Need a reminder how far we’ve come? As we prepare to face off against Spurs for a Champions League spot, one thing’s for sure – it won’t be like this grim iteration of the fixture. Onward and upward, we go!
I’ve had some great days following NUFC in my life. Some sad days, some ecstatic days, some days when I wondered why I bothered. I’ve had days when I’ve loved the club, loved the people who’ve supported them with me and other days when I’ve wondered if we all follow the same team. I’ve had days when I’ve been surrounded by mates, people I think the world of having a pint and a bit of crack and felt as happy as could be and I’ve had days when I’ve felt miserable and reserved, sometimes because of the football, sometimes not. I burst with pride looking around our away end at the Baseball Ground 23 years ago as we teetered on oblivion and I’ve nearly died of embarrassment listening to some of the things coming out of our fans mouths at Highfield Road and Valley Parade.
I’ve watched the club through incredible highs in some of the greatest stadiums in the world and I’ve watched them in incredible lows in places like the Manor Ground and Oakwell and I’ve seen us witness heroes and villains represent our side. I’ve laughed watching Newcastle United, I’ve been overcome with joy watching them and I’ve walked away from games with a horrible knot in my stomach brought about from a mix of frustration and anger and when my wife asked me ‘So, what was today like then?’ when I got home, I could have answered her with any of those emotions after what was one of the weirdest days of my life as a football supporter.
If you’re looking for a report on what happened on the pitch or inside SJP, then I’m unfortunately not qualified to give it. I watched it on the telly but as any real football fan will tell you, you can’t really get a feel for it by watching on the box and I’m certainly not in a position to comment on the atmosphere or feeling inside the ground. As we’ve done for as long as I can remember, I met my Dad and my mates in the Percy before the match and as we’ve done for as long as I can remember, we had a great bit crack in the beer garden outside. For the first time in my life though, instead of walking up to the East Stand, I headed to the back of the Gallowgate and stood with I’m not sure how many other folk and despaired of what our club had become.
I was heartened by the protests, yet at the same time I winced when I heard match going Mags given stick for going into the ground. Let’s get this in context, it was hardly the Miners Strike at its peak and most of the insults from one ‘side’ to the other have been thrown on social media but there is a clear division in our support now and that is wrong, from both sides. The protests were noisy and heartfelt and when 4pm came, we were in the strange position of wandering off to the pub and watching the match not 300 yards from the ground.
You’ll all doubtless be bored of me rattling on about my Da in my reports and The Special and so on but I’ve seen so much with him following Newcastle down the years that I’ll be honest and say I almost worried what he’d say when the news of the boycott came out – this is a bloke that’s missed maybe a dozen home matches in the last 50 odd years. I needn’t have been, his reasons for being back in The Percy were the same as mine and there was more desire to see United win the game than there was to see how many empty seats there were.
Of course we didn’t, again and from what I saw of the game, Spurs deserved it. There were the familiar failings of this season – Krul flapping around like a fanny, our threat being virtually non-existent and our sheer lack of quality being evident. Let’s not beat about the bush though, these factors are the symptom of where we are at present and the cause lies firmly with Ashley. I hope and pray that the protests start to take hold and effect real change in the club that we all love because today more than ever showed to us all that the status quo under Ashley is no longer an option. It might take relegation to get rid of him and as treacherous as it sounds, I would take it tomorrow if that were to be the case but it probably won’t happen so we’re either in this for the long haul or we’re waiting for a miracle and neither sound very appealing. Once the adrenaline died down from today, I’d doubt that many people from either side of the fence WANT many more days like this – I found it quite sad if I’m brutally honest but if this is what it takes to change things, then personally I think that the sacrifice is worthy of the cause.
Keep the Faith
GARETH HARRISON – Follow Gareth on @truefaith1892