Not surprisingly Newcastle United zealot Steve Wallwork has made the trip to the USA to catch the pre-season games over the pond. Here he is sharing his experiences with us all to give us the low down. It’s a bit of football but more so a lot of travelogue as his band of Mags traverse the home of the brave and the land of the free.
This is Steve’s report from the stands of the Lincoln Financial Field.
Charlotte Robson for TRUE FAITH is in the stands at the three state-side games this week and has an instant reaction from the stands in the stadium as well as some reflections on the game too – get on both here – https://www.patreon.com/tfpodcast
You can follow Charlotte on @charlottehope and of course on @TFNUFC1892
For music fans here’s a mix courtesy of Spotify of some sounds of the famous Philly Soul for those whose bell this rings – here
The Sound of Philadelphia (The Three Degrees) – here
Aston Villa 3 Newcastle United 3,
Lincoln Financial Fields, Philadelphia, USA, Sunday, 23/Jul/23
It’s been quite some week.
From the Gateshead downpour to the Geordie invasion of Glasgow before heading state-side to watch Eddie’s Mags looking to emulate Rocky with a victory in Philadelphia.
Now to be fair, a pre season friendly against Aston Villa is of little significance in football terms, so the “match report” will reflect that.
Villa took an early two goal lead with strokes from Buendia and Watkins. Cutting through us far too easily as our formation looked so much out of sorts. We did seem to have plenty of the ball but worryingly looked vulnerable whenever they attacked us.
Luckily we never conceded again and pulled one back on the half hour through Elliott Anderson who showed some good strength before finishing. In first half stoppage time Isak smashed it in to put us level.
All the good work was soon undone when we allowed Buendia to grab his second to put Villa back in front. We got back in to it again when Wilson put in the rebound after a good effort on goal by Anthony Gordon.
End to end stuff.
Harvey Barnes came on around the hour mark for his first outing in Black & White. Big things to come from him. Youngsters Miley and Anderson both looking very good and worthy of keeping around the squad this coming season.
A final score of 3-3 was probably about right in the end and provided enough entertainment for the American fans in attendance.
This was much more than your average pre-season kicks out in the sun. It just offered fans travelling over a whole new experience. Everyone, and I mean everyone did their Rocky Balboa bit on the steps and had their photo taken with the statue.
Well, you have to don’t you! Even the players were there doing the same thing.
Anyone visiting Philadelphia has to go to Reading Terminal Market. Food outlets that just do real food to die for. We’ve spent best part of three days in there and probably gained a stone for each day!
The night before the game, a fan gathering was arranged by local fans in a city centre Irish bar. So many attended you could hardly move at the front of the bar. All in good spirits, telling each other stories of their connections to Newcastle United, where they’d travelled from and how they’d travelled. Cracking stuff.
The build up to the game was centred around a “Tailgate” gathering in the parking lot of Lincoln Financial Field, arranged by the Philly NUFC fans and funded by those in attendance. Free flowing beer and food all afternoon for hundreds of our fans, a few fans of other clubs and even visited by former players Shay Given, Shola and Warren Barton.
It was just a brilliant event and setting.
Special thanks to those who put it together as they did a fantastic job. It could never work in the UK for obvious reasons so it’s a really great memory for all who travelled and attended.
The stadium itself is just WOW. Twenty years old but facilities to shame any UK stadium. It was just a real awestruck moment as you entered. Scales of grandeur we don’t see. Fan friendly beyond our wildest dreams.
Yes, there has to be one. They have so much going on in terms of food and drink outlets but boy do you pay for it. $13 for a can of beer and similar prices for things like hot dogs.
You do it because you are there on a one off trip. Imagine that every week at SJP?
That can’t dampen the overall experience though. We never expected things to be cheap.
A quick mention also to the US based NUFC fans who had their own tailgate party gate crashed by about 20 of us thinking it was the one we were supposed to attend.
They were so polite and never questioned us as we drank all their beer! If any one of them sees this, they have our sincerest collective apologies.
As we left Philly the morning after, we can honestly say, “Thank you, it’s been a real pleasure”.
I get that this is more of a tourist information blog, but the reality is, I couldn’t do anything else.
As I said earlier, there’s much more to this than a friendly game.
On to Atlanta we go.
Follow Steve and Ally at @stevewallwork and @AllyH77