Newcastle United often is too emotional and as readers of this fanzine the likelihood is that you are attached to the football club in ways you can’t describe and derive meaning from it that makes no sense. The club has been in my life, for better and worse, as long as I can remember often acting as the ballast to keep me on an even keel. This month has not been a good one for me on a personal level, others will have had months like it, but the football club is still there, always there, playing an unspoken role in our lives, a huge part of our lives.

I have often been told by people that Newcastle’s problem is that they aren’t a big club and they have unrealistic expectations of their place in the English football hierarchy. Since 1969 we have not won any sort of top level trophy, I’m still not counting the Intertoto Cup, and we all know that it was 1955 for the FA Cup and 1927 for the league. The issue with being a big club is that its undefined and plays a role that is almost impossible to be proven. For my lifetime there have been three clubs that I would have considered ‘big’ – Liverpool, Arsenal and Manchester United. Now this pains me, but in my lifetime the last team there are the biggest of all. They have the biggest stadium, largest worldwide fan base of English teams and a track record of huge success. Liverpool have won the league once in my lifetime but the first teams I remember seeing on the television was the side of Rush, Barnes, Beardsley et al. Arsenal won the league twice under George Graham, won in Europe and then competed for a decade under Wenger.

So why am I writing this, do I think Newcastle are as ‘big’ as these clubs? Honestly, no I don’t. What I find hard here though is when it comes from fans of Spurs, Chelsea, Manchester City etc. Mainly because their success (Spurs aside as they haven’t won that much since 1984) has come extremely recently. Chelsea couldn’t finish above us in 2003 and were rumoured to be about to sell us John Terry as they needed the cash. Man City took on the money of a man wanted for fraud in his own country and then hit the financial jackpot at the right time. Their financial might blew Abramovich out the water, their success has come through financial might. They, Spurs and Chelsea had won the league five times between them by 2004, we’d won it four times by ourselves.

However, what has exacerbated this problem more is the rise of twenty-four hour coverage of sport but football in general. People like Agbonlahor telling people he doesn’t think players would live in Newcastle, Simon Jordan talking about things as if he knows football because he once owned a club, one he left in administration. Journalists supposed to be taken seriously by providing actual input on football who seem to be keen to keep telling us all the things we are doing wrong, or trying to claim that Steve Bruce has been harshly treated by supporters, implying that was our level and he was doing a good job.

Yet these very same people will talk about Newcastle fans being responsible for the lack of success of the club because of our unrealistic expectations. Interestingly they always point to the reigns of Keegan and Robson and imply we think it should be like that all the time. I don’t know a single Newcastle fan who thinks we have a god given right to be fighting for the league and Champions League, but the media imply this is all we think. Graeme Souness (interestingly challenged by Alan Pardew) said about the size of the club that we aren’t a Liverpool. No, we aren’t, but we don’t think we are, so why match that as a characteristic. Do I think we are a bigger club than Leicester, yes I do, and I’m not sure apart from they’ve won the league recently what argument could be put forward that we aren’t?

Finally, the reason for this piece, though I feel it has become a bit of a rant and a rambling one at that, is because for a club that everyone is desperate to tell us isn’t big, people can’t stop talking about us. Newspapers, radio and TV we are all over the place. We are linked with just about every player going this window so far, opinion pieces telling us how useless our owners are, based on the word of agents and the obscure group of ‘football people’ who apparently have experience of taking over a company stripped of just about every cost and ran as a discarded product.

I want us to be able to shout that we’ve won trophies and god knows this fan base (despite what is said) would celebrate for a week if we won the League Cup. Not many grounds and clubs attract fifty thousand in the second tier, whether one club in a city or not. Tied tenth for the most trophies in domestic football, ninth in terms of league titles, but number one in terms of current column inches and airwaves coverage. By any definition, this is a big club and it will rise again.

Stephen Ord  –   @smord84