Have we become a more fractured fan base? Why the hysterics on Saturday? Home and away veteran Scott Robson thinks the club must bear some responsibility.
When Mike Ashley was in charge at Newcastle, we all had a common purpose. To hate everything he stood for and to get him out of the club. My idea of a Simpson’s style catapult remains in the back of my shed minus a wheel.
While Ashley moves on and swallows up Reading FC and Headingley and counts his cash, the club he left behind is operating at another level physically and metaphorically. Basically, since the turn of the century we’ve never had it so good.
Look under the surface though and things just aren’t like they should be. Our support is fragmented. Our away support is frustrated.
Something has been bubbling under for a while, and whereas on the pitch we have a side whose willingness to run through brick walls is unparalleled with any other team in my 40 years supporting the club, even they, as seen on Saturday, are getting dragged into a vortex which doesn’t look like it’s going to end well.
Let’s look at last Saturday as a case study. We lost. We were, by all accounts, terrible.
The injuries were a massive reason why we lost, but the real reason we lost was because the other team was better. Despite the capacity of their ground, they were better. Get used to it.
When we lose nowadays, and we have only lost ten times in the league since Easter 2022, by the way, some of the fevered reactions of our support are incredible. It got to the point when we lost at home against two times European Cup winners Borussia Dortmund, we blamed a drum. However contraband that drum was, it was a low point.
I saw some people say last week that we wouldn’t have reacted like Arsenal fans did after our contentious win. Give over! Some of our support would have had good old Chi Onwurah standing up at Westminster, while recreating the Jarrow Marchers to the “corrupt” Premier League HQ.
Saturday saw, of course, the incident at the end of the game when a United fan had a bit of an exchange with Trippier, who by all accounts had played one of his worst games for us and was pretty pissed off by everything and didn’t need it at that point. Criticising our own players is nothing new. Whether it’s right or wrong has been discussed since East and West merged to form United.
We have always picked on certain players, and I defy anyone that’s been regularly to our games to not have lost their shit at one of ours in black and white.
Me? Stimson at Oldham, Colback versus Leeds and, most cringeworthy looking back, Gary Speed at Bradford in 2001, though in my defence I was very much in the majority that day. Hell, Kevin Carr even got attacked by someone supporting HIS team in the 1980s.
Those days were before phones with cameras, of course, and the videos certainly weren’t instantly uploaded to social media for the perpetrator to be hung, drawn, and quartered on Twitter. The lad who said his bit to Trippier, is a seasoned away traveller and who would have spent around 18 out 24 hours of Saturday on a bus, while the people that lashed out at him were mostly watching on television really, weren’t they?
The fact that some people think that loyalty is whether your YouTube channel is gushing with praise or stupidly gushing is another sad development of the modern supporter.
The situation came to a head on Saturday night when the lad had to hurriedly put out a staggering statement to stop him getting days of acute abuse directed at him and his family. The statement, “I hold my hands up”, resembled something an ex-prisoner would say, as he came out after a sentence for armed robbery.
Trippier was right. Injuries were the cause and tired players were the effect, the fact that someone has to say sorry like that to keep the NUFC wolves from the door is pretty weird, no? Do the players need to pipe down a bit? Twice this season now they have taken the bait.
Also reported was the mouthful a United fan got at Dean Court for having the temerity to wear an American football cap and support Newcastle. The extremely weak link presumably suggests that because of the cap that he was an American tourist and taking the ticket away from a loyal Geordie. As it happens he had hundreds of loyalty points and is now thinking of chucking it all in. It’s utter insanity. Whatever your accent is, you are a Newcastle supporter. End of.
But, for me, the club has to share the blame for this incredible tsunami of suspicion that has been created by fellow match going mags. Ok, you have to be a certain type of person to look at someone at an away game and try and decide whether they are worthy of being in your presence, but the club has broken a system which wasn’t anywhere near needing fixing.
Some of the decisions have been bizarre, borderline unsafe. The 300 dud tickets, the threat of a lifetime of money spent on travelling the globe watching the club going up in flames because of sharing an unwanted ticket, plus the obvious massive uprate at the amount of corporate tickets at away games.
– Home ticket ballots and memberships anyone?
– Ticket phone systems and websites unfit for purpose.
– Massive queues for home games due to a pitiful electronic entry.
It’s all added up to a toxic atmosphere that rubs black and white up against black and white, because we’ve all been told we can’t criticise the owners as we should remember what we had before.
This is also rubbish. The club needs to sort this out. It doesn’t matter that we are beating the likes of Paris Saint Germain – we have a problem here and the silence from the club has been deafening. They were quite happy to come to fan events when we were putting a Hawaiian garland around their necks but nothing now. Strange that.
The club Is on the up and will be unrecognisable in ten years. Things will change and it’s unrealistic to think we will become a European superpower without doing unpopular things. But the problems now are things that are simply rectified with discussions with the people who actually count. The paying supporter.
The Stasi style monitoring of away support has to stop. It’s not needed. Not only has it changed the away support dynamic it’s also totally unwarranted.
As we enter the international break it’s an opportunity to take a breath for the players and more importantly us as supporters as well. Let’s all cool it. The problem is this isn’t going to go away though and from the boardroom to the terraces we all need to play our part in this.
Newcastle needs to be United, because without that we are nothing .