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Welcome to tf 136. 2017 was dreadful to be honest. In a Newcastle United context we had the highs of promotion and then some initial promising form in the Premier League. However if you take away a great night at Cardiff and the off decent away win at clubs who Newcastle United should be beating anyway, 2017 has been dominated by a betrayal of a manager and Mike Ashley’s failure to sell the football club. January 2018 is following a similar pattern to January 2017. The manager has warned of catastrophic consequences if the football club isn’t allowed to invest in itself as he did last season. Ashley’s gamble paid off as tf 4
United got to the finish line eventually but the free flowing football and consecutive victories that happened in the Autumn of 2016 which made so many people so happy turned into laboured wins over some of the second divisions poorest sides. This season our Autumn saw eight defeats in nine. At the time of writing the club hasn’t won a home league game in four months. The manager told us in the Summer that this was coming. We’re second division side, a bloody good one. Rarely do they do well in the top tier. Wins at West Ham and Stoke have helped but may just have postponed reality. That this great football club, in the world’s richest league should be entirely
tf 136 February 2018 firstname.lastname@example.org
reliant on loans (a couple, maximum allegedly) to try and preserve it’s Premier League status is negligent. Mike Ashley cannot be in charge of the football club next season. He must recognisethis. Hisdesperate attempts to force a sale at a price he wants rather than he deserves is already destabilising the football club and it’s only midJanuary. Rafa Benitez is for all purposes humiliated. He has told the fans what the side needs. He has received no backing. Steve McClaren was given £80m to spend. Rafa got £10m in the summer and will get £0 in January. Huddersfield and Brighton look to be investing to save their skin in this league. There is no logic beyond absenteeism and neglect.
That this great football club, in the world’s richest league should be entirely reliant on loans (a couple, maximum allegedly) to try and preserve it’s Premier League status is negligent. www.true-faith.co.uk
Sold out away ends everywhere we go. Home games almost always sold out. To watch what is an honest but poor side try and play football. The passion for football in Newcastle and its surrounding areas of Tyneside, Durham and Northumberland is unmatched across the country. The club should be a fantastic asset to buy and develop, and it needs developing. A training facility that wasn’t fit for purpose in 2005, a ground that has had no improvements for almost 20 years and damaged reputation at academy level due to substandard and allegedly racist coaching. Newcastle United is ill and the cause is Mike Ashley. United face three crucial games in our season with Burnley, Palace and Bournemouth in the space of four games. All are beatable. All have better first XI’s than Rafa’s United. Staying up this season would go down as one of Rafa’s greatest achievements. Relegation won’t be on his head. Every single side in the relegation zone has changed manager this season. It hasn’t done them any favours at the time of writing. PCP partners and Amamnda Stavely deserve the benefit of the doubt
from Newcastle United fans because they haven’t been proved to be liars in court. They haven’t taken Newcastle United to the brink and they haven’t forced thousands away from St James’ Park. There are loads of good people working at Newcastle United. The advent of flags on to the stands at SJP is hugely popular and has had club support from the start. There’s a successful singing section, the relationship with the West End Foodbank, the continued good work of the NUFC Foundation. All positive and I’ve probably missed loads out. It’s irrelevant though if the club can’t spend it’s own money, spend against future income and try and do more than finish 17th. We’ve been here before, it ended with protest, fan on fan resentment and a
generation almost walking saway from the club. Should the club not be sold and Rafa Benitez leave at the end of the season you may see scenes similar to those down the road where the ‘6 in a row’ football club attract less than 20,000 for home games and take less 1,000 away. SAFC is dying and as enjoyable as it may be many mags fear to put a deserved boot in as it could be us in twelve months time. It cannot be allowed to happen. On the true faith front our numbers continue to rise for our fanzine, podcasts and newsletters. Thank you to each person who reads and enjoys true faith’s output. On the 1st February we’re hosting our second press forum where the best of the North East Press pack will be speaking to a packed Tyneside Irish Centre about Newcastle United and the takeover.
Tickets sold out in 9 days and the 180 in attendance will raise a minimum of £1,800 for the NUFC fans foodbank. This is the positive side of football in the community and myself and Mick are grateful to all who are coming on the night and the numerous people giving their time for free to make the event happen. Newcastle United is great football club but is treated like a discount trainer shop by it’s owner, who doesn’t care about you or me or Newcastle United. We need to win football games in the next six weeks or we’re facing a third relegation in ten years. Rafa and the lads need full support and backing in the ground. Let’s hope they get it and whoever buys Newcastle United is looking at a Premier League football club ahead of next season. Alex Hurst Editor FOLLOW @tfalex1892
JANUARY - FEBRUARY
A - Aal wi’ smiling faces. Plenty of those in the away end as the final whistles blew at West Ham and Stoke. Huge wins under such pressure, and great team and individual performances. tf 6
B - Brighton at home was a huge disappointment. A miserable game on a freezing cold day and definitely what felt like an opportunity missed, but... Clean sheets. The above game, as dull as it was, was the first match in which NUFC hadn’t
NORMAN RILEY @LIKETHEGOAT
conceded a goal since Palace in October. Clearly contagious as another was kept in the following match at Stoke. Dole. Sparky’s tenure at Stoke came to an end and it’s been a parcel of shite most of the season. So obvious when a manager www.true-faith.co.uk
hasn’t got a clue anymore and the players aren’t listening. He’ll still get another PL job though. Mediocrity wins out. Everton at home. Of course, with Allardyce it had to be a defeat. As it’s Big Sam it was obviously a tactical masterclass, i.e. 10 men behind the ball, hump it up the pitch and hope something happens. If only he’d been born Samuele Allardici, eh? Foxes. The Leicester defeat was such a tough one to take especially given we were a goal up and then equalised. One of those days. Technically Perez’s last goal of 2017. Gunners. A 1-0 defeat away from home to Arsenal was no great surprise. The absolute and utter lack of enthusiasm throughout the match for their team was. It’s never a cauldron of noise there but, dear me, that was the most pitiful I’ve ever known it. H e n r i Saivet. The comeback f r o m nowhere, the mistake, the free-kick equaliser, the performance. It’s a day that those who were there will talk about for years to come. Ill behaviour. The bullying complaint made against one of NUFC’s greatest www.true-faith.co.uk
ever players is very disconcerting. Let’s hope it is processed and dealt with professionally properly. Justice will be served if we beat Man City away January 20th. Not only should we have had a penalty during the home match but we probably should’ve won such was our tactical dominance Keith Bishop must be pissing on his little throne with all the absolute garbage doing the rounds on the takeover. Incredible how much someone none of us had even heard of 6 months ago is impacting on our NUFC lives. Please just let it end. Lewis Grabban. Money. It’s a sorry state of affairs when a manager has no idea what, if anything, he has to spend during the transfer window. Mike Ashley that. Neville and negativity. F o r m e r professional footballer and professional middle-aged Lancastrian male stereotype Gary Neville called NUFC’s set-up against Man City embarrassing. Gutted he didn’t see us get humped 5-0. Tactics when Davey or Sam do it, though. Optimism. It’s back in a big way after a great Christmas
and New Year period which saw the Magpies pick-up 7 points from 10 and move out of the bottom 3. An excellent achievement. Perez. Ayoze has really had a cracking week and a bit. Played up front at Stoke and bagging the winning goal then following that up with a double at home to Luton. He’s currently the club’s top scorer. He’s a better centre forward than number 10. Quids in. £10 for adults and £5 for concessions for the home FA Cup match against Luton ensured a spectacularly healthy crowd of over 47000. No doubt people would’ve taken their young’ins for the first time. As lovely as that may be, there may also be an argument it constitutes a human rights abuse. I know I’ve never forgiven my fatha for putting me through a lifetime of NUFC.
Ayoze has really had a cracking week and a bit. Played up front at Stoke and bagging the winning goal then following that up with a double at home to Luton. He’s currently the club’s top scorer. He’s a better centre forward than number 10.
Rooney. Another one of the untouchables. He fully clouted Matt Ritchie in the face. Zero witchunting. Bit like when Kane rinsed Lejeune. Classic Sky. Swansea. This match is ABSOLUTELY BASTARD MASSIVE AND THAT’S NO EXAGERRATION PLEASE WIN MAN HOWAY THE BASTARD LADS. tf 7
Two points, t h r e e points. Despite a 9 game run in which the side picked up a meagre 1 point we go in to the New Year only 3 points off 10th place. Two away from the bottom 3 like but why not look upwards, eh? U p s i d e down. We’ve had this one before but it’s even better news for our beloved rivals. If you turn the Championship table upside down as it stands on January 7th then SAFC is top. Piece of piss this Championship malarkey. Vociferous. The away support at Stoke and West
Ham was superb. Happy, loud and shouty. More of that, please. Woodman. Y o u n g Freddie made his debut for NUFC in the cup against Luton. He’ll be disappointed with the goal he conceded but, given his undoubted potential, it’ll be turned around and used as something he’ll learn from. Here’s to a long and successful career at the Club. Xyloid is a word which describes something woody or made of wood. Wood comes from trees which are chopped in to logs. Log is colloquial for
a shit. A Sunderland fan had a shit on his seat at a match because he ate too many advent calendar chocolates. The human species truly is doomed. Year. It’s 2018 and this is the first A to Z of it. I’d like to wish all readers and NUFC fans a happy and prosperous one. A great way to use the letter Y as well. Zeal. The team selected against Luton suggested that Rafa really wants to give the FA Cup a good go. How refreshing is that? He’s a man who knows how to win cup competitions. not that I’m getting ahead of myself and thinking of booking the week off after the Cup Final. Not at all...
The away support at Stoke and West Ham was superb. Happy, loud and shouty. More of that, please.
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Wingers have always been real assets and maverick players. Newcastle have had their fare share over the years. Ginola for one, was capable of turning a game single handedly. Rafa Benitez has placed a significant emphasis on wingers; Matt Ritchie on one side, Atsu on the other. Over the course of this article I’ll outline the Rafa effect on Atsu; who has been at many clubs on loan. The fact that he has now been a regular starter is essential to our recent upturn in results, is this purely down to hard work and showing promising signs in training? Or has Benitez’s renounced, tactical organisation paid dividends?
Wing Commander Christian Atsu Twasam was born in Ada Foah in Ghana, although slight in stature,he has skill and electrifying pace which for opposition defenders is a daunting prospect. Initially, Atsu started his career at Porto in 2011 , two season’s there yielded 17 appearances, scoring once. During this time, the dynamic winger went on loan to Rio Ave; again in Portugal. The move proved a more beneficial one, Atsu made 27 appearances returning 6 goals. It was, however Atsu’s move to Chelsea in 2013 which brought him to a wider audiences attention. What tf 10
potentially more detrimental to the player’s development was regular loan moves: Vitesse Arnhem, Everton, Bournemouth and Malaga before finally arriving on Tyneside in 2016. A player, with reported potential and much talked about reputation didn’t feature hugely in the Championship winning season. Atsu in his debut season made 32 appearances scoring 5 goals. At times I often thought in terms of observations of him as a player, was at his best coming from the bench as an impact substitute. Tiring defences late on, in games, often sitting deep for long spells, seeing a draw at St James’ as a good result would be undone
by our pacey winger’s skills and trickery, drawing fouls. Perhaps even a penalty. This I believe is down to flamboyance on Atsu’s part, not only that Rafa Benitez’s ability to get the best out of the players at his disposal. Meticulous training sessions, regular repetition has been the hallmark of Rafa’s blue print. Tactically, the organisation implemented by the manager has meant that Newcastle are now a solid, well drilled side, who have exploited team’s weaknesses via the counter attack. Often in games last season quick, accurate passing, and diagonal balls from Shelvey, Hayden and others have meant the pace of Atsu, often led to www.true-faith.co.uk
goals and creating chances. The modern day set up for sides now, is absorb long spells of pressure and look to exploit team’s defences, seemingly the modern day winger is perhaps going out of fashion. With Ritchie and Atsu we have real quality on both sides, with Gayle’s movement up front, harassing defenders and his predatory instincts in front of goal mean we are a force to be reckoned with against teams, in the bottom half especially mean we have little to fear. For me, it simply isn’t a coincidence that Atsu’s form has picked up, you sense that there are various factors surrounding this. I feel that having a manager who believes in you and is able to get you performing at your best, will mean match winning performances. Football
now has a lot of science incorporated into the game. Positive mindsets; often leads to successful results. This is where Benitez for me comes into his own. A coaching CV, the envy of many, he’s managed to perform miracles, none more so in Istanbul, where Liverpool defied the odds. Not the most decorated side player wise, arguably Steven Gerrard carried the side through many difficult matches. For me though Benitez has to be credited with the win too, hugely significant team talks, prior to extra time and the subsequent shootout proved valuable. A lot of psychology, you sense could hold the key to teams achieving the improbable. Similarly, Atsu has always been in recent teams a fringe player, a winger especially, needs to be playing often
in a team who are high on confidence, in order to achieve a high level of consistency. Ironic, as many matches now you watch wingers are often closely man marked, or can’t beat the first man with a corner or free kick. I feel that Atsu has a huge role to play this season. At the time of writing, he recently scored a superb goal, which was so well worked at West Ham in a 3-2 win. The Magpies caught a fragile, Hammers defence on the counter attack, with numerous players bursting forward meant they didn’t know who to track. A nervy , yet heroic performance ensured 3 vital points, similarly against Stoke. I sensed a real, gritty togetherness which led to us coming away with another massive win!!
I feel that Atsu has a huge role to play this season. At the time of writing, he recently scored a superb goal, which was so well worked at West Ham in a 3-2 win.
Has social media taken the abuse of players to a new level? The first thing to set out straight away is that the abuse of professional football players is nothing new. It’s been going on for decades. In all my time attending NUFC games home and away the abuse of players has always been prevalent. That includes players of both teams on the pitch, including sadly some of our own. Always been there and always will. It seems that social media has taken this abuse to another level.
STOP THE ABUSE! Follow any platform (Facebook, Twitter for example) when NUFC are playing and the abuse directed at our players can at times be surprising. God forbid following a defeat when the comments come out that this one’s ‘shite’, the other ‘lazy’ etc. On some platforms (eg TF Facebook page) you often see abuse directed at our players whilst the match is in play. In many ways, it is what you would hear at the tf 12
match itself when frustration amongst the supporters starts to set in following a misplaced pass say, or a poorly conceded goal. So therefore, no difference? Perhaps not. People will often say that footballers are ridiculously overpaid individuals and that abuse comes with the job. I get this, and have some sympathy with it when the position is abused e.g. when a player is attempting to force through a move and refuses to play aka Cabaye.
And yet I’ve always been of the opinion that abuse about the performance of a player on the pitch has to have an impact on their confidence.
DAVID CAMPBELL MALOY @DCM_1983
With fan anger, alcohol consumption and abuse (whether from the terraces or social media) tending to go hand-in-hand it soon becomes clear how this can become a toxic, destructive force. It also seems fairly obvious to me that Rafa recognises this as well, hence www.true-faith.co.uk
his constant pleas for everyone - fans, players and the club hierarchy to stick together during good times and bad. Rafa also, rightly, acknowledging how important a force such a united front can bring during what is proving to be an expected tough season back in the PL. One thing that has taken the abuse of players to an unacceptable level however is the direct abuse of players on their own Twitter pages. Some of it is frankly disgusting and makes you embarrassed when it comes from your fellow supporters. I’m thinking in particular of recent examples with the likes of Joselu and Diame, two heavily criticised www.true-faith.co.uk
players and who very much divide fan opinion. Thankfully, a lot of the abuse often gets challenged by our fellow supporters who recognise the damage their association brings to the good name that is the Newcastle United family. The response of players of other clubs (none at NUFC I’m aware of) and other celebrities, has been to close down their accounts following persistent levels of abuse. It makes you wonder why the likes of Joselu and Diame have Twitter pages in the first place right? After all, it simply opens a Pandora’s box to such levels of abuse. And yet the purpose and/or benefits
of twitter for players is to bring them and fans closer together. This can be particularly important for the next generation of tech-savvy supporters in exposing them to the lives that players lead and bringing them closer to the football club, thereby improving supporterplayer-club engagement which has been so lacking in previous years pre-Rafa. Comes back to that everyone being UNITED point that Rafa emphasises time and time again. I wish this could always be a positive interaction for the benefit of everyone but sadly this isn’t the case as we all know. So, this raises the question of why some so-called supporters revert to such
It makes you wonder why the likes of Joselu and Diame have Twitter pages in the first place right? After all, it simply opens a Pandora’s box to such levels of abuse.
abuse? Alcohol has to surely play a part with the combination of being pissed-up and frustrated prompting some to take to Twitter. The other reason seems to be that, for some bewildering reason, the abusers don’t always associate online and in-the-flesh abuse as the same thing. Almost as if it acts as a shield and isn’t necessarily reality. I highly doubt that some of the comments I’ve read on social media would be said directly to player’s faces. Some no doubt would but they’re not worth bothering with in my opinion. I’ve had recent experiences with abuse on twitter in relation to this. Following the recent home defeat against Man City I responded to Pep Guardiola’s BBC interview where he stated that it
was “difficult to play when the other team doesn’t want to play football”. Despite my innocuous comment I was abused by a random City fan. After I challenged him he eventually apologised for his abuse stating that on Twitter “you often forget when making comments on these things”. To me, this is an important point. Social media has undoubtedly taken the interaction of supporters and players to a whole new level as far as football is concerned. Whilst previously away managers have often focused on the importance of keeping the crowd quiet at St James Park and helping fans to get on players backs, I think it’s about time the relevance of fans getting on players backs as far as the digital
world is concerned is increasingly recognised. It’s certainly something Rafa has alluded to in recent weeks about players and their social media accounts. So, to the minority of supporters that revert to this sort of abuse, give it a rest, think about what you’re doing beforehand and get away from this sense that it isn’t ‘real’. Twitter trolling is real and it’s about time that these minority of supporters acknowledged the impact this has on players confidence, which is fragile as we have all seen. As Rafa has said on numerous occasions, this club is a special and extremely powerful one when everyone pulls together, both in the flesh at matchdays and online in the digital realm.
So, to the minority of supporters that revert to this sort of abuse, give it a rest, think about what you’re doing beforehand and get away from this sense that it isn’t ‘real’.
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Name: Alex Hurst Age: 29
How do you earn a crust: Company director - taxis and children’s nurseries Where do you watch United from: Block V ‘the singing section’ at the back of the Gallowgate. 243 lads and lasses singing all game and getting behind the team. No ego’s. Get involved. First Game: I was at NUFC 2 QPR 1 1994 but i don’t remember it. My first memories at SJP were
during the 5 0 drubbing of a relegated Forest on 1997. We qualified for the Champions League and the mackems and Boro went down. On. The. Same. Day. Hooked for life. False advertising. Best moment following United: When Rafa Benitez was announced manager Worst moment following United: V*lla 09. Wankers. Never
forgive, never forget. Best player you’ve seen in a B & W shirt: Andy Carroll 2010. Most people might not agree but the best defenders in the country just couldn’t touch him. Which lead a club like Liverpool to break their transfer record for him. He was that good. Which club do you most dislike and why: Ast*n
Villa. For so many reasons. Ignoring their incredulous gloating in 09 and 16 they’re basically the media’s idea of a big club. Massive fan base allegedly yet regularly attracted sub 30k crowds even in the Premier League. Best away support in the world yet can’t manage to muster even a half full away end at our place. Plastic and snide. No one misses Villa away either. Best Away Trip you’ve been on: Benfica 2013. 4,500 mags enjoying April sun in a sensational city (Lisbon). The game was great and United good, very unlucky to go down 3 1 against a superb Benfica side. Pardew is what he is but I’ll always have a soft spot for 11/12 and the cup run the year after. Favourite away ground: West Brom as there’s always a good atmos. It’s a genuine working class football club and the away end acoustics are spot on. Who do you rely on for opinion/news about NUFC/Football: I ignore the national football media as a whole with it’s sycophantic and deplorable coverage of the game. The North East press pack are very good. I listen to as many other clubs podcasts as possible as that’s the only way to get a genuine feeling for how supporters feel about their clubs.
the most: Mark Douglas isn’t an nufc fan and isn’t from the area but has an understanding of the mood of the support and how the football club has been shaped in the last ten years that none can match. Like me he’s keen on stats. So him. And the least: Graeme Courtney perpetuates false stereotypes to a baying talksport listernship. By all accounts he worked well at the club when there and was a local bloke who knew the score with United. That’s not what I hear from him on the radio with his Keith Bishop fed nonsense. Best Newcastle match day boozer: Trent House hands down. Good crowd of mags in before and after. Great beers on tap that don’t cost a fortune and a stone’s throw from the ground. The antithesis of your stripper experience night clubs that a lot of mags seem to head to pre-game.
Ashley: On his way out and content to do as much damage as he can on the way for the equivalent of an extra £30 to me and you. Rafa: More important than even he probably realises Modern Football is great because: More women and minorities attend than ever before and the game is slowly becoming more inclusive to all. As long as they’ve got the money to get in of course. Modern Football is shite because: It still attracts dickheads on an unprecedented level both online and at games. Their days are numbered. The game becoming ever more popular despite in most cases shitting on the people it supposedly exists for. Tell us something we don’t know about NUFC: The first ever recorded footage of a football match (in the world) was at St James’ Park v Liverpool in 1901. Watch it.
My first memories at SJP were during the 5 0 drubbing of a relegated Forest on 1997. We qualified for the Champions League and the mackems and Boro went down. On. The. Same. Day. Hooked for life. False advertising.
Who is the football journalist you respect www.true-faith.co.uk
TF spoke with Miodrag Sovilj, a Serbian TV Journalist from the city of Novi Sad in Serbia and a massive NUFC fan.
A Serbian Magpie (not that one) tf: When did you first decide to start following NUFC and what was the most significant incident in pushing you to make that decision? MS: My first contact with football came through a magazine about the World Cup in 1994, the first one I had in my hands, as I only recently learned to
read. It featured stories about famous players that wouldn’t be featuring in the competition, such as Maradona and some lad called Shearer. I was just a kid then so I genuinely thought that they were legends of the game, playing in the ’50s, or ‘60s or something. I loved that World Cup, cheered for
the Bulgarians and felt really bad for Roberto Baggio when he missed the penalty against Brazil in the final. I loved the underdog from a young age. A couple of years later, they started showing Premier League football on TV in post-war Serbia, then still part of the old Yugoslavia.When I tuned in
NORMAN RILEY @LIKETHEGOAT
one weekend, some team called Newcastle were two goals down against a team called Leicester. Turns out that my very first game was the one when Shearer netted three goals and completely turned the game around. I was stunned, both because I thought that Shearer wasn’t even an active player, but I much better remember the excitement I had about a team that gives its all. The next time they showed Newcastle I was glued to the TV. And, guess what? They lost. That desire for the excitement the Toon rarely provides its fans, mixed with bitterness and some rare times of being over the moon has kept me in front of the TV ever since then.
MS: There is a significant Liverpool fan base in these parts, Man Utd and Arsenal are kind of popular with plastic football fans, I’ve met some die-hard Chelsea and West Ham supporters, and laughed when I learned that even the likes of Hull have their fans in Serbia. As for Newcastle, I really thought I was the only one, before the internet, when I realized that there is an online community of Toon fans from all around the Balkans, counting over a hundred supporters. I can definitely say for a fact that there are no Mackems in Serbia though.
tf: Are Newcastle a popular side in your country? Which English teams would you class as the most popular amongst your countrymen?
MS: As every Toon fan knows, positive and negative usually go hand-in-hand. For me personally, it is all in one game – the first time I visited St James’ Park. Me
tf: What is your most positive or are your most positive memories so far of following the club?
and my two friends were preparing for the trip for months, as England still requires a visa for Serbian citizens. I instantly fell in love with the city, felt the local pre-match buzz, saw that massive football ground, and, on top of that, I saw the boys in black and white lose 0-6 at home to Liverpool. I travelled 2,500 kilometres to see that. I wasn’t devastated – when you follow Newcastle, disappointment is a regular thing. tf: Is there any particular player and/or manager you’d consider as your favourite and why is that the case? MS: The whole of Sir Bobby’s era was amazing, exciting and entertaining, and was the only time when I followed a Newcastle worthy of their stature. Can’t really single out one player from that era, not even Shearer, because that time is a story about a team. After
Turns out that my very first game was the one when Shearer netted three goals and completely turned the game around.
that, when Ashley’s era came, heroes were very hard to find. Football itself started changing into the abomination it is today. Local heroes are no longer there. I guess Hughton’s team that won the Championship and started off the Premier League comeback had a soul, but with Pardew’s appointment and Carroll leaving it wasn’t the same. Until now. Rafa Benitez is already an icon, regardless of what happens in the future – he will be remembered as the man who brought the pride and passion back to Tyneside. In the current Newcastle squad I can’t single out one player, but the team led by that man has the chemistry as a squad, and we only have tf 20
Benitez to thank for that. tf: How do you feel this season has gone so far and what would be a satisfactory outcome by the end of it? MS: Every outcome of the season where we see Mike Ashley’s back would be satisfactory. Everything about this season is in the shadow of the potential takeover. I would love to see us stay up and keep Rafa in the dug-out but if the takeover collapses, I think something has to be done. Boycott the man, organize. It still escapes me how over 50.000 fans who come to the ground every week have so little say about how the club is being run. tf: How is Mitro perceived in Serbia and how do people react to the fact
he doesn’t play very often? MS: Being a national team’s top goalscorer, leader of a new generation and a very prolific goalscorer wherever he played, it is very weird that he’s not getting even a chance to prove if he’s worthy or not in the club. I was really happy when we signed him, not because he’s from Serbia, but because I have seen some of his old interviews where he clearly states that he’s a Newcastle fan. I was hoping for a passionate player that adores the shirt, and that’s what he turned out to be. I still think he could have been a cult hero in Newcastle, but that just wasn’t meant to be.
I still think he could have been a cult hero in Newcastle, but that just wasn’t meant to be.
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Allison Cary is a US football (soccer) fan and journalist based in Orlando. She’s currently studying in London and wrote an excellent article for the last issue on the state of male and female football in the USA. On Saturday, December 16th she attended her first Premier League match and has written of her experiences that day for tf.
It was a cold and wet day in London—appropriate for my first Premier League match. I had moved to the UK in September, catching several Chelsea Ladies matches at Cherry Red Records Stadium and even making a trip to Loftus Road to see Queen’s Park Rangers take on Leeds United. But the
mid-December matchup between Newcastle and Arsenal would be my first time seeing England’s top flight. On match day, I met Norman at Angel Stadium around 12:30, and we pubhopped for a bit before arriving at the stadium. Emirates Stadium felt
very different than Loftus Road, where I had been the previous weekend. It felt much more like an American football stadium, but smaller— much smaller. It didn’t evoke the same emotions as something like Loftus Road, which was rowdy and intimate. When we walked to our seats, I was
Allison Carey Follow @FindingAllison
surprised at how quiet the stadium was. It stayed that way for most of the match. I didn’t really know what to expect from the two sides coming into the game. Both teams were inconsistent, and even though I thought Arsenal held the advantage, I also believed that Newcastle had a chance to win the day. The weather was miserable, but the company was good, and all I really wanted was a good match. Unfortunately, we didn’t get that. Both sides felt disjointed. Arsenal dominated possession, with Newcastle only getting a few chances. When Newcastle did get the ball, they looked dangerous. But the team was clearly spending too much time in their own half, defending against an Arsenal attack that seemed unable to finish despite Newcastle’s fumbling defense. In the 23rd minute, Mesut Ozil scored a beautiful goal. After a cross into www.true-faith.co.uk
the box, Alexis Sanchez headed the ball into the air. As the ball came down, Ozil nailed a perfect shot into the top corner of the net. Newcastle had no chance at stopping it. The goal was a moment of brilliance in an otherwise disappointing match. Arsenal easily could have won that game by two or three had they been able to finish their chances. Newcastle looked good on the counterattack, but those moments didn’t come often enough for them to score. They started to build some momentum towards the end, but at that point it was too little, too late. Despite the on-field performance and the silence of the stadium, I really enjoyed my experience with the Newcastle supporters. I’m not a Newcastle fan myself, but everyone I met was kind and friendly. Contrary to the Arsenal fans, the Newcastle supporters chanted the whole match, always cheering on their team
despite how bad things looked. It made me excited to hopefully go to St. James Park this year, and see these supporters on their home turf. Football is a funny game. I spent two years working for Orlando City Soccer Club as the team writer. Some weeks, the team looked great and exciting. But sometimes, with very little change, the same team could look miserable. You have your good days, and your bad days, and my first Premier League match was a bad day for both Newcastle and Arsenal. But I can’t wait for my next match. I saw some small moments of brilliance for both sides. I saw potential for Newcastle—despite the difficulty of the match (and the season) it seemed at times as though all they needed were a few little tweaks to be a truly intimidating side. Hopefully I’ll see Newcastle tap into that potential next time I see them take the pitch. After all—anyone can win the day.
Newcastle looked good on the counterattack, but those moments didn’t come often enough for them to score. They started to build some momentum towards the end, but at that point it was too little, too late.
If you ever find yourself in conversation with a bunch of Brazilians, throw the ‘Who’s the best Brazilian player of all time?’ can of worms into the mix and stand back to enjoy the show.
If you ever find yourself in conversation with a bunch of Brazilians, throw the ‘Who’s the best Brazilian player of all time?’ can of worms into the mix and stand back to enjoy the show.
A Very Brazilian Mystery Pelé will be mentioned in passing, probably out of respect, the bairns will have Neymar or even Coutinho on the tips of their tongues, while blokes around my age will be arguing the case for (the real) Ronaldo. Ronaldinho will be brought up out of affection and Didi or Leônidas will be given an airing by the well educated/hipster brigade. But them that knaa, tf 24
that proplerly knaa, knaa that Garrincha was the greatest that ever lived. I first came across Garrincha (Manuel Francisco dos Santos, ‘Mané’ for short) when my then girlfriend (now missus, the lucky lass) told her family that I was into the beautiful game. Books about ‘Futebol’ were given as gifts so that I could educate myself and avoid the ‘clueless Gringo’ tag
on my visits to Rio. One of the books I received was a biography of Mané by Ruy Castro – the book is so good and the story so well told that I became a little bit obsessed with him for a while. So much so that on a visit in 2008 my father-in-law (a right old character) decided one morning, completely out of the blue, that we’d all go up to Garrincha’s home town – Pau Grande.
John MILTOn @ Geordioca
Pau Grande is a tiny town outside the city of Rio but still in Rio State. It got its name (translated as ‘big stick’ – and aye, there’s a joke there) from its only discernible feature – a geet massive tree that served as a landmark for the local Tupi Indians. That all changed in the late 19th Century when the British arrived and set up a textiles factory in the town. Along with the Victorian eye for business came their obsession with physical and mental wellbeing, it wasn’t long before Association Football took root, leading eventually to Garrincha’s talent being honed and perfected for the works team. Away we went on a jolly day out with my in-laws and something of a spiritual pilgrimage for myself. Pau Grande
is up in the Serra dos Órgãos that overlook Rio de Janeiro, near the striking rock, ‘Dedo de Deus’ (‘Finger of God’ – a massive formation which looks just like an index finger pointing to the heavens). Up we went, winding around the mountain roads, getting lost and seeing some amazing views. At one spectacular spot my father-in-law pulled over for photos. I stepped out onto what I thought was the grassy roadside, but it was in fact shrubby nothingness. I disappeared straight down. My poor old mum-in-law almost had a heart attack. Luckily, I got tangled up in the bushes and long grass so didn’t plummet to my death. Instead the missus took a video of me crapping myself whilst trying to claw myself
to safety… Love, eh? Thankfully, I only lost a flip flop during the whole traumatic episode. Once I’d breathed into a brown bag and regained my composure we were off and shortly arrived in the one-horse town of Pau Grande. There was nothing that I wanted to do or see there but pay my respects. On our way to the cemetery we passed the Mané Garrincha stadium – but I was surprised not to see more references to the town’s most famous son. The cemetery was a ramshackle, typical Brazilian cemetery, a labyrinth of large marble boxes or crypts containing the remains of several generations of families. The dead are placed in these crypts in their coffins and when, after a few years, they have
decomposed to just bone, the coffins are opened and the bones removed, placed into a smaller box, and then positioned to the side of the crypt along with boxes containing parents, siblings, spouses, cousins and whoever else from the family who may have been placed in there, to make way for future family members to join them. Culture, innit? After a brief search we managed to find Garrincha’s grave and, having read about his exploits, seen his mesmerising skills on Youtube and listened to Brazilians express their love, admiration and thanks for the great man, it was a blow to see him resting in what amounted to no more than a pauper’s grave. Just a simple, white, marble crypt. No elaborate decoration, no
heartfelt poetry, no grand gesture or great homage. There were some simple, yet heartbreakingly profound words on his grave: ‘Here rests in peace the one who was the joy of the people.’ I spent quite a while there: it was a solemn moment. Being at the resting place of a true legend of the game. A two-time World Cup winner, no less. The man who single-handedly delivered Brazil their second triumph in Chile in ’62. I like to think that I shared a moment with my idol up there in the silent serenity of the mountains. It was a moment that I will never forget and that helped cement my affection for ‘O anjo das pernas tortas’ (‘the angel with bent legs’). RIP, Mané. I genuinely had to wipe a tear away from my eyes and compose myself
before rejoining my family. And that was that. Or so I thought. At the end of May last year, when I was waking up slowly, preparing myself for the big move from Brazil to Spain, I got a WhatsApp message that jolted me right out of bed. It was a link to the day’s breaking story – it was possibly the most Brazil thing I have ever read: CORPO DO CRAQUE GARRINCHA SUMIU. I read and re-read it. I assumed my Portuguese was crap cos it couldn’t have meant what I thought it meant – ‘BODY OF CRACK PLAYER GARRINCHA VANISHED’. Eh? They lost Garrincha’s body??? Even by Brazilian standards this is pretty lax. How can you misplace a body? Let alone the body of one of the greatest, if
Eh? They lost Garrincha’s body??? Even by Brazilian standards this is pretty lax. How can you misplace a body? Let alone the body of one of the greatest, if not the greatest, football player of all time???
not the greatest, football player of all time??? Howay man, Brazil! I was stunned. It was just incomprehensible. It would appear that around 10 years after his funeral, another family member was buried in the plot. Garrincha was removed as the council wanted to build a larger grave complete with an obelisk for him. His remains were moved and placed in a drawer at the back of the cemetery in the meantime. No members of Garrincha’s family attended this funeral and in true country-bumpkin style no-one made a note of where the body was moved to. So when the crypt was opened again in 2017 to be prepared for a new, erm, resident, it was found to be a body short. I am not ashamed to admit that I, along with many www.true-faith.co.uk
millions of Brazilians, feel a deep affinity with Garrincha. He was a naïve, precious soul – vastly flawed, lived life by the day, played football for the joy he took from it and gave to the spectators, was taken advantage of by club and country, abused and discarded when his playing days were done. His addictions to women and booze were his downfall, but he didn’t deserve to die in poverty, and he didn’t deserve to be laid to rest in a poor man’s grave, and there’s no way in hell he deserved to have his remains – bent legs and all, ‘misplaced’ by a bloody council worker. Writing this in January 2018 I can still feel the rage rising, my blood is boiling at the thought of this, yet another injustice done to him. That said, if you know
anything about him, and you think about it philosophically, you’d know that this farce actually bears some poetic continuation to the farcical life he had led. The man who was impossible to mark, who took great joy in wrongfooting and losing his pursuers on the pitch has continued wrong-footing us mere mortals in death. “My father doesn’t deserve this”, understated Rosângela, one of his 9 daughters. It was after the shock, bemusement, sadness and anger had dissipated that my mind drifted back to that emotionally charged graveside visit of 2008 and the realisation that I’d been having a deeply spiritual moment with an empty box. Garrincha, man… He’s still laughing at us. tf 27
When Jack Dorsey, Noah Glass, Biz Stone, and Evan Williams created twitter in March 2007 I bet they had no idea of the trouble they were about to unleash. I wonder if they knew their platform would become central to revolutions in the Middle East, a nationwide meltdown over Brexit and the election of an idiot as president of the so called “free world” since its creation. Maybe they did know the importance of the platform they were about to unleash but I guarantee they knew nothing about the world of misery that’s the #nufc hashtag.
Rubbish BY JAMES BUTLER FOLLOW @jamesbutler84
The problem with social media is that it’s so addictive. As a football and nufc fan being able to have access to a world of information at your fingertips is an amazing thing. Every close season and January we’ll check twitter to see what’s happening with NUFC (10 years of Ashley ownership means it’s usually nothing) every rumour or ITK (in the know) account lures us yet further into the realms of twitter and facebook falsely creating excitement and then usually disappointment. When it comes to match day it’s no different. I listen to almost all games on the radio and whilst I enjoy the coverage I use twitter to try and get a different perspective from the one delivered on the radio. I am trying to consume as much NUFC information as I
possibly can during the course of 90 minutes of Football. Whilst we are blessed with some great journalists who are live tweeting during games it’s still not enough, I am hopelessly addicted to checking the #NUFC hashtag for information. However over the past few years the NUFC hashtag has become a dark and depressing place. I am not sure what’s changed? Maybe it’s me getting old and cynical but I am convinced that the NUFC hashtag is some sort of parallel dimension or more depressingly a perfect example of the internet generation. Take a look on a Saturday as the team is announced and you’ll see the usual over reaction; • Murphy is shite • Darlow is our worst keeper • Where’s Mmbema • Joselu!! This is before a ball has www.true-faith.co.uk
been kicked and based purely on some warped opinion that they know better than a man who’s won the champions league. Once the game gets underway it makes even worse reading. I’ve seen criticism of players from the 1st minute of a game. To my horror at the Luton game I watched in bewilderment a kid live blogging his complete overreaction to a mistake from Freddie Woodman, a player that was making his professional debut for NUFC. This “expert” vlogging the entire event seconds after it happened from his seat in the stadium had instantly judged that a young goalkeeper who won the under 20 world cup was simply not good enough? I was as equally as surprised that nobody sat around him said anything? Surely it’s done as some sort of bravado thing, showing your mates you’re a big man or a banter merchant because you gave a player some shit about a bad game or mistake. Without sounding like an old bastard you can’t help but think the kid just needs a clip round the ear. We’re witnessing a trend of players being tweeted directly and being threatened for what someone behind a keyboard deems to be an unacceptable performance. It’s not strictly an NUFC problem www.true-faith.co.uk
and no doubt it’s as prevalent at other clubs. It is however in my opinion completely unacceptable for a person who’d describe themselves as a fan to threaten or abuse our own players because of a performance. I fail to see how it’s helpful and can create anything other than a negative experience or feeling to the player. I am sure players are trained in dealing with the pressures of social media etc but It must make some impact on them. It’s the complete overreaction of the comments across all platforms that leads you to ask why they are doing it. Our national press love nothing more than to roll out the delusional Geordie headlines and hammer us with an unrealistic expectations for success and trophies and I wonder if this is a manifestation of that becoming true? Maybe these people really do expect us to be competing in the upper echelons of the Premier league? Maybe they expect us to be pushing to sign Barkley or competing for the signature of Sigurdsson. It could be that they simply can’t let go of the past and accept the harsh reality of ten years ownership under Mike Ashley which has delivered nothing but misery. Whatever the reason for the behaviour it’s hard to see how it can ever be corrected. I
imagine the #MUFC will be a similar place with plenty keyboard experts pointing out the failures of a near perfect Pep Guardiola side. Football and technology have progressed quickly over the past ten years and we live in a completely different world now. We have access to platforms that allow us to interact with our heroes in a way that was never possible before, how we choose to utilise that is up to us and I think as a fanbase we need a reality check of where we are as a club now. Joselu, Hayden, Dummet, Perez are limited players, do you think in an ideal world Rafa Benitez would sign players like that if money was no object? Rafa is working with the tools he has and he’s working with both hands tied behind his back. He’s constantly reminding the fans to get behind the team and that’s not a criticism of us as supporters, it’s a plea from him to help. Our team needs all 11 players plus the supporters to be firing in order for us to stand a chance.
We’re witnessing a trend of players being tweeted directly and being threatened for what someone behind a keyboard deems to be an unacceptable performance.
Let’s actually show some realism and patience and get behind the lads. After all we are supposed to be the loyalist football supporters the world has ever had. tf 29
Khaldoun Halman is a professional footballer playing in Palestine for Ahli Al-Khalil Sports Club based in Hebron, The West Bank. Heâ€™s an attacking central midfielder and his club plays in the West Bank Premier League. In 2015, his side won the Palestinian FA Cup which meant qualification for the 2016 AFC Cup, the equivalent of the Europa League. TF spoke with him to try and learn a little about how it is to be a player in a country that has well-documented issues.
Football in the West Bank tf: Which are the biggest clubs in Palestine and who are the fiercest rivals? KH: The two most prominent football clubs are Gaza Sports Club and Shabab Al-Khalil. The biggest confrontation, and the rivalry that gets more spectators than any other is Shabab Al-Khalil versus Shabab Al Dahereya, both based in different districts of Hebron. tf: Has the standard of
football in Palestine improved year on year since the Leagueâ€™s formation in 1974? if so, why? (TF note: the Palestine national team recently overtook the Israeli national side in the FIFA National Team Rankings) KH: The general situation of sports in Palestine is doing better year after year, especially since 2008 when Jibril Rjoub became the Head
of the Palestinian Football Federation. He participated in the development of infrastructure for football, like the building of stadiums with international criteria. Under his tenure, Palestinian sports has enabled Palestinians to express themselves and attract international attention to their situation through their activities.
NORMAN RILEY @LIKETHEGOAT
tf: Do youngsters in Palestine aspire to play in Europe? KH: All players always have the hope to play for the biggest clubs but unfortunately there are very few opportunities because the Palestinian League is not often scouted. tf: Culturally, how important is football in Palestine? Is it the most popular sport in the country? Do fans identify with certain clubs
based on social/cultural reasons? KH: The main goal of Palestinian sports is to reassure the existence of Palestine in the international arena and to see the Palestinian flag flying high. The other goal of course is to give our best and win. The most popular sport in Palestine is football and fans always attend matches, even women, whether it is for clubs or the Palestinian national team. tf: Does the Palestinian National Team have aspirations of playing in the World Cup one day? KH: The goal has always been and will always be to www.true-faith.co.uk
qualify for the World Cup. It is the dream of every Palestinian player and every Palestinian supporter and we hope it will come true soon. tf: Has the qualification for the Asian Cup in 2019 given Palestine confidence? Does the country feel very positive and proud of its team? KH: Itâ€™s a huge responsibility and players are looking forward to change the status of Palestine from a country that only has the honor of participating to a country that can have actual chances of winning a competition. The Palestinian people is very proud of this generation of
players and of the efforts of everyone who works for the national team under the responsibility of Abdul Nasser Barakat. tf: Are there any Palestinian players you think could make a move to a European club? Anyone that might be a star of the future? KH: Of course, it is not easy to imagine a Palestinian in a European team today but in the future, if there is stability in the region, it is not impossible that it happens as we have great talents here in Palestine. It is one of my hopes to see a Palestinian player represent Palestine in a European club.
The goal has always been and will always be to qualify for the World Cup. It is the dream of every Palestinian player and every Palestinian supporter and we hope it will come true soon.
Savage Enthusiasm, a history of football fans by Paul Brown Local author Paul Brown returns after his excellent ‘All with smiling faces’ with his second offering, a look back at the history of the football fan. I picked the book up before my journey to Australia to watch England beat themselves in a one sided Ashes series, and the book was a welcome distraction to what I witnessed at Perth and Sydney in particular. ‘Football fan’ is a loose term so a preconception of mine were on what type of fan Paul would be writing about. I was quick to understand when I began the book that pre-satellite television and social media there was only one type of football fan; those that went to matches. Paul paints a fascinating picture of how working class men began to attach themselves to football clubs and how attendances rocketed either side of each world war. His use of sources for the time including newspaper advertisements and articles, speeches by MP’s and correspondence tf 32
between fans and journalists is superb. Everyone reading this has the bug and is probably obsessed by Newcastle United. Paul creates a colour chronological narrative of how our grandfathers and great grandfathers created the football clubs we still support and how Britain went nuts for something that had only been around a decade or two. The book touches on tragedy when necessary and examines the early vilification of football fans – almost always certainly blamed for their own tragic deaths going back right to the start of the last century. Throughout the book Paul excellently impresses just how little authorities have cared for the lives of football fans. It’s not all one way as the issue of hooliganism and football’s pre-Premier League decline make for fascinating reading. I found the pre-war rise of football and the football fan fascinating and then the post war chronicle of football’s rise then fall then
rise worryingly relevant as clubs once again find new and interesting ways to shit on their core support. Favourite fact: The handy reminder that in 1946-7 Newcastle United were the best supported team in the country (averaging 49k), despite being in the second division. Where were you when you were shit? Things to improve: It could be a fraction longer Opinion: A must read for any fan interested in football history and the way football fans are still treated. Buy it here. 9/10 Alex Hurst www.true-faith.co.uk
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Away days with your mates are always special occasions, whether it be to a cold miserable mid- week match in Stoke or in this case the delights of a Saturday afternoon game in Chiavari, on the beautiful Ligurian coast of Italy. Technically this was an away weekend with its centerpiece the Genoa Derby, our hors d’oeuvre was a Serie B match Virtus Entella v Cesena.
Geordies Here, Geordies There
Talkin Italian - A match day on the Ligurian Coast.
Vitrus Entella 2 CesEna 2, Serie B, Stadio Communale , 4/Nov/2017. KO: 3pm, Att: 1622. We arrived mid-morning at Genoa’s second station, Brignole. The four of us feeling worse for wear, after a rocket fuelled drinking session in Milan the previous night. The other three had finished the evening off in style, triple whiskies, five to
my recollection, which resulted in one of the party spending the whole 1hr 30 train journey hugging the toilet in a state of semi-comatose isolation. Luckily our hotel was only 400 metres away.
alongside our fallen mate sprawled out on the bed. The remaining three of us went on a quick recce to find the Sampdoria club shop which luckily for us was only five minutes away.
We checked in, then left our gear in the room
The match at Chiavari kicked off at 15:00 so it
Peter Embleton Follow @pefiorentina
was decided we would head off there, shortly after mid day to give us plenty of time, for a bite to eat, a few beers, the short walk to the ground and to purchase our tickets. Unfortunately we set off a man down our mate hadn’t rallied enough to make it. The train journey from Genoa Brignole to Chiavari took 26 minutes costing a princely €8 return. The real pleasure in taking this scenic train ride along the Italian Riviera is the views of the places along the way and I’m not exaggerating this is one of the most beautiful www.true-faith.co.uk
coastlines in Italy, easily identified by a string of century old seaside villages of picturesque multi coloured, pastel shaded houses clinging to the hillsides, surrounding small harbours filled with fishing boats and trattorias. Chiavari lies halfway between Genoa and the northern most of the 5 Cinque Terre towns Monterosso al Mare, then in order southwards Vernazza Corniglia, Manarola, or Riomaggiore. If you haven’t been to this part of Italy, I strongly recommend a visit and you can also access it easily from Pisa and
Viareggio. We decanted from the train ending up at a lovely modern eating place opposite the station entrance A little band of tifosi, who had travelled 350km from the opposite coast of Italy, never let up on a constant stream of chants and songs some of the following, down to bare skin at times. Cessna scored two classic break away goals in the 6th and 35th minutes courtesy of their lightning fast Gambian, Lamin Jallow against a constant stream of Virtus pressure. tf 35
The home side were let down by both a centreforward who wasted numerous chances from a stream of excellent crosses, from the left and an ineffective light weight numbered 10 who was constantly brushed aside in every physical challenge, continually complaining to the referee which eventually ended up in him getting a yellow card. The Virtus Entella pressure eventually paid off however when Andrea La Mantia scored in the 41st min to pull one back. This sent Scar Face and his crew into a state of frenzy cranking up the volume further in their passionate support of their colours.
Virtus again dictated play in the second half equalizing in the 66th min through the substitute Davide Diaw. Even though Virtus dictated play to the end they could not find a breakthrough the match ending in a draw. The last twenty minutes was livened up by a big cult hero for the lads and lasses on the Curva the goal keeper Alessandro Iacobucci, he of bleached blond hair, resplendent in a full fluorescent orange kit with a big pair of fluorescent yellow gloves His every move appeared, to be playing, to his followers. We left the Stadio in the fading winter sun to make our way back to Chiavari
Station as with all matches that supporters attend we ended up discussing and dissecting the game we had just witnessed the lads were full of praise for the standard of football on show and the passion of both sets of supporters. Our train was on time, as we began our journey back into Genoa joining a throng of Sampdoria and Genoa fans going to that evenings Derby della Laterna. Our appetite for the match under the floodlights of the Marassi being fully whetted by our afternoon excursion to see the Diavoli neri or Black devils -Virtus Entella. Bring on ll Grifone v II Doria.
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Postcards F rom The Edge Paully
Jesus’ birthday celebrations have well and truly gone and everyone is currently walking around as happy as a pork scratching in pig shit with a severe case of the ‘January blues’ (albeit I’m not sure why that poor colour was chosen to be picked-on). The month of January must be twinned with a Monday as all and sundry seem to despise both of those poor lamb chops. We picked up seven points from a possible 12 over the festive period which was our best return since the Sir Bobby days and the year 2002 when we were still in contention for the title until the latter stages of the season. Two away wins in consecutive matches in the Premier League was a fantastic achievement especially when you consider that our previous two away wins in the top flight took 14 matches to amass. The win at the ‘tax-payers’ stadium was a great result as they had taken four points from Chelsea and Arsenal in their previous two at home. That venue is certainly not a place to watch football. Huge gaps between the lower tier and upper tier as well as that daft running track area equate to a shoddy atmosphere. Alf Garnett will be turning in his racist grave at the state of it. He’ll be bellowing “send the buggers back to Upton Park”, no doubt.
Next up were the team that could easily go down as the best to ever play in the Premier League. It was like a horse racing jockey fighting a bustling heavyweight boxing champion. A team comprised of mainly Championship players against a team rammed with world class superstars who were assembled at eight times the cost. A team that had scored 60 goals in their previous 19 matches against a team that had scored 18 in the same number of matches. Rafa set us out to be tighter than an aardvark’s arsehole and we ended up losing by the only goal which is no disgrace against a team that had put five past Liverpool and four past Spurs. Or so we thought. Apparently, we should have opened-up and went toe to toe with them according to their manager who wears jumpers that were clearly made for small children. Pep must expect everyone to bend over and apply the lube for him. Gary Neville also made similar comments whilst commentating. The same Gary Neville who lasted three months as a www.true-faith.co.uk
I genuinely think that a drunken, chainsmoking, blindfolded chimpanzee would have a better understanding of the game than some who frequent SJP.
manager and whose team were humped 7-0 by the best team in that league. We’d have been absolutely annihilated if we had of tried to attack them from the first whistle and I’d laugh my pubes off if we stay-up on goal difference by one goal after the ridiculous overreaction by the so-called experts. The less said about Brighton at home on the pitch the better but the performance off it was equally as bad. I’ve said this before but there is an absolute moronic element of our home support. What do these people think they achieve by whinging their bollocks off whenever a player plays the ball backwards in order to retain possession? Would they rather it was just aimlessly lumped forward for us to end up losing it? We have an honest bunch of players with limited ability who always give 110% and who don’t deserve one iota of abuse. The atmosphere at SJP has improved tenfold since Rafa came along assisted by the superb Gallowgate / Wor / Leazes Flags but
up 21 points and conceded on average 0.88 goals per game. Of the five matches he has not played, we have picked up one point and conceded on average exactly 3 goals per game. Rafa is clearly a big fan and it’s to Lascelles’ credit that he played the final three months of last season with a goosed groin which needed repaired during the summer. Keeping him fit for the rest of the season is crucial to our survival hopes.
there is still negativity lingering around by some plebs. I genuinely think that a drunken, chain-smoking, I’m amazed that I’ve yet blindfolded chimpanzee to mention the main word would have a better which is occupying every understanding of the game NUFC fans’ thoughts. It’s than some who frequent the first week of January SJP. It’s a different kettle of and I’m disappointed that tadpoles with regards to our it hasn’t yet gone through away support where there is and there have been no no pressure on our players sightings of Ronaldo on and it’s no surprise that the karaoke in the Garter we concluded the festive or Messi scoffing a chip fixtures with another well- butty with batter outside of deserved away win at Stoke. Clayton Street Chippy. I’m The away end took drunken totally convinced that it will levels to new heights and the go through. No news is good topping-up of NewYear’s Eve news in this situation for me. boozing was clearly evident. Amanda seems a sensible I’d have snapped your hands switched-on woman (I can’t off for seven points from believe I said that phrase) those matches and it meant who wouldn’t entertain a that we propelled ourselves curry (as well as an array out of the bottom three and of sambuca no doubt) with within sniffing distance of Mike Ashley unless the deal the top half. was done / almost done. I One of the main reasons fully expect NUFC’s 10 and for our upturn in form has a half year tenure of being been the return of our used and abused as a vehicle extremely-likeable skipper. to promote a tacky sports We have massively missed shop to be over by the time his leadership qualities and that the next issue comes organisational skills and out but knowing NUFC , the stats allude that he is the deal will have collapsed by far our most important and Rafa will have walked player. In the 17 games he after Ashley afforded him a has played, we have picked transfer kitty of 11 pence. tf 39
SEASON Players: McInroy, Nelson, Fairhurst, MacKenzie, Davidson, Weaver, Boyd, JR Richardson, Allen, McMenemy, Lang, Murray, Betton, Mathison, Burns, Bell, Cape, J Richardson, Gallantree, Dryden, Leighton, Heward, Dennison. Division: After a mid-table finish last year, a much better league showing this time around helped the Magpies finish 5th in the league, upping their points tally from 42 points last season to 49 in this campaign. Arsenal won the league title for the second time in their history, finishing 9 points above
United come season’s end, and scoring an insane 118 goals to boot. Manager: Andy Cunningham carried on in his role after lifting the FA Cup with us last year, and continued his impressive work nabbing a 5th placed finish.
Trainer/Coach: The same pair continued in their work after last season’s trophy, with James McPherson Jnr. continuing to work with the lads more extensively on the training pitch. Highest Attendance: At SJP this season, a late-March date with eventual champions Arsenal was as big as it got in terms of crowd with 51,215 packing into
the ground to see us defeat the league leaders at the time 2-1. A huge win and one which kept United in with a shout of the title. On the road, once again it was Arsenal that was the biggest crowd we played in front of, their popularity at the time showing itself here. Arsenal won that fixture 0-1 in North London, with 56,498 in attendance. Lowest Attendance: A late February game with Sheffield United brought us our worst crowd of the campaign, only 7,620 turning up to the Gallowgate to see the black and whites run out 2-0 winners over a side that would finish mid-table. Including away games, our last away of the season brought the smallest crowd we played in front of this campaign, 6,465 were at Derby to see the home side beat United 3-2 at the end of April. Average Attendance: Attendances took a bit of a dip on the whole this season,
dropping a fair amount down to an average of 25,992 from 21 league home games. That figure last season stood around 30K. If you include the two cup games played at SJP this season, a home defeat to Leeds in the FA Cup and the Charity Shield match against last year’s league winners Everton, the figure jumps slightly to 16,972 from 23 home matches. Biggest Win: A couple of four-goal wins was United’s biggest margin of victory this season, doing it twice. In only the second game of the season,ourhomeopener,United beat Middlesbrough 5-1 at SJP, McMenemy among the scorers with a brace. We repeated the trick to make it a Christmas to remember as we beat Blackpool 4-0 away from home on Christmas Eve. Allen (2), Boyd and Lang getting the goals. Worst Defeat: Coming off the back of a defeat to Sunderland the previous week, things didn’t get much better against Leeds in mid-
April, as we fell to our worst defeat of the campaign. United were spanked 6-1 by a side who would finish five points below us wasn’t what we had in mind as we looked to bounce back after the derby defeat. This result effectively took away any outside chance we had of taking the league title. Something of Interest: After winning the cup last year, United came into this season full of hope and optimism of transferring that into league success. A good start brought around excitement and after five wins in a row in December (including beating Birmingham twice in two days just after Christmas) we had a great chance to kick on. However, as mentioned above, a derby defeat to Sunderland was followed by a 6-1 thumping at Leeds in April and we never recovered, eventually finishing 5th. Mentioned in Dispatches: For the first (and only) time in Charity Shield history, the game was played at St. James’ Park. Cup winners Newcastle and league champions Everton. Sadly for the black and whites, it was the scousers who came out on top of a hugely entertaining contest, 5-3. Everton legend Dixie Dean was the star of the show, scoring four of Everton’s five goals. There was also an unofficial ‘English vs. Scottish Cup winners challenge’, with United taking on Rangers over a two-legged affair in September. We would win the home leg 5-0, and lost 4-1 at Ibrox, taking home www.true-faith.co.uk
bragging rights. National Interest: The first modern ‘sighting’ of the Loch Ness Monster happened in May this year.. In April, cricket batsman Wally Hammond scores a record 336 runs in a test match against New Zealand.. Battersea Power Station first generates electricity in the July.. England wins the Ashes over in Australia this year, something we couldn’t get near to in 2018.. Actor Michael Caine was born in March this year.. Joan Collins was born in the May.. And the notorious Kray twins were born in the October. Regional Interest: The snide version of the Tyne Bridge is opened in Sydney with the steel coming from Dormand and Long on Teesside who had done the honours for the beauty between The Toon and The Heed. Hawthorn Leslie in Hebburn reduces its workforce by 20% and six Shipyards on the Tyne
are shut. Unemployment and deprivation becomes endemic. Plans are afoot to demolish some of Europe’s biggest slums on the Gateshead side of the river at Oakwellgate and Pipewellgate–literallyonthe slopes of the Tyne near Bottle Bank running down to the Tyne. The Flying Scotsman comes through the Central Station, strangely enough by rail. Suit yourselves. Former denizen of North Shields, Stan Laurel stars in The Music Box with the other gadgie. It is considered by historians that the inspiration for the famous scene with the piano was inspired by Wor Stan walking home from the Fish Quay up the steps. We’ll take that. In Durham, the Houghton Cycling Club is founded. It is still going today and is one of the oldest cycling clubs still going in the UK.
The snide version of the Tyne Bridge is opened in Sydney with the steel coming from Dormand and Long on Teesside who had done the honours for the beauty between The Toon and The Heed.
Chris Laws. Follow @tflawsy1892 tf 41
Is it just me or, like Uncle Monty’s cat, we’re all increasingly obsessed with our gut. No longer placated with tinned salmon as the posh option, evermore exotic and “healthy” foodstuffs invade our dreams and manifest themselves on the high street. one so successful he runs a company hiring out other footballer’s cooks, who are doubtless just like him. Giving a justification as to why he was cooking daily for grown adults who enjoy plenty of spare time and material resources, he described a scene that sounded like that Christmas dinner episode of The Royle Family. Apparently, a footballer, begroom’d, oiled and scented and doubtless lightly Sheeran’d, panicked whilst trying to cook something fashionable for his beloved. Surrounded by a jumble of part-cooked ingredients (with not a tin The article described the of mushrooms in sight I’d work of one such chef; wager), said footballer rang
Dipping (out of boredom) into a discarded copy of The Daily Torygraph sports section on a train recently, I read an article on the eating habits of top modern footballers. Many, including Jonjo Shelvey, engage specialised chefs to cook for them. This lifestyle choice apparently helps them run about more in the right direction and kick the ball in the right way more often than they would do if they didn’t eat broccoli al dente. Not for them the fate of those from previous, malnourished footballing generations like Patricia Heard or Gazza Megson, oh no.
our chef, who quickly came round and calmed the whole situation down with a piece of wild sea bass and some quinoa. This is the sort of high-end, go-get-em, postBrexit British pluck we should all take succour from. Now, I don’t want to be too facetious. Not everyone can cook. And if you have the money I suppose copying the aristocracy’s modus operandi of getting everyone else to do the stuff that gets in the way of watching Flog It is entirely reasonable. What worried me most, rather, was the cook’s explanation that his company’s services included banter. According to our
chef, a footballer’s honour is best safeguarded if a certain amount of matey jocularity is shown whilst meals are prepared. Banter levels have to be honed in line with the client’s culinary wishes; as the right degree of jocular mansplaining needs to be employed when showing a modern athlete how to dice the humble carrot. Imagine: banter about the wild-foraged turnip and pass completion rate meeting on the Astral Plane. Now I don’t know about you but the LAST THING I wanted was banter when trying to buy a processed meat amalgam in a bun from the
Butlers, Banter and Dame
FOSTER follow @Incendiary Magazine
Best of all (and worth my funeral on a longship pyre anointed with e th sweet oils and accompanied by , wailing of my womenfolk) he d sell the club. We can but dream. swivel-eyed hotdog man on the Barrack Road. I’d be lucky if I saw my change. Still; I can live with these lads paying good coin to eat good food. It’s certainly better than watching some weary wife bring in a tray with a “bit dinner” into the pub for some Andy Cap on his fourth afternoon pint. But there’s something depressing about having banter in the kitchen to help put toprange athletes at their ease. Banter seems to be the cure-all for all society’s ills. We can “chillax” and josh equally with those we look up to; whether footballers, our young royals, Jeremy Clarkson or Jeremy Corbyn. This is not the stuff the Columba Club was built on. Long silences punctured by a wheezing suck at a pipe stem, yes. Banter? Givvowa. Sadly, like many things with Modern Football, we can’t rely on our past dignities to see us through. We need to be part of this tsunami of mild idiocy. Footballing gentlemen folk whose home interiors resemble Dame Barbara Cartland’s back parlour (see Harry Kane’s New Year’s Instagram post) www.true-faith.co.uk
are doubtless in need of something more than kitchen banter. Surely, they need a cultural counterbalance in the form of a footballer’s alternative gentleman. Namely me. A Jeeves who likes Afrofuturism and Scratch Perry and can tell them about how shit the old toilets in the Gallowgate were, that kind of thing. Like the character in John Glashan’s brilliant Genius cartoons, I could act as a sage Man of Letters, all the while furthering my own interests and trousering money from Qatar or Russia. If Toby Young can be employed to look after the country’s Youth on the back of his exciting, Metropolitan, go-ahead life then surely this 40-something - who used to get his Sweet ‘n Sour from Felling High Street - can dole out the readies on footballers’ cultural pursuits. Would Sir care to bid for two copies of the first pressing of Durutti Column’s debut LP, the one with the sandpaper cover glued on by members of Joy Division? Would Sir prefer a non-pollutant ink tattoo of Keith from Prodigy on his left or right lower cheek?
Would Sir please remember that licking one’s dinner plate should be carried out with a firm and regular motion of the tongue, enacted from bottom left to top right, holding the aforementioned plate at no more than 45% elevation? In fact, I would go one further and sacrifice myself on the altar of this club’s proud history and become Mr Ashley’s valet. By the time I’d done with him, he’d gobble up improving literature such as Das Kapital, What Is To Be Done?, The Lonely Giant, A Christmas
Carol and some of Paul O’Grady’s dreadful books about dogs. He’d be fed an aural diet of Crass, Divine (his personal fave), Soft Cell and Sly Stone. He’d wear David Icke’s tracky bottoms and eat kumquats in a circle with Viz’s Modern Parents. Best of all (and worth my funeral on a longship pyre anointed with sweet oils and accompanied by the wailing of my womenfolk) he’d sell the club. We can but dream. Happy New Year!. RICHARD FOSTER - Follow @incendiarymagazine
@tfMich w o ll o F in t r a hael M
Its the second week in January as I write this and we appear to be no further to concluding the sale of Newcastle United. We are at a point in the club’s history where faux-experts on social media attach great meaning to random corporate acts to prove or disprove what they want to believe and trust in Ashley is at an all-time low. If that was possible. Such is the appetite for news and information some of these people have now become fully paid up celebrities of the Black & White twitterati, no matter how much of a chimera all that nonsense is. At least they aren’t as bad as others who film themselves ranting at the match about a rookie ‘keeper making his debut who has had the audacity tf 44
to make a mistake. Their agenda isn’t in support of United, it is to build their profile, hopeful they can be catapulted into the world of ArsenalFan TV, the True Geordie and all of that nu-media of raging and acting up for the amusement of God knows who? Whatever happened to those leftish, low-key fanzines eh? Oh well. The January transfer window is open but as yet there has been no action involving United. Rafa has spilled the beans that he hasn’t a clue about the available budget and even loan deals seem currently beyond us. Charnley looks even more gormless than usual. The latest twist is Rafa has to sell before he can buy but this is much
the position he was in over the summer and such is the lack of trust between manager and owner, that Rafa decided he could not risk the sales of Gayle or Mitrovich to fund a striker of his choosing. The club’s coffers should be being filled by all kinds of other funds but such is the stasis we’re in, that, that doesn’t seem to mean much. What Rafa wants, Rafa gets! Remember that? Seems a long time ago. I’m suspicious of those who express certainty as to what will happen next. I’m fortunate to know those who are closer to those around the deal than the average bear and they lack that sureness. I guess we’re going to have to wait and see and at the end of
Their agenda isn’t in support of United, it is to build their profile, hopeful they can be catapulted into the world of ArsenalFan TV, the True Geordie and all of that nu-media of raging and acting up for the amusement of God knows who?
it all, we can sit down and compare our sunstance free, cod-theories. At the moment however, Rafa Benitez is all that stands between Newcastle United and a future not dissimilar to the one being enjoyed at Sunderland. He and the players he does have at his disposal deserve our support. But he and we know, this just cannot go on forever. It won’t. I’ve supported Newcastle United since the early 70s. My first hero was Supermac. But the best player I’ve seen play for us was Peter Beardsley. In both spells for us, he was incredible and I adored him as anyone privileged enough to see him play did too. He is a bona-fide Newcastle United legend in the correct meaning of the word. It is incredibly sad that his name has been dragged into allegations of bullying and racist language. It is also depressing how his standing with supporters
has been sullied because of the public support he has given to Mike Ashley at talk-ins which has baffled those who have heard it and wondered if his mealymouthed defence of his boss is more about him staying on the club payroll than anything more meaningful. Separately, I’ve often wondered at the lack of an apparent involvement Beardsley has had with Hillsborough. I don’t expect him to have been involved in the campaign but attendance at memorials and events might have been something he’d wanted to have done given he was a key Liverpool player in that era. Games against the Anfield club come and go and Beardsley says and does little to mark his association with Liverpool and what that tragedy might mean to him. A defence is everyone deals with these things differently. That might be the case. I find it curious.
Beardsley is a contradiction. Perhaps we all are. Those that meet him, confirm a friendly everyman who always has time to sign autographs, is affable and friendly. The kind of canny lad in your street who carried your granny’s shopping home off the bus. I’ve seen him besieged in Marksies by supporters young and old and him retaining his charm and warmth throughout. I’ve seen other United legends drop a shoulder and dive out, disappointing supporters with an
apparent indifference to a public that adores them. A couple of decades ago, I worked in a service that might be described as community outreach. On several occasions Beardsley attended community events and those from some of the most disadvantaged communities on Tyneside were thrilled with his way with them, particularly young people who he was happy to join in with kicka-rounds and it made my heart swell that one of our club’s greatest ever players could be so engaging, so
natural and warm with those from communities like the one he was from and who adored him. Then I compare that with the foul-mouthed rants I’ve heard come from him at talk-ins ... some of which have been done for charitable cause but have turned so many off him. Those contradictions eh? I think it is grossly unfair to slaughter Beardsley’s record in the Academy. The overwhelming number of us haven’t a clue what goes on there. What we do know is investment under Ashley has been minimal and that resulted in the club failing the EPPP which has had long term consequences. Certainly, there hasn’t been a succession of stars coming off the local assembly line but it is out of proportion to blame that on one man regardless of how much we might be repelled by what he is now accused of and the support he has given previously to Ashley. I can’t imagine United is any more invested in chasing youth talent as it is further down the line with the first team
pool can you? What Beardsley has been accused is serious. If guilty it renders him wholly unsuitable to work within a progressive, modern, multi-cultural and sporting environment with young people. That he has been placed on leave will lead to fevered speculation and plenty will draw their own meaning from it. I find it incredibly sad this has come to pass but I also feel for the young people involved and if their allegations are found to be anywhere near true, they should be offered every support possible and helped in their future development at the club. They matter as much as any former Newcastle United superstar. We are delighted to be holding the second true faith : PRESS FORUM. Its on Thursday 1/Feb/2017 at the Tyneside Irish Centre and we’re delighted to be in the company of some of the best journalists covering our club right now. The roll call is George Caulkin (The Times), Luke Edwards (The Telegraph),
Louise Taylor (The Guardian), Simon Bird (The Mirror), Craig Hope (The Mail) and Mark Douglas (The Chronicle). Its a tenner to get in – you can get you tickets here. Every penny profit raised will be again donated to the Newcastle United Fans Foodbank and we desperately hope it goes some way to support some of the people in our communities in greatest need. The Newcastle United Fans Foodbank is one of the best examples of fans activism anywhere in the UK. Everyone that plays even the smallest part in making it the success it is, deserves enormous praise. This is the power of Newcastle United harnessed in the right way. The Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle United and Alan Shearer Foundations along with the Foodbank and ToonAid – all expressions of the collective energy of those in, around and supporting our football club. Geordies Are The Pride of England. And then some. Keep On, Keepin’ On
This is the power of Newcastle United harnessed in the right way. The Sir Bobby Robson, Newcastle United and Alan Shearer Foundations along with the Foodbank and Toon-Aid – all expressions of the collective energy of those in, around and supporting our football club.
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