NEWCASTLE UNITED FANZINE - the alternative view - 20
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NEWCASTLE UNITED FANZINE - the alternative view - 20
E-MAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org WEBSITE: www.true-faith.co.uk 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
Proving People Wrong....................... pg34
faith are welcomed,
United for Sale...................................... pg6
An International Mag........................ pg36
encouraged and considered
El Trabajador (the Grafter)................ pg10
for publication - letters,
Ethical Dilemma.................................. pg12
Drums and Wires................................. pg44
Great (Let Down) Expectations...... pg16
Failing the Grade................................. pg46
Postcards From The Edge.................. pg50
NEXT ISSUE: TF 134.
How get a foot in the door in football journalism...... pg24
60 Second Season............................... pg52
OUT: 28/NOV/17 .
Mackerel, Human Robots and Me Too........................................... pg54
As It Was When It Was...................... pg56
The End.................................................. pg64
© true faith.
Fans Power, Fans Foodbanks and a Club for Sale........ pg26 Legia Augusta! A month with German Legions....... pg30 www.true-faith.co.uk
articles, photos etc. NEVER FORGOTTEN: L.J. & M. Martin.
FOR NEXT ISSUE:
Welcome to tf 134. There’s much to discuss at United since the last issue of true faith. Rumours of the club being sold have exploded since Amanda Stavely and co were spotted at the draw at home with Liverpool. There appear to be more positive signs that the club will be sold than at any other points in the ten mostly wretched years since Mike Ashley brought the club. I’ll not speculate on will or tf 4
tf 134 November 2017 email@example.com
won’t happen or what has happened already regarding due diligence and other buzz phrases.
world class equaliser from Joselu) will have been lapped up and set tongues wagging.
What we know is an extremely well connected woman in the world of high level business was photographed at United’s game against Liverpool. This will have been no accident. The people involved are politically savvy and be aware that their appearance (and celebration of United’s
So we know that there’s an interest in buying Newcastle United from people who would be able to afford the club. Therefore, regardless of timeline, transfer budgets and other speculation we cannot allow Mike Ashley to mess this up for himself and for us. The club must be sold if the interest is concrete and
This will have been no accident. The people involved are politically savvy and be aware that their appearance (and celebration of United’s world class equaliser from Joselu) will have been lapped up and set tongues wagging. www.true-faith.co.uk
an offer is made. I won’t go into what should or shouldn’t happen if the sale falls through. It’s an unthinkable scenario. So let’s be positive. United currently find themselves in the top half of the Premier League. The performances quite simply have gotten better and better each week. As I write this before Burnley we’ve lost one in seven games in the Premier League. United are hard-tobeat and grinding out wins. The support is enjoying it and the manager is still adored. Away from the board room (which doesn’t exist) United is a happy football club. The manager is adored. Of course this is at complete odds with the narrative pushed for years by assorted failures in football. We refuse to accept winning 1 0 and would rather lose 4 3. You all know it’s rubbish, but we’ve been too bad for too long to prove it. What we’re seeing now are is the result of meticulous planning and preparation from a world class manager and coaching staff. Not much about Newcastle United has been world class in my lifetime, but these people running the team just that. It’s
We just need the right person leading all of this and it will take off. We could be in for something huge in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed.
brilliant. Since Shelvey’s reintroduction to the side against Liverpool we’ve looked dangerous. We were the better side at Southampton and deserved our win against Palace. Remember these are sides who we were told at the start of the season we couldn’t compete with.
It’s such a cliche but this squad seem to ‘know’ what it means to play for this football club and this support. You don’t have to be the quickest, the most skilful or the best goalscorer. But give your all with what quality you have and 50,000 will applaud you fro the field for putting a shift in.
The football club has everything. A fanatical support that could fill another 20,000 seats, at least. There are no other ‘big’ clubs between Leeds and the Tweed. A world class manager. We just need the right person leading all of this and it will take off. We could be in for something huge in the next few weeks. Fingers crossed. Alex Hurst Editor FOLLOW @tfalex1892
United For Sale ANDREW TROBE Follow Andy @tfAT1892
Groundhog Day. NUFC are officially up for sale. Again. If the press is to be believed (and they seldom are), this time there appears to be some genuine interest in a purchase. And Ashley apparently wants to wrap up the sale before Christmas (and presumably before any HMRC investigation concludes). Hoorah. The stumbling block to any sale will of course be Ashley’s asking price. He’ll be looking to squeeze every last penny out of any prospective buyer. And after his phenomenal success at NUFC, who would begrudge him making a profit? But what sort of profit is he looking for? Well, I reckon he’s into Newcastle for about £280-300m (purchase price and subsequent loans) so knowing the character he is, we can safely assume
he won’t want to accept anything less than that. Reports are that Ashley is seeking £380m. Like the undoubtedly generous fella that he is, apparently this valuation has dropped significantly from the £450m he was originally after. He’s even offered to take payment in instalments (12 months interest free credit?). What a guy. But putting aside Ashley’s own in no way deluded
views on what he thinks he should be getting, what is NUFC actually worth in reality? The truth is we don’t really know (more insightful analysis there thanks Andy). The reality is NUFC is worth what someone’s prepared to pay for it. So what do I think someone would be prepared to pay? Fundamentally, the techniques for valuing a football club are the same as www.true-faith.co.uk
those employed in valuing any enterprise. The two main methods are share price and forecasting future discounted cash flows. As Newcastle are not listed on the Stock Exchange following the Ashley takeover, the share price method is not currently appropriate for valuing NUFC. So that leaves future income streams. Now far cleverer people than myself, mainly University lecturers probably with beards, have already valued football clubs, including Newcastle, over the last few months and the results are pretty varied. At the top end of the range, Kieran Maguire, who lectures on football finance at Liverpool University, has done an analysis of all 20 Premier League clubs based on their 2015/16 accounts
and valued Newcastle at a pretty spectacular £568.2m (I suspect Kieran is probably related to Ashley). A little more realistically, Dan Plumley, a senior lecturer in sport-business management at Sheffield Hallam University, told BBC Sport he believes Newcastle are worth “in the region of £300m”. “From a negotiations point of view, the valuation will take into account their current position, their passionate fanbase, they sell out the stadium regularly, the high demand to watch games, their history, all those things push the valuation up,” Plumley added. However, other footballownership experts believe even that is an overlyoptimistic estimate, and that anything more than £240m would be
overpaying for the club. Let’s put the valuation in the context of other Premier League clubs who have been taken over or have been subject to takeover bids. West Bromwich Albion were the subject of a £200m bid from an American group in September. Southampton were recently the subject of heavy investment from China when businessman Jisheng Gao purchased an 80% stake in the club for a reported £210 million. When Farhad Moshiri bought a 49.9% in Everton in 2016, the deal valued the club at £175m. Some may argue that Newcastle are bigger than any of these clubs but I think that’s missing the point. Unlike the University lecturers, I’m afraid I don’t believe investors will be
Dan Plumley, a senior lecturer in sportbusiness management at Sheffield Hallam University, told BBC Sport he believes Newcastle are worth “in the region of £300m”.
particularly interested in “passionate fanbases” or a club’s “history”. In my opinion, rational and dispassionate investors will mostly be interested in future income. And by far the biggest income comes with the Premier League TV money, not match day sell outs. And this is where you could argue that WBA, Southampton and certainly Everton are far safer bets for investment than twice relegated in the last 9 years, Newcastle United. And yet in the last year, they’ve all been valued at far less than what Ashley is seeking to sell Newcastle United for. This is where Benitez has been a godsend for Ashley. With this squad of players and (lack of) summer investment, it would have been no surprise if we’d tf 8
been fighting another relegation battle. However Ashley can highlight NUFC’s league position (6th at time of writing) as evidence of Premier League security. But even allowing for top flight status, the going rate for middle of the road Premier League clubs appears to be between £200m-250m. Given Newcastle’s potential for growth, it’s suggested a premium of up to £50m could maybe push the price up somewhere near the £300m mark.
investors off making a bid for Newcastle. They’ll simply look elsewhere for value. We obviously think our club is unique. The uncomfortable truth is that the likes of Leeds or Sheffield Wednesday could be bought at a fraction of the price and provide far more opportunity for income growth.
But my view is that £380m is quite frankly laughable. Where it becomes slightly less a laughing matter is the risks that this valuation raises.
Which brings us to the next risk. Any premium paid to buy Newcastle will be diverted from where it’s needed, i.e. the club, into Ashley’s pocket. If someone is prepared to pay £100m over what the club is really worth then that is £100m less for team improvement, ground extension or training ground development.
The first risk is that the valuation, if Ashley refuses to budge, will scare
That to me would be the final kick in the teeth of Ashley’s tenure.
The first risk is that the valuation, if Ashley refuses to budge, will scare investors off making a bid for Newcastle. They’ll simply look elsewhere for value. www.true-faith.co.uk
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So, a rather topical subject and a debate which throws up a mixture of opinions, the player in question, Ayoze Perez.
Signed in June 2014 for a fee in the region of £1.5 million and reportedly turning down advances from Porto, Real Madrid and Barcelona to sign for Alan Pardew’s Newcastle, aye right! Perez scored 7 goals in his first season. Due to an obvious lack of investment in the squad ( s o u n d familiar) and the u s u a l mountain of injuries we used to get preRafa, Ayoze played q u i t e a few games as a lone striker, doing a very decent job, in his first season in English football. After a promising start as an NUFC player tf 10
though Perez has recently been the subject of discussion amongst fans and journalists about just what he brings to the team. Given the club’s Zombie status for a significant period prior to Rafa’s arrival, I’m going to ignore what came Perez’s way after Pardew, namely Carver and McClaren. I thought a season in the Championship may just be what he needed, in the same way that it helped develop both Fabricio Coloccini and Jose Enrique last time out. Due to the amount of games though, Perez was never going to play every game. Mo Diame seemed to be favoured to play in the number 10 role during the first half of the season at least. Benitez though started to introduce Ayoze more and more towards the latter stages of the season, much in the same way he did with Christian Atsu. I’m convinced this is so Rafa can work with these players tactically, www.true-faith.co.uk
i.e. what he wants from them off the ball, work rate etc. This season though the above mentioned tactical side of Perez’s game is the reason Rafa has trusted him to start every Premier League game so far (written after Palace at home). I think, in a similar way to what he did with Dirk Kuyt at Liverpool, he is using Ayoze to help the rest of the team, especially when it comes to defending from the front. Kuyt was bought as an out and out centreforward but Rafa often utilised him wide right, due to his high workrate, to help the team defensively, and we all know how important the shape of a team is to him. It has been the foundation of our good start to the season. I noticed a few instances in the Palace home game where Matt
Ritchie chased down the goalkeeper and Perez almost immediately dropped into the position Ritchie had vacated, sacrificing himself for the team. It’s a shame, however, that the bright, attacking side to Perez’s game we saw in his first season has not come on as much as we might have hoped. At 24 years of age, I don’t think Ayoze has fully realised the potential his first season performances indicated and, at the moment, like a few other areas on the pitch Rafa would no doubt want a better number 10. However, he is making do with what he has and, in a similar way, he is doing the same with someone like Javier Manquillo. Getting the best out of what he has and improving the players he’s got at his disposal.
Mo Diame’s introduction in the victory over Crystal Palace has shown that we do have other options, and Mo did have an impact on the game with his more physical approach. It’ll be interesting to see how Rafa plays it for the rest of the season. There is no doubt Ayoze loves playing for the club, as all our players seem to, but he has to use the ball much better and more often than he currently does. A number 10 is massively important in Rafa’s beloved 4-2-3-1 formation, especially as we do not have an out and out goal-scorer in the side this season. Ultimately, I feel for NUFC to progress as a team, being better in possession and showing more quality, I do not see him being a long-term fixture in the team. Harsh but fair.........?
This season though the above mentioned tactical side of Perez’s game is the reason Rafa has trusted him to start every Premier League game so far
In keeping with 99.9% of the NUFC fanbase, I greeted the statement that Ashley was looking to sell up ‘before Christmas’ with initial glee, tinged with slight bemusement – have we not always been up for sale? As keen as I am to see the end of the Ashley era and as much as I understand the excitement of Mags across the board, I must confess that this is tempered somewhat by the ‘what next’. Don’t get me wrong, I am as far from the ‘be careful what you wish for’ nonsense being peddled by the usual lazy suspects in the Press as you could be and I find the comments by the likes of Chris ‘Pelanty’ Waddle laughable but I do have my concerns about the…how can we put this… moral fortitude of some of the likely candidates to take over our beloved club.
GARETH HARRISON FOLLOW @Haz_TF
Popular opinion seems to put money from the Middle East, fronted up by Amanda Staveley as the front runner to buy the club. Ashley’s business practices have rightly come under scrutiny in his time in charge here and every right thinking person will have been appalled by the undercover investigation at S*orts D*rect’s Swandlicote warehouse, yet the thought of an incoming Prince from a theocratic, dictatorial monarchy seems to excite some to the point of ejaculation. I’ll never profess to fully understanding the moral code of some football supporters but does it become acceptable to be financed by a state that subjugates it’s own people or, depending on the specific source of the www.true-faith.co.uk
money, use it’s vast wealth to spread a particular ideology across the region so long as they’re lashing tens of millions on a centre forward? I’ve found some of the fawning over Staveley herself to be dubious at best too for reasons that I won’t spell out here. She’ll be best known in football circles for her involvement in the sale of Man City to Abu Dhabi but she also played a pivotal role in the Barclays bailout by Qatar, which prevented them turning to the UK government for support during the 2008 credit crisis. To say that the deal was, cough, ‘irregular’ would be an understatement and has recently seen the Serious Fraud Office contemplating criminal
charges against senior Barclays executives and Staveley herself bringing a civil case over the outcome of the case and non-payment of over £700m of fees Of course, none of us really have any idea of where the ultimate sale will actually be made but certainly the mood music is of a Middle Eastern, Far Eastern or US investor. The Far East and China specifically would be an interesting route. It’s fair to say that Chinese investors have had mixed results in their forays into British clubs and capital outflows from the country to both purchase and continue to fund clubs are very much at the whim of the Communist Party. I’d contend that the majority of American investment
It’s fair to say that Chinese investors have had mixed results in their forays into British clubs and capital outflows from the country to both purchase and continue to fund clubs are very much at the whim of the Communist Party.
into English clubs has been to one degree or another, disastrous. Man United fans will never accept the Glazers for the leverage that they imposed on the club to purchase it, Kroenke has been a malign influence on Arsenal, Liverpool suffered badly under Gilette and Hicks and seem to be constantly in flux under Fenway sports and you only have to look 13 miles down the road to see the effect of a non-‘soccer’ US investor on (despite our obvious differences) a ‘proper’ working class, North East club. There is also the question of how much money will be required to catapult NUFC into the higher echelons of English football and how this would marry up with Financial Fair Play. Call me tf 14
unambitious but I’m not sure I’d actually WANT us to be bladdering £70m on an average centre forward – for me the success of the new owners will be measured by things like stability, making us a club that is both sustainable yet competitive and with real investment in the academy and region more broadly to give us a club that we can all be truly proud. For me, Ashley’s ultimate legacy will not be of two relegations or of thoughtless PR disasters such as the renaming of the ground – it will be of a vulture capitalist, parasitic in his approach to a great football club, who to him were nothing more than a teat to milk dry. Will it make it any more palatable if we are the plaything of a distasteful
regime such as Qatar or Saudi, used as a PR piece to legitimise such a state? Likewise, one could argue as a conduit to ‘legitimacy’ for an oligarch owner as demonstrated by a reviled club in West London? I’ll conclude by saying that I’ll be delighted to see the back of Ashley, but not at any cost. I’m not so quixotic that I expect a benevolent, selfmade billionaire born on the banks of the Tyne to roll in as a knight in shining armour and I’m not naïve enough to think that football didn’t sell it’s soul years ago but I’ll not get the poppers (party or amyl versions) out just yet and plus, it’s stating the obvious when it comes to Ashley that I’ll believe we’re sold when we see it. IF we see it.
I’d contend that the majority of American investment into English clubs has been to one degree or another, disastrous.
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GREAT (LET DOWN) EXPECTATIONS There’s been plenty of them, but who’s been the biggest David Campbell-Molloy follow @DCM_1983 let down in the famous black and white stripes? When thinking about who to select for this piece, and after talking with my Mag mates, loads of names cropped up - Cabella, Luque, Thauvin, Viana, Kluivert. I can even hear my Dad screaming ‘what aboot Billy Whitehurst’ as I write this. But one name crops up time and again - Michael Owen. tf 16
I can remember the elation when we signed the 25 year-old from Real Madrid for £16.8m back in the summer of 2005. I even recall where I was when the news broke. On holiday with the family in Greece, me, my brother and Dad going ballistic. Bless the Mackems. As usual they couldn’t stand it when the biggest club in the North East yet again demonstrated its ability to attract some of the best players and managers in the world. It had a Sheareresque feeling about it. The club smashing its transfer record to sign England’s main striker, signalling clear intent and demonstrating, once again, it’s strong pulling power. However, there was one major difference between Shearer and Owen. Shearer wanted to be here. Owen didn’t. The all-important need for him to play for England (his number 1 priority, which was a consistent feature of his career, something he was heavily criticised for by Liverpool fans during his time there) was the main
push factor in him leaving Real that season with the impending World Cup. The problem was that his dream return to Liverpool wasn’t going to plan as Rafa (remember him) wasn’t keen and prepared to pay over the odds. That’s where Shepherd came in. Making an offer Real couldn’t refuse, leaving Owen with a dilemma: club or country. As ever, country won. I got this clear sense of Owen’s reluctance to be here when me and my mates attended his cringeworthy unveiling at SJP. His words were just not convincing at all. His body language was all wrong for a club record signing. His monotone voice and forced smile during the interview, along with his reluctance to move permanently to the region and insistence on commuting by helicopter from his Cheshire home, didn’t fool anyone. However, things started brightly enough for Owen at NUFC. He played regularly and scored 7 in 11 games. His partnership
with Shearer was a mouthwatering prospect and really clicked at Blackburn. I was there that day and saw the away end going off at Owen’s header and Shearer’s pile-driver free kick at the Darwen End. A good day and signs that things were beginning to turn a corner following a poor start to the season under Souness (enough said). Another notable Owen performance was a pre-Christmas hat-trick at Upton Park. Things started to change following a metatarsal injury at Spurs, ruling him out for the rest of that season. A sure sign of things to come as far as Owen’s NUFC career was concerned. Despite this he miraculously gained match fitness, enough to see him included in England’s World Cup squad for the World Cup 2006. That consistent Mr. England theme again there. He played the first 2 games and then tore his cruciate ligament. He only played for NUFC 3 times in the 06-07 season and admitted in an interview
However, there was one major difference between Shearer and Owen. Shearer wanted to be here. Owen didn’t.
that he shouldn’t have returned prematurely from injury to play. That country over club thing yet again despite the fact that NUFC were paying his rather large wages. A mini revival followed for Owen under Kevin Keegan’s superb man management. Making Owen club captain and part of a front 3 with Martins and Viduka brought out the best out of him and ensured a strong end to the 07-08 season. Two goals in a 2-0 over the Mackems being a particular highlight. The less said about the debacle of the 08-09 relegation season the better. Along with the Mr. England criticism it’s probably the other reason Owen is viewed as a massive let down by most Mags. He failed to show any captain and senior player like qualities and failed to stand up when counted. Wijnaldum is disliked for similar reasons given his attitude during tf 18
our last relegation season. NUFC fans won’t put up with non-triers. Compare that to Shearer where, despite being in hopeless Dalglish, Gullit and Souness sides, you could always rely on him to at least try and drag us out of the shit. Following our relegation Owen went to Man Utd on a free transfer to sit on the bench. Who could forget the brochure promoting his services to other PL clubs? His Man Utd career was notable from an NUFC perspective. He received a dreadful reception when coming off the bench in a 2011 0-0 draw, with chants of ‘there’s only one greedy bastard’ reverberating around SJP. Owen took to twitter afterwards to express his ‘shock’ at the reception he received claiming he tried his best ‘in every game’, and that he could have left the club sooner than he did. We all wish you had Michael. The whole
episode demonstrating how out of touch the bloke was with reality and the region as a whole. Owen’s NUFC career stats read 30 goals in 79 appearances over 4 seasons. Woeful. Compare that to 158 goals for Liverpool in 297 appearances and 16 goals in 45 appearances in his single Real Madrid season before joining us. Owen’s supposed £103k a week wages costing the club around £21.5m over his 4 years. Each appearance costing around £271k and each goal £714k. Bargain!
Who could forget the brochure promoting his services to other PL clubs?
Following Owen’s retirement from the game, we now have the pleasure of him predicting an NUFC defeat on a weekly basis. Keep them coming Michael, as we tend to win whenever you say we’ll lose! He’s probably as bitter to us as we feel towards him. So much promise for such little reward. A massive let down in black and white. www.true-faith.co.uk
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NOVEMBER - DECEMBER
A - Amanda Stavely. Not much to say here other than PLEASE SORT THIS OOT. If the mooted sale has gone through by the time this article gans to print then hopefully there’ll be extended highlights of the Bournemouth tf 20
match as I imagine many people won’t recall seeing anything. B – Bilic, Slaven. Battered at home off Brighton and the inevitable churning of media manure meant
NORMAN RILEY @LIKETHEGOAT
that he was oot and Rafa was in, again, at WHUFC. Message to the media: it’ll never happen. C - Cherries. The nickname of our opponents immediately before the release of this month’s TF. Canny side, good manager. We’ll win. www.true-faith.co.uk
D - Due diligence. Still got no idea what it means but it seems important and it takes ages. E – Empty seats. Plenty of teams not selling out in the Premier League this season. Is it too expensive? Is it not entertaining enough? Or, are some fans just sick of nowt but survival being the aim? F - Filling stadiums. As I write this we’ve sold out at home to Bournemouth. This is a club that’s presently midtable. If the take-over happens/has happened then, to paraphrase that bloke from Jaws, wa ganni need a bigger ground. G – Goals conceded. SAFC currently joint-top in the Championship. Fighting it out with (enjoy) Burton (away) X H – Hope. Every single time NUFC have played this season the hope we feel is genuine. For the first time in who knows how long it’s genuinely possible to believe we’ve a chance at winning every time the players step out on the pitch. I – Intentional. Joselu’s 1-2 with Matip for his goal. He knew what he was doing. www.true-faith.co.uk
J - ¡Joder! Spanish for an English expletive that begins with ‘F’, ends in ‘K’ and has ‘UC’ in the middle. Remember that the next time you see a close-up of one of our Spanish lads scoring. Or Rafa shouting in Mourinho’s face when we score a winner with 2 minutes left. K – Kith and kin. They might lamp each other in training but this squad of lads love each other and will give their all for one another. It’s difficult to recall a time that we had such an incredibly dedicated, determined and united squad. L – Long, Shane. It was a dive because he’d already put the ball out. Dermot Gallagher said it so therefore it’s true and we were cheated out of a deserved win. M – Monday night football. Enjoyable when you’re bored on a Monday night. An absolute disgrace and prime example of how Sky Sports has ruined football when you’re own team is involved. N – November. Man Utd away. Rafa versus Mourinho. They’re bigger, they’re better, they should win. But it’s Rafa.
And he’ll be desperate to beat Mourinho. It’ll be fascinating to watch. O – Opportunity. If you’re given it, take it. Ciaran Clark has been superb this season but he went away to play for his country. Lejeune got back in the side. Looks like he’ll be in there for the foreseeable future. P – Permanent. Mikel. He’s here now. It’s permanent. He’s scored his first goal. He’s magnificent. Q – QPR. Looks like they’ve f a l l e n foul of Post Traumatic Redknapp Disorder. By that it’s meant that they went through something horrific, didn’t realise at the time how awful it was and are now beginning to feel the impact. Just about to receive a £40 million Fifa Fair Play fine. Harry’s both shocked and devastated. Nowt to do with him though. R – Ritchie, Matt. Has assisted in 40% of Newcastle’s goals this season. He’s f*cking magic, both with and without a hat no doubt. S Substitutions. Remember when Rafa took off Hayden and replaced him with Merino and the whole dynamic of the game changed and
They might lamp each other in training but this squad of lads love each other and will give their all for one another. It’s difficult to recall a time that we had such an incredibly dedicated, determined and united squad.
we won because Merino scored? That’ll happen when you have a manager who knows how to utilise what he’s got on the bench. T –Throstles. West Brom’s p r o p e r nickname. A Tony Pulis opposition away on a Tuesday night late November. It’ll be freezing, it’ll be miserable. It’ll make you question your own sanity. You’ll still watch it. U – upside down. If you turn the Championship table that way then Sunderland are 2nd top. V – Violence. Ought
never to be condoned but Big Mo and Jamaal’s little kerfuffle was indicative of how much the players care. They scrapped, they made-up, and they went on to win contribute their team getting 4 points from the next 2 games. W – Watson, Steve. Good to see him take over at Gateshead and all the best to a lad that was sold far too early and far too cheaply from the club he loves. X – X-rays. An 86th minute winner versus Crystal Palace caused some scenes. It’s quite possible there are people out there right now with injuries caused by exuberant celebrations.
If it still hurts, get to the doctor’s and get it scanned. Y –Yohan Cabaye. Not only was he utterly anonymous for Palace, he also committed a nasty, spiteful foul on our so-quick-itdoesn’t-even-make-sense US international DeAndre. Should have been given a retrospective red card. Wasn’t. Z - Z Cars. The music that Everton come on to the pitch to. They sacked Koeman a few months into his 2nd season. Got them to Europe last season though so HOW DARE the fans criticise him. Don’t they know how lucky they were? Deluded scousers. They’ll never get better...etc...etc.
Big Mo and Jamaal’s little kerfuffle was indicative of how much the players care. They scrapped, they made-up, and they went on to win contribute their team getting 4 points from the next 2 games .
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What’s your dream job? A beer-taster, a pornstar? Well, imagine being a sports journalist for a moment. It would be great, wouldn’t it? Who wouldn’t love hanging with football stars, rubbing shoulders with world class managers, getting to watch Premier League games with entirely free access – and with free food and drink on offer to you by the club.
How get a foot in the door in football journalism tf 24
Jacque Talbot follow @Jac_Talbot
And, what’s more, you’ll get paid for it. Not to mention – and this is the real buzz – you get to have your name printed thousands time in print and online for the the country to see. I don’t partake in drugs, but I can imagine having your by-line across the back of a national newspaper is the same sensation of taking a massive hit of cocaine or injection of heroin. Author Iain Banks put it more eloquently in his novel: “I experience a modest thrill of news-fix; a dose of journo-buzz. This is a kind of hit unique to the profession: near-instant in-print gratification. I suppose if you’re a standup comic, live musician or an actor the reward is similar and even quicker, but what if you’re into the printed word and the dubious authority of on-the-page black-andwhite, then this is entirely the biz.” Well this is true and, of course, being journalist is an astounding line of work, but, most things in life, you need hard work to be get there;
you encounter many stresses, knock-backs and disappointments to get where you want to be. Take the press-box, for instance. They are fundamentally a hangout for the old-timers, almost like a local pub, where everyone knows everyone and you’re standing there awkwardly with your notepad. These are intimidating places for a ‘newbie’, a very daunting prospect. But this your time to shine: don’t expect anyone to walk up and welcome themselves to you – that’s your job. And this how you succeed in the industry – through networking and meeting people. Like all walks of life, some are folks are nice, some are not so nice. But you, as the aspiring sports journalist reading this piece, will never get anywhere from standing idly by. Eve applying for work online via Indeed or LinkedIn won’t get you anywhere. You need to force yourself to get out there, get amongst it, if you are to stand any chance.
If you’re just starting and don’t where to be begin, ring your local press officer at your local nonleague club, get access to a match. And while you’re there, gain experience interviewing players, managers, and even supporters. It’s frightening at first but you do soon get used to it and you’ll confident in no time. It’s all about putting yourself outside your comfort zone, because if you don’t you’ll never grow. Writing, because of Facebook and other means, has a nose dive, with landing in the pockets of the conglomerates and now the newspapers itself. This means, video content, live-reporting and showing that you’re not shy from being on camera is the way to get noticed and landing your dream job. The secret is not being afraid to fail and keeping at it Endeavour to fail, in fact, because that’s the only way you will learn and then eventually succeed.
I experience a modest thrill of news-fix; a dose of journobuzz. This is a kind of hit unique to the profession: near-instant in-print gratification
“Let me be clear, there will not be a game as late as 4.00p.m. on Christmas Eve”.
Fans Power, Fans Foodbanks and a Club for Sale. Richard Scudamore’s opening remark at a meeting last week with fan representatives including me on behalf of NUST. That was the start of a meeting and the result of a short sharp campaign of publicity and protest by fans across the country after we heard about Sky’s intention to schedule Arsenal v Liverpool at teatime on Christmas Eve. There were so many reasons
why it was wrong I don’t need to list them. There was unanimity amongst fan representatives that whether it was our own game or someone else we would fight it. We all signed up to an agreed statement and the Football Supporters Federation joined in to take the fight to the Premier League. I contacted Sky Sports Head of Public Relations
when it was suggested that the West Ham v Newcastle game was an option being considered. Did he really think it was fair that Newcastle fans should have to travel to London on Christmas Eve? He blamed the Premier League and denied that they were taking our fans for granted even when I pointed out that all six of our first six away games were the subject of TV scheduling.
Peter Fanning NUST Vice Chair
NUFC TELEVISED AWAY GAMES 20/8/17
2808 miles www.true-faith.co.uk
Our full allocation of fans will be at all of these games so it’s hard not to think that somebody’s taking the piss because of our loyal support. Anyway, while I’m writing this we’re still waiting for the Christmas schedules. PL and the broadcasters delayed publication for a week until 19th October while they had a rethink, but there would be no 4.00p.m. game. A small success for fans. Add this to the fact that the PL and the broadcasters are now sticking to the agreed six weeks notice of TV schedule changes to KO times and the Twenty’s Plenty campaign succeeding in getting a £30 cap on premier league away tickets and you can see that if we organise together fans can achieve some changes for the better. If
we do nothing, football clubs will continue to ignore the fans as they sell their souls for the ever increasing TV w*ng*. Fans don’t always get a good press but when we work together for something we believe in we can achieve really good stuff. On Friday 13th October there was a conference in the Moncur Suite at St. James’ Park to share experiences of fan groups in setting up and supporting Foodbanks around the country. It goes without saying that it’s a disgrace that foodbanks are needed in the 21st century, but they are and somebody has to do something to help them. The community of football fans have stepped up to the mark. Newcastle Central MP Chi Onwurah opened the event saying that she
took no pride in having the biggest foodbank in the country in her constituency but she took enormous pride in what the Supporters Trust and other fan groups had done in setting up the Newcastle United Fans Foodbank collection arrangements outside the ground on matchdays and in the Grainger Market during the week. Newcastle United fan and Chair of the Parliamentary Cross Party Group for Football Fans, Ian Mearns MP spoke passionately about what fans can do when they work together to look after those in their community who need it. The rest of the day heard contributions from Kevin Miles, FSF Chief Executive, Mike Nixon who does a fantastic job running the West End Foodbank in Newcastle
On Friday 13th October there was a conference in the Moncur Suite at St. James’ Park to share experiences of fan groups in setting up and supporting Foodbanks around the country. It goes without saying that it’s a disgrace that foodbanks are needed in the 21st century, but they are and somebody has to do something to help them.
and representatives from fans foodbanks at Everton, Liverpool and Celtic. We heard stories from front line workers, supporters trust representatives and local Councillors. It was interesting to hear from Celtic that their Club was originally set up by a priest in 1887 saying ……… “A football club will be formed for the maintenance of the dinner tables of children and the unemployed in the area”. 130 years later football fans are having to set up foodbanks in their area! We heard from Everton about how they’d once had 1.4 million Jaffa Cakes donated and managed to distribute them rather than see them wasted! Liverpool made a big point about community integration and the involvement of all groups being a positive that can come from these projects. tf 28
We heard inspiring stories from people who’d needed foodbanks, had later turned their lives around to become front line volunteers and then got jobs managing foodbanks. We also heard stories about people in desperate need of help, adults and children who would be hungry without foodbanks so don’t forget to take something along to donate to the Newcastle United Fans Foodbank collecting outside St. James’ Park before every home game. I’ll leave you with the words of Jack, a young boy who told the Liverpool Councillor ……… “being hungry’s bad, I’m just a kid youse are grown ups and should sort it out”. He’s not wrong. Both the events above show in different ways how the community of football fans can make a
difference. To be effective we need to organise, be clear about what we want and work together to achieve it. Newcastle United Supporters Trust will continue to encourage fans to come together to make our voices heard. Just before finishing this piece the news broke that Mike Ashley has put the Club up for sale….again! One of the aims of the Trust is to work with supporters to buy a stake in the Club. Realistically we know that Premier League clubs are not going to be bought by fans at this moment in time. The latest price for NUFC is quoted at £380m. A recent report suggested that it would be somewhere near half of that. About five years ago a piece of work commissioned by the Trust suggested a valuation of just over £200m. Mr Ashley has
It was interesting to hear from Celtic that their Club was originally set up by a priest in 1887 saying “A football club will be formed for the maintenance of the dinner tables of children and the unemployed in the area”
a personal loan to the club of £130m and we have the massive asset of Rafael Benitez in place so you can see where he’s coming from with his alleged valuation. We will be watching things carefully and want to engage with any prospective owners to discuss the relationship they want with the fans.
don’t want to accept mid table mediocrity as our goal, we want our team to win trophies, to compete at the highest level and to set standards of excellence that our support deserves. NUST calls upon the City Council and other key North East figures to help the Trust get the right owners for the Club.
Whoever the new owners are, make no mistake it’s still OUR club. Owners, Directors, Managers and players are all transient, the support remains as the constant.
We want owners who will engage with the fans in a meaningful way and will allow the fans voice to be heard at the highest level in a way that helps to influence Club policy. With a change of Government fans may get representation at Board level, new owners at Newcastle could take the opportunity to get ahead of the game and offer that without waiting for legislation to force the issue. We will want to make representation to any new owners about the benefits of committing to
What the Trust wants is an owner who will position the Club in the local community in a way that recognises that the fans, the City Council and the local MPs are not the enemy. That working together with our world class manager we can take the Club to the next level, and beyond. We
the principles of being a Community Club. In the meantime we are watching with interest what happens. Mr Ashley has said previously that the Club was for sale, and then hasn’t sold it. He’s said he’s here for the long haul and won’t leave until we’ve won things, and now we’re up for sale again. During his time the Club have been taken to Tribunals twice, lost both and been criticised for the quality of their evidence and they are currently under investigation by HMRC. We understand that Mr Ashley’s people are suggesting that a sale could happen by Christmas. Most fans are probably thinking they’ll believe it when it happens. Let’s hope we are all looking forward to a fantastic new year in 2018.
During his time the Club have been taken to Tribunals twice, lost both and been criticised for the quality of their evidence and they are currently under investigation by HMRC.
Augsburg. A small to med-sized city, around 40 minutes on a train to the north-west of Munich. FC Augsburg â€“ a midsized football club perhaps slightly in the shadow of some neighbours. At least, those were my expectations. During a month in this small city, what I found was a club with a passionate and dedicated fan base, and a team this year that showed some real potential to punch above their weight. Having spent a few years living in Paisley, and a few years more following St Mirren, Iâ€™ve seen how much of an impact some big city neighbours can have on a clubs fan base. Thankfully, in Augsburg it was all about FCA.
Legia Augusta! A month with German Legions
I was fortunate enough to be able to get to two matches during my time in the city, ties against two of the most exciting attacking teams in the Bundesliga right now – RB Leipzig, and Borussia Dortmund. An extremely sensible and efficient ticket return policy – if season ticket holders are away their tickets can be resold through the official club shop – I was able to take in both matches from the Ultras section – Block M. The stereotypical German efficiency doesn’t stop there. Whilst the stadium – like far too many in Germany – is a fair distance www.true-faith.co.uk
from the city centre, a regular, dedicated tram service runs from the city centre to the match from three hours before the match. After the match they are queued up ready to take people back into the city. The trams even have little FCA flags on the front. It’s the little touches. This service, and all other city public transport, is free for three hours before and after the match if you have a match ticket. I didn’t believe it could be this good and left the house at about 530 for the 8pm evening mid-week kick off against Leipzig. I was in the ground by six. Entertaining side note: this mid-week round
of fixtures is known in Germany as “Englische Woche” (English Week), and considered to be a bit of a stupid idea. The ground itself is an interesting proposition. It gives off an impression that the architect was inspired by shit late nineties/early noughties raves. It is a giant monument to glowsticks. A bizarre, if interesting, prospect, particularly for a night match. It’s not quite the Allianz, but it has some charm. Being at the ground early wasn’t much of an imposition. Rather than scanning your ticket and getting trapped in one
Entertaining side note: this midweek round of fixtures is known in Germany as “Englische Woche” (English Week), and considered to be a bit of a stupid idea. tf 31
section of the ground, here, as in other grounds, you scan into the whole area around the ground. Against Dortmund this meant home and away fans were mingling together, inside the stadium area, drinking beers, having a good time, right up to kick off. The fans are not treated like criminals, and it works. On arrival for the Leipzig match I got myself a beer and took in the
surroundings, and the work of the Ultras group Legia Augusta (a nod to the roman origins of the city). Members selling flags to fans, people collecting for the ultras fund, a couple of merch tables with other gear, and fan-written unofficial match programmes. They were given the run of the area outside the ground to do this. The cooperation between the ultras and the club was a joy to behold. Inside the
stand the atmosphere was building up well before kick off – helped by a banner at the front reading “we start singing 5 minutes before kick off and we do not stop”. With two capos on podiums half-way up the stand, and a team of a few drummers driving the chants, the noise does not stop. But what about the football? Well, in both of these matches Augsburg were clear underdogs. It
didn’t show. Five minutes into proceedings against Leipzig, Philipp Max sparked a counter attack, before Alfred Finnbogason played a sweet ball in for Michael Gregoritsch to finish. It was a perfect counter attacking goal. 90 minutes of organised, competent defending followed. It wasn’t the best match to watch, but the organisation of the team was impressive. Against Dortmund the game plan was clearly the same – sit back and go for a counter. Unfortunately this time some scrappy defending allowed Yarmolenko to put Dortmund in front after 5 minutes. But, another sweet counter on the 11th minute brought FCA level, this time through Caiuby, www.true-faith.co.uk
the again excellent Philipp Max with the assist. Some more dodgy defending let Dortmund regain the lead ten minutes later, albeit this time through a beautiful chipped finish from Shinji Kagawa. The remainder of the match was very even, and Augsburg made chances to get back into the match. A 2-1 defeat against a flying Dortmund side was a valiant effort. If this team can start taking chances against the teams around them in the table they are capable of European football. A special word in that regard goes to Philipp Max, a player who was impressive throughout both matches, although
he was maybe partially to blame for the Kagawa goal. He is a pacey left back, sometimes looking a bit more like a winger, but with definite defensive capabilities, at least in this league. He rarely looked too troubled by the opposition, despite the pace and quality both Leipzig and Dortmund have. Most of the more potent counter attacks went through him, and he can cross a ball as well. If we are on the hunt for a left-back then I’d be delighted with this guy. An even more special word goes to the FCA ultra who managed to sneak me into Block M for the Dortmund match – top guy. A shirt is in the post for you! tf 33
“Shite”, “error prone”, “donkey”, “Worse than Steven Taylor”, “Couldn’t even get into the worst defence in The Premier League.” Just a few of the comments from, and to, Newcastle fans when United signed Ciaran Clark from Aston Villa on August 3rd 2016. Fast forward to the end of the season and Clark had established himself as a first class centre-half, playing 36 games as United won The Championship. He was deservedly in contention for player of the season and started the 2017-18 season as the first choice centre-half.
PROVING PEOPLE WRONG It’s hard to believe that Clark arrived at St James’s Park with such a poor reputation considering the performances we witnessed last season and the promise he had shown as a
youngster. Things could hardly have gone better for him at youth level. After starting his career by captaining the Villa under 18 side to their first ever league title and then the Villa reserves to The Premier League Reserve South title, he captained England at under 18, under 19 and under 20 level and things appeared to be heading in only one direction for the lad from London. He was being compared to John Terry and talked about as a future England captain. Unfortunately, between then and him signing for Newcastle, things didn’t go to plan. At the time Clark was pushing for a first team place at Villa Park, Villa were a team playing European football and fighting at the right end of the league table. Martin O’Neill gave
him his full debut at 17 but relied mainly on the more experienced players for the remainder of the season when they finished 6th in the Premier League. It was at this point Villa started their decline which eventually led to them becoming the mid-table Championship club they are today. The owner, Randy Lerner, did a Mike Ashley and decided he wouldn’t be investing any more money from that point on. Clark, along with 5 others from the 2008/09 Academy title winning squad, were rushed into the first team to fill the gaps left by players who were sold. He was never allowed to settle into his preferred position and was played at left back and in central midfield by both Gérard Houllier and Alex McLeish. The next manager he played under was Paul Lambert, who at least realised Clark was a natural www.true-faith.co.uk
centre half. However, his limitations as a manager and the mess Villa were becoming on and off the pitch meant Villa conceded a club record 69 goals and Clark’s confidence and reputation plummeted as a result of being part of that defence. Villa were eventually relegated in 2016 and by this point Clark had become no more than a bit-part player. Filling in at centre half, left back and central midfield while others were injured. So how did this player become the assured, dominant, consistent defender we see in the Newcastle United side today? When fans see their club buy a player from a poor side they are instantly mistrustful. It’s different when your club signs a player from abroad. You haven’t seen his mistakes highlighted on Match of the Day, you haven’t watched his club first hand and you haven’t read countless tweets from fans of his old club about how rubbish he is. He’s usually a bit of a mystery and you convince
yourself you’ve signed the next Lionel Messi. Sign a player from England and it’s very easy to have an opinion planted in your mind. I thought Javier Manquillo would be tripping over his own feet every week after a Sunderland fan I know told me he was the worst right back he had ever seen. Either Sunderland have had some exceptional right backs that I don’t know about or this lad didn’t know what he was talking about. Dig a little deeper and you discover contractual obligations (a permanent signing they couldn’t afford would be activated once he had played a set number of games) and David Moyes believing British players would have more about them in a relegation battle are the reasons behind his lack of game time down the road. Of course there are times when a player just needs a change. Things can go stale at a club and a fresh challenge and a change of scenery can transform a player. Different and better teammates can bring out the best in a player and
let’s not forget Clark is now playing for a manager who thrives on improving players. If you listen and you want to better yourself then Rafa Benitez is your man. My guess is that Clark, unlike Jack Colback and Achraf Lazaar, is one of these players. Clark gave an interview whilst on international duty with Ireland earlier this year where he talked about the impact Benitez has had on his game. “He’s a real manmanager and he wants you to get involved and learn. He wants to teach you and improve you as a player. He works hard on defensive shape and positional stuff. It’s something I have not had as a player in my career.” That last sentence is not only a shocking indictment on Aston Villa and every manager Clark has played for but it goes a long way towards explaining why it’s only now he is looking like the player he should always have been. Ciaran Clark epitomises the notion that you should never judge a played based on the results of his former club.
So how did this player become the assured, dominant, consistent defender we see in the Newcastle United side today?
Idea: what is it about NUFC that makes an overseas fan follow the club with such passion?
An International Mag MAGNUS MØLLER OFFISIELL SUPPORTERKLUBB FOR NEWCASTLE UNITED I SKANDINAVIA When did you first decide to start following NUFC and what was the most significant incident in pushing you to make that decision? Well, to answer that I’ve got to dig into my childhood. Me and my best friend were absolutely mad about English football. Every Saturday we used to play football. In the living room, in my bedroom, on the pitch. Everywhere. I have no idea how many pictures and ornaments we broke. We drove our mams crazy. We made scrapbooks with pictures and stories about Premier League players tf 36
and teams. After a while, we kind of chose our own favourites. At that time, a lot of Norwegians played in the Premier League. My friend chose Tottenham, mostly because of a Norwegian named Erik Thorstvedt. I actually started following Blackburn Rovers, as they had a couple of Norwegians as well. Henning Berg and Lars Bohinen. They also had a prolific striker by the name of Alan Shearer. I was absolutely baffled when I saw him play. He made me fall in love with football. Alan Shearer became my absolute idol. I cut my hair to look like him, I decorated my walls with pictures of him.
And then he got transferred to NUFC. He became the world’s most expensive player. Suddenly everybody was talking about Alan Shearer. I actually felt a bit annoyed, because I’d followed him for so long. Anyway, I’d always liked Newcastle United as well. Thought they had nice kits. The switch was quite an easy one. I couldn’t cope not following the same team as Shearer, my idol. Being just 11, I thought it’s now or never, right? At Christmas that year I got my first Newcastle kit, with the number nine, Shearer on the back. I was ecstatic. I will never forget the smell of
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my first kit. Then I became mad about the magpies. Checking the standings, looking out for matches on TV. What a side they had with Keegan’s entertainers! I never knew football could be that beautiful. I remember watching us thrash Spurs 7-1 with my friend. He wouldn’t speak to me for a week. I remember losing 4-3 at Liverpool. I started detesting Stan Collymore. And, of course, I remember thrashing Man Utd 5-0. NUFC were world class. I had made the right decision. Since then, the club has had some fantastic highs and some terrible lows. I could write a bloody book about my experiences following this club. As could anyone I guess. Anyway, thank God, I chose NUFC. I’ll never regret it.
Are Newcastle a popular side in your country? Which English teams would you class as the most popular amongst your countrymen? Well, the Toon Army Norway has got around 500 members. I think the actual number of Norwegian mags are far greater though. I’ve met a lot of followers in their late forties and fifties. I don’t know, but I think this is because Newcastle has always had a close bond with Norway. There used to be several ships sailing between Newcastle and several Norwegian cities. Now you must fly via Edinburgh or Amsterdam, which makes it more expensive and more time consuming. Again, that means less Norwegians get to visit Newcastle. Instead, they go to London,
Liverpool and Manchester, and support clubs from that region. Of course, most Norwegians support the big clubs, such as Chelsea, Liverpool, Man Utd and Arsenal. Understandably, but I still find it much more fun meeting people who support other less supported clubs. The stories you get to hear when you meet people who support clubs like Exeter City or Scarborough. Some people even support Sunderland!
Well, the Toon Army Norway has got around 500 members. I think the actual number of Norwegian mags are far greater though
What’s your earliest memory of NUFC? I’m not sure the first time I watched a match, but I think it might have been at home v Man Utd in 1996. Eric Cantona scored, and cemented his standing by me as an arrogant prick.
The memories from that season revolve more around checking the telly text every weekend, and reading match reports on Mondays. What is your most positive or are your most positive memories so far of following the club? Well, fortunately there are several. The first that springs to mind is Shearer’s testimonial in 2006. My girlfriend at the time yelled at me for crying at the end of the match, I think because she realized Alan would always be no. 1 in my book, and not her. I just must mention the 7-1 thrashing of Spurs as well, as I watched it with my Spurssupporting friend. And, of course I have a lot of positive feelings attached to the first home match with Sir Bobby Robson in charge. We
had been so abysmal at the start of that season. I seem to recall most supporters wanted to keep hold of Ruud Gullit as manager. I think he has got to be one of the worst managers in the modern era of the club. “Sexy football”, yeah right. With Sir Bobby Robson, though, everything just seemed right. It was destined for him to come home and manage his hometown club. The 8-0 result just seemed to be a sign of things to come. It seemed like the start of a new golden age. Nowadays, I just try to pass this passion over to my two boys. My oldest one, Jonathan (named after Woodgate, yes), loves it, and our dream is to watch a game together at St. James’. I could mention loads more, but as stated, it would fill a whole book. This club
has produced so many unforgettable moments. And negative? Do we have to go there?! Well, I don’t want to bring up all of them, but one of the worst has got to be the two relegations in the Premier League era. I think the first one was the worst though. It all seemed destined to go wrong, but Chris Hughton delivered. The second one was bad, but there was a chance we would get to keep Rafa, and when the news broke he was staying I felt so proud. Last season in the Championship was just fun, and we got used to winning every week again. Just for the record. My first visit to St. James’ Park was in May of 2007. Newcastle were playing Birmingham City in an FA Cup replay. I was dead excited to finally be there. You know what
Well, fortunately there are several. The first that springs to mind is Shearer’s testimonial in 2006. My girlfriend at the time yelled at me for crying at the end of the match
happened. NUFC were thrashed by an absolute abysmal City side. I have never seen a footballer so out of depth as Peter Ramage was in that match. Still, I just enjoyed being there. Is there any particular player and/or manager you’d consider as your favourite and why is that the case? The boring answers are of course Alan Shearer, as the player. Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson as the managers. I can’t be forced to choose between those two. A player I’d like to mention is the “Turk on the Tyne” Mr. Emre. I not only rated him as a player, but because I met him at that same trip in 2007, and he was such a genuinely nice bloke. Signed my shirt, which I had just bought, and now hangs framed on my wall. www.true-faith.co.uk
I named my first son after the best centre half I’ve even seen play at the club, Jonathan Woodgate. My wife wouldn’t go for Kevin or Alan. And a manager that I feel can’t get enough praise, is Mr. Hughton. The job he did bringing the club up from the Championship was immense. And he is just such a great human being. Really thought he should have been given more time. I can’t rate Rafa enough of course. He is the most competent manager I have even seen. I still can’t believe he’s at NUFC. How do you feel this season has gone so far and what would be a satisfactory outcome by the end of it? I don’t want to sound like Mike Ashley and say I want us to finish mid-table. But I would be very happy with
that. That said, I think we should aim even higher. We can make a push for the top 7. And that’s with what was called as a bad transfer window. Just imagine If we’d got the player’s Rafa pushed for. The start of this season has been really good, when you consider we could have got something against Spurs, before that idiotic red card. Brighton and Huddersfield were poor, but we could easily have nicked a point in those as well. We haven’t been outplayed in any matches, but the most exciting is how we win matches away from home. I cannot remember the last Premier League season that was the case.
Alan Shearer, as the player. Kevin Keegan and Sir Bobby Robson as the managers. I can’t be forced to choose between those two.
All in all, we’ve got a world class manager, we might get new ownership, that horrible sponsor is gone, and we just must enjoy this to its fullest. tf 39
It’s been a while since I last jotted some thoughts down for tf – I’ve had a fairly packed few months. I’m no longer ‘The Boy From Brazil’, but ‘The Marra From Caravaca’. For a myriad of reasons, which I’m sure I’ll come back to at a later date, the wife and I thought it was time to say ‘tchau’ to Rio de Janeiro, and ‘ola’ to Europe. So here I am, based in Murcia in the south of Spain. And if the region sounds familiar to you in a true faith kind of way, it probably means you’ve been reading the stylised scribblings of a certain Señor Higgins, either here in your favourite fanzine in his Real Spain column, or in his very own published book – An Homage to Murcia. Well, I’m lucky enough to
be working with Mr Higgins and his better half down here in rural Spain. As anyone who knows Tony will tell you, he loves his footy and is never shy in getting out on the road in order to feed his thirst for a fixture. So it came as little surprise when he offered me the chance to head down to Cartagena with him to catch a game.
John MILTOn @ Geordioca
The game carried a little extra interest for us as the clubs were going to use the game to raise funds for a player for local side, Cuidad de Murcia. Hamed Sako is from Ivory Coast and his mother is sick, but he needs help financing his trip home to see her. A poster was produced exclaiming, ‘Más que un partido’ (‘more than a match’).
I met Tony and his mate from Cork, Finbar, at 10am and we headed off on an hours’ drive to Cartagena. Interesting fact – last city to fall to Franco, was Cartagena. Having found a parking spot a short stroll from the stadium, we found ourselves outside a pretty impressivelooking stadium, especially for the level. Tony tells us it’s an exact replica of the Barcelona B side stadium. The home strip was pleasing on the eye; black and white stripes (though the stripes were a bit thick for my taste). As is usually the case at lower tier ties, the crowd was a good mixture of old and young; families with toddlers mixed with www.true-faith.co.uk
old boys who had probably been gracing the stands for 40+ years. We found a food trailer complete with seating so burgers and bacon butties were enjoyed while Tony took the time to educate us on the Spanish football pyramid and history of the local clubs.
they weren’t particularly Spanish… UD Melilla are based in the city of Melilla, which is a Spanish enclave on the Moroccan coast. It sounds a bit like Gibraltar, but apparently the Spanish don’t like that comparison. At kick off Efecé were up in 5th and their opponents were in 7th but level on points. All to play for, then.
The match we were there to see was a league match. FC Cartagena (their nickname, ‘Efecé’, comes from the local pronunciation of ‘FC’) play in the Segunda B, which is the 3rd Tier of Spanish football. La Liga, Segunda, Segunda B. Segunda B is divided into 4 regional groups, but todays opponents weren’t particularly local. In fact,
Pre-match pints in the club bar helped us get into the mood, then, up to find our sector. If the stadium, the Estadio Cartegonova, was decent from the outside, it was positively pretty bloody canny from the inside. 15,000 capacity all seater, decent amount of corporate, and kept in really good nick. A sea of black
As is usually the case at lower tier ties, the crowd was a good mixture of old and young; families with toddlers mixed with old boys who had probably been gracing the stands for 40+ years.
and white seating reflecting the homeside’s colours, advertisers, such as Spar, adopting black and white to add to the impact of the ‘albinegro’ stadium. We were sat behind the goal Cartagena were attacking in the first half – again, we were surrounded by a decent mix of the support, including a supporters group who provided a modest, yet enthusiastic, flag display. The ground was probably half full for the fixture. It’s funny when you watch a game abroad and you notice the footballing cultural differences in the stands. Sunflower seeds. That’s what I noticed. Everyone cracking open sunflower seeds – the stands were littered with their shells as blokes young and old chewed away on them.
The game itself was a bit of a cracker – there was plenty of skill on display, especially for a 3rd tier game. The Efecé number 9 stood out – a great big lumbering 22 year from Guinea, Moussa. Not blessed with pace of any kind and with languid, almost sleepy movement, it wasn’t long before he’d been nicknamed ‘The Cartagenan Fenham Eusabio’. Once the play settled into a decent rhythm, though, it was the no.10 who caught the eye. Cristo Martín may be 30 years old, but he put in a shift that young Merino would be proud of. He covered so much ground, linking play all over the park, helping defence out when they were under pressure, winning back position right across the midfield and linking midfield and attack when in possession, I never
thought he’d last the full 90, but to his credit he did – while the much younger, less agile Moussa was already blowing out his arse by the end of the first 45! There was plenty of skill on show all over the park, there was plenty of football on show to enjoy, but the first goal was something out right out of English football’s third tier. A hopeful, diagonal hoof from right back to the inside left area was intercepted by the defender who could only get half a head on the ball, it looped up and over his head where the onrushing winger couldn’t believe his luck. He rounded the defender, took a touch and centred for Big Moussa to tap in right under our noses. 1-0 Efecé. Our end went wild. Well, wildish. Great stuff.
Sunflower seeds. That’s what I noticed. Everyone cracking open sunflower seeds – the stands were littered with their shells as blokes young and old chewed away on them.
At half time I made my way to the bar where I waited in a queue and paid good money for the only ‘beer’ available – bloody nonalcohol lager. Finbar, being a proud Irishman, refused to drink such muck. Tony and I swallowed our prides and got stuck in. My first and last, though it wasn’t so bad, on reflection. The second half continued in much the same vein as the first, with lots of possession and pressure from the home side and sporadic sorties into opposition territory by the visitors. With a host of spurned chances by Efecé (including a shot which came back off the inside of the post and left the stanchion wobbling for a few minutes) there was an increasing sense that the black ‘n’ whites would rue them. And so it proved when a cross from inside www.true-faith.co.uk
the 18 yard box found an attacker in acres of space on the left – Jilmar made no mistake in rifling his shot high into the near corner on 80 minutes. Just like at SJP, the home crowd’s frustration and anger helped raise the noise levels (especially after the goalscorer celebrated with a pumped fist into the faces of the home crowd), and the team responded positively. The visitors decided to try to frustrate, resorting to disrupting the play by means legal and foul, which in turn helped raise the temperatures of the fans and team alike.
Zabaco, managed to connect with some kind of flying kung fu kick to beat the keeper and seal the tie. 2-1 FC Cartagena, sun blasting down and everyone in good cheer. We took a trip down to the port area of the city for tapas and beers and I’m really pleased we did. If you ever get the chance to go, I’d highly recommend Cartagena – it’s a beautiful city with great bars, great beers and great grub. Brilliant. What an introduction to my life in Spain.
2-1 FC Cartagena, sun blasting down and everyone in good cheer. We took a trip down to the port area of the city for tapas and beers and I’m really pleased we did.
Deep into the final 5 Efecé won a corner from which, they scored. From the other end of the stadium we had no way of knowing how it was bundled in, but having seen the goals later the goalscorer, defender tf 43
These are strange days. History will decide if this is the aftermath or precursor to other tectonic shifts in world events but there’s a feeling something is happening. Perhaps not good, who knows?
DETROIT Tyneside Cinema. nyway, off we want to The Tyneside for DETROIT. For me and her, the 60s was the time when we were bairns. My old Ma often recited the tale of me being in my pram in our soon to be demolished slum house in Bensham as a babe in arms, when the news Kennedy had been shot and I was in my first year at St Joseph’s RC infant school, when Martin Luther King was assassinated in ’68. This film was set the year previously amidst the era of the Civil Rights movement as the name suggests in DETROIT. There is a helpful prologue describing the ethnoeconomics and geography in the US which sets the context for an OTT Police raid courtesy of the nakedly racist Detroit Police Department on an unlicensed drinking “joint”. Public Police racist
brutality lit the touch paper for God knows how many days of rioting in the Black community in which the Police, National Guard and whoever else seemed to be at war with a population of its own citizens. Being Detroit, music plays a central theme, not only in the main characters but the soundtrack as it follows some aspiring singers into a descent into an event which would see their friends brutalised and murdered by the Detroit Police Department and of course be denied justice thereafter. It is a moving, visceral and thoughtprovoking film which we spent a good hour disseminating afterwards with the name Donald Trump a central theme. See also references to Take A Knee and a refusal to condemn people who run over and kill anti-fascist
protestors and carry Confederate and Swastika flags. The film is superbly acted and is largely a Hollywoodlister free zone. It’s an intense couple of hours but lightened by the music and fashions which are fantastic. Its 50 years since the rage of Black Americans burst into flame and it’s a fair question to ask with a KKK sympathising, misogynistic President giving daily notice the progress made since that time is being rolled back as the world watches.
SO YOU’VE BEEN PUBLICLY SHAMED
Jon Ronson (Picador) On the recommendation of my dear progeny I read Jon Ronson’s THE PSYCHOPATH TEST and found it thoroughly enjoyable even if it did make me consider some of my best mates could perhaps be residing in secure accommodation somewhere. Anyway, I’d read Ronson’s stuff in The Guardian and always found him an enjoyable read so when I was mooching around Smiths at Central looking for some reading material for a train journey I picked up this one and I’m glad I did. I wasn’t expecting to find anything in the book which directly referenced to football but I did. For better or worse (and I’m 50:50 on the deal), social media has transformed football fan culture. I’m fairly active on Twitter, mainly promoting TF’s material but also stuff that takes my fancy and other bits and pieces. There are some great people I follow. Their personalities come through really well on their twitter feeds and they are warm, likeable and there’s something of a community on there
which is good to feel a part of. There are others however who believe their anonymity entitles them to be rude, abusive, insulting and bandy unfounded accusations around with no consideration for their impact. Having put a successful fanzine together for the thick end of twenty years, it’s to be expected the likes of me will get some attention from those that agree and disagree with my perspective on United but also politics and all the rest of it. Some of the themes in Ronson’s book – the pack mentality, the victimisation of people, shaming and all of that has very loud echoes in the new social media dimension of fan culture where opinions are instant, not always thought through and some consider have to be extreme to catch attention. It’s some comfort this all isn’t confined to Newcastle United supporters and conversations with people running fanzines and fan groups from Rangers, Liverpool, Sunderland, Man Utd and so on confirm some people transforming
It’s some comfort this all isn’t confined to Newcastle United supporters and conversations with people running fanzines and fan groups from Rangers, Liverpool, Sunderland, Man Utd and so on confirm some people transforming themselves into monsters in front of a keyboard. themselves into monsters in front of a keyboard. As above the vast majority of people on social media are spot on. But let’s not kid ourselves there are those out there whose motivations are questionable and the only possible thing we have in common with them is that we want Newcastle United to win football matches. I think.
Michael Martin Follow @tfMichael1892 tf 45
We’re often told that the Northeast is a ‘hotbed of football’. NUFC is lucky enough to be a massive club with a huge catchment area and a fanbase that passionately breathes football with every waking (and often sleeping) minute. How many times have we been told that every young lad on Tyneside dreams of pulling on the famous black and white shirt, especially with that number nine on the back? Despite these oftused platitudes, the only young Geordie lad in recent times who went on to realise this dream had to be bought back from Blackburn Rovers for a world record transfer fee. Why wasn’t he terrorising defences whilst honing his goalscoring skills in our academy rather than firing them in for Southampton before moving to Lancashire to win his only Premier League title?
FAILING THE GRADE
Over the years we’ve had many Toon youngsters touted as ‘The next Shearer’ only to fall by the wayside if they even make it to the first team at all. Michael Chopra in particular was apparently the brightest star of the future for years and years before progressing towards a debut at St James’ Park. After having a goal disallowed against Blackburn in his first match, he went on to miss a sitter against Man U, net goals against the mighty Dubnica and Cheltenham in the Intertoto and FA Cups respectively before tapping home an equaliser against a truly woeful Sunderland side in the Wear-Tyne derby. That sums up his entire contribution in black and white. The greatest hope for a generation of academy graduates went on to score championship goals for Cardiff and then miss sitters in two derby games against NUFC for Sunderland, perhaps his most celebrated www.true-faith.co.uk
acts by Newcastle fans. So why is there such a lack of talent coming through? Having been a regular watching the lads for over 20 years, I struggle massively to count on just one hand the number of local lads who’ve come through our academy and cemented their place in the first team. Whereas Steve Watson and Lee Clark were clearly vital cogs in our glorious entertainers era, ten years later Steven Taylor’s time was blighted by indifferent form, lengthy injuries, red cards and some frankly bizarre antics both on and off the pitch. Andy Carroll too threatened to be a real success story, a Geordie number nine scoring goals and on course for at least twenty premiership strikes in
the 10/11 season (having netted eleven times in just nineteen appearances by January). Unfortunately, he left too early to go down as a truly great academy graduate. The only two players in recent times from our academy to really ‘make it’ are Shola Ameobi and Paul Dummett. These players have divided our fan base. Shola started his NUFC career by endearing himself to the Toon Army on his debut with his eye balling of the odious Dennis Wise (despite the obvious height difference!). He then went on to score memorable European goals, slot the ball home in a cup semi-final against Man United and earn the title ‘Mackem slayer’ for his heroics against our deepest darkest rivals. However, it always felt like he
The only two players in recent times from our academy to really ‘make it’ are Shola Ameobi and Paul Dummett.
never fulfilled the potential we thought he had. Dummett is divisive for different reasons, the consensus amongst most fans I’ve spoken to is that this is a player who always gives one hundred percent graft and effort but there’s still a nagging doubt about his ability. His left back position is usually the one earmarked for improvement seemingly every transfer window. It’s safe to say he’s done a job for United without being particularly eye catching, whilst his highlights certainly haven’t been as memorable as Shola’s (despite a lastminute equaliser against Man United sending St James’ into raptures), he’s certainly been a good servant to the club and can still be an asset. Perhaps the best chance in recent seasons of seeing a spate of youngsters burst on to the scene was in 06/07 when Glenn Roeder was given the chance to become permanent manager after a successful spell as caretaker. Having overseen the academy for nine months between June 2005 and Feb 2006, he was familiar with our youngsters, their strengths and weaknesses and was also in the midst of an injury crisis necessitating the early introduction of a lot of our kids. Man United’s class of ‘92 this was not but our new year’s day fixture against the Red Devils in 2007 saw starts for Steven Taylor, Paul www.true-faith.co.uk tf 48
Huntington, David Edgar (who actually scored near the end), a substitute appearance for Matty Pattison and unused places on the bench for both Alan O’Brien and Andy Carroll. It’s safe to say the quality just wasn’t there for this group of youngsters to form the spine of a successful Premiership team, with most offloaded after just a handful of first team games. A few precious memories and souvenir shirts no doubt but not many tears from fans when they left. Given the multimillion pound industry of the Premier League, it’s easy to say that youngsters miss out when being forced to compete for game time against established internationals from all over the world. Perhaps the situation goes even deeper than that. With football now being such an instant success driven business, even managers are always just a few weeks from the sack. Is it
any wonder that owners and scouts are prepared to splash out on the finished article rather than take the time, care and patience to nurture the potential stars of tomorrow? Before anyone wants to put forward the opinion that this is all a new phenomenon, it should be remembered that over twenty years ago Kevin Keegan prioritised the results of the first team over youth development to such an extent that he was prepared to scrap the reserve team entirely. This was rather than have them play just twenty five percent of their matches on the hallowed turf of St James’ Park due to the fear that further use of the pitch midseason would be detrimental to the entertainers’ slick passing game.
Andy Carroll too threatened to be a real success story, a Geordie number nine scoring goals and on course for at least twenty premiership strikes in the 10/11 season (having netted eleven times in just nineteen appearances by JanuaRY
It’s safe to say that over the years, our track record of producing first team regulars from our academy has been sketchy at best. www.true-faith.co.uk tf 48
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Postcards F rom The Edge Paully
After ten shambolic years under an owner whose only interest has been to whore his tatty sports company across the globe, could IT be happening? Is the fat man about to have his vile, smelly bollocks stamped on by the beautiful high heels of a charming blonde lady armed with gazillions of pounds? My helmet will be pulled off if it goes through. “Be careful what you wish for” is one of the most ridiculous phrases in our fine English language. It’s usually followed by the equally idiotic and patronising “the grass isn’t always greener” bollocks. The fact that these daft phrases were constantly churned out by the so-called media experts when the smarmy charlatan left us for Palace says it all. Rafa or Pardew? That’s like asking if I’d like to use Michelle Keegan’s bosoms for a pillow or if I’d prefer to use the tusks of an extremely irate rhinoceros. Amazingly, several media outlets have used these phrases in relation to the potential sale of NUFC including Sky Sports albeit that is no surprise as it seems that David Craig’s (sorry, ‘Craigy’s’) tongue usually smells of Ashley’s bum hole. I unde rstan d the Talkshite lot using it to get people to phone up their
premium number and remonstrate but I’ve heard several supposed respe ctabl e sport s journalists using it too which beggars belief. In case they have forgotten about his ten year tenure as NUFC owner: two relegations (zero in the previous ten years); one top seven finish (four in the previous ten years); one campaign of European football (eight in the previous ten years); a policy of abandoning the FA Cup which resulted in a furthest progression of round five (two quarter finals, two semi finals and two finals in the previous ten years); renamed the ground to promote his tatty sports company for free; plastered 4,839,434 adver tising billboards all around the ground to promote his tatty sports company for free; appointed numerous of his mates in senior level roles in which they had zero previous experience; appointed a spiv who had just been sacked by a third tier team to act as his mouthpiece to constantly belittle the club and fans; appointed www.true-faith.co.uk
man can balls things up then that man is Mike Ashley.
We currently sit in seventh place after nine matches and that is all down to one man. He is showing exactly how good of a manager he is.
Joe effing Kinnear........ twice; disgracefully treated NUFC legends Keegan and Shearer; successfully sued in court by two former NUFC employees as well as having another potential court case forthcoming from HMRC to name just several. “Be careful what you wish for”, indeed. I usually use the internet when searching about females for various other reasons (cough) but I’ve been impressed with what I’ve read so far about Amanda Staveley. She seems very hard-working and has her head screwed on which is quite unusual for a woman (just kidding, sexist police). She was heavily involved in the takeover of Man City so she knows how these things work and she could not have picked a better match to attend than the Liverpool fixture to witness what a rocking SJP can be like. 49,000 Mags fully behind a workmanlike NUFC team whilst showing revered support for a world class manager. Speaking of that wonderful handsome Spanish chap; I wonder if he played any part in
getting the ball rolling for this potential takeover. He will have had dealings with her when she was involved in the negotiations to buy Liverpool when he was their manager. His demeanour completely changed a few weeks after the transfer window shut. He went from a forlorn, furious figure due to the lack of backing once again to a man absolutely beaming and all at joy with life. A demeanour similar to that of post-blower (sorry this time, sexist police). His interview after the Liverpool match on Sky Sports alludes to me that he been fully aware of what has been going on. He already has a Godlike status with NUFC fans but imagine if he has played a part in overthrowing the fat controller. A statue will be required immediately never mind waiting until he wins us a trophy. The infra-structure is already in place and the potential of NUFC is humongous. That is why Rafa approached us about the job as he knows what we could be like. I have every body part strenuously crossed that this takeover deal goes through but if any
We currently sit in seventh place after nine matches and that is all down to one man. He is showing exactly how good of a manager he is as let’s be honest; the current squad isn’t exactly much to shout about. I have never seen us look as solid as we do defensively and our shape is superb. Everyone is fully disciplined and knows exactly what they should be doing. This is all down to what Rafa preaches on the training field. You only have to look at how much he has improved Yedlin and Clark to see that. Players who were severely mocked by fans of their previous clubs when they signed. I wonder how those sets of fans are enjoying life in the lower echelons of the Championship. Imagine if Rafa had of been fully backed too. He missed out on numerous prime targets due to the ineptness / calculated spitefulness of those above him. I like Joselu’s work effort but we were scouring the bargain basement when we signed him. His valuation is probably similar to what Lukaku’s body part which the Man Utd fans have been told off for singing about was valued at (sorry, PC police). Christmas really will come early if this sale goes through and Rafa is allowed to properly spend in January. I’m off for a cold shower as these thoughts are doing me no good.. tf 51
SEASON Players: McInroy, Nelson, Fairhurst, Naylor, Hill, Weaver, Cape, Starling, Lindsay,Chalmers , Wilkinson, Mathison, McDonald, J Richardson, Burns, Thomson, JRbRichardson, Park, MacKenzie, Hutchison, Devine, Keen, Lang, Boyd, Davidson, Bedford,vRobinson, Belton. Division: Another poor season for the Magpies, and another season of looking over our shoulder to the relegation zone, but ultimately another season of survival, as we finished 17th out of 22 and managed to keep ourselves in the top flight
for another year. Things were always going to be hard given the controversial sale of Hughie Gallacher in the summer, and so it proved, United gaining 36 points from 42 games, and only surviving by 5 points. It didn’t have the drama of staying up on the final day this season, but only because the overall points totals were down this year, we did nothing to help ourselves, posting a final tally even lower than last years. The two teams that were relegated from the top flight? LeedsUnitedandManchester United. Manager: Andy Cunningham stepped into the spotlight and became United’s
first full-time manager. He was clearly in no mood to put his own stamp on the side, as evidenced by the sale of Wee Hughie. It was a tough start for the new man in the dugout. Trainer/Coach: Cunningham brought in James McPherson Jnr. to coach the side. Highest Attendance: An incredible 68,386 crammed into St. James’ Park for the opening home game of the season, with Chelsea the visitors to the North East. It was a happy crowd that went home from NE1, with the black and whites running out 1-0 winners, thanks to a goal from Lindsay. Lowest Attendance: A home game with Bolton Wanderers drew the smallest attendance to SJP for the season, with 9,139 attending a 4-0 win at the end of January. On the road, an even lower gate of 6,845 saw us take on about-to-be-relegated Leeds in early March. The
paltry home crowd had the last laugh though, as we lost 1-0. Average Attendance: A major drop in the average attendances this year, by about 4k, down to 27,118 over 21 home league games. If you add in a single home cup game in January against Nottingham Forest (A 4-0 win) the number jumps by 300 to 27,440. Biggest Win: A couple of incredible game in this disappointing campaign, starting with the biggest margin of victory (four goals) twice, as we beat Bolton 4-0 at the end of January, and Derby on the road towards the end of February, 5-1. Special mention must go to the incredible 7-4 victory over Manchester United away from home in the middle of September. Cape the hero of the day, grabbing a hat-trick. Worst Defeat: Given our lowly league position, there was plenty of these to choose from, and just as we won a 7-4 game, we also lost by the same scoreline when we
played hosts to Portsmouth in the middle of November. Two five-goal defeats were as bad as it got for us this season, one game in particularly a real bad one, as we went down 5-0 on Wearside. The other 0-5 occurred when Middlesbrough travelled to SJP and took the spoils. Something of Interest: Touched on in the last issue, the sale of Hughie Gallacher caused huge controversy on Tyneside. New manager Andy Cunningham had decided to offload a player who had become something of a regular trouble-maker in his time on Tyneside, on and off the field. Geordies adored the striker, and despite huge protestations from both the fans and the player himself (he didn’t want to end up in London). The deal still went through however, and as luck would have it, Gallagher and his new side, Chelsea, came to St. James’ Park for the secwww.true-faith.co.uk
ond match of the season and the home opener. A ground record 68,386 filled into the ground, with reports anything from 10,000-20,000 locked out of the ground. United would win the game 1-0. Mentioned in Dispatches: As previously mentioned, the new manager Andy Cunningham started putting his own stamp on the team, and it started with the sale of Gallacher. It wasn’t all outgoings, however, as a canny number of decent players came through the door, too. Scottish full-back Jimmy Nelson, one of the Wembley Wizards (a name given to the Scottish side who beat England 5-1 at Wembley in 1928) joined the ranks. We struggled to fill the #9 shirt this season after the Gallacher departure, trying a few different players in the striker role without success. One of them, Scottish new-
comer Duncan Hutchison, hit a fantastic hat-trick in a 4-0 cup victory at home to Nottingham Forest. He scored in the next round, too, but never capitalised on his chances though, and it was left to the manager to dip into the transfer market once again… National Interest: For the 4th time in nine years, there is a fatal underground explosionatHaigPitinWhitehaven, killing 27 people… The Dogger Bank Earthquake,the largest earthquake recorded in the UK since records began, was felt across Britain in the summer of this year… Tragically, John Thomson, the goalkeeper of Celtic, dies in hospital after fracturing his skull against Rangers in the Old Firm derby at Ibrox… Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892
Gallagher and his new side, Chelsea, came to St. James’ Park for the second match of the season and the home opener. A ground record 68,386 filled into the ground, with reports anything from 10,000-20,000 locked out of the ground. United would win the game 1-0. tf 53
Change and decay in all around I see… (Abide with Me). I tell you what, kiddos. Change; bring it on. As soon as I heard the news that the glorious temple on the hill had been put up for sale by Squire Ashley, the heart skipped a beat. Of course no-one wants another Venky’s or Massimo Cellino. But change, whether through the graces of Amanda Staveley or biscuit millionaires in Turkey, must initially mean only good things for Newcastle United. I think we all felt something was s. afoot during this last year or so; around the club and amongst ourselve What has cheered me most is the new sense of activity in the stands; a new spirit that has given this transition period a sense of purpose and positivity. Food banks, flags, more (and louder) singing, these are all attractive assets that are ours alone. And a sign that our current I (absentee) landlord didn’t succeed in making us into mute customers. wonder - when he goes - if he will ever visit the region again. I’m sure he’d like to restrict himself to puking in exclusive, Home C(o)unties fireplaces, ones owned by sheikhs or Ronnie Wood and the like. Talking of drunken antics , to get the image out of our nothing to do with the sides “Today it’s about promoting that “change and decay ” line heads but also in the hope of buses or a posh blonde your club, about being a PR from ‘Abide with Me’ reminds that we could win a prize twit stuck up a zip wire. So man, of saying the right things me of my old landlord. He on one of the Botham’s if there is to be change at at the right time.” was a widower-cum-lothario Winners scratch cards. One Newcastle United let’s - for Souness unwittingly touched who suffered PTSD from prize offered something like once - enjoy this moment. on the increasingly manic his wounds after serving in 20 pints and was famously Facts circlejerk of interviews HM Forces. For some reason won - and drunk - before onto your hats. and analysis in football. I he would, when visiting, mid afternoon closing time in Hold to agree with tell you, there is a growing regularly walk about his house our local by a chap known as I’m going something Graeme Sourness crisis in football’s use of singing the “change” line in Tommy the Slipper. Gene ratio ns said. Praising the blunt langu age. his undies; a sorry garment Bob of unwitting ex-pros are that bore resemblance to a I see my thoughts are running Geordie gruffness of bag of mackerel. Alarmed, away with me. What I meant Paisley when asked about being straightjacketed and me and my then-girlfriend to say was, too many people how managers conducted exploited with daft would swiftly decamp to a think change is a bad thing. themselves in his playing words that help local hostelry and drink pints But change can be positive. days, Souness scored a point sell the game to of Exhibition Ale, primarily Especially ones that have when he told an interviewer: new territories.
s t o b o R n a m u H , l e r Macke
o o T e M d n a
RICHARD FOSTER follow @Incendiary Magazine
Recently I heard a pundit say ‘outstrengthed’. What, pray us that? Maybe those who drink kumquat smoothies or download the latest “hot Apps” will tell me. Imagine. You’re an ex pro. You spent the last 10 years kicking Ryan Shawcross. Now you need to secure your future with a “career in the media”. You realise it’s a gig where you have to stay slim and focussed. No bellies but humblebrag facial hair and extensive facial scrub use triggering wanton destruction of Indonesian forestlands. And - worse - learning new words. Recently I heard a pundit say ‘outstrengthed’. What, pray us that? Maybe those who drink kumquat smoothies or download the latest “hot Apps” will tell me.
What is the antidote to all of this? An intelligent pundit who doesn’t take things too seriously? Someone who’s read a novel for pleasure, or visited a gallery? Someone with a paunch and egg stains on their blouson, a chap who’s not afraid to eat two saveloys in one sitting? A person who doesn’t know what ‘outstrengthed’ or ‘game areas’, or ‘pass completion rates are’, but can tell you about the time he fell asleep in the front row of a scat jazz gig in Jesmond? If I’m not careful I will start to miss Alan Green.
But I can see the whole process is driving pundits mad. For all his attempted eloquence and poise, Martin Keown looks like someone switches him on before a show. I’m sure that - as well as swotting up new words every night - many practise handclasping motions that will stifle the urge to scratch their manhoods whilst on the tellybox. The temptation must be akin to that of Christ in the Wilderness.
#MeToo A word about the #MeToo tag, to end. As said in previous columns, “football” - in its widest sense - has an issue with women. The old phrase, “it’s a man’s game”, isn’t just a phrase. It was once policy in this country. Enforced by the FA, scared of the rise of women’s football just after the end of World War One. I quote: “The game of football quite unsuitable for females”. Unsuitable. Not the woman’s domain. That
this thought still lingers is seen with concerns recently raised in this august publication about women Mags getting sexually harassed at the match. Or the recent nonsense with the FA and teh England women’s team. Or pics of sexy betting girls on your timeline. Or with dodgy language casually chucked about, like confetti. “We raped that team”. (Raped?!?). Or the sight of attractive, nubile, young women presenting fitba’ on certain television channels. Or: the fact that
potential owner Amanda Staveley isn’t a successful businesswoman in her own right with a backstory of talent and hard work overcoming great odds, but the notion she is “sexy” (still sexy in her mid 40s too; fancy that) and that she once went for a Chicken MacNougat with one of the royal waxworks. Sadly, I can’t see things changing that quickly. But everyone must in their souls know how the scales are weighted. RICHARD FOSTER - Follow @incendiarymagazine
As It Was, When It Was Newcastle United v Portsmouth, 25th April 1992
Pt 2 of 3
“The supporters are this club’s biggest asset and they are going to help us turn things around.”
Marc Corby @NUFC_1980_1994
Kevin Keegan speaking in February 1992 having been appointed the 5th Newcastle United manager since he retired from playing almost 8 years previously. Describing the managerial role at Newcastle as “the only job in the world that I would ever have taken, this is the right time for me,” was beginning to look like it was to backfire for Kegan as United had dropped back into the 2nd Division relegation zone with only 2 games to play. With relegation came the serious threat of financial ruin despite, after a 4-year battle, Sir John Hall taking complete ownership during the latter part of the season. Relegation tf 56
simply couldn’t happen. Since the 1-4 Easter Monday defeat at Derby, Port Vale, who had earned 10 points from their previous 5 games to give them a lifeline, missed the chance to overtake The Mag’s following a 1-1 draw with Charlton in their game in hand.
Next up for United was the visit of Portsmouth who were in with a chance of reaching the play-offs. Ian St. John on the lunchtime ‘Saint and Greavsie’ show appeared pleased with United’s predicament when summarising the relegation fight, saying: “That is amazing, Newcastle down there…and Jim Smith, going
back up to Newcastle, could be the man that puts them down!” Smith, ‘The Bald Eagle,’ resigned a little over a year previously claiming the club were “unmanageable.” Despite finding good form with 5 wins and only 1 defeat in his last 9 games, the deterioration of his aging team between midSeptember and January left the club with no chance of promotion and the inevitability of a 3rd year outside of the top flight. Having failed to save United from relegation during the 1988-89 campaign, the following season’s unsuccessful attempt to gain instant promotion and the subsequent play-off defeat to sunderland was, in reality, a point Smith never recovered from. “It was made doubly worse
for our fans in that it was the loathed red and whites who turned the knife,” he’s say of the play-off loss in his book, ‘Bald Eagle: The Jim Smith Story.’ “I think they could forgive us anything…except losing to sunderland.” Despite crowds dropping to as low as 12,692 in his last few months in charge, Smith would later say, “I am just so proud that I was part of the club and I can look back and say I was manager.” Having reached the FA Cup Semi-Final, Pompey’s league form suffered as, although unbeaten in 4, they had won only 2 of the previous 8 games to drop from 4th to 8th place. “We’d been one up at Highbury in the 1st game in extra time and should have won that one,” Portsmouth supporter Mark told me of the initial 1-1 semi-final draw with
Liverpool. Following a 0-0 draw in the replay, future Mag John Beresford was one of 3 Pompey players who missed in a penalty shoot-out as Liverpool reached the Final. “We hit the bar and post at Villa Park – it was written in the stars not to be our night,” recalled Mark. Newcastle’s home record against the visitors was impressive having won 3 of the last 4 meetings on Tyneside as well as being victorious in 6 of the previous 9 fixtures overall. Portsmouth’s only victory in this run was a 3-1 win at Fratton Park earlier in the season that put United bottom of the table and resulted in a Mick Quinn injury that kept him sidelined until March. Keegan, selecting 9 of the 11 that collapsed at Derby, would change the full back pairing by bringing in the experience of Ray Ranson
Newcastle’s home record against the visitors was impressive having won 3 of the last 4 meetings on Tyneside as well as being victorious in 6 of the previous 9 fixtures overall.
and recalling Alan Neilson for a first start since a win at Port Vale in February. Ranson, injured between March 1991 and February 1992, had started only 3 times since his return. “A long journey, I remember being on one of a number of club coaches and we were pulled in a good 8 miles out of town to be joined by Coppers on every coach,” recalled Mark who would visit St James Park for the first time that day. “They (The Police) were all expecting trouble that day so it was a massive escort job to get us all in. Nearly all the coppers on the coach were mackems and were praying we were going to win the game!” tf 58
Despite some of United’s support going ‘missing’ during the previous few home games, a larger crowd than the lowest gate, 21,125 against Tranmere, was expected to shout United home. As to be expected in ‘bigger’ games, The Gallowgate End filled up early and the atmosphere, starting with the singing of players names when warming up, continued to build as kick off approached. However, the tension around St James Park was palpable as club, players and supporters had to come together as one in what would be the most crucial game in Newcastle’s long history. The bell representing the
‘Pompey Chimes’ was loud and constant as the away section, a small corner in the Leazes – East Stand corner, was surprisingly full. Mark, bewildered at the number of fans stood with him considering the long journey, elaborated, saying: “There were hundreds of mackems in our end who all whipped off their coats to show their red and white stripes. That’s when it started kicking off. There were incoming drinks and coins for a good 5-10 mins and plenty of police wading in to segregate and get the mackems covered up or ejected. Intimidating stuff as I remember it.”
There were hundreds of mackems in our end who all whipped off their coats to show their red and white stripes. That’s when it started kicking off.
Despite their own club facing Brighton www.true-faith.co.uk
away and still at risk of being relegated, some sunderland ‘fans’ clearly wanted revenge. In May 1987, depending on source, an estimated 600-1000 Newcastle supporters travelled to Roker Park to ‘support’ Gillingham in the play-off Semi Final, 2nd Leg. The original format for this, the first season of the play-offs, saw sunderland, who finished immediately above the 2 sides relegated from Division 2, face The Gills, one of the 3 clubs that followed the 2 promoted sides from the 3rd Tier. With the visitors leading 3-2 from the 1st leg, sunderland had to turn it around or face relegation to the 3rd Division for the first time in their history. As well as joining Gillingham
but had little to show for it as 2 Kevin Sheedy free kick attempts and a Kevin Brock half volley that cleared the bar were the
supporters in the away end, Mags would meet in the Clock Stand paddock only to be separated from home supporters and put into a separate ‘Newcastle’ section of the terrace nearest to the Roker End. Only sunderland’s support would go home unhappy.
closest efforts to breaking the deadlock. Substitute Mick Quinn later recalled: “The thing I remember most vividly was how much tension there was around St James’ Park. Everyone in the crowd was nervous, and all the players were too.”
Surrounded by a cauldron of noise, United dominated possession in the first half
As the 2nd half commenced, Mags were given a boost when
Portsmouth’s star and soon to be sought after winger Darren Anderton was withdrawn during the interval with a knock. During a 2nd half of minimal chances, hearts were in mouths when visiting midfielder Alan McLoughlin broke through the defence. Thankfully Tommy Wright saved his shot and although agitated, the supporters remained spirited and increased the noise levels going into the final ten minutes. By this point striker Quinn had replaced midfielder Brock in a clear attempt to go for broke as a Gavin Peacock snapshot was saved comfortably by Pompey Goalkeeper Alan Knight.
Mick Quinn later recalled: “The thing I remember most vividly was how much tension there was around St James’ Park. Everyone in the crowd was nervous, and all the players were too.”
With the tension and anxiety becoming unbearable, Wright started tf 59
a move on 85 minutes by throwing it out to Ranson in the right back position. A long ball forward found David Kelly who flicked the ball on, took a return pass from Mick Quinn before striking a sweet half volley to score arguably the most important goal in United’s history. “The place just erupted like you’ve never heard before,” said Peacock recalling the goal a few years later. “The relief flooded all over everybody. You could feel it – relief from the whole of Newcastle.” Supporters celebrated with wild abandon as strangers lost any inhibition and hugged each other like they were long lost brothers or sisters. As per Keegan’s debut goal against QPR in 1982, some might say The Gallowgate End sucked
this goal in too. A vast feeling of euphoria swept through St James Park and, despite a late cross that just missed Pompey’s attackers, grown men and women, many of whom had ridiculed the players throughout the season, were clearly crying tears of joy when the fulltime whistle went. It was evident that the near 26,000 present played their part as Kelly, now the archetype of a footballer representing our support and poised to obtain hero status, would acknowledge after the game: “They were unbelievable today. Alan McLoughlin said to me half way through the game ‘I can’t believe the noise.’ It was brilliant, they urged us on to get a good result and fortunately for us we got it with 5 minutes to go.”
The atmosphere and reaction to Kelly’s goal still lives with Mark from Portsmouth to this day as he reflected: “I remember the atmosphere building and building for a good 20 minutes before the goal and the atmosphere was, by light years, the noisiest crowd I’d ever experienced. All 3 & ½ sides of the ground were up, baying, sucking the ball towards the goal. It was phenomenal. Something I will never forget - the two Pompey lads I travelled with and I still talk about it now and again.” The habitual final home game of the season pitch invasion fell flat as a line of police with dogs stood in front of all sides of the ground. A handful managed to get on and hugged players whilst the majority waited for the news of the other results. Huge roars were heard
“The place just erupted like you’ve never heard before,” said Peacock recalling the goal a few years later. “The relief flooded all over everybody. You could feel it – relief from the whole of Newcastle.” www.true-faith.co.uk
when the P.A announcer informed of Port Vale losing 2-4 at Cambridge and Plymouth going down 0-1 at Swindon. With sunderland helping United by drawing 2-2 at The Goldstone Ground, Oxford’s creditable draw at home to the now promoted Ipswich meant Newcastle were the weekends only victors around the bottom. Thanks to Kelly’s goal extending United’s lifeline, their destiny was now completely in their own hands.
affection of Newcastle’s support that day: “I love being a Pompey fan and on our day, we can kick out some atmosphere in my opinion,” he said. “But this was the first time I’d seen a whole ground, well a whole City really as most of the City seemed to be lining the roads when we finally got out in the coaches, up for it. The noise that day will never leave me, it was one of those classic moments to be at a football ground and I’m glad I was there,” he’d add.
In my lifetime, I can’t recall a Newcastle United goal more wildly celebrated than Kelly’s strike that day. The passion on the terraces back then was in a league of its own but the euphoria and bedlam that followed that goal hasn’t been matched since. We were still leaping about long after the final whistle and although it was a clearly premature, chants and celebrations on the terraces, such as ‘The Conga’ in the Paddocks that Northumbria’s finest allowed to develop for
“It was a bit tasty at the end of the game as the Newcastle mob were ripping down the gates/ barriers to try and get in amongst us to get to the mackems,” said Mark who would go on to speak with somewhat
“If we were going to lose anywhere, it was as well we did it here,” said an affable Smith who, despite knowing his side had blown their last chance of making the play-offs, clearly hoped his old club would survive.
once, continued until everyone was forced out at around 6.30pm. Fanatical is simply an understatement for United’s support at St James Park that April day and Mark would continue to summarise it well,
“The noise that day will never leave me, it was one of those classic moments to be at a football ground and I’m glad I was there,”
For The Record: telling me: “There was no doubt how important that Kelly goal was. And if we didn’t fully understand the importance of it travelling up – having experienced the game and the sheer will of the crowd to deliver a home win – we were in no doubt by the end of the game.”
was enormous relief all around Tyneside, it put the onus on the other teams to win their last game.” Keegan, who had taken the job on a 3-month consultancy basis, was clearly agitated by the negativity from some of the tabloids: “It was really
The 25,989 crowd meant United’s average home league crowd for the season was 21,024. Under Keegan’s 8 home games, an average of 25,738 were present. One of 5 defeats in their final 11 games, Portsmouth would finish in 9th place, 5 points short of the playoffs. They’d eventually gain promotion in 2003. “In one abrupt strike, freeflowing terrace discord erupted into joyful black and white union, and talk of the 3rd Division vapourised in one magical moment,” said journalist Ian Dovaston who captured it perfectly in Mondays ‘The Journal’ newspaper. “We had to win the game, because if we didn’t we were virtually doomed,” assistant manager Terry McDermott would say a few years later. “There tf 62
win-or-bust stuff and I knew that a lot of media people turned up hoping to see me buried,” he’d later say. He may have to take his side to promotion chasing Leicester a week later, but with Plymouth and Brighton also facing top 6 sides, simply bettering their results would mean survival for United and subsequent disappointment for the ‘press pack.’
Relegating sunderland on the away goals rule, Gillingham failed to win promotion in the 1987 playoff Final. Swindon Town would win 2-0 in a one-off decider following a 2-2 aggregate score that wasn’t settled on away goals.
To be continued... www.true-faith.co.uk
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@tfMich w o ll o F in t r a hael M
There’s not much talk of anything right now other than the potential Amanda Staveley takeover and I don’t think it’s overstating it to say the very prospect of this not happening could leave United completely floored. Let’s be absolutely crystal clear, Mike Ashley offers nothing whatsoever. No ambition, no vision, no love for the club, no affiliation... absolutely nothing. These have been tf 64
ten, sad and lost ten years. Our club has stagnated at best and flirted with disaster worst. Only the accidental appointments of Chris Hughton and Rafa Benitez as well as the stoicism of our support kept the club’s head above water after two pointless relegations. Without Hughton and Benitez the club would have drifted into ignominy. If you want an example of where we could have been just
check out Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves and now Sunderland! Disaster is just around the corner with this man. It still is. I’m writing this as news starts to gather pace with news articles from the Middle East confirming the whispers that come our way from other sources which start fitting into our jigsaw. We know the club is for sale. There is a seller. We know
If you want an example of where we could have been just check out Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Bolton, Blackburn, Wolves and now Sunderland! www.true-faith.co.uk
Amanda Staveley leads a consortium that wants to buy United – very likely they come from Dubai and or China and very likely Staveley’s money as well. The club is independently valued at £300m. We understand the Staveley team has conducted due diligence. I’m waiting to hear more but nothing suggests there are any show-stoppers or that the HMRC case will present any great obstacle. But. As I write this there has been no formal offer to buy United. There appears to be some shape-shifting in the media shadows on both sides but an offer needs to be made. I’m sure Staveley will want to make an offer that is reasonable. I’m pretty certain Ashley will want to make as big a profit as possible to maximise his return on the club. Lots of us are anxious www.true-faith.co.uk
about the rotten fish left under the floorboards of any deal to sell the club. We already know the lease on the land at Strawberry Place, previously bought with the club by Ashley has now been snaffled by him for his own benefits. If the new owners are what we hope them to be and which they are rumoured then SJP will have to be extended and the Gallowgate is the only option. Tread carefully with this one Amanda. We know the Staveley side has looked deeply into this.
I don’t believe there are other potential buyers. I’d guess the Staveley side have looked into all the nooks and crannies to explore who the competition is and found as much as anyone else. No-one. It suits Ashley to put it about there are more than one interested buyer. That creates an auction situation. But there’s no evidence to say there are other buyers
and it is inconceivable the identity of the others hasn’t become known through manoeuvrings in legal and financial circles within this country. This is Ashley’s chance to get out of United with his pockets filled with money and move onto the next thing he wants to suck the life from. ASHLEY OUT! Keep On, Keepin’ On
There also needs to be care taken regarding advertising and merchandising. Ashley has had tens of millions in value from global advertising for his businesses and we know as per his exploits at Rangers what he wants from merchandising. If you are in any doubt, read this. tf 65
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