“When do Newcastle play next?” – the question from my 9-year-old son, Oliver, a few days before the Brentford game. Despite my best efforts, he’s only ever had a passing interest in football. I’ve taken him to Newcastle, to St James Park, he’s got the shirts and he enjoys a kick around but that’s as far as it’s gone. I answered the question and confirmed we were up against Brentford on Saturday but what followed from him surprised me – “that’s a while off, I was hoping it would be sooner”, “Brentford aren’t very good are they?” and “I hope Saint-Maximin is back for that one”. Out of nowhere and to my surprise he’d not only become more interested but also much more knowledgeable about football and in particular, NUFC.
Latest Fanzine – On sale!
— True Faith: Newcastle United Fanzine and Podcast (@tfNUFC) February 16, 2022
Fast forward to the 11th minute of the Brentford game and he’s celebrating the Dasilva red card and just 20 odd minutes later he’s jumping around following Joelinton’s bullet header. He’s always maintained an interest; he’s happy when we win and disappointed when we lose but this was a real turning point for him – if Newcastle were playing, that was his focus for the 90 minutes – how had this happened?
I was 8 when Kevin Keegan took charge in 1992 and I’d be lying if I said I remembered much about Newcastle before then. Like Oliver, I also started to pay more attention when I was 9 which coincided with a team including Cole, Beardsley, Fox and Clark. The first match I accurately remember was in October 1994, away to Palace at Selhurst park. Beardsley scored an 89th minute goal in a 0-1 win. Me, my sister and my Dad joined in with the “We are top of the league” chants in the away end – I still have the programme today. Anyone who has kids knows it’s far easier to get the interested in something which is positive and enjoyable. Oliver was born 5 years into Ashley’s ownership of NUFC and during the season when we exited the UEFA cup at the quarter final stage whilst managing a poor 16th place Premier League finish. It was going to be hard work to get my boy interested in this version of Newcastle United but I was still going to try.
In October 2016, my wife and I took Oliver and his older sister Ruby to SJP for the very first time albeit Oliver was asleep in his Mom’s arms as we took our seats. He woke just before the teams came out and I’ll never forget that look on his face as he opened his eyes to a packed SJP, music blaring and fans singing. It couldn’t have been any better – a goal in the first minute from Perez and a full-time score of 3-0 against Ipswich. In one way that game seems fairly recent and in another, it feels a lifetime ago. I tried as best I could to explain to the kids the significance of the events that unfolded on 7th October last year but in reality, it was a day I shall always remember for the phone call I made to my Wallsend born Dad when the yellow Sky Sports banner read “NEWCASTLE TAKEOVER COMPLETED” – like many, I had a tear in my eye and I’m sure he did too.
“Trust me when I say if we find something as a fanbase that could bring the name of our club into disrepute, we will be the first to let our new custodians know!” @Carl_TFaith ✍️ #NUFC https://t.co/Fy4m2W8JJM
— True Faith: Newcastle United Fanzine and Podcast (@tfNUFC) March 22, 2022
It’s quite incredible to think that in less than 5 months, Newcastle United are a completely different club in almost every way imaginable. Having beaten Southampton, we were unbeaten in 9 and whilst we enjoyed some decent runs under Pardew, the feeling around the club at the moment is akin to Keegan era. That said, it’s better still as we’re a far cry from the “just score more than them” approach under Keegan. Don’t get me wrong, I loved it – we all did but who would have thought that Newcastle, particularly this season, could become hard to beat. There were many preconceptions about Eddie Howe but very few of them are ringing true – we are disciplined, organised, fit, strong and we’re winning games. There is a togetherness right through the club, the team and the fans – being a Newcastle fan is an enjoyable experience again. Owners who care, a manager who works tirelessly for the benefit of the team and players who bust a gut in every game to get a result – in reality it’s all we’ve ever wanted as fans.
Many people will feel as though they’ve got their club back and are once again experiencing joy in supporting their team. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in thinking the 1-1 draw with Watford back in January was going to be hard to come back from. At that point I was convinced we were heading for the Championship such is my recent experience of this club – we couldn’t possibly turn it around. Fast forward a few short weeks and we’ve beaten Brighton for the first time in Prem and Eddie Howe wasn’t basking in the victory, “it could have been better” he said whilst also confirming that the players were in for training the very next day.
‘Chris Wood will always score goals!’
⬛️⬜️ 🇳🇿 #NUFC
— True Faith: Newcastle United Fanzine and Podcast (@tfNUFC) March 21, 2022
No days off but I bet they were all smiling when they turned up to another intense training session and a number of briefings from Howe and his team, dissecting the performance against Brighton and looking for opportunities to improve. We wanted a team that tries and we’ve ended up with a team that tries and have become hard to beat with some lovely wins along the way. The less said about the Chelsea game the better – quite simply we were robbed. It is however a very real reminder of just how far we’ve come, losing 1-0 to Chelsea away, aggrieved that we didn’t get at least a point and feeling we could have got 3. This was Chelsea, European champions Chelsea.
I have no doubt there are great things coming for this club but we must stop and enjoy what we have right now.
Rus Trevethick – Twitter: Rus8410