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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 for publication - letters, articles, photos etc.

Editorial...................................................... p g4

Born Of Frustration............................. pg34

Fire Power.................................................. pg6

Postcards From The Edge.................. pg40

L.J. & M. Martin.

60 Second Season............................... pg42


Freddy Shepherd.................................. pg10 A-Z........................................................... pg14 Bad Behaviour....................................... pg18 Backbone................................................ pg22

Alternative Realities, Make Up and Power Lunches........... pg44



true faith Transfer Forum.................. pg26

As It Was When It Was...................... pg46

20/OCT/17 .

Damaged Goods.................................. pg30

The End.................................................. pg54

© true faith.

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Welcome to tf 133. Newcastle United in Autumn 2017. It was all going so well,  and may well yet continue to do so but I can’t help hide my disappointment at a defeat which I really thought we’d be capable of avoiding on the South Coast.  We find ourselves on 9 points from 6 games with welcome wins coming at Swansea and at home to struggling West Ham and Stoke.   It’s too soon to analyse the fixture list but I sincerely hope that our confident start doesn’t last the winter tf 4

as we face more difficult sides to come. The good news is United were vibrant and confident in deserved wins over West Ham and Stoke as well as deserving at Swansea. Interestingly in the only two games we’ve had more possession than our ultra defensive opponents, we’ve been beaten.   As most sides will look to take the game to us this season, that won’t happen often. I still feel Rafa isn’t playing his best side.   Although we’ve looked good at home with Joselu up

tf 133 October 2017

front, Brighton dropped ten yards deeper as soon as Dwight Gaye came on. Why didn’t he start this game?  We won at Brighton earlier this year with Colback and Shlevey playing in midfield.  Why isn’t Rafa playing our most creative player?   Questions that will no doubt be answered as the season progresses. News broke recently that former United Chairman Freddy Shepherd had suddenly passed away aged 76. Undoubtedly a tragedy for staff at United, former players who worked and knew him as well as his friends and family. Like any


News broke recently that former United Chairman Freddy Shepherd had suddenly passed away aged 76. Undoubtedly a tragedy for staff at United, former players who worked and Knew him as well as his friends aNd family.

public figure who sadly passes away, there has been some debate about their impact and what they achieved. Certainly compared to the current incumbant Freddy Shepherd was a level above.   I could not have seen him employing Keith Bishop PR to plant stories on a consistent basis with favoured journalists, non-of whom have any connection to the club or the city.   The Times reported that rafa Benitez was to be offered a new contract by Newcastle United.  Try not to laugh.  That’s Rafa Benitez who was handed less money to spend in the summer than Brighton and Huddersfield - two clubs who set home attendance records while playing Newcastle United recently.   Rafa Benitez who is on camera saying ‘Mike needs to keep his word’ in relation to transfer funds that never materialised.  Rafa Benitez who has admitted that the football club he works at is no longer a ‘long term project’.   Rafa Benitez who can leave any time he wishes, without having to pay a penny, contrary to reports planted in the media by ‘you-know-who’. So no, I can’t see Rafa Benitez signing a new contract at Newcastle

United. Mike Ashley failed his first test with Rafa - the honesty test.   It’s reported by journalists ‘in the know’ that Rafa has lost contact and lost trust with Mike Ashley.  Benitez was reported as wanting to build a football club again, to challenge the top 4. The reason your Sky Sports Super pundits like Craig Bellamy, Jamie Carragher and Paul Merson revel in United defeats is that it suits their agenda.  These are the friends of Mike Ashley in the media, the

men who constantly and consistently pour scorn on our fan base and football club. Would you advise Rafa Benitez to sign a new contract?   I worry about 18 months time, if United are flying under Rafa and a big money bid comes in for the excellent Mikel Merino.   Would you trust the current ownership to turn down a massive bid?  I’m getting ahead of myself though. Survival is the sole target

of those at the top and we’ve made a good fist of that so far. At the time of writing our next seven games feature Burnley, Southampton, Burnley, Bournemouth and Crystal Palace. Points please, United. I have to end by thanking all of those who have contributed to what is another fine issue of true faith.  We hope you enjoy it and if you do, tell a mate or two. We rely on fans for spreading the good word through word of mouth and shares on social media. Alex Hurst Editor FOLLOW @tfalex1892

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SAM WILSON A new season, and one where there has been the usual mantra of doom merchants, no not amongst our support, but the knives have been sharpened by the media. It appears Newcastle are targeted by the main broadsheets and social media. I firmly believe it’s due to envy , and secondly not understanding the North East mentality. tf 6

A cool finish from Joselu against West Ham, again unselfishly set up by Atsu has meant skill and endeavour pays off. I’ll assess our striking options, both current and summer signings. For me the regular ability to score goals, and also equally important provide the service for them is vital to our chances of staying clear of relegation, but also consolidating ourselves back in the Premier League. Firstly and at the time of writing our new striker has been scoring goals and also his movement has been causing teams no ends of problems. I feel that Joselu has been an acquired signing, one that didn’t really feature under Mark Hughes. Rafa has shown, once again his ability to get the best out of a collective team and have players performing to their full potential. Not bad for a supposed “Championship side”! The supply from

midfield, on the wings especially to Joselu has been outstanding, Ritchie’s crossing combined with our new strikers movement means defenders haven’t been able to pick him up. Only a stunning save from Fabiański prevented another goal vs Swansea. A cool finish from Joselu against West Ham, again unselfishly set up by Atsu has meant skill and endeavour pays off. I do feel that an effective partner rather than a lone striker is always a good structure. Bringing me on to the ever unpredictable Serbian Mitrovic. I personally am a huge fan of his. Benitez however, you sense doesn’t fully see the big striker is his long term plans. His passion, yet over exuberant approach is a traditional centre forward’s style,

however there is always that red mist which is no use to us, continually racking up suspensions weekly. We need him scoring goals, sadly Mitro has never been a regular 15-20 goal a season man. Nor for me is he a lone striker. Yet there is flashes of a player, but he’s no longer a youthful player and the lack of maturity is a huge concern. Perez and Mitrovic had glimpses of a potent partnership under Mcclaren, it was brittle, much like our defence in the past, and wasn’t given the full test of time, where we were facing an impending second relegation.

His passion, yet over exuberant approach is a traditional centre forward’s style, however there is always that red mist which is no use to us, continually racking up suspensions weekly

That goal against W e s t H a m w a s tf 7

composed, rounding Joe Hart with such ease. Robust strength and decent link up play, I do worry if he’s a prolific enough striker. I sense Rafa will look to offload in January. Ayoze Perez for me has scored some vital, integral goals for us since arriving from Tenerife. Initially I did wonder how someone so young was going to cope in the English top flight 7 goals in his debut season was a reasonable return. At the time of writing to date he’s scored 25 career goals for the Magpies. The biggest dilemma of all is where is his best position? All the attributes in terms of natural ability and skill to hold down a winger’s position, cutting in and indeed unleashing shots on goal have proved fruitful, however at times his slender appearance has led tf 8

to often being outmuscled , his pace however and clever movement will always have defenders turning and looking nervously over their shoulder. For me I don’t think he’s a revised “Number 10” either, again his natural ability, and indeed endeavour is never in question I don’t the role brings out the best in his abilities. Lets not forget as well Perez has also held down the strikers role aswell, and in our Championship winning season scored a late, dramatic winner down at Brighton which paved the way for our title win, and at that point was hugely significant. For me it put a massive dent in the Seagulls push for the trophy. I mentioned earlier there was a glimpse of the potential partnership between Ayoze and Mitro, long term I’m

not sure if it would hold enough substance. For me I’d play Perez in the striking role alongside our predatory Dwight Gayle. Rafa may not agree, as the astute tactician will always favour one up front, but with our quality from each wing and midfield I’d argue both players would collectively score 15-20 goals between them, along with our set piece specialist Ritchie; who himself with the dynamic left foot scores regularly!

For me I’d play Perez in the striking role alongside our predatory Dwight Gayle.

Gayle I’m a huge fan of and that’s why I was waxing lyrical about a spearhead attack of him and Perez, both players starting regularly will keep us up! You heard it hear first!

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Freddy Shepherd passed away on 25 September 2017. A controversial character, and self-made millionaire, along with John Hall he oversaw the most successful period in the club’s recent history following his part in the takeover of the club from Gordon McKeag in 1991.


FreddY Shepherd Freddy Shepherd Born August 23rd 1941 Died September 25th 2017 (aged 76) We need to remember the history of the club in the years immediately prior to the takeover. We had moved from the optimism generated by promotion in 1984 with a forward line of Keegan, Beardsley and Waddle to the sale of the latter pair and the departure of Paul Gascoigne, probably the best English footballer since Bobby Charlton. The fact that all three had been heavily involved in England’s progress to the World Cup semifinal in 1990 was still fresh in the memory and fans tf 10

were naturally asking “If only…”. McKeag and his cronies were seen as the reason we had been relegated in 1989, finishing bottom of the First Division with just 31 points, seven points behind second bottom West Ham. We then suffered the indignity of losing to the mackems in the play-off final of 1990. Unsurprisingly supporters were up in arms and John Hall saw an opportunity to take over a failing North East institution, recognising that, even if it were only reasonably successful, there was money to be made. Shepherd came on board and between them they used their greater spending power to buy enough shares

to first of all get a seat on the Board and eventually to replace McKeag’s failed regime. One of the first things they did was to replace Ossie Ardiles as manager with Kevin Keegan. This was an enormous gamble as the club were in real danger of relegation to Division Three and Keegan had no experience of management at any level. It was, as we know, an inspired move as Keegan took the club from the bottom of the Second Division to third place in the newly-created Premiership inside two seasons, an astonishing achievement. However, things started to take a downward turn when Hall and Shepherd decided to change the Club into a PLC. They offered a limited number of shares to supporters but in the process made many millions by converting their existing Newcastle United shares (Shepherd’s

shares reputedly bought for £500,000) into PLC shares. In 2005 alone, Shepherd’s salary from the club in his role as Executive Chairman was reported as £552,954. He eventually sold his shares to Mike Ashley in 2007 for a reported £30m It was a controversial reign as Chairman. In 1996 he oversaw the purchase ofAlan Shearer for a world record fee of £15m. Unfortunately, we only saw the potential of his partnership with Les Ferdinand for one season as the Board i.e. Shepherd and Hall, decided that they had to sell Ferdinand to balance the books in 1997. By this time Keegan had left to be replaced by Kenny Dalglish. By this time Shepherd was looking to increase his holding in the club while Hall was looking to sell off shares since the floatation. In 1998 Shepherd and Douglas Hall were the subject of a News of the World sting while at

a brothel in which they mocked supporters for buying overpriced club shirts and called female supporters ‘dogs’. He even called Alan Shearer ‘Mary Poppins’! The then Minister of Sport, Tony Banks, called for them both to resign. and both Hall (D) and Shepherd resigned from the Newcastle Board two weeks later. However, they returned ten months later, in a move that led to the immediate resignation of the PLC Chairman, Denis Cassidy. Shepherd took over as PLC Chairman as any pretence that it wasn’t him and Hall calling the shots was abandoned.

It was, as we know, an inspired move as Keegan took the club from the bottom of the Second Division to third place in the newly-created Premiership inside two seasons, an astonishing achievement

Within a year Shepherd was embroiled in the ‘Save Our Seats’ campaign as the club tried to remove 4,000 season ticket holders who had bought bonds which they thought would guarantee their seat for the next ten years. Shepherd and the Board had decided to dramatically increase tf 11

the prices of the best seats in the Milburn Stand as they chased the corporate pound and in the process reallocate the seats to those who had deep pockets. After the matter went through to court it was ruled that the bond had guaranteed ‘a’ seat in the ground rather than ‘the’ seat and the sharp practice meant that the ‘supporter cleansing’ exercise was allowed to happen. As ever, the excuse for the exercise was so that Newcastle could compete with the likes of ManU and Arsenal but by this time the performance of the team had tailed off under the management of Dalglish and Ruud Gullitt so there was no distraction of success for the Board to hide behind. The appointment of Bobby Robson after Gullitt’s resignation brought some tf 12

brief hope but performances for his first two seasons led to lower mid-table positions. The recruitment of Craig Bellamy and Laurent Robert changed the dynamic of the team and led to qualification for the Champions League. Success on the pitch hides a myriad of issues off it but when Robson only managed 5th(!) in 2004 Shepherd revealed that he would not be offered a new deal at the end of the season, a move almost calculated for him to lose authority in the dressing room. Shepherd sacked Robson a week later. It is forgotten now that many supporters were calling for Robson to move aside but most wanted him to stay at the club in some capacity. Shepherd’s move meant any chance of succession planning went out of the window.

He appointed Graeme Souness to quell unrest in the dressing room, unrest that he had played a large part in fomenting. It was the beginning of the end of Newcastle United as a Premier League force.

so many games through injury but a cursory look at his injury record would have told anyone that he was a significant risk. He eventually went a free transfer after Newcastle were relegated in 2009.

In his 2005 autobiography SBR claimed that while he was manager he was not given any information regarding players’ contracts or transfer negotiations. Famously, Shepherd revealed that NUFC were supposed to be interested in signing Wayne Rooney from Everton just before he signed or ManU. Mention was made of the fact that Shepherd’s son, Kenny, was employed by Rooney’s agent and worked out of an office at SJP. Robson knew nothing of any offer, if any were made. It was suspected that it was a ploy to persuade ManU to up their price for Rooney thus ensuring that Rooney’s agent received his percentage of the deal.

By this time Shepherd had left the club after Sir John Hall effectively stabbed him the back while he was in hospital by selling his 41% shareholding to Mike Ashley in May 2007. Initially he resisted the move but eventually sold his shares on 7 June 2007.

There was often a whiff of sulphur around transfer dealings, particularly while Souness was in charge. The purchase of Jean-Alain Boumsong from Rangers for £7m in the January after he was signed on a free transfer was one transfer which was often cited. Many of the signings involved the agent Willie McKay. Of course, Shepherd was also responsible for the signing of Michael Owen from Real Madrid for a club record fee of £17m. To be fair, it wasn’t his fault that Owen missed

Thinking back to ten years ago there was excitement and anticipation of how a billionaire owner would be able to revolutionise the club and compete once again for major honours. If only we’d known. In conclusion, Freddy Shepherd had a major role to play in the most successful period the club has had over the fifty years. He undoubtedly understood more than the current regime about how the club was perceived in the city and the region and tried to harness that passion to aim for success. He also made some decisions as Chairman from which the club has not recovered, specifically how Robson was removed and subsequently replaced by Graeme Souness. It is the destiny of players, managers and chairmen to be judged on results and he left the club in a better place than he found it. At the time of his death his net worth was estimated at £100m.

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AAleksandar Mitrovic Comes on against West Ham, elbows someone in the face for no reason, scores, gets a 3-game ban for said elbowing. A 20 minute microcosm of his 2 and a bit years at NUFC. tf 14

B - Barnes, Justin A trademark lawyer (aye) who, it appears, Rafa now has to go through to get transfer business done. Seems like another human hand grenade in the mould of Wise and Kinnear. Probably pukes


in pub fireplaces too. C – Christian Mentioned in last month’s A to Z but fully justifying another comment. He’s clearly listening and learning from the coaching team. The improvement he has shown is nothing short of phenomenal.

DDeadline Day It was abysmal. Rafa was let down, undermined and lied to. Again. He’s still here. Who would’ve blamed him if he’d walked? E – España Our Spanish lads have been nothing short of magnificent so far. They’re all at ease with the ball at their feet and they’re all clearly determined to give their all in black and white. Leones.

4 games with players who’ve had 3+ years of Allardyce and Pardew was ridiculous. Let’s hope we batter them. I – Interview Ashley’s on Sky, timed impeccably to air in full after the Spurs game, was less Paxman and more Sesame Street. Why, we wonder? See Q below.

F – Florian Remember w h e n Lejeune had Harry in his pocket? Then Harry got angry and put Lejeune out of the game? And no retrospective action was taken? England’s Harry though, innit?

J – Jamaal What a few weeks for our 23 years-old Captain. Calls up Mike and sorts the lads’ bonuses, and gives 2 magnificent performances against Swansea and Stoke. Defending superbly, leading and scoring winning goals. Are there no limits to what this lad can do?!

G – Goals We’re scoring them and the celebrations when we do seem to be harder, louder and longer than they have for what feels like a very long time. Watching the players celebrate together when the ball hits the net is a cracking insight in to the togetherness of this group.

K – Koln 20000 of their fans descended on London and had the English press in full pantswetting mode. They weren’t hooligans, they were just the antithesis of the sanitised support we now so used to in the PL. Being loud and passionate about your team is a good thing.

H– Hodgson We welcome Roy’s Palace side to Saint James’ Park on the 21st of October. Sacking De Boer after

L – Left back Rafa wanted one and didn’t get one. Dummy got injured. The Chancellor has been nothing short of superb filling-in. He’s a class defender….

M - Murphy Daryl isn’t at NUFC but he scored for us at the SoL. A talented man indeed. N – NUFC Fans Foodbank The TF Transfer Forum was insightful, informative and passionate. It raised £2000 for the Foodbank. Inspirational work done by all involved. O – Optimism The games against West Ham and Stoke have seen it filter down from the stands in waves of noise. The effect it has had on the players has been obvious. Long may it continue. P - Paul Merson Our favourite toothless crackhead pundit is doing a sterling job of predicting our results this season. Incorrectly. Keep up the good work Merse. Proper bantz.

What a few weeks for our 23 yearsold Captain. Calls up Mike and sorts the lads’ bonuses, and gives 2 magnificent performances against Swansea and Stoke.

Q –Quid pro quo This can mean ‘you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours’. Keith’s mates with David, Keith does Mike’s PR, Mike does an interview on Sky with his mate David. Trebles all round. R – relegrayson S – Staff Rafa’s covered for him at Swansea superbly. The coordination between the manager at tf 15

home and his lads on the sidelines was professional and clearly effective. Remember when the coaching team was Carver, Pards and Woodman? T – Turmoil Jeff Stelling predicted NUFC would lose to Stoke as it’s ‘a club in turmoil’. If winning 3 on the spin and being in the top 4 (as I write this) is turmoil then what could stability achieve?! U – Un Kim Jong is getting a bit naughty with his nuclear weapons testing at the minute. Let’s hope he’s not serious about unleashing Armageddon…at least

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whilst Rafa’s in charge at the club. V - Voracious Matt Ritchie’s work-rate and desire to win. Combine that with his quality and we have a player who is clearly made for the Premier League. He has been exceptional so far this season. X – X-rated This could be used to describe Mané’s partial removal of Ederson’s cheek. However, Ritchie’s accidental kick on Mawson’s arm was clearly worse. Because Pards Pardew said it and if Pards says it then it must be true.

W - West Ham Our first win of the season, Mikel Merino, Joselu, the singing, 3 goals, the love for Rafa. What a day, what a lovely day. Y – Yedlin Our ridiculously quick US international made a welcome return against Stoke. The fact he came in for Manquillo, who has played well in his absence, would suggest that we have genuine strength in that position. Z – Zonal Please let opposing teams continue to utilise this system of marking. Lascelles will score 15 from corners alone.



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For clubs like Newcastle, the transfer market is full of risks. Players with bad reputations and inconsistent records get big money moves to mid-table teams every window, with managers backing themselves to tame these volatile figures. Newcastle United took those risks when they signed Jonjo Shelvey and Aleksandar Mitrović, and once again we’re talking about needless bans for both only a few weeks in to the season. Maybe if this was a one off they could be forgiven, but when it comes to these two numpties, it’s the same old story. Like every other fan, after this latest catastrophe, I’m asking “are they really worth the bother?”

Sean McMahon

Bad Behaviour It’s perhaps not that useful to compare both players directly. Although Jonjo Shelvey undoubtedly comes with baggage, he was a proven Premier League player when he came to Newcastle. We know he has the quality to make the difference. But, there are

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stark reasons why he wasn’t flooded with offers when we went down, and why Swansea let him go without a fight in the first place.

Mitrovicć on the other hand was relatively unproven. Although he wasn’t a baby when he came to Newcastle,

he was still young. He had a good scoring record in Belgium and the physical aspects of his game made him look well suited to the league. But let’s not forget, Graham Carr knew about his dodgy reputation, and signed him anyway. Each season since, all the things

we’d heard about him from Belgian taxi drivers turned out to be spot on. His weight fluctuates, he’s too aggressive and no manager seems to have fully invested in him as a result. If you look at other (supposed) top-level strikers, you’ll be hard pressed to find anyone with a worse disciplinary record than Mitro. Everyone talks about Rooney’s ‘nasty streak’, and during his most prolific periods at Man U he was averaging 8-10 yellows a season, similar to the Serb in his best spell in Belgium. It’s Mitrovic’s reckless behaviour and sending offs though, that make him stand out from the crowd. El Hadji Diouf, Andy Cole, Duncan Ferguson, like Rooney, were all strikers who could see the red mist but Mitro has outdone them all in one respect: none of them managed to get two red cards in one PL season, a feat the Serb managed in his first with Newcastle.

I’m not terribly versed in the refereeing practices of the Belgian League, but I wonder how many of the 10 yellows Mitrovic earned in his head-turning 28-goal season at Anderlecht, might have turned to reds in England? Can that type of striker who plays so much on the edge thrive in the PL anymore? Costa managed, but Mitrovic doesn’t have the Brazilian’s infuriating cool head. As Rooney got older his temper tapered, but his goals did too. A big part of that decline came with age, but how often did we hear pundits blame the loss of competitiveness in his game, and how much of an effect did stricter refereeing have on that shift? As a forward in this league, you’re going to get punished if you’re not careful, never mind if you’re throwing mindless elbows into the heads of mercurial Argentinian forwards. Not even the Serb’s proudest supporters would disagree

that the man makes some stupid decisions. He lunges into challenges and squares up to referees, but it never seems malicious. Shelvey on the other hand isn’t just competitive, he’s petty. His physical outbursts are bad enough, but let’s not forget, he was banned for racially abusing a player. A fact some fans seem to have all too easily forgotten. That’s not the type of player I want at my club, regardless of their ability. It’s hard not to compare Shelvey to another of our esteemed alumni: Barton. Both had tough upbringings, Barton in Liverpool, Shelvey in Romford, and could have taken completely different paths if not for football. Granted, child hardship shouldn’t explain away the way you treat other people as an adult, but it does put everything into a clearer context. It’s not a coincidence that so many players from lower income backgrounds

but Mitro has outdone them all in one respect: none of them managed to get two red cards in one PL season, a feat the Serb managed in his first with Newcastle.

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have problems with aggression. And it’s not just in the UK, how much of Luis Suarez’s behaviour was influenced by the poverty he experienced as a child? It’s impossible to say, but I think it’s worth looking at the reasons behind a player’s behaviour with a little bit more nuance than just: “the man’s an idiot”. So, can Rafa change them? We’ve already seen him coax the best out of players with uncertain reputations: Lascelles, Clark, Atsu, Hayden, to name just a few. But these are players who really seem to want to learn. It’s presumptive to say that Shelvey and Mitrovicć don’t, but there’s no evidence so far that either is willing to learn from their mistakes. Both lads have been with Rafa for nearly two full seasons and the same problems persist. If you can’t improve under the coaching of Benítez and his team, then, where can you? Controversially perhaps, in an ideal world, I wouldn’t tf 20

have either of them. Mitrovicć seems like he might have hit a ceiling and as I’ve heard the lads on the True Faith Podcast say multiple times, we cannot afford to wait any longer for improvements that might never come. £13 million for Newcastle is as big as it gets these days and we would be better served cashing in and getting our hands on a more reliable striker to compliment Joselu and Gayle. That being said, I can’t be the only one who still hopes the lad will come good before it’s too late Shelvey is undoubtedly our most naturally talented player, Paco basically said as much last week when he rated him “among the best in Europe”, but the sacrifices the team has to make to accommodate him might just be too much. If we’re missing him for 3-6 games a season from suspensions, or if, like at Swansea, he downs tools, then it’s Newcastle United who’ll suffer. It’s hard to dismiss a player with such

talent and vision on the pitch, but I really can’t see how in the long term he can be a trusted lieutenant to Rafa. The ‘Rafalution’ is all about commitment and consistency, and above all else Benítez values players who can stick to the game plan. You always worry when Shelvey goes ‘on one’, he’ll bring the whole game plan shattering down around him, just for the fun of it. We saw it at Spurs and we know we’ll see it again. The man is 25 years old and has 6 full England caps. Mikel Merino a 21-yearold who only played seven games last season has managed to oust him from the starting 11 with relative ease. If Merino turns out to be the player we all think he will be, then Shelvey should be very worried. And if he doesn’t curb these pathetic outbursts, who knows, he could be in line for another risky move to another midtable club who thinks they can tame him.

You always worry when Shelvey goes ‘on one’, he’ll bring the whole game plan shattering down around him, just for the fun of it. We saw it at Spurs and we know we’ll see it again.

Newcastle’s impressive defensive performances in the Championship last season are also being displayed in the Premier League, during the early part of this campaign. That is not really a surprise when Rafael Benitez is in charge of the side. The Spaniard likes to have a compact team, he works tirelessly on the training pitch to ensure the defence give very little to the opposition. All the work in training shows when you see that Rob Elliot has only had to make 12 saves in 4 games so far this season. Two clean sheets on the bounce and a two key defenders close to tf 22

a return in Yedlin and Lejeune. Newcastle’s defensive nous has taken a few by surprise. Jamaal Lascelles’ performance against Swansea showed not only how much the player has improved but also the team.

time on the ball. Obviously every game plan is different, Newcastle were happy for Swansea to keep the ball. The Magpies kept it tight at the back giving Swansea’s key players little space to thread an incisive pass.

In the previous two games, Newcastle have pressed the opposition, hunting in packs to regain the possession. More so against West Ham at St James’ Park, Newcastle gave the Hammers little

This Newcastle side have a mental toughness I haven’t seen for many years. The attitude of all the players shows on the pitch, dedication, commitment and passion. We finally have a set of



players that want to give everything for the shirt, no more players that use this amazing club as a stepping stone. During our home games against sides outside of the top six or seven, Newcastle will have a lot more of the ball. Benitez is working hard to make Newcastle more clinical when we have the ball. Over recent seasons we have been far too slow in possession, making it easier for the opposition to recover and get more men behind the ball. Newcastle have players in Matt Ritchie, Jonjo Shelvey and Mikel Merino who have superb passing ability. Keeping it tight all over the pitch and having players that can cut the opposition with a single pass, makes this Newcastle side a constant threat.

With the players Newcastle have it is natural to play counter attacking football. Atsu, Gayle, Yedlin and Murphy all posses a lot of pace to hit the opposition on the break. While the bigger strikers in Joselu and Mitrovic can hold the ball up and bring others into play. I thought going into this season, Newcastle looked to have a strong defence. There are plenty of options for Benitez to choose from. Lascelles, Clark, Mbemba and Lejeune are all quality centre backs, with Mbemba and Clark also being able to cover left back. We then have Dummett, Yedlin, Manquillo and forgotten man Haidara in the full back areas. The dark days of seeing a back four made up of full backs, under Alan Pardew are long gone.

It is clear Benitez has identified a way of playing that works for the players he has at his disposal. Newcastle have finished with 38% and 37% possession over the last two games, picking up three points on both occasions. During the defeat away to Huddersfield, Newcastle shared almost half of the possession with 47%. Benitez has realised over the last two games that Newcastle haven’t quite got the players to dictate the play when having more of the ball. Benitez’s men tend to come out on top when they have less possession because that is exactly what they want to happen. Benitez sets his side up in a way that allows the opposition to have more of the ball. Newcastle can then exploit the space that appears in behind

I thought going into this season, Newcastle looked to have a strong defence. There are plenty of options for Benitez to choose from.

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with slick passing and pace down the wings. Newcastle are a side that will pounce on any mistake made by the opposition. This side reminds me a little of the way Leicester play, soaking up pressure and hitting teams on the break. It is an effective style of play, Benitez knows the strengths and weaknesses of his side and is definitely playing a style of football that shows off all of those strengths. We all know Benitez prefers a 4-2-3-1 formation, he has played that everywhere he has been. The signing of Joselu surprised a lot of people, however looking back on Benitez’s previous sides, tf 24

it shouldn’t have come as a shock. Benitez has always had a striker than can not only put chances away but can also hold the ball up and bring others into play. Torres was lethal at Liverpool in terms of goalscoring but what many tend to forget is his hold up play was just as good. Having a striker that has good hold up play takes pressure off the defence. It means the opposition can’t quickly break, it is no surprise to me that Benitez has chosen to start Joselu ahead of the likes of Mitrovic and Gayle over the last few games. Joselu’s hold up play is far superior to that of Gayle and Mitrovic. It will be very interesting

to see how Newcastle cope with sides such as Leicester and Liverpool, who break very quickly. When we are involved in those kind of games, I think we will get a better idea of Newcastle’s defensive capabilities. Although there is disappointment of not being able to add more players to the squad, the early signs are promising. Newcastle have what it takes to finish comfortably away from the dreaded bottom three this season. A world class manager that leaves nothing to chance, a team not only with quality but with a fantastic attitude, and a set of fans that can push the side forward when things aren’t going to plan.

Although there is disappointment of not being able to add more players to the squad, the early signs are promising.


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.

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I was really looking forward to this event and, apart from a few challenges, it didn’t disappoint one bit. I met up with Mandi (who is a star volunteer for Newcastle West End Foodbank and one of the hardest working people I’ve ever met) quite early as we wanted a decent seat with a table to enable easy drinking and scribbling but we ended up at a table at the very back of the room.  It’s just as well I wasn’t asked to do ‘minutes’ as there were some very big people in front of me so I had to keep bobbing up and down to peer into the distance to see what the panel were up to. Hearing everything was tricky too, particularly George Caulkin later in the evening who is a very softlyspoken gentleman which is a shame as he spoke with eloquence and intelligence allegedly.  It’s just as well there’s a podcast of the event to get every detail.


true faith Transfer Forum TYNESIDE IRISH CENTRE - Thursday 7/Sep/17

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Alex Hurst welcomed everyone and Sharon Percy (from I, Daniel Blake) as our presenter for the evening. In turn she introduced Luke Edwards (Telegraph), Simon Bird (Mirror) and Wallace Wilson (true faith) who formed the panel for Round One.  The plan was to ask 3 questions (prepared earlier) for each panel to answer and then invite questions from the audience.  The questions focussed mainly on the recent transfer window, why we had no first team left back, Ashley’s ridiculous comparison with Man City and why he couldn’t recognise that just £70m-£100m would have us competing at a higher level and who makes decisions on transfers. I managed to pick

up ballooning prices in the summer caught everyone out and thereafter I was stumped. Two lads near me chattered on and giggled away despite a couple of warnings by staff.  Eventually my new friend Ian told them to shut the fuck up.  Thereafter the staff escorted them out. Fair play to the bar staff who acted efficiently. Just before Round Two started, Michael Nixon from Newcastle West End foodbank expanded on the amazing prematch contributions from fans and stressed that donations are very welcome and still needed at the donation point, opposite Nine Bar every home match day, usually two hours before kick-off.  Martin Hardy

Transfer forum: Part One: Luke Edwards, Wallace Wilson & Simon Bird

The questions focussed mainly on the recent transfer window, why we had no first team left back, Ashley’s ridiculous comparison with Man City and why he couldn’t recognise that just £70m-£100m would have us competing at a higher level and who makes decisions on transfers.

(Independent), George Caulkin (Times) and Craig Hope (Mail) took the floor for the next round of questions. The main questions related to Rafa’s relationship with the press, whether he should use the media in view of Ashley not keeping his word. Despite Rafa setting the agenda, the panel felt one failing from the club was the lack of urgency over the summer, the old system of buying by committee tf 27

Transfer forum part 2: Craig Hope, George Caulkin & Martin Hardy

and this all contributed to a sparse summer. The panel were asked whether Rafa is a ’prisoner’ bound by the £5m clause and whether he would walk away. Views differed slightly, one was that there’s a strong chance he would whilst others thought he had a strong case for constructive dismissal but he’s a man who feels a strong sense of responsibility.  It was felt that back in May, Rafa looked at NUFC as a long-term project but is probably no longer

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thinking that way. Another question referred to ‘the’ Sky interview by Ashley but there was an understandable reluctance to answer directly. It was felt the club needs more ‘football’ people at the top. Mark Douglas (Chronicle), Alex Hurst (true faith), Michael Carling (true faith) and Colin Whittle (NUST) completed the evening.  Main questions were whether Rafa would have money in January, is NUFC for sale and if so how close.  The response

was that as long as Ashley remains things won’t improve, there will be no long-term future, he doesn’t have a clue and is making things up as he goes along. The reports of interest from China were untrue and he was simply trying to flush out interest. His statement of aspiring to emulate Southampton is lame compared to a valuation of £210m for that club and £400m for NUFC.  The pre-season tour to New Zealand and the recent tour to Dublin probably coincided with promotions of SD.  If Ashley left there was no doubt the city and region would be re-energised and the community would flourish, as seen by the recent initiatives regarding the West End foodbank. There was a brilliant speech from Colin Whittle towards the end about the work NUST

Main questions were whether Rafa would have money in January, is NUFC for sale and if so how close.

is engaged in including the need for a change in legislation to bring us in line with clubs in Germany in particular where they are a part of the local community and this is something Supporters Direct (I won’t mention the freudian slip) are working on. NUST also has close links to the Football Supporters Association. A question from the floor asked how we could organise ourselves as a cohesive group rather than separate entities. 

It was felt fans would unite if Rafa left and the boycotts/protests back in 2014 demonstrated that positives do emerge such as Gallowgate Flags which has received strong support. It was mentioned that the solitary flag at the West Ham match was inspirational and was something Rafa would get. The whole evening was a huge success and I was impressed by the interaction between the media guests and the

Transfer forum part 3: Mark Douglas, Alex Hurst, Michael Carling & Colin Whittle of the NUST

audience, there was no edginess or distrust. The journalists were brilliant and spoke with such honesty, intelligence and understanding – rare these days for us. But, so much credit should go to Alex Hurst, Michael Martin and their gang for pulling this event together. Raising £3,000 for the Newcastle West End foodbank was superb, as was the donation from Rafa, he would do that though. For a first venture it was spot on and I hope similar evenings can be repeated. Just a little nudge, Mandi and her volunteers can be found in Aisle 3, Unit 109 at the Grainger Market.  Days and times can vary so it might be good to follow @mandir1974 on twitter for updates on opening times.

NUFC Supporters foodbank

Collections are before home games opposite NINE Bar on Strawberry Place. Please donate. Our shop and drop point in the Grainger Market is open Fridays and Saturdays from 9:30 to 5:30 so whenever you’re in town don’t forget to pop in with a few items. More info here. If you’re not at the match you can donate by texting NCLF00 £(amount you want to donate) to 70070.

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They say you never get a second chance to make a first impression. Well nine points from nine with just the one goal conceded and a plus five goal difference has certainly led to some so-called experts re-evaluating their opinion on Newcastle United. If the titters from the media were barely audible when ten Newcastle players trudged off after a disappointing yet understandable 0-2 reverse at home to Tottenham Hotspur then the open ridicule that followed our loss away at Huddersfield was loud, proud and unabashed.

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We’d been found out they said and Benitez would leave on the first train to London for the bright lights of West Ham United. The ‘championship’ squad would be relegated before the January transfer window and even if we were barely hanging on to our premiership status, we’d need £150 million investment just to survive.

The fans were also a huge problem we were told as that nasty Toon Army were on brink of meltdown and were bound to hound out the glorious saviour Mike Ashley due to apparent demands of a champions league place at the end of each and every season! The next two games saw all and sundry lining up to

John Trotter @JTToon86

slate us, West Ham were guaranteed to gain their first win of the season at St James’. A point would be a good return for Newcastle and of course those fans would get on the player’s backs should they not be ahead within the first five minutes! What we saw however was a fantastic team performance backed by over 50,000 fans. Merino being man of the match in the face of stiff competition from Christian Atsu, Matt Ritchie and Ciaran Clark. Three superb goals without reply was obviously too much to bear for anyone south of Tyneside however as this was then cited as a catalyst for West Ham appointing

Rafa at our expense. Trial by camera also followed resulting in Mitro being given a retrospective three match ban despite the referee clearly indicating he saw the incident as it happened and deemed it accidental at the time. If this was bad then the reaction to our first away win of the season was simply staggering. The week began with Paul Merson claiming Swansea would show their ‘premiership class’ whilst cruising to victory, the outcome however was somewhat different. Here we had a match where Newcastle and Swansea shared anneven first 20 mins at the Liberty stadium

before Newcastle increased the pressure and were only denied the opening goal due to a truly world class save. The second half saw a captain’s performance in every sense from Jamaal Lascelles culminating in a goal-linenclearance and superb set piece goal. His header gave us possibly our most satisfying away victory since Brighton were put to the sword courtesy of Ayoze Perez seven months previously. All rosy in the garden it seems? Well no actually, regardless of the performancenand the deserved victory, we were subjected to endless hours of analysis of a Richie foul and a non existent Lascelles handball. The foul was

What we saw however was a fantastic team performance backed by over 50,000 fans. Merino being man of the match in the face of stiff competition from Christian Atsu, Matt Ritchie and Ciaran Clark tf 31

identical to one we were on the receiving end of away at Huddersfield (never to be mentioned again) and the handball didn’t exist - I’ve seen all the evidence and I’m about as convinced as I am about the Loch Ness monster and little green men wandering around Roswell! The Swansea match saw a good team performance and fantastic result made all the more impressive by the absence of our manager through illness. By the time we’d entertained and outclassed Stoke at the fortress, we’d played against five teams who were nothing but bang average at best with not one of them playing any

tf 32

better than Championship huffers Nottingham Forest in the league cup. In fact it was Forest who came to St James’ with something approaching an attacking game plan and were actually good value for a 3-2 win after extra time. Compare this to a Stoke City side who were more than happy to roll over and allow us to fill our boots should we be so inclined. With Joselu wasting three excellent chances and there being a number of near misses from his teammates, a fairer reflection of our dominance would have been four or five rather than the two that proved to be enough. Our five premiership opponents so

far represent a nice cross section of premier league ambitions (Huddersfield hoping to avoid relegation, Spurs looking to win the thing and the others somewhere in between) and not one has been remotely close to putting in an impressive full ninety minutes. When I was first asked to write this piece,I was advised to give an early opinion on life in the premiership so far. Quite frankly, it’s almost identical to how I felt about life in the championship exactly twelve months ago. I feel we have an above average squad that admittedly needs January investment, we are capable of beating any team in the

With Joselu wasting three excellent chances and there being a number of near misses from his teammates, a fairer reflection of our dominance would have been four or five rather than the two that proved to be enough

division on our day, we’re prone to dropping silly points especially when conceding first and we’re in safe hands as long as we continue to be led by an inspirational manager who is one of the very best in Europe. This is all despite the sinister agender of an owner who will never share the ethos, ambitions and hopes of the fans. I’ve also been asked to articulate what has impressed me so far, to be honest very little. The premiership is without doubt the most marketable league in the world but apart from the revenue streams. it isn’t

actually that good. Why do you think the Mackems stayed up by the skin of their teeth for season after season? Because people all over the planet are paying good money to see a load of cloggers play out 0-0 draws and late 1-0 wins in end-of-season encounters that even the staunchest insomniac could sleep through. During our last relegation season when we had an appalling team, we still did the double over Spurs, were unbeaten against both Man Utd and Liverpool and drew with fourth placed Manchester City. All of this took place in a campaign where we lost ten games more than we won and yet were still

only a single victory away from actually staying up! Perhaps the most impressive thing about the season so far has happened off the pitch.The superb efforts of ‘NUFC Food bank’ in helping vulnerable people on Tyneside is something we can all be proud of. Please contribute to their cause the next time you pass them before roaring on the lads, all their details are on twitter, facebook and various social media. The difference they so selflessly make to our community is something that should always put the football result into sharp perspective. Happy new season!

Perhaps the most impressive thing about the season so far has happened off the pitch. The superb efforts of ‘NUFC Food bank’ in helping vulnerable people on Tyneside is something we can all be proud of.

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After losing their opening two games the locals are understandably a little edgy. A good start in the Premier League isn’t the be-all and end-all but two defeats can soon become three, four and then a habit that’s difficult to shake. Before kick-off, in a stand of approximately 11, 000, there’s a solitary flag on display. The call to arms from Newcastle fans is to back the manager, and the imposing image of Rafa Benitez stands alone, defiant. It might seem ridiculous that after two games such a stance is required, but Frank De Boer will concur that in football, and in particular the Premier League, anything is possible.

tf 34

Mark Dutton

The display of stoic Rafa support, in a clever ‘less is more’ approach, has been organised by a group of lads who have transformed Newcastle’s Gallowgate from a runof the-mill home end ensconced in a modern day football dilemma, to an end full of colourful purpose. Like many main stands at English football grounds the Gallowgate has suffered, but, frustrated with the state of affairs, the group were determined to do something about it and, visually, it’s improved significantly over the last 12 months. Flags of all sizes can now be seen before the match and at half-time; a surfer flag gets passed over Geordie heads; the flags celebrate the past, present, locality and culture. The displays have grown in number and look terrific.

Not everyone was happy with the lone Benitez flag though. The club have already started to use the Gallowgate images as a marketing tool; associated sponsors have also jumped on the bandwagon, so the Rafa gesture was at odds with that. The club see the attraction possibilities, similar to how Liverpool’s Kop has been showcased for years as a reason to come and enjoy the Anfield ‘experience’. It has brought to the fore that old, and often draining, debate about the atmosphere. Have the visual improvements made a difference to the most important element – noise? Some think so, others disagree, and many on social media simply choose to pour scorn on attempts to make improvements. The Geordies may have

things unique to their club and culture, but being attacked by people who would rather chastise than actually try and help is commonplace. That medium provides the platform for unhelpful and, in some cases, abusive comments. At other clubs there is almost a will from sections of people for things to fail just so they can say, ‘I told you so’. Newcastle has been here before, as one corner of the ground was designated as a place to generate noise in the hope that it would spread to other parts. That didn’t work out and they can be added to the ever growing list of clubs that have instigated something similar, only for it to fail. But, visually speaking, it’s fair to say that more progress has been made at Newcastle than at many other places. I

Flags of all sizes can now be seen before the match and at half-time; a surfer flag gets passed over Geordie heads; the flags celebrate the past, present, locality and culture. The displays have grown in number and look terrific.

tf 35

made contact with Alex (Gallowgate Flags) and then Tom (Wor Hyem 1892) who have a different individual objective, but a common goal. Alex Hurst, Gallowgate flags Duts: So, I’ve noticed what you’ve done and it looks brilliant, particularly considering where you’ve come from. How are you organised? How many are involved? Alex: There’s a central WhatsApp group with about 20 lads in it who will graft before and after games. There’s about six of us who lead on ideas, budget, fundraising and planning. We have about 1k season ticket holders on email who we contact before displays, but we have the local media bending over backwards to help get the message out.

flag on its own went down badly. We have a meeting every month just to talk through things and we generally get on well with everyone. Lee Charnley is MD and invited us in for an all-expenses paid cup game last season to say thanks - a nice touch. Duts: How much reign do you have?

Alex: We have access to the ground whenever we want and they pretty much let us do what we like. We have grand plans to get an expensive ‘pulley’ system installed next season so we can replicate the likes of Dortmund and Warsaw for their huge displays that literally cover the whole stand. Eighteen months ago they wouldn’t let us have surfer flags, but we’ve shown we

We have grand plans to get an expensive ‘pulley’ system installed next season so we can replicate the likes of Dortmund and Warsaw for their huge displays that literally cover the whole stand.

Duts: Do all the fans bring their own flags, paid by the fund, or are they owned by the group and handed out? Alex: They’re all our flags. Unfortunately plenty get nicked - just something we’ve learned to accept. Duts: How have you engaged the club and is this an ongoing/ regular thing? Alex: Yeah we had to get the club onside. We have a good relationship with them but (as above) the Rafa tf 36

know what we’re doing; we’re safe and we clean up after ourselves etc - so we’ve convinced them to let us do more and more. Duts: What blockers have they put in place and how have you overcome them? Alex: Initially they wanted small displays and small flags but we proved to them we know what we’re doing and it’s progressing all of the time. However, we basically keep the flags under the Gallowgate and it’s a ***hole. No lights, no floor - incredibly dangerous. The club promised to renovate it in the summer and not only make it decent to be in, but to also build us wardrobes and storage stuff. Great! Then this bloke who works for Sports Direct came into the club and said it was a waste of money. We thought about sacking it all off considering what

we’ve done and how much the club use the images to sell stuff. It wasn’t like we were demanding anything, it was their idea! The club will probably bring in £160m at least, if not more this season, yet they can’t afford about £5k to improve their own facilities for us. Duts: You’ve raised over 15K! How have you done that? Any lucky/ forged relationships with influential people? Alex: We set up a public funding page which brought in about £10k. We’ve raised another £10k so it’s about £20k in total. The public fundraiser got us off the ground and was integral to it; fans were just up for paying in as there had been nothing like this before. Loads of money actually came in from exiled fans across the world and we even had

some four figure donations as well! We’ve tried to do events to raise money. I ran two quiz nights that brought in £7k. Local journos came along and presented the rounds. The club even sent a couple of players. We asked local businesses for prizes and they were unreal. The club then threw in lunch with Rafa Benitez as a prize! Not bad. At the second quiz night the club got the players to ask the questions. We’ve now got a massive email list of people who love our 2. events, so when we need to do another one it’s an easy way of raising funds. In addition we’ve had comedy nights put on for us by the comedy clubs who raise money for us

...but we’ve shown we know what we’re doing; we’re safe and we clean up after ourselves etc - so we’ve convinced them to let us do more and more.

Duts: So you’ve got the manager’s backing. That must be crucial? 3.

Alex: We know Rafa is tf 37

behind us and when we’ve had the odd problem we’ve managed to get word to him and he’s sorted things out. For more information contact gallowgateflags. Tom, Wor Hyem 1892 Duts: Tom. What are you trying to do with Wor Hyem 1892 and how did it come about? Tom: The flags have made a difference visually and a lot of hard work has gone in to it, but when the flags get put away and the game starts the atmosphere is still sanitised. That sparked the movement to try and do something about it. We’re trying to copy the European model, Germany for example, as unity is what they have and what we need. So a few of us got together tf 38

and started to brainstorm ideas. We came to the conclusion that you’ll always have the hardcore, but the challenge is how do you create that fanaticism around the ground? Newcastle is unique in that we have a captive audience for miles around and because we’re a one-team city. Duts: How are you organising that? What are the day to day fundamentals? Tom: We’re using a query based index for those who want to join and where they’re sat in the ground. We now have 3,500 people on it. There are some qualifying questions – Name/address/ST number/would they move/are they happy with standing up/flags etc. That should form the basis of who wants to get involved and move to an

area that can influence the wider population. Duts: How are you communicating to the wider group involved in Wor Hyem 1892? Tom: We have a WhatsApp group set up and that works in two ways. 1) For communicating and fundraising as we’ve also commissioned a couple of large flags to display and 2) It engages people who would never have spoken to each other. Duts: Have the club been as forthcoming for you as they have for Gallowgate flags?

We’re trying to copy the European model, Germany for example, as unity is what they have and what we need. So a few of us got together and started to brainstorm ideas

Tom: We went in for a meeting with the club contact and the head of security was there too. We went to the top of the Gallowgate and they said we could have the 2500 seats at the back. The meeting went incredibly tf 38

well, too well, they just agreed to everything. Then we heard nothing for two months so a conference call was arranged and their stance had changed. They offered us 10% of the original number and in a different place. We took it because we had to and it gave us a foot in the door. We had help from the box office who arranged for the 250 to be in the middle of the stand. The idea is to grow that number around those 250, hence the database.

Duts: It’s early days but have you made a difference outside of the 250 and the surrounding area?

Duts: Have the media (not social!) been supportive?

Tom: I’m in the process of contacting people from other clubs in a similar position (eight so far) because we’re all aiming for the same thing.

Tom: The local Chronicle has been excellent, which is the opposite of how the national media portray this type of thing. Fanaticism is treated as hooliganism and that’s been borne out in the general media reaction to the Arsenal-Cologne game.

Tom: It’s a start but there’s work to do. Fans are still mainly influenced by events on the pitch. West Ham was much better when the goals started flying in but we need that to become more frequent and not driven by mood. Duts: What else are you working on?

For more information contact worhyem1892. Tom’s



is interesting as, traditionally, the tribal nature of football usually means fans eschew the idea of co-operating with a rival. But if we’re all facing the same challenge then it couldn’t harm for us to work together and collectively gain trust. A mate of mine recently said that if you have an intimidating atmosphere fans will want to come to the ground and opposition players won’t. Being able to audibly back your team (and let’s face it, harass the opposition) for 90 minutes is in the interest of everyone connected to their respective football clubs. And, despite the hurdles continually placed in front of them, that’s exactly what Alex, Tom and many others are still aiming for.

A mate of mine recently said that if you have an intimidating atmosphere fans will want to come to the ground and opposition players won’t.

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Postcards F rom The Edge Paully

For the second consecutive transfer window, Mike Ashley and his idiotic gang of incompetent imbeciles managed to mess around one of the best managers in world football. There is no logic behind their behaviour especially during the latest window and I’m convinced that they all get together and lash down pints and shots (as well as hoying them back up into a fireplace) whilst hatching plans to simply troll NUFC fans. Over three transfer windows, our ever-generous owner afforded Rafa a total net transfer spend of MINUS £20 million. Yes, a profit on all player-trading of £20 million to assemble a squad to gain promotion and also a squad to stay-up in the Premier League. Well thank you very much Mike, your kindness puts Ebeneezer Scrooge to shame. I refused to watch his Sky Sports PR stunt with his mate “Craigy” but from what I’ve read, he stated that he is skint as all of his wealth is tied-up in shares and bizarrely likened that to wallpaper. I’m sure everyone fully believed him what with his chequered history of never telling porkies. If he genuinely is on the bones of his arse (try not to laugh at that statement) and is literally having to sub off his pals to go out on the session with them then why doesn’t he use that theory with NUFC and loan money against the guaranteed future income that we are due because of promotion? The comment about how we are unable to compete with Man City was surely

tf 40

another sign of him trolling us. Deluded ‘double denim’ Dekka from Denton doesn’t even think that. Dekka; like every other fan, thinks that we should be able to compete with our two fellow promoted clubs but that wasn’t the case during the summer as both of their net spends completely obliterated ours. The window “slammed shut” (f**k off, Jim White) and then news filtered through that Ashley had offered our players a £20 million bonus if we win the FA Cup. Yes, that tournament in which we have won a whopping FOUR matches during his ten year ownership. He may as well have also promised each player a blower off both Michelle Keegan and Emily Ratajkowski in the changing rooms after the Final. Mike Ashley is the master of negativity. He’s like that evil Skeletor trying to mess on with Rafa’s (New)Castle Greyskull. As KK said; “This club can never go anywhere under Mike Ashley, I promise you that”. Don’t forget, KK cures cancer-ridden hedgehogs merely by winking at them

We looked solid and were never in danger during the opener until windup merchant and complete ‘see you next Tuesday’ Dele Alli dangled bait which Shelvey idiotically fell for.

so would never make any false promises. Rafa had every right to walk out after the window “slammed shut” (f**k off again, Jim White) but thankfully he remained and it looks like he’ll see the season out barring a monumental disastrous January window. Oh dear, what on earth could possibly go wrong there? I’m certain that he’ll be here on the final day of this season out of loyalty to the fans and players but If the powers above him don’t change their ways, then there is sadly no chance that he’ll be in our dugout next season. However, surely after our start to the season, Ashley and his cronies MUST realise that they will NEVER appoint a better football manager than Rafa. If they’re genuinely interested in us as a football club (try not to laugh again) then they will do exactly that so time will tell. After 13% of the 17-18 Premier League season, we currently occupy one of the four Champions League berths and that is after losing our opening two matches. Rafa will have the title and the Grand National both won by Pancake Tuesday.

We looked solid and were never in danger during the opener until wind-up merchant and complete ‘see you next Tuesday’ Dele Alli dangled bait which Shelvey idiotically fell for. I’ve been tickled more ferociously than his stamp and if you’re going to get sent off for that then at least leave a severe print of your studs etched on to your opponent’s body. We never really got going at Huddersfield but since then we have put in three performances in which each opposing manager has admitted that we fully deserved the three points. I said last season that Rafa’s pragmatic style would be far more suited to the Premier League when the onus is not on us to go out and dictate. Have we ever looked as well-drilled and organised as we currently do? We certainly won’t suffer countless humpings like we did under that charlatan pleb Pardew that’s for sure. His meticulous planning will also reap better rewards this season as we don’t have to endure 3829 midweek matches like Championship teams (hello Sunderland) have to. It’s surreal going from a centre midfielder who never

seemed to pass forward and whose main attribute was to give away needles fouls in dangerous positions to the utter delight that is Mikel Merino. That might sound harsh on Wearside Jack ‘Passback’ and I’ve got nothing against him apart from the fact that he’s a ginger as well as a mackem (via his own actions). I’m sorry but no lifelong NUFC fan would laud it over his supposed beloved boyhood club after beating them 3-0 whilst playing for their bitter rivals by posing for photos afterwards signalling the score. The fact that he was doing so whilst sat next to that utter plank Altidore made the photo look even worse. Merino looks a hell of a player. He seems to possess everything in his locker and Dortmund must have some serious talent in the middle of the park if they were happy to offload him. To think that we’ll secure him for a fee of £8 million in today’s market is unbelievable as long as we meet the required stipulation which is rumoured to be 20 starts. I sincerely hope that I’m not tempting fate but I’d start him even if he suffers a bad injury. I’d let the beautiful Spaniard kickoff via his crutch and then hobble off to be subbed after Shelvey pings the ball out of play. The main factor that he signed was because of Rafa so here’s hoping they’re both at NUFC for many years which will mean a change in the owner’s ways or preferably a change of ownership. tf 41



SEASON Players: Burns, Maitland, Thomson, MacKenzie, Hill, Harris, Urwin, Gallacher, Hutchison, McDonald, Lang, Richardson Jr, Fidler, Nevin, McCurley, Mathison, Boyd, Wood, Chalmers, McInroy, Weaver, Wilson, Scott, Fairhurst, Cunningham, Cape, Davidson, Devine, J Richardson. Division: First Division, but once again another step back for the Magpies, and another season to forget. The thoughts of winning the title three season’s previous had long left United minds, and indeed it took a final day home victory against West Ham to keep

us in the top flight. 37 points from 42 matches was our worst return for quite some time, and in the end it was only enough for 19th place (21st & 22nd went down). At the other end of the table, Sheffield Wednesday continued their fantastic run, retaining the title they won last year, romping to the title by a massive 10 points (23 clear of us in the process..) Manager: The Directors Committee was helped for the first time this year, last season’s veteran signing (NUFC’s oldest ever debutant) Andy Cunningham helped pick the starting XI on match days this season Trainer/Coach: Andy McCombie continued in his

role coaching the boys, getting his second full season under his belt in the job. Highest Attendance: In all competitions, a quite incredible 63,486 swarmed to NE1 to witness our FA Cup 6th round replay against Hull. Fans clearly desperate to take their mind off a woeful league campaign could only see a 1-1 draw at home to Hull, which set up a replay three days later which United would lose 1-0. In the league, 49,304 saw a rare bit of positive news on the domestic front, the highest league gate of the season seeing the black and whites beat the neighbours from down the road 3-0. The win didn’t lift United out of the relegation zone, but come the end of the season, this result would be vital. Lowest Attendance: Similar to last season, our lowest league attendance at home was in the 17k range, as 17,985 came to St. James’ towardstheendofNovember to see us have a cracking

result over Portsmouth, beating the team from the south coast 4-1. The game was notable for a few reasons, least of which was the same goalscorer bagging all of United’s goals (see below..). Including the cups and away attendances, the lowest gate the Magpies played in front of this season was 6,990. A paltry attendance down at Bolton saw a scrappy game and a point a-piece, in a 1-1 draw. Average Attendance: Despite a season which fell well below expectations, average gates on Tyneside continued to improve. The 31,667 from last season jumped to 32,463 over the course of 23 home league matches this season. When you add in four home FA Cup games to the tally (York City, Clapton Orient, Brighton & Hove Albion, Hull City) the figure stands at 35,540. Biggest Win: Numerically, a four-goal win was the best it got for us this season, and it came as early as our second game of the season.

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reveals that that two million people are unemployed in Britain.. Comedians Bernard ManningandRonnieCorbett, actor Sean Connery, racing tycoon Bernie Ecclestone were all born this year.. Regional Interest: “Ah wunt wun” – a year after the grand opening of the iconic Tyne Bridge, known and famous throughout the world, the Mackems open the Wear Crossing. A little less well known but a rather sad copy of it’s more spectacular neighbour. Sniff.

Blackburn Rovers, a team who would end the season in a very respectable 6th place, came to Tyneside and went home on the end of a 5-1 shoeing. In terms of importance though, it was clear that our 1-0 home victory against West Ham on the final day of the season, a victory which kept us in the top flight by one point, was the biggest win of the campaign. Worst Defeat: A four-goal defeat in our first away of the season to Grimsby Town took some beating on this score, but sadly, we managed a five-goal reverse twice this campaign, and it was in the space of three matches. We played Man United away at the end of December, being on the wrong end of a 5-0 scoreline. In mid-January we travelled to Leicester, and although we actually scored in this game, it didn’t stop us letting six in our end, to equal with our worst result of the campaign.

Something of Interest: Whilst the last few seasons had been mediocre, United could only dream for a season like that this year, as we came within one point of beingrelegated,whilstunrest off the pitch also threatened to open the club up from the inside. New player/manager Andy Cunningham and star player Hughie Gallacher never really saw eye-to-eye during the campaign, and during the close season, the club sold Gallacher against the player’s wishes (and the fans too…) leaving United without it’s star player after a year in which we nearly went down. In fact, it could easily be argued Gallacher was the main reason we stayed up, an incredible 29 league goals (4 in the same game against Portsmouth) for a team that finished 4th bottom being just enough to keep the Back & Whites in the top flight. The Scottish striker would end up being sold to Chelsea for £10,000.

Mentioned in Dispatches: On 03/May/1930, we went into our game at home to West Ham with a simple concept in front of us, win and stay up, lose and go down. West Ham would go on to finish 7th this season and we needed to beat them at SJP. It would turn out to be Hughie Gallacher’s last match for the Black & Whites, but for once, it wasn’t the little scot who came up with the goods for United. Joe Devine scored a dramatic winner in the 63rd minute, we would end up hanging on to get the two points and with it, stay in the division. Burnley & Everton would end up being the two teams relegated. National Interest: The Times publishes its first ever crossword in the paper in February 1930.. Yorkshire born Amy Johnson becomes the first woman to fly solo from England to Australia.. The first British Empire Games are held in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada.. A study

March 1929 - “At Harraton Colliery, Durham, during a “men riding” interval, a shaft lad aged 14 years went into a creeper motor room adjacent to the shaft siding, and sat down on a concrete foundation pillar near a toothed wheel of the gearing. The motor attendant, who was unaware of deceased’s position, instead of himself starting the motor, instructed another lad to switch on. When the motor started the deceased shaft lad was struck on the head by the gear wheel and instantly killed. A single bar fence on one side of the machinery was found lying on the floor, but there was no evidence to show how it was displaced. Had it been in position, however, it would not have prevented the accident as deceased could have got under it or around it because the fence did not extend far enough to prevent free access to the machinery. From Durham Mining Museum click here. Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892 tf 43

Warning - this article contains traces of Sunderland “Think abahht the fewtchah!” Ah Shaun Ryder, never as commonplace as a Lee wrong is he? Ryder ’s Ryder video-freeze. bracing sloganeering should AI’s going to change . Mags us for be a clarion call everything. In the near We are on the cusp of great future we could go to a changes in our lives. No, virtual pub (I’ll be in the not the increasing Cold Wheat Sheaf or The Fox on War between Rafa and our Carlisle St., ta) with our powe rdrin kings pewt astic very own electric sheep for owner and his sidekicks a pint, and socialise with Blackadder (Bishop) and other robots. We could, if black pud (Charnley), though we wished, press the “erase that is momentous enough. modern life” function and But Tim Leary wasn’t that far live in a permanent 1951 out when he said we could and watch the Black & change society by turning Whites be successful and on, tuning in and dropping win things. Or just go back out. Though little did he to 1988 and finally get the know that change would be correct change off Hot Dog effected by us tuning in to Man on the Barrack Road. technologies based around Both will give us enormous A(lternative) I(ntelligence) satisfaction. Even now, in instead of blotter acid. Once a nascent form of Virtual the preserve of the likes Reality, AI can show us new of Philip K Dick (or Harry perspectives on the interface Secombe if you watched between the digital and ‘Songs of Praise’), AI is physical worlds. Take the on the threshold of being VR project from London art

collective, Marshmallow Laser Feast*, In The Eyes Of The Animals. Set in the middle of a wood, lucky visitors can wear an eggshaped helmet, replete with a mossy “eye”, and a harness with a carapace. This kit is designed to turn the participants into either a mosquito, a dragonfly, a frog or an owl; and the wood they’re in is presented through the eyes (and senses) of these animals. The VR project effectively immerses the participant in a situation they’ ve never experienced before. The feel of the vibrations of a dragonfly’s wings, for example, or the sound of a frog croak resonating through their body. Creator Ersin Han Ersin stated that: “we’ve had participants throwing off their helmets, howling”. This

may seem frightening, but I see potential for a similar VR project helping us work through our frustrations with our beloved club. If we’re ever feeling really browned off with all things Newcastle United we could enrol on a VR course, and don our own special helmet and carapace. Then, we would be led to an unrelentingly grey and litter strewn place, with no prospect of cheer anywhere. We would find ourselves speaking in an uncouth and glottal jargon. Worse, we would also be in a deserted space, with the nearest sentient being just out of reach. Our only form of relief would be to watch (out of desperate habit) grown men go through forms of physical exercises both wretched, and ugly p u r p o s e le s s .

, s ie it l a e R e iv t Alterna

d n a p U e Mak s e h c n u L r e w Po

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RICHARD FOSTER Incendiary Magazine

I read somewhere that Mike Ashley regularly lunches wit,h Ellis Short. I wonder if Short s sob stories of attempts at appeasing managers via the act of splashing the cash have left an indelible mark on Mr A? We would - in short [no pun intended] - be supporting Sunderland. I’m sure the helmets would come off, amid howls. Ah, Sunderland. The very mention of the word invariably reminds me of my Nan, who would, when asked about the place by a very young me, reply in a gently admonishing tone, “no pet, we don’t go there”. But the mention of the word ‘Sunderland’ reminds me that I read somewhere that our bantertastic, fireplacehoser owner does. This rumination may have been the result of a sleepless night after a particularly ferocious kebab, but I read somewhere that Mike Ashley regularly lunches with Ellis Short. I wonder if Short’s sob stories of attempts at appeasing managers via the act of splashing the cash have left an indelible mark on Mr A. Maybe Mr S has warned him off attempting any idea of listening to a

manager. Just a thought. Lippy I also read in the Fourth Estate that gentlemen are now applying make up as a matter of daily habit. Of course, anyone with an ounce of common knows that British men, Brexit or no Brexit, have often indulged in dressing up. From Widow Twanky to Bowie, from Quentin Crisp to the lad in ‘Made in Chelsea’, the British male has always revelled in a certain vaudevillian delight in applying Ye Olde Slap whilst creeping Life’s boards. Even the vomalicious Mike Ashley, (in between his bouts of power drinking) has been known to take off both his trousers and his shirt (though, praise be, not his socks) in the interests of entertaining his peers and underlings. We should at this point also point to the interface between football, music, and charvas; always a strong one. Anyone who watched

‘Away Days’ will know the narcissistic, maybe homoerotic undertones of some of our finest thugs and music heads. And anyone with an ounce of cultural nous will point to Alex and his Droogs, the “hardpuffs” in the words of Julian Cope. But I wonder. Even during the louche 1970s, when The Sweet could go on Top of the Pops wearing lace dresses and pickelhaubes, has

any lad gone to St James’ purposely wearing lippy and mascara? And not as some grindingly dreadful, chummy, stag-do-style, Merse-tastic exercise in banter? If so, this magazine would like to hear from you. RICHARD FOSTER - Follow @incendiarymagazine *Well, they would be called that wouldn’t they, being from London

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“Everything connected with Newcastle is beautiful, St James Park, beautiful. I just wish Newcastle can go places.” That was Ossie Ardiles on the day he was sacked as Newcastle United manager in February 1992. His faith in pure footballing principals may have benefitted the emergence of many youth players but the loss of key players to injury and the boards inability to back him financially meant relegation was now becoming a probability. An awful 2-5 defeat at Oxford, the only side below United in the 2nd Division table, meant something had to change. With 16 games to save United from the 3rd tier of English Football and potential bankruptcy, the returning Kevin Keegan’s task was simple: to become Newcastle United’s ‘saviour’. Alan Hansen, whose career was cut short but injury, was new to Match of the Day. He would say of the appointment, “It’s a big challenge for him. I think he will do well. The fans will respond to him, they love him up there.”

beaten 3-0. Although the crowd was 13,600 more than the previous league game on NE1, only 3,309 more were present than the amount that attended Ossie’s last home game in charge – a cup defeat to Bournemouth.

Hansen was right as a near sell out 29,263 crowd played their part in an unbelievable start as Bristol City were

With only 3 clean sheets achieved during the 30 league games Ardiles had managed throughout

the season, Keegan’s first major decision to persuade Oldham’s Brian Kilcline to drop a Division appeared a masterstroke. 4 shut outs and only 7 goals were conceded in Keegan’s first 9 games in charge of which 5 returned maximum points and survival appeared a formality. Striker David Kelly, scorer of 3 goals in 10 games pre-Keegan, lead

Marc Corby @NUFC_1980_1994

As It Was, When It Was Derby County v Newcastle United 20th April 1992

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Pt 1 of 3

the way with 7 strikes in those 9 as he and many others benefitted from the managers motivational style. However, following a 1-0 win over sunderland that took United to 17th and 5 points above the trap door, the back 4 fell apart conceding 6 at Wolves (2-6) before a Kilcline-less United went down 2-3 to both Tranmere and Ipswich. Easter Saturday saw a first start for almost a year for the Dane Bjorn Kristensen. In a 0-1 defeat to Millwall thanks to a 78th minute goal by future United player Malcolm Allen, the recently

signed Peter Garland would remarkably become the 25th player Keegan had utilised so far. Striker Steve Howey had played as a defender in the previous 3 games in what was now becoming a desperate situation. Following the initial good work under Keegan, only 3 points now separated the bottom 6 sides and Newcastle sat precariously above the relegation zone. Having the 2nd worst goal difference amongst the 6, if Brighton were to win their game in hand, The Mags would drop into the relegation places.

behind them but with little time to panic, an Easter Monday trip to promotion hopefuls Derby County was next.

With 4 straight defeats

“Also, Derby’s 2-0 win with

Following Derby since the mid 1970’s, ‘Rams’ supporter Gary told me of his instant memories of previous games against Newcastle: “I was 5 or 6 years old and remember the game where Derby won 4-2 in the FA Cup (06/03/1976, Goalkeeper Eddie Edgar’s only United appearance) I was on the popside with my dad, I took my stool and stood at the front with all the other boys.

Following the initial good work under Keegan, only 3 points now separated the bottom 6 sides and Newcastle sat precariously above the relegation zone

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(Nigel) Callaghan and (Paul) Goddard scoring in 198889. Callaghan’s goal was a pile driver” he added. Callaghan’s ‘goal’ was indeed scored by Trevor Hebberd in what would be United’s 4th successive defeat at The Baseball ground in a run that failed to return a win there for a little over 20 years. Keegan’s United would come up against the man who managed The Mags during the successful 1984 promotion campaign, Arthur Cox. Leaving NE1 over “a matter of principal” when United’s board offered, what he thought, was a derisory 3-year contract renewal, Cox was immediately appointed manager of 3rd Division tf 48

Derby. Obtaining top-flight side within 3 seasons, Cox oversaw their relegation during the previous 199091 campaign but was still highly regarded. “Arthur Cox was a great manager for Derby, a proper sergeant major type, took no shit off anyone but knew his stuff and got the best out of the players,” Gary recalled. “I remember us spending around 10 or 11 million which was a lot then!! Gabbi (Striker Marco Gabbiadini) was a fans favourite at that time,” he boasted. Gabbiadini had made his name during 4 years at sunderland and on the 16th May 1990 scored a crucial 2nd goal for the mackems in the 2nd Division Play Off Semi Final 2nd Leg at

St James Park. Having won a fortunate penalty in the 1st leg that was saved by John Burridge, supporters dislike of the striker was extended and the goal sparked a futile pitch invasion from a section of the Gallowgate End. Failing to progress following a big money move to Crystal Palace, Marco dropped back into the 2nd Division 4 months later as Derby’s owner Lionel Pickering gave Cox a New Year’s present of almost £4 million in an attempt to gain immediate promotion back to what would soon become the Premier League. In contrast Newcastle had spent £850,000 since August.

Keegan’s United would come up against the man who managed The Mags during the successful 1984 promotion campaign, Arthur Cox.

Keegan, profoundly optimistic, kept the faith

saying, “I’m confident, I always am, but the lads have got to start believing in themselves again, work hard, a little bit more thought and we can pull out of this.” Recalling pre-match, Gary told me, “I remember Newcastle bringing a firm that day, a good set of lads to be fair and better than most that came Derby at that time. “It kicked off in the back streets of Normanton (a vibrant suburb of Derby with a mixture of diverse cultures and communities where The Baseball Ground was situated) in the build up to the game which got very nasty. “We then ambushed Newcastle (supporters) on Osmaston Road and London Road (both on the main route when walking from Derby Train Station to the stadium) but in all honesty, you boys stood and had a good go,” he confirmed. The United supporters that

had arrived in Derby from 10.30am eventually settled for ‘The Football Tavern’ on Osmaston Road and created a party atmosphere before they ran out of beer. On the walk to the ground it became apparent that 95% of Newcastle’s support had supped a skinful especially when no-one took any notice of a Police Inspector with a loud hailer asking everyone to move away from the turnstiles because of a bomb scare. The match was clearly more important. Although no-one was sitting, United’s official following of 4000 supporters were situated in unreserved seats in the bottom two tiers of the Osmaston End. All ticket for visitors, a steward told me from the overcrowding it was obvious that not everyone who’d gained entry had a ticket. He’d also confirmed it was the largest following that season apart from Burnley who, in an FA Cup tie, also had the family section

above United’s support in the upper tier. To the left was the only standing area left in the ground. A paddock, similar to St James Park, that ran the length of the pitch underneath seats. The nearest corner to us appeared to be the singing section and home supporters sang a new song that appeared to be shared by clubs in the Midlands, “EIEIEIO, up the football league we go.” Gary was in this section, telling me, “I had a season ticket in the c-stand paddock where mainly the “DLF” (Derby Lunatic Fringe) firm sat, it was very passionate in there and (it was) great banter with the away fans.” With kick off delayed but the game confirmed as going ahead, both sets of supporters continued to build an atmosphere more like a cup tie as United’s followers appeared more fervent and heartfelt than ever. Running out of players, Keegan selected Franz Carr for a first start since October at the expense of Lee Clark and recalled Steve Watson and Alan Thompson as full backs with Howey dropping to the bench and Kristensen out injured again. United got off to a disastrous start when midfielder Kevin Brock was adjudged to have handled on the line in the first minute and Derby were awarded a penalty. After a 2 minute delay due to a selection of United

On the walk to the ground it became apparent that 95% of Newcastle’s support had supped a skinful especially when no-one took any notice of a Police Inspector with a loud hailer asking everyone to move away from the turnstiles because of a bomb scare. The match was clearly more important.

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players jostling the referee Brian Coddington, Kelly was booked for dissent and to everyone’s astonishment Brock was sent off for prevented a goal scoring opportunity. Coddington had followed FIFA’s recent rule change to the letter and following more dissent from United’s players, Derby took the lead. “Paul Williams was from Burton and my brother used to give him a lift when he played in the reserves as we knew him but once he got in the first team he didn’t want to know us,” said Gary. “I remember Brock handling on the line and ‘Jossie’ (Williams) scuffing it down the middle and (it was) lucky not to be saved.”

picked up bookings either side of a second Derby goal on 17 minutes when Paul Kitson capitalised on an unforced error from Watson. Thompson ran into the goal after the ball crossed the line and grabbed on to net with visible tears in his eyes before turning to bollock Watson. Not long turned 18, his expression totally summed up how all the supporters felt and at that moment you sensed we weren’t going to stay up. A minute earlier, McDermott had been ‘sent off’ from the bench for verbally abusing the linesman. An intoxicated supporter woke up after a snooze and when told of McDermott’s dismissal repeated “I didn’t know he was playing!”

0-1 down, a deafening chant of “Cheat!” continued as United’s faithful decided to keep the ball in protest. It was quickly replaced. Kilcline and Scott both

At this point the players collapsed and by the 27th minute, Scott, who was clearly struggling to handle Gabbiadini again, was given a 2nd yellow card for taking

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him down just outside the box. Down to 9 men with an hour to play, Keegan sent on Howey for Carr to try and counter attack in a 4-3-1 formation. Without a chance, supporters sensed the match became immaterial and a relentless number of backs from broken seats were hurled onto the pitch. A rousing chorus of “On the pitch!” went up as the thin line of police struggled to maintain order. A man in a suit ran across the corner of the pitch and ushered the terrified ball boys from the cinder track in front of us to safety. This opened the flood gates as more seat were hurled onto the pitch without the following Mags paying any attention to the game. With no pitch invasion materialising, the away support appeared to change strategy. Defiant in probable

An intoxicated supporter woke up after a snooze and when told of McDermott’s dismissal repeated “I didn’t know he was playing!”

disaster, relentless backing of Newcastle United FC started and continued throughout half time as the away end bounced along to “Kevin Keegan’s Black and White Army.” The police moved into the stand in a futile attempt to make supporters sit down. Accepting the number of seats remaining untouched in the 18 yard box as an ‘excuse’ for supporters to remain standing, a potential riot was avoided as common sense prevailed and any threat of ejection remained minimal. Once the game resumed in the 2nd half, the support went up another level and almost immediately Gavin Peacock hit the bar. On 48 minutes, a Kelly header from a pin point Sheedy cross rebounded to Peacock who buried it to send United’s following wild. The players celebrations suggested they were as up for it as much as the supporters were. Game on.

Despite being the better side, remaining in the game for another 20 minutes and supporters singing more lucidly and vigorously, hopes that mission impossible could be achieved were diminished within another mad minute as Craig Ramage shot past Tommy Wright to make it 3-1 before Liam O’Brien was sent off for an off the ball kick out at Tommy Johnson. Inciting more ugly scenes, seats were thrown onto the pitch again before Ramage scored a 4th as the scoreboard struck 75 minutes. The 4 Mags visible in the front row of the home end Derby were attacking looked extremely lonely. “The red cards defo helped for sure but Derby did play well,” said Gary. “The atmosphere was amazing with all the lads in c stand paddock next to your fans creating lots of banter and threats at each other, but you boys were very loud that day that helped the

atmosphere 10-fold.” Newcastle were on the brink of disaster, but if anything the unwavering support increased and a tannoy announcement, hinting at supporters unable to gain entry to move on, was heard, “To the fans outside the ground, your 4 -1 down with 8 men.” I later learnt they stayed, and continued to sing. As soon as the final whistle blew, versions of “United” and “New-cas-tle” were chanted more ardently. Red carded or not, every player came over and applauded, soaked in sweat and tears. Kelly’s shirt ended up in the away end. His look of “What more could I have done?” said it all. Each Newcastle supporter, whose belief in their club had intensified, asked themselves the same question. Kelly would tell Martin Hardy for his ‘Touching Distance’ book, “I remember the support that day. It was unforgettable. It was just relentless. The fans

As soon as the final whistle blew, versions of “United” and “New-cas-tle” were chanted more ardently. Red carded or not, every player came over and applauded, soaked in sweat and tears. Kelly’s shirt ended up in the away end

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wouldn’t let go.” Keegan, who almost apologetically acknowledged the continuous “Keegan! Keegan!” chant with a wave, would later file an official complaint about the referee for “failing to take the big match atmosphere into consideration.” “The ball boys where defo in the firing line, ha ha, they should have had ice hockey gear on that day!” recalled Gary. “You boys are class when it comes to following your team, always have been and that day was proof in point. (I) Respect a team that has great support” he added. We were locked inside the ground for what can only be described as ‘a cooling off period’ as the police cleared the streets. Departing through the floods of urine due to the toilets being smashed up, it was clear a selection of Mag’s had taken a seat as a souvenir. There was still time for violence in the park behind the Baseball Ground as a bunch of lads were chased about like something from a Benny Hill sketch as a free for all kicked off. The best and worst of Newcastle’s support in in one day, depending on how you viewed it of course. 1 tabloid lead with the not so generous headline of “Keegan’s Shame - Four sent off as Newcastle plunge” but the sunderland supporting Ian Dovaston of ‘The Journal’ appeared tf 52

to summarise the game as we witnessed it, saying, “an extraordinarily inept display of refereeing. “It was won and lost, quite simply, by the sometimes appalling decisions of a match official leagues out of his depth.” Coddington would now rival Trelford Mills as arguably the most memorable official of a match involving Newcastle United, for the wrong reasons.

For The Record:

With our goal difference made worse by 3 goals, Plymouth’s 3-1 victory over Oxford saw United drop into the bottom 3 and if Brighton and Port Vale were to win their games in hand, Keegan’s men would be at the foot of the table. Keegan was left to somehow motivate the side for the final 2 games against another 2 promotion hopefuls but soon learnt that the forthcoming suspensions incurred for the 3 red cards would thankfully not materialise until the following season. With the backing of the support and everyone clearly sticking together, hope remained. I’ve yet to witness support as passionate, incessant, vocal, defiant, aggressive or beautifully brilliant as to what Newcastle’s following gave particularly in the 2nd half of this game. It was heartening and stimulating and if ever a day summed up “Newcastle United Will Never Be Defeated,” it was this one.

Before the game, Darren Bradshaw’s red card at Portsmouth was United’s only early bath in the league all season. Remarkably, Coddington would send off 4 Hereford players in a 1-1 draw at Northampton in September that year.

1993-94 season, a scandal at London Road, Peterborough, when referee Brian Coddington is attacked by Mr Blobby.

Trailing the 2 automatic places by 6 points, Derby would lose 4-5 in the play offs to Blackburn over 2 legs. The 21,363 present would be 6,699 higher than Derby’s average gate that season but would fall short of the 22,608 that attended on the final day of the season against Swindon.

To be continued...

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

With the exception of the Huddersfield game, I don’t think we’ve played badly at any point over the first five games of this season. I’m writing this basking in the glow of three wins on the spin. We were containing Spurs until Shelvey’s stupidity and causing them some worries with Ritchie and Atsu on the break. Down to ten men against a team of Tottenham’s quality was a big ask and so it proved. We tf 54

were well beaten and I’d have hoped lessons would have been learned. But they weren’t as Mitro was rightly pulled back for a sadly typical brain-dead elbow in the West Ham game and already two players have missed 6 games between them. That’s not good. They have to learn. Both suspensions were completely unnecessary. We can’t tolerate this petulance and ill-discipline. But overall, on the pitch

at least there are positives which maybe over-shadow a transfer window in which Rafa was badly let down by Ashley. I’ll get to him later. Its easy to point at certain players and hold them up for praise but I’d rather look at some of the general features of our game at the moment. Its a really long time since we looked as well-organised as we are at the moment. Mark Hughes alluded to how difficult we were to break

Mark Hughes alluded to how difficult we were to break down after the Stoke game and I agree with him.

down after the Stoke game and I agree with him. The other is the appetite of the team. The players are all grafting really hard and we are stronger than the sum of our parts because of it. My little band of Mags have all commented on the likeability of our current group of lads. All appear to have bought into the manager, the club and the support. We Are United, if you like. That’s not something we’ve seen much of in recent years since Ashley attempted to turn the club into a stepping stone to greater things for mercenaries making a mockery of us whilst banking the profit. For all of that Ashley hasn’t gone away. In fact, he’s more engaged with United now than he’s ever been. It was baffling that it would be a phone call between Lascelles and Ashley that would resolve the Players’ Bonus Scheme disagreement. That’s the captain enjoying more access to Ashley than Rafa has had since May. Its no way to run a sporting institution or to treat the club’s most important employee. Remember Ashley has tried to portray himself as detached from key decisions at the club but this rather proves that’s another one of his whoppers. In Justin Barnes, his trusted solicitor, Ashley’s presence over the summer was felt more acutely than twelve months previously when Rafa was afforded “what Rafa wants, Rafa gets”.

Barnes’ role, never publicly explained was apparently to spike the deals Benitez wanted to complete to put us on a far stronger footing than we are on. We are also witnessing Keith Bishop, Ashley’s PR guru (don’t laugh) turning up regularly at Rafa’s Press Conferences to keep an eye on proceedings. Bishop has no known role at United. Nothing has been explained. Nothing will be explained. Barnes and Bishop work for Ashley. They don’t work for Newcastle United FC. That is clear.

but its rumour and gossip at this stage. We are enjoying seeing Rafa get the most out of this pool of players, seeing individuals develop and improve under the tuition of one of the best coaches in the world who we have fully engaged with Newcastle United FC, who understands its potential and wants to build something and leave his mark.

But these wins can be a chimera. I already read reports linking us to players in the January transfer window but in all honesty, that is where optimism overtakes sense. We are more likely to sell a key player in January as sign one and it will be ever thus until we have a change in ownership. Ashley Out! Keep On, Keepin’ On

There is chatter that something might be happening behind the scenes, that the parsimony in the transfer market is motivated by a potential sale and a desire to get the club’s books in the best order to get the best price. I hear whispers of Chinese and Middle Eastern interest tf 55

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True faith 133  

Here comes Issue 133 of true faith, the Newcastle United fan...