The Newcastle story

OK, I haven’t written about Newcastle United FC for a while, and you won’t expect me to be completely silent on events… For those who don’t know what this is about, a little bit of background on the life and times of this football (soccer) club. Two years ago the sky fell on Newcastle, as the owner fell out with the much loved manager, Kevin Keegan. Keegan left, and a completely chaotic season followed, at the end of which the club was relegated from the Premier League to the (then) Coca Cola Championship. In the meantime the owner, Mike Ashley, was trying to offload the club but couldn’t find a buyer, the fans hated him, the biggest players left. Fatalistic fans were already talking about further relegation to League One.

And then it all changed. Newcastle’s players bonded in adversity with each other and with the caretaker manager, former Ireland international player Chris Hughton, a steely determination set in, and the club started winning games. Actually, winning them again and again. Until at the end of the season Newcastle easily came out on top of the Championship and were promoted back to the Premier League. Then, ten days ago or so, in the opening game of the new season, the club faltered against Manchester United at Trafford Park, and some were already predicting they would be relegated again. But just for now, no-one is saying that, because on Sunday last Newcastle annihilated Aston Villa, beating last season’s number 6 club by 6-0. Maybe things are looking brighter at last.

For me, the Newcastle story is a romantic one, of enthusiasm and determination in adversity, and the desire to do something and be something in and for a city that lives and breathes football. Of course there are still all the questions about where international soccer is going: the inflated salaries and transfer payments, the mountain-sized egos that the modern game has produced, the role of super-rich owners who don’t know how to respect the game, and so forth. But there is also the sheer excitement at seeing these dramatic struggles, and the joy of watching the game when it is at its best.

Go, Newcastle!

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3 Comments on “The Newcastle story”

  1. Big Bad John Says:

    Congratulations to the Toon from a still very bruised Aston Villa supporter!


  2. I played a lot of football. I now watch a lot of football. It might be said that I’m far too fond of football. However, the phenomenon of being a supporter of a team in another country mystifies me. I holiday in Lisbon and I’ve thought about adopting a team there but Benfica or Sporting? I may as well toss a coin; I couldn’t be a supporter. The best I could manage would be a mere fan.

    Now, I have a few favourites in English football and I’m a firm ABU but I’m not a supporter. Being a supporter means a great deal. It expresses a deep, deep connection to a place and a culture. I’ve been a supporter of St. Patrick’s Athletic since I was a child, growing up a few hundred yards from Richmond Park and it matters very much to me. A friday night in Richer is when I’m most me and I could go on about this for pages and pages. There is no possibility that I could ever have selected an English club and become a supporter in any meaningful sense of the word.

    It may be that Ferdinand is like a friend of mine who supports Newcastle United. His first real job took him to Newcastle. He was happy there and fell in love with the city, the people, the team and St. James’s Park. That I can understand but the thousands of Irish who identify with a team in England I fear don’t really understand “supporter” and don’t experience it.

  3. Kevin O'Brien Says:

    There was a time when Newcastle brought a real sense of excitement to the game, back in the first Kevin Keegan era, and later in the Bobby Robson era. It is of no surprise that that attracted fans to their team. I used to follow Newcastle at the time, but since have defected to Fulham. (I go to London a lot for work stuff).

    I have to agree, though, it is a bit strange that many locally based MUFC supporters have never set foot in Lancashire, never mind Old Trafford.


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