SCOTT ROBSON is excited by the new home kit.  Unfortunately, you won’t be seeing him walking around Ashington in the shorts…

You would think it was done on purpose, wouldn’t you?

New strip on sale, smack-bang in the middle of the two Sam Fender mega gigs.  This was very un-Castore. It was very much the new NUFC.

Castore, who have failed to live up to their “Better Never Stops” tagline ever since they have been our kit manufacturer, were dragged kicking and screaming into the new Newcastle zeitgeist.

Castore have been rightly pilloried by this publication and online by Newcastle supporters who have had shirts sent to them after months of waiting and with mistakes ranging from wrong sizes to upside down crests. It reeks of Ashley and the ‘it will do’ attitude which engulfed the football club like a raging fire. The non-existent customer service didn’t exactly dampen the flames either.

This mysterious company has, to be fair, picked up a huge amount of contracts lately from the England cricket team to Rangers, Villa and Europa League winners Sevilla.

Ordinarily, you would love to see it: a new British company fighting amongst the big boys and giving Adidas, Nike and Puma a shock or two. However, United did some dark deals in the last few years of Magic Mike. This was another one. Newcastle agreed a deal with Castore until 2024 for not only £1.5m less than the one they had just exited with Puma, but for about half the amount a club like Tottenham would get. OK, Newcastle at that time wasn’t exactly a PR paradise but let’s face it, we didn’t exactly sell ourselves. So, until next season Castore it is.

That said, as you will have seen by now the new kit is a cracker. Seeing the market for retro kits and millennials paying top dollar for anything that came from the eighties and nineties, they have produced not only the best kit they have done for us but the best by anyone for a while. It’s more than a slight hint to the 1984 Umbro shirt and that’s fine by me. They’ve definitely got it right this time. This is from someone who is ready for a fight every time the new Castore effort comes out. It’s a shirt fit for the Champions League. Sela replacing Fun88 also helps.

THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Spot The Difference – 12/Jun/23

That’s the good part. The hopeful part is that the chaotic Del Boy-style way of dealing with orders will be ruthlessly sorted out by a supercharged club operation which won’t accept that nonsense again. Come two years’ time, the big guns will come calling and it’s probably right to say NUFC won’t do what Ashley did with Puma when he refused to pay a premium which meant the club got bespoke kits. You know when your Sunday League team picks one out of the catalogue? That essentially was us.

Good news over, let’s get to the elephant in the corner of the club shop. The price. It’s outrageous isn’t it? Adult shirt : £70. Kids shirt £55.00. Men’s / women’s shorts: £40.00. Kids shorts: £38.00. Adult socks £18.00. Kids socks £16.00. There are some truly eye watering prices kicking around there. price of a pair of shorts, in particular, is truly shocking. Put to one side that it’s only a certain type of person who would ever buy a full adult kit, the fact is that if you want to look smart for five-a-side, it will set you back the same price as a return flight to Morocco.

This is before the inevitable Champions’ League motif and the favourite player on the back. Expect more Joes and Dans than Joelintons and Burns.

Before anyone cuts in with the “going rate” point, I know – I’ve seen them. Kitbag are charging £139.95 for a home ‘23-’24 Liverpool shirt with Mac Aliister on the back. The whataboutery isn’t lost on me but the irony isn’t either: Liverpool and Newcastle continue to be high on the list of most deprived areas in the country. But maybe I’m completely missing the point.

A Good Deal? New Newcastle United Shirt Sponsorship!

I remember the clamour in 1993 by yours truly to get both of the new Asics kits hot on the heels of the 7-1 demolition of Leicester . I queued at the old St James’ club shop and at LA Sports in Ashington a lot longer than the 45 minutes people queued on Saturday morning which seemed to weirdly incense other teams’ fans. Those kits looked the business but could hardly be described as great quality either. They clicked more than a camera on the first night of a Hollywood blockbuster. They were around £25 – £30, roughly around £78 in today’s money. I hardly spent time whining about it then.

I’m not the target audience. I used to be. I got every top until around 2009 when it just dawned on me that I was either feeding that Ashley monster even more or that I was getting too old. Not too old to wear a retro 1991 kit though just to prove I’d been there when Liam O’Brien scored a last minute own goal to complete a four-goal collapse against Charlton having been 3-0 up.

It’s hard not to say the prices are obscene because they simply are.

You would have hoped that, with the goodwill around the club and the wealth, it would have been possible to have come to some arrangement that everything was ten quid less. I know it’s got nothing to do with the club, but could they have intervened? That massive sponsorship last week left us even more flush, families around here who have two or three kids desperate for the new strip will have to scrimp and save for this and that in itself, for me, takes the sheen off that new shiny top.

At least the kids are no longer running around in PSG and (sickeningly) Manchester City kits, on the parks on the North East, and are now desperate to wear a Newcastle kit and that is a joy to behold and the big kids are proudly buying their first top in fifteen years. It’s like we’ve come out of hibernation. Also a quick trip to JD Sports or whatever to see the price of the likes of Nike or Napapijri gear and you realise this is small fry. Newcastle United shirts are now fashion items. You pay for that. Unfortunately if you can’t afford it you can’t buy it, which is a shame.

I’m going to end with the price of those shorts again . FORTY QUID !!!

The price of success, perhaps.