relegation battle. However, there will be a section of the fanbase who assume due to having Benitez in the dugout, Newcastle HAVE to be aiming for

Aaron Stokes Follow @AaronStokes96

the European spots. No matter who comes into the team, challenging for Europe just a season after being promoted is surely an unrealistic target. In reality, simply surviving next year could be considered success. The money that comes with being in England’s top flight these days is crucial. For this reason, it would be no surprise if Mike Ashley was happy with another 17th place finish next year. However, the club finally have a platform to kick on and make themselves a constant figure in the Premier League. With Señor Benitez in the dugout and quality players actively wanting to sign for us, if anyone but Ashley was in charge you would be massively optimistic about the nine months that lie ahead. That being said, with the right recruitment and

investment, the club could potentially have a solid season upon their return to the top flight. You only need to look at teams such as Southampton and Stoke City to see that good business in the transfer market can make a huge difference for clubs who have recently been plying their trade in the Championship. Standard of the league To add to this, Bournemouth finished ninth last season. Bournemouth. 9th. Admittedly they have a fantastic young coach and a squad filled with some talented, and slightly underrated players, but if Newcastle cannot compete with a club that size then something is going wrong. As pleased as Bournemouth and Southampton will have been with their ninth and eighth place finishes respectively last season, the standard of the league

was significantly lower than usual last term. A mere six points separated Claude Puel’s Saints and Walter Mazzarri’s Watford, who finished nine places below Southampton in 17th, on the magic mark of 40 points. To add to this, Southampton ended up 15 points behind Everton, who finished one place above them. Another eight points separated sixth and seventh. For this reason, last season’s league positions can probably be taken with a pinch of salt. However, the top six does look too far away for a club who has recently been in the second tier, no matter who may arrive at the club before the end of August. Signings are the key However, last season may have been the start of a new era for the Premier League. With the ridiculous amount of TV money in

However, the club finally have a platform to kick on and make themselves a constant figure in the Premier League. With Señor Benitez in the dugout and quality players actively wanting to sign for us, if anyone but Ashley was in charge you would be massively optimistic about the nine months that lie ahead.

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the league these days, more and more clubs, of similar stature to Bournemouth, may start forging their way into the top ten. This is why recruitment over the summer is so crucial. Going out and parting with large sums of money for gamechanging players is a must for a club like Newcastle. At the time of writing this piece, Christian Atsu, Florian Lejeune, Jacob Murphy and Javier Manquillo are the only deals completed by the club. Mikel Merino looks to be next through the door. Each addition is one I’m happy with. Benitez and his team are clearly looking to strengthen all over the pitch and add depth and competition in certain areas. But a few more positions need to be filled if I’m going to be confident of Newcastle having a positive return to the big time. Firstly, despite Dwight Gayle’s fine campaign last season, is he cut out for the Premier League? Albeit tf 36

he was Crystal Palace’s top scorer at times during his spell there but his goalscoring record in the Premier League is nothing to get excited over. Is it finally going to be Mitrovic’s time? The Serb has been putting in some good performances over pre-season and I would love to see him have one more crack at showing his potential. Again, questions would probably be asked about whether he is the man to get you 15+ goals a season. For this reason, a new target man is essential. A proven, confident goalscorer, who has the ability to win games on his own. If United were to bring in a player fitting this bill, their transition back to the top flight is likely to run smoother. Likewise, at the opposite end of the pitch, there is work to do. Tim Krul looks set to leave, while Karl Darlow is attracting interest. A whole host of ‘keepers have been linked over the summer, and I feel

this is another area the club should look to invest. No matter how highly myself and fans may rate Darlow or Rob Elliot, they aren’t the type of goalkeepers that will win you 15 points a season by themselves. If the club can find a shotstopper who will vastly improve the side, again, the chances of a successful season look promising. Time will tell what the squad will look like come the opening day. Hopefully it’s a lot stronger and lot of the deadwood has been shifted from the wage bill. Benitez knows best There’s also the Benitez factor to consider. The amount of trust Newcastle fans have in the 57-year-old is unbelievable. He could sign a 38-year-old school teacher from Malta to play upfront and you would still hear fans saying “yeah but Rafa knows best!”

Is it finally going to be Mitrovic’s time? The Serb has been putting in some good performances over pre-season and I would love to see him have one more crack at showing his potential. Again, questions would probably be asked about whether he is the man to get you 15+ goals a season.

The Spaniard seems immune from criticism on Tyneside, which is fair, to an

extent, given how he has been far more successful than the club ever has but supporters must remember even he has made mistakes during his career. But no matter how many small flaws he may have, Benitez being in the dugout gives United a huge advantage going into the new campaign. I’m sure the gaffer is just as clueless as us when it comes to predicting where the club will end up next year but I’m sure he won’t be worried. After all, he knows this job is a project. A project he has craved for a number of years. I’m sure he is under no illusions as to where this club should be aiming for this season. And I sure he won’t be having a meltdown if things don’t go exactly to plan from the off… Something which some fans should take heed of. At the same time, I’m sure he will want to claim a few scalps this year. Is a manager

who could be managing in the Champions League going to settle for a year of consolidation? I very much doubt it. Hard to call The way I see it, Newcastle’s situation is similar to Donald Trump’s presidency. And I don’t mean because he and Mike Ashley share personality traits. Just hear me out… When pundits try to predict and analyse what is going to happen in the United States, they can’t. That’s because the country is in unchartered waters. There is no rule book. These things have never been said or done before. Newcastle find themselves in a similarly unprecedented climate. Never before have promoted Championship clubs had the ability to compete with sides remaining in the top flight until now, due to the money being thrown around these days. Usually,



newly-promoted sides to settle for Premier League survival upon their return. But again, a Championshipwinning club has never had a Champions Leaguewinning manager at the helm. The reason Newcastle’s situation is so hard to call is because the game has changed. There is no prior example to compare against. For these reasons it’s almost impossible to call just where Newcastle will be sitting come May 2018. Benitez’s signings may flop and his return may be shortlived. We may be looking for a new manager come Christmas. On the contrary, Benitez may channel his inner Alan Pardew and lead us to a 5th place finish with the help of a French N’Golo Kante type player who hasn’t even signed yet. But one thing is for certain - We’re all hoping Benitez can Make Newcastle Great Again.

At the same time, I’m sure he will want to claim a few scalps this year. Is a manager who could be managing in the Champions League going to settle for a year of consolidation? I very much doubt it.

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True Faith has always had a political edge. The fanzine has been left leaning for as long as most of its readers can remember and this progressive outlook has manifest itself in some of the future plans for Gallowgate Flags.

HOMOSEXUALITY IN FOOTBALL Anyone thinking that that football and politics shouldn’t mix is bound to be disappointed. That horse has already bolted, escaped up the BIgg Market and been punched on the Gallowgate. Football has always been political. It determines the price of our pint, whether we stand or sit at games and the identities of the players on

tf 38

the pitch. Gallowgate Flags are already responsible for an NUFC surfer flag and a twentyfoot-high Rafa Benitez, as well as the creation of a designated singing section designed to crank up the decibels on matchdays. The publication has also thrown its full support behind one Mag who decided to raise funds for a rainbow flag to

sit alongside the excellent display we already have. It’s a design most commonly associated with the LGBT community, who are virtually absent from any conversation about football culture in the UK. A simple gesture, I thought, adding a dash of colour to what is already the most vibrant corner of Newcastle United’s support.

Unfortunately, not everybody has seen it this way, with some United supporters greeting the news as if Elton John and Paul O’Grady will be lining up in the centre of midfield. The rainbow colour scheme seemingly an affront to the average supporter. An example of the leftist establishment chipping away at the last remaining pillars of football culture. Political correctness going mad and flooding the game with problems where there previously were none.

For something which will have absolutely no effect on anybody’s enjoyment of the game itself, the impact off the pitch could be huge.

Those who do decide to come out often wait until they have retired from the sport; even then the path remains treacherous. Justin Fashanu lived out his ordeal in the public eye before suicide cut his life tragically short. Robbie Rodgers described how coming to terms with his sexuality also meant surrendering his football career. Former West Ham United midfielder Thomas Hitzelsperger came out following a series of injuries which forced him to retire from the game. Met by an avalanche of media attention, much of it hugely supportive, his case also highlighted why elite level professionals would be reluctant to come out as gay while still playing.

Football and homosexuality continue to have an uneasy relationship. It’s astonishing that there remain no openly gay footballers in the entire English Football League.

While Hitzelsperger is optimistic about the prospects of it happening soon, there is an acknowledgement that the media circus will be huge

It’s a flag.

and the response from the stands entirely unknowable. Much of the footballing discourse subtly hostile toward homosexuality that it barely even registers.There is a tacit understanding that derogatory language aimed at gay people is acceptable in a way that racist words and phrases are not. Being called a puff by one mouthy away fan may not matter in isolation but when extrapolated across a stadium it is understandable that gay players have found this daunting.

Those who do decide to come out often wait until they have retired from the sport; even then the path remains treacherous

This isn’t to say that all football fans are nasty bigots. The game in England is generally played in a welcoming atmosphere and has often set an example for others to follow. Germany, Hitzelsperger’s country of birth, is similarly struggling to adapt. Mario Gomez breaking rank from the German Football tf 39

Federation in 2010 to call for the country’s gay players to come out and challenge the conceived wisdom. Hamburg-based St.Pauli have legions of supporters all over the world thanks to their left wing, anti-fascist political views. The club began flying the rainbow flag back in 2013 and often set the pace for the progressive agenda. This isn’t aiming to introduce anything new to the sport. It’s simply to represent a cause which is already present at every football ground in the country. A conservative estimate suggests that 1.5% of the British population is gay. It would therefore be safe to assume that as many as 780 supporters at a typical Newcastle United home game are too. To think otherwise is at best naïve and, at its very worst, completely ignorant. Football has made such strides in combating other tf 40

forms of discrimination that it’s easy to think that the battle against homophobia is following a similar trajectory. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Whereas the Kick It Out and other similar anti-racism campaigns are part of the fabric of English football, similar efforts to tackle homophobia have fallen on deaf ears. As recently as 2010 the FA was forced to shelve plans for a promotional video intended to discourage anti-gay chanting at matches. With seemingly no Premier League players willing to be associated with homosexuality, we’re still a long way from where we need to be. It seems a certain group of English football fans feel as if the game is being taken away from them. And maybe it is. By 12pm kick offs and Red Mondays. By extortionate ticket prices and official noodle partners. By

corporate boxes with Michelin star chefs. By Piers Morgan and the Twitterati. By plane banners. Transfer Deadline Day. By announcing your new signing in a fake Whatsapp group. By Fifa, Qatar 2022 and migrant workers dying as they build air-conditioned stadiums to accommodate despots and dictators. The game absolutely is not, and will never, be stolen by young gay men who are growing up wondering whether their sexual identity and support of Newcastle United are compatible. By backing this flag Newcastle United can lead English football across its final frontier. If you’re reading this and you’re wondering why there isn’t a plan for a flag which celebrates your identity, just be thankful that you don’t need one.

If you’re reading this and you’re wondering why there isn’t a plan for a flag which celebrates your identity, just be thankful that you don’t need one

In latter years, the true faith Podcasts have become one of the most popular elements of our content. Now led by Pod-Father, Alex Hurst and his PodSquad we are now putting out regular episodes to an ever-growing band of listeners across the Black & White planet. They are becoming MASSIF.

T S A C D O P Y L TF WEEK W O H S O I D A R D AN We’re on Radio Tyneside every Friday 6:30-7:00pm and prematch every Saturday match at 13:30 listen on 1575 MW or online here.

Listen here The Podcasts regularly include guests and special


Like everything true faith does, they are absolutely FREE.

Our listeners tell us they variously listen to the true faith Podcasts via their smartphones on the way to and from matches via public transport, in the car, or

just as anyone would listening to the radio in the house etc The Podcasts aren’t a closed shop and if you would like to

join the podcasts as a contributor, just get in touch with Alex via the TF Weekly Podcast Twitter account and we’ll see what we can do.

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Postcards F rom The Edge Paully

It’s been a long summer especially without one of those events whereby the national team are the media darlings for a few weeks before becoming more hated than that ISIS lot. The hypocritical press should surely know how England operate at tournaments by now. I’ve spent time cheering on an Aussie (urgh) and a Scot (urghhh) as they smashed a little, furry yellow ball around a grass field and I’ve even spent a lot of time watching that Love Island bollocks. I don’t think I’ve seen as many tits in one programme and I’m not just referring to the ones that were compressed into bikini tops. It has also been a long summer due to the constant media reporting about the uncertainty of Rafa’s future at NUFC . I know some journalists have agendas and simply enjoy poopstirring but when certain journalists report that all is not well then it does set alarm bells ringing. I’m referring to two journalists who penned books about Rafa last season and who were also assisted by him in doing so. Of course, Rafa has previous with lunatic owners and he plays these situations like a very shrewd politician but it absolutely baffles me that a manager of his calibre is quoted virtually begging for more coin to spend on players. Ashley should be bending over backwards in order to keep him happy rather than completely infuriate him. I’d love to know what makes him tick. I know he gets his kicks from necking pints with vodka chasers and then spewing them up into a pub fireplace (we’ve all been

tf 42

there) but he also seems to thrive on being public enemy number one. Most of the media reported that our transfer budget was going to be around £80 million after Ashley’s statement in May that Rafa could have “every last penny that the Club generates” but I was very sceptical about it. After ten years of his buffoonery, I wouldn’t trust him if he told me that some ‘ladies’ in Bangkok have a penis in their undercrackers. Actually, those ladyboys might need to change their name after the formation of the ‘Gender Police’. What a load of PC bollocks that is. We’ve currently spent £31 million on five players and our net spend stands at £15 million after a net spend of MINUS £31 million last summer yet apparently our funds are drier than one of those ladyboys’ crotches. We all know that NUFC picked the worst possible season to get relegated as we subsequently missed out

I’d love to know what makes him tick. I know he gets his kicks from necking pints with vodka chasers and then spewing them up into a pub fireplace (we’ve all been there) but he also seems to thrive on being public enemy number one.

on the first payment of the hugely-increased media deal. A relegation that came as no surprise to anyone after we openly chased Schteve McClaren for what seemed like an eternity. The Club now seem to be using this as a reason as to why funds are tight but what did they expect after hiring that buffoon as manager? It’s like chasing after an ugly lass who you know is completely riddled with STDs and then complaining when the nurse at the GUM clinic shoves an umbrella into your penis. If we genuinely are cashstrapped then why doesn’t our multi-billionaire owner loan (or heaven forsake, give) the Club funds to enable Rafa to sign the players he really wants and who will constantly keep us on board the Premier League gravy train? Say something like £50 million payable back over say three years. That would have secured Rafa’s top targets this summer and kept him very happy and subsequently the fans very happy too. Why on earth Ashley chooses to gamble by not doing-so and risks relegation once again and another huge drop in media revenue is completely beyond me. Even though the current squad has several

deficiencies, I personally think that we will stay up but that would be mainly down to our manager. Ashley has made numerous idiotic decisions during his 10 year tenure but forcing out Rafa would eclipse the lot. I’ve watched four of our pre-season friendlies and I’ve been impressed with the new recruits. Of course, they are basically glamorised kickabouts and are all about regaining match fitness and in some instances shifting summer kites. Atsu showed glimpses last season of what he brings to the table and shone towards the end of it. He has really impressed this summer and looks nailed-on to start at left midfield for me. Murphy looks to have blistering pace and seems to be very direct. The fact that he has the NUFC badge tattooed on to his left arse cheek due to him being a fan all of his life will mean that he has a never-say-die attitude. I may have got that fact wrong as it could be on his right arse cheek. Lejeune looks good in the air as well as on the floor and will cause problems on set-pieces. Merino has been getting rave reviews from Spanish journos and looks to have a magical left peg and could turn out to be

a superb piece of business. The Manquillo signing was mocked by our friends from down the road after his loan spell there last season but Ronaldo and Messi would have looked garbage in that side. He’s looked assured and I’ll judge him off his displays under the tactically-astute Rafa rather than the clown Moyes. Speaking of the vile turd that was finally flushed in May after lingering inside of the bog for five years; it’s going to be interesting to see how they fare in ‘the Championshit’ (as they arrogantly labelled it this time last year). They’ve had an eventful summer to say the least. From rejoicing at Moyes’ departure to being knocked back by Wee Jock Poo-Pong McPlop from Aberdeen to then appointing a bloke who screams ‘lowerlevel mediocrity’ and who has already lost the half-head of hair that he possessed since he took the job. From hopes of heavily reinvesting the Pickford funds in order to try and get straight backup to raiding league one for a goalkeeper (a Mag one too) and a striker. Then, the weekend before their season starts; losing any small sense of optimism they had after being humped 5-0 at home to Celtic’s reserves followed by one of their players (whose parents clearly cannot spell) telling the world that their team is shit and several players don’t want to play for them. Indeed, as they said last summer; ‘enjoy the Championshit’.. tf 43



SEASON Players: Wilson, Maitland, Gillespie, MacKenzie, Park, Harris, Urwin, McKay, Gallacher, McDonald, Seymour, Wood, Boyd, Chalmers, Evans, Hudspeth, Lang, Flannigan, Curry, Thomson, McCurley, Hill, Wilkinson, Burns, Gibson, Carlton, Mathison, Cunningham, Fairhurst. Division: First Division. Last season was a major dropoff from the season before, when we won the league, and sadly, this season turned out to be much of the same, as United continued to lose players from their titlewinning side of two years previous and as a result

their performance suffered. United finished with 44 points from 42 games (one point more than last season) and ended up in 10th place (one place lower than last season).TheWednesday won the league with 52 points, some 8 ahead of the black & whites. After this season, The Wednesday would change their club name to the club now obviously known as Sheffield Wednesday. Manager: The Directors Committee continued to select the Match-day XI.

Trainer/Coach: It had been a long time coming, but James McPherson finally stepped aside this season. Last year, he took up the reigns with Andy McCombie, and this

year McCombie took the job on full-time. Highest Attendance: St. James’ highest gate of the season was a whopping 65,838 who flocked to NE1 in March to see us play the old enemy in Sunderland. They saw a hell of a game, as United ran out 4-3 winners in no small thanks to Hughie Gallacher, who grabbed a brace. This gate topped last season’s highest gate by around 15,000. A huge improvement, despite our mediocre season. Lowest Attendance: An end of season clash down in Bolton saw our lowest gate of the season, and the attendance barely reached five figures, 10,463 getting in to see United lose 1-0 on the road to a Bolton side who would finish four points and four places behind us come season’s end. In NE1, our lowest gate was still a canny 17,587 as we beat Sheffield United on a cold January afternoon. Average Attendance: Given

Outside Left Tommy lang

the fact we only had one cup game this season, an away defeat to third division south side Swindon Town (to put into perspective that was the same level as South Shields played this season), our average gate total remained the same when including cups - 31,667 over 23 home league games. This average was up by about 1,000 over the previous season. Biggest Win: A mid-table, mediocre season it might have been, but the results varied wildly, and the best in got for the Magpies this year was an incredible 5-0 home victory over Manchester United in February. As always, Hughie Gallacher was the star of the show, knocking in a hat-trick past the Red Devils. Lang and Urwin were the other scorers on a fantastic day for United. WorstDefeat:The5-0home victory over Manchester United in February was a fantastic day to savour, but if anything, it was just revenge. In the first game between the two sides, in late September,

tf 44

In February, midfielder Andy Cunningham became United’s oldest debutant against Leicester, aged 39 years and 2 days. we went to Old Trafford and were stuffed - by the exact same scoreline. A 2-7 reverse in our second game of the season, at home to Burnley, was also a dark day in the season. Something of Interest: As saidearlier,thisseason wasn’t the best, as United looked a shadow of the side that won the league title two seasons earlier. The squad from that title-winning side continued to break up, and tension grew in the Magpie ranks. United were in relegation trouble in November, but sorted themselves out over Christmas, winning five games in a row to haul themselves from secondbottom to 12th. The United hierarchy were also troubled at the end of the season when they toured Europe, only to arrive back on British soil after a less than hospitable few weeks on the continent. Things were reaching ahead

and gave the new manager elect a big job on his hands when he joined the next season. Mentioned in Dispatches: In a season of few footnotes,a notable one occurred on 6th October1928.Unitedplayed a home game against Leeds, a game that they would win 3-2. In this game, we fielded an incredible 10 Scots and 1 Englishman in the Black and White, as United leaned very heavily on prospects north of the border around this time. In February, midfielder Andy Cunningham became United’s oldest debutant against Leicester, aged 39 years and 2 days.

MacDonald founds the new Labour government... Wall Street crashed in October this year, and four days later that effected the London Stock Exchange, causing a sharp fall on the exchange... Actress Audrey Hepburn, criminal Ronald Biggs and comedian Ronnie Barker

were all born this year... Regional Interest: Work continues



construction of the Tyne Bridge – you must have a watch of these. Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892

National Interest: The summer’s general election resulted in a hung parliament. The Liberals get to decide who takes power, and the Tories concede power to Labour rather than risk courting Liberals for a fragile majority. Ramsey tf 45

Well I don’t know about you but I’ve had enough of #NUFC this summer. Twitter that is, not the club (but I’m sure some have found le it difficult to dissociate the two at times). I like Twitter on the who as it provides a heap of information and amusing divertissements. I’m always curious to know what’s going on at @OrkneyLibrary for example. One day I may go. And I always have a chuckle at the e captions at @PastPostcard. It’s like watching last of the Summer Win but without having to endure the comedy bits. I like @IanMartin’s columns on architecture, too. I don’t know what he’s on about but I know they’re digging some magic vibe. Even though I don’t like architecture. Wading through Twitter’s backwater can be very soothing. Like checking out old ‘90s websites that look like Heath Robinson contraptions. Like the one that used to plot the of daily course of sea vessels round the British Isles on a graph. We need these things to remind us we are human. But this close season on the #NUFC timeline is like watching the February 1917 revolution unfold. When is the palace coup? When will

the workers strike? When will the sailors mutiny? When will #NUFC lighten up? Remember when we played silly word games with player names or songs? Banterwankers, Gropers and #LGBT flags (To quote the much missed The Long Blondes) here comes the serious bit. This rainbow flag banner busin ess. I was saddened to see the recent reaction to the

idea by a number of Mags. I know social media often serves as an online fly tip for opinions, and people post things on Ye Web they’d never say outside of their own digital “safe space”. But some of the comments to justify no LGBT flag baffled me. Especially the ones based round the idea of “keeping politics or people’s sexuality out of football”. To start with

politics. If that’s the case, if that’s what we really want at the ground, then I’m sorry but wouldn’t we need to review all “political” actions and ‘signifiers’ displayed in or round the ground? Maybe no poppies on shirts , the minute’s silence for the war dead, no serving soldiers or charity runs on the pitch. Or initiatives like the food bank. Or applause for our own lost Mags. Or those suffering with or raising money for

, s r e k n a Banterw d n a C F U # LGBT, # N c i s u M e r No Mo

RICHARRD FOSTE ry Incendzia Maga ine

tf 46

But we should accept that political acts, regardless of party concerns are, and will always be, part of the fabric of St James’ cancer. All these causes or acts are to a greater or lesser extent political, or triggered by a specific political act or policy. Should local politicians comment about our glorious Squire Ashley’s attempt to rename the ground? We accepted all of these actions, even if some grew restive with the 17th minute’s applause, or privately question the presence of the military, or the food bank collectors. Opinion is totally fine of course. But we should accept that political acts, regardless of party concerns are, and will always be, part of the fabric of St James’. Now for sexuallity. Those with longer memories will remember Justin Fashanu playing for us in a match at Peterborough. Fashanu was the first footballer to be openly gay. Many will remember he hung himself over an alleged offence with a minor. I also remember our section backed him and (if my fading memory serves) sang “sign him up”. It’s worth remembering Fashanu was hounded by the likes of Brian Clough

for his sexuality. That may have been “back then” but if there are no gay footballers currently prepared to come out in the top flights of our game in 2017 have a gander here then I’d suggest that seeing LGBT concerns as an irrelevant part of our match day experience hides a darker issue. One other thing. If (heaven forbid) there should be no LGBT flag (50 years after the law change, remember) then we should openly call for betting companies stop using women’s bodies as online betting bait. After all; if a lass wearing a bikini in an ad tempting you to bet on the match isn’t a direct invitation to engage your sexuality with football, then what is? Or is that, somehow, “different”?

excuse the metaphor.) I’d wager most of these who feel someone up are those who dig the “bants” (and post irritating fishing rod or laughing smiley emojis when someone questions them, or mawkish pics of Sir Bob in heaven with Pav). Maybe we need some intimidating types to feel them up and then sneer and tell them to get over it if they feel threatened. Or maybe just ban the feelers up. Rightly, no one would countenance the racism we regularly saw in the ‘70s-80s at the match nowadays. No-one should care if we have a rainbow

flag (and yes; go and make a hetero flag, why not?). And no-one should accept our fellow fans suffer sexual harassment or violence at the match, in OUR ground. We can’t cherry pick the moral high ground. Musique You may be wondering where have all the music links gone. Well, I’m happy to announce that the good people at true faith have given me a column over on the website dedicated to my sad profession. I’ll tell you about my favourite music scenes and you run away screaming. Deal?

Worse, and related, talking of lasses. Last season I remember reading on some social media accounts connected with true faith that women Mags experienced harassment at the match. This really is indefensible IMHO. Lad/ Banter culture has got to grow a pair. (If you’ll tf 47


E R E H P U N IG S H C T A M Y R E V E EMAILED TO YOU nique pieces u es d u cl in l ia ec Sp The the day n o es m ga ed it n U to tailored ide the perfect they are played and prov match-day read.

s regular true faith writer of ew cr t ea gr a ve ha We rrison, Wallace Wilson, Ha th re Ga , rst Hu ex Al including arc , Guy Hannay-Wilson, M es ok St n ro Aa , hy op Br k Mar ho provide excellent w tin ar M l ae ich M d Corby an so g match of the day but al in m co d an up e th on es piec on in the wider world g in go is t ha w t ou ab k some crac of football. you ctly well on any device rfe pe s ad re l ia ec Sp e Th especially good on its ld or w r ou in t bu e can nam e rfect reading sat on th smart-phones and is pe , in the pub or before ck ba ers ho , ro et M s bu , train the match etc.  with true faith, it is Like everything we do absolutely FREE.  u don’t need to seek yo ys da n de ol e th e lik Un llers before the match out one of our fanzine se has sold out of copies. ho w nt ge sa w ne a it vis or ster and The Special will All you need to do is regi ke up on match-day.  wa u yo re fo be ox -b in ur be in yo ing a subscriber to The be of s fit ne be e th of One of receive advance warning Special is that you will ith coming out and that fa e tru of ue iss w ne e th w in its digital format.  again is FREE of charge no

OVER 12 FEET OF FOOTBALL!* *About that


sands The Special is going to thou ld, of Mags all over the wor e near and far, so why ar CLICK you missing out?


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

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@ tf 49

Backed by a £304m TV Deal with SKY and the BBC, the inaugural season of the Premier League kicked off in 1992 with the transfer of Southampton’s Geordie Alan Shearer to newly promoted Blackburn for a British Transfer record of, depending on sources, £3.5m. Meanwhile, having saved Newcastle United from relegation to the 3rd tier of English football, Kevin Keegan’s revolutionising of the club continued as a 3-2 opening victory over Southend United was watched by the largest crowd in the country. As the season played out, an Eric Cantona inspired Manchester United won their first title since 1967 thanks in some part to the Boxing Day injury of Shearer. Scoring a remarkable 16 goals in his first 21 games for the club, Shearer’s 2nd placed Rovers won only 2 of their following 11 games meaning their championship aspirations were over for this season at least.

Having won the last 2 games of the 1991-92 season, Keegan’s United won the first 11 league games of the season and defeated top flight Middlesbrough in the Coca Cola Cup. As the season progressed, the manager continued to rebuild the squad buying players primarily for the first team as the September arrival of Rob Lee preceded the £2.9m spent on Scott Sellars, Mark Robinson

and new club record Andy Cole. 7 of the last 8 games returned 3 points as The Mag’s lifted the Football Leagues ‘new’ Division One trophy. The high turnover of players during Keegan’s first 12 months in charge meant that, although Tommy Wright, Alan Neilson Liam O’Brien and Kevin Sheedy remained at the club, only Kevin Scott,

As It Was, When It Was

Pre-season, 1993

tf 50

Marc Corby @NUFC_1980_1994

Brian Kilcline, Lee Clark, Gavin Peacock and David Kelly featured in the final games of both 91-92 and 92-93 campaigns v Leicester.

to re-sign Peter Beardsley came to fruition. His alleged acceptance of a wage less than that offered by the interested Derby County appeared to soften

Returning to bold Black and White stripes in one of two tidy new Asic’s sponsored strips, supporters were visible wearing them with pride in what appeared every corner you turned and the excitement around the area was increased tenfold when attempts

any continued uncertainty on him that had developed once he departed to Liverpool in 1987. It was obvious Pedro wanted to come home as much as he wanted to depart 6 years earlier due to the club’s clear lack of ambition. Times had clearly changed.

A masterstroke signing, Beardsley’s experience would add value to a limited number of players who had played top flight football at this point in their careers. Indeed, of the regulars that featured during the 199293 promotion campaign who had played in the old First Division, only Scott, Kilcline, Barry Venison, Paul Bracewell and Rob Lee’ would remain as Peacock, Sheedy and fan favourite Kelly would all depart. The sale of Peacock may have been pushed through quick and relatively cheap on personal grounds, but Keegan’s analysis of him hinted at a potential sale regardless. “He was a determined little fellow,” Keegan would tf 51

later say of Peacock. “If he’d had a yard more pace he would have been really top notch. He just lacked that final surge.” His recollection of Kelly was more simplified and not as worthy considering his achievements, saying, “A genuine boy who did a great job for us in the Promotion Year,” whilst Sheedy left having being our highest paid player at one point. Steve Howey, who had made his debut as a substitute in a 0-2 defeat at Man United in United’s last (old school) Division 1 match, O’Brien, Scott, Wright and Kevin Brock, who would never play for the club again, were the only survivors from the disastrous 1988-89 relegation season. As with Howey, Cole’s only experience of top flight football was 1 substitute appearance when on the books of Arsenal. Towards the end of July, thousands would flock to Hartlepool for Brian Honours testimonial to see the first glimpse of Beardsley in black and white since he hobbled off injured in a 2-1 victory over Man United on Easter

tf 52

Monday, 1987. As the summer progressed, the arrival of the unknown Alex Mathie and Nicos Papavasiliou for a combined £400,000 were underwhelming but both, alongside Cole, would score in a 3-0 win at Berwick before 3,000 United supporters would head to Ibrox to see how United would fare against the Scottish Champions, for the 5th of 9 successive seasons,

Rangers in a testimonial for Ally McCoist. After the photo call was complete, a Beardsley eye injury sustained by the thuggery of Liverpool’s Neil Ruddock during Ronnie Whelan’s testimonial, resulted in the surprise acquisition of Malcolm Allen a few days before the season’s opener. Not known for his strike rate, Allen had previously played

for Watford, Norwich and Millwall in Division 1. Despite a local tabloid’s attempt of scaremongering supporters by hinting that the opening game was in doubt due to construction being behind schedule, the impressive new North Stand (cough, it will always be The Leazes End) increased the St James Park capacity to around 35,300 (soon to be 36,500 once the Milburn / Leazes corner was opened) and with the ground now covered by 3 roofs for the first time since 1978, the atmosphere would be vastly improved despite the Gallowgate Corner now holding away supporters. “We were creating a monster that we had to keep feeding,” Keegan would later say and the excitement that all United supporters experienced as

the 1993-94 season kicked off was palpable. The shock of paying almost double (£105, U16 Milburn Paddock standing) for your season ticket compared to the previous campaign was short-lived as you knew one of the estimated 5k on the waiting list would happily take your place.

At this time, you were spoilt for choice from the Fanzine scene. The Mag, now in a 6th season were joined by likes of The Giant Awakes, Toon Army News and, for a 2nd year, the reputable Half Mag Half Biscuit. In those halcyon days, you simply bought them all.

Everyone appeared to want a piece of us and we were featured on the BBC’s ‘Football Focus’ a couple of hours before Ossie Ardiles returned with his Tottenham Hotspur side.

The Mags were looking for a first victory in the top flight since Everton were defeated in March 1989 having slipped out of Division 1 ‘achieving’ only 3 victories from the 19

Everyone appeared to want a piece of us and we were featured on the BBC’s ‘Football Focus’ a couple of hours before Ossie Ardiles returned with his Tottenham Hotspur side tf 53

For The Record: The following 13 featured in Newcastle United’s first game in the Premier League: SRNICEK (£350k)

played at St James, United’s worst on home soil. After a slow start, United would take the transition in their stride and once an English heavy XI found their feet, The Mags really were as good as anybody on their day. As the season progressed, Keegan would break United’s transfer record twice more with the signings of Ruel Fox and Darren Peacock as it would be apparent that if Newcastle were to compete at the highest level, attracting the best of the division would come at inflated prices. However, United’s progression and signs of success meant future signings would be partially subsidised by a £500 bond scheme promoted on the strength of a brochure titled “The next 10 years guaranteed.” Supporters who panicked and bought into it would later learn it wasn’t true.

But in those early Premier League days, Keegan was unquestionably backed by the supporters, allowed to rebuild and everyone appeared to stick together. A risk taker, as well as the aforementioned unknowns Keegan took a chance on those with injury records signing Bracewell, after learning of him only being offered a 1 year deal at sunderland, and John Beresford who had having failed medical at Liverpool was allegedly going to pass his Newcastle medical regardless. Keegan the motivator and morale booster got the best out of limited players and more out of class acts. This is paramount now if we are to progress as well as we did in those fantastic years. The jury may still out on the owner, but in Rafa we trust and put slight faith in the hope we can challenge like we used to.





















Subs: O’Brien (£300k), Watson (Ranks) Total PurchaseValue: £4.675m (Source:The Ultimate Who’s Who, Paul Joannou) It’s worth noting that Beardsley (£1.5m) and Sellars (£600k) would have been starters if they weren’t injured.

The signings: After starting the opening 7 games of which he was withdrawn in 4, Nicos Papavasiliou would be an unused substitute once before never being selected by Kevin Keegan again having sustained an injury in the reserves. Leaving the club in December 1994, a sublime through ball for Andy Cole’s equaliser to earn our first point in the Premier League was his standout contribution. Alex Mathie would make an immediate impact and score a classic volley on his debut against Sheffield Wednesday live on SKY in a game that saw United come back to win 4-2 from 1-2 down. Adding 3 more goals in his total of 29 appearances (4 starts), the Scot would leave for Ipswich in February 1995 and score a hat-trick v the mackems during the 1995-96 season.

tf 54

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@tfMich w o ll o F in t r a hael M

It’s been a peculiar summer. The season gone ended with Ashley making an “every last penny” pledge to Rafa and the support in terms of the monies available to improve the squad for our return to the Premier League! Then – this fanzine has known Rafa has been extremely unhappy at the club’s failure to seal deals he wanted done and get them done quick. We also know there are players who have been signed who might not be Rafa’s first choices. To coin and expression “this isn’t what it said in the brochure!” Frankly, we can’t believe a word Ashley says and the sooner he is gone the better. I’m writing this a week before the season starts and the mood music about the striking talent we need to recruit for the season isn’t great. What we’ve learned is Rafa will need to see several players leave the club before new ones can arrive. I think we are talking about tf 56

Saviet, Riviere, Krul, Haidara and possibly Mitrovic and De Jong being the players Benitez wants to be rid. As we have learnt from collapsed moves involving Riviere to Lyon, Haidara to St Etienne and De Jong to PSV is the money those players are on is unable to be matched by the buying clubs, though they are low by PL standards. This ultimately means United have conned themselves into believing they have been getting value in foreign markets whilst in reality it means they have been buying second and third rate players and making them unsaleable. This has been the folly of the whole model Ashley implemented with CarrCharnley and it is Benitez who has to pick up the pieces. Even Ashley has to understand however that if we can’t score goals we’ll be in trouble.

Hopefully Dwight Gayle’s ham-string will be well looked after this season. Along with our new editor (Alex Hurst) I was privileged enough to meet Rafa on several occasions last season. I can’t tell you how enriching the experience was to share hours of football conversation with one of the foremost coaches in the world – in reality – he spoke and we listened. Repeated in every meeting with Rafa was a plea for supporters to create a positive atmosphere at St James’ Park. We both explained that United has been a very unhappy club for much of Ashley’s time here and that isn’t easy to turnaround. We also told him that most supporters who have watched some good teams and very good players at SJP find it difficult to get up for games with Burton, Rotherham, Bristol and the expectation is we’ll win comfortably – rightly or wrongly. I think it was me who explained to Rafa that

...officials at the club who have agreed to a new singing section at the back of the Gallowgate and we can all expect that to have an impact at the match. Rafa and the lads are going to need every bit of support we can give them.

SJP is at its best when our backs are at the wall, when we know we are playing a team with better players than ours but we are seeing our lads giving 100% and playing with bravery. I think back to those games with Chelsea, Man Utd, Spurs, Arsenal etc.That’s what Rafa will experience hopefully this season but I find it baffling there are people I come across in social media who react very badly to being asked not to boo the team, get on our players’ backs at the match and all the rest of it. This they see as their “right” but whether it is or it isn’t it certainly doesn’t help the team. Rafa raised this at his talk-in at NINE Bar so hopefully, some will realise the power there is inside SJP to lift our players but also to crush them. I know the arguments – people have paid good money ya-da-ya-da, the players get paid fortunes and all of that is true but the simple fact remains that football is a confidence game. If Paul Dummet has any fear in his head he’s going to get slaughtered by some of the crowd in the Milburn Paddock or wherever, that’s going to create a nervousness in him that just won’t help. No-one in any job or profession will perform better having abuse screamed at them and no team will raise their game with boos ringing in their ears. This is self-evident for tens of thousands of us but there is an element of our support that needs to be called out on it.

That’s not to say we have constantly kiss players’ arses. It would be a bit rum for the likes of me to attempt to smother criticism but as Rafa has asked, let’s keep it for the pub and the many forums there are now for fans to talk about football. Let’s not handicap the team we love with the kind of noise that is music to the ears of the opposition. In terms of support, Newcastle United’s numbers are superb but in terms of quality at games, maybe we need to be aware of the role we have to play. It doesn’t happen with the away support that’s for sure.  None of that should prevent us from arguing about how Mitro can’t hit a cow’s arse with a banjo mind.   I’m not under any illusions this is going to be anything other than a really tough season. It is going to be a war of attrition. We do have a massive asset in Rafa however. We are blessed with Benitez at United. He is the reason why we’ve

sold 45K season tickets. Ashley would do well to remember that. Earlier in the summer there was talk of Chinese investment into the club. That hasn’t happened and its really disappointing Ashley is the sole controlling force at United. The inability of Ashley to lever in extra monies is another one of his many failings at our club but you have to wonder if he has even tried when you see the dough that has gone into Everton for example. Why not us? The power of our support when pulling in the same direction can’t be criticised. This season will be the first one when the Newcastle United Foodbank will be in operation right from the start. It is appalling in our country that people in our communities, many being children, the disabled and the most vulnerable are going hungry but they are possibly in the same streets we live in. I really hope the good people who are in the stands at SJP on match-

days continue to support the Foodbank and show the solidarity with our less fortunate fellow citizens that I’d hope is a hall-mark of our Geordie community. This is also the second season for Gallowgate Flags and after a magnificent debut year the challenge is to keep going, growing and developing a culture of support to really enhance the match-day experience at SJP.There will be new flags added this season amongst which will be one we’ve done some fund-raising for ourselves with Gallowgate Flags and one we’ll make a sizeable private donation too as well. Alex Hurst has been central to taking forward some discussions with officials at the club who have agreed to a new singing section at the back of the Gallowgate and we can all expect that to have an impact at the match. Rafa and the lads are going to need every bit of support we can give them. Keep On, Keepin’ On tf 57

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True faith 132  

Newcastle United back in the Premier League with Rafa Benitez serenely assembling his squad for the new challenges and receiving every possi...

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