The relief.

The sweet, sweet release of the man who has been stood on our collective chests stepping down. Stepping away.

Inhale. Exhale. Breathe.

We’re free.

Like walking out of prison after 14 years incarcerated.

Treading tentatively, disbelievingly, out into a crisp October morning blinking into the sunlight.

Is this real? Is he finally gone?

Yes.

This must be what it’s like to win the lottery. When something so amazingly, incredibly, good has definitively happened but you just can’t quite process it.

I still can’t quite accept it a month later. I feel like Tom Hanks in Castaway when, after sleeping on hard ground for years, he can’t sleep in a bed.

This is the after effect of the parasite. We’re in recovery. It’s going to take some time.

He stole our club away from us. Matches where you just didn’t care. You watched under sufferance. You endured. Muscle memory based on what we once were.

Instantaneously replaced by excitement. Exhilaration. Hope. That’s what he took from us. From a city. From an entire new generation. Him. He who shall not be named. Nor his shit tip of a business.

When his tat empire’s signage is finally ripped from the body of our filthy, disregarded, stadium it will be a cleansing. Literally. Sponsorship and naming rights I’m fine with. Stealing them from the club. I am, to quote Ving  Rhames in Pulp Fiction, “pretty f*cking far from ok” with.

I protested. I handed out flyers. I walked in late and was booed. I paid more from other shops rather than give him my money. Ridiculously more for a CP Company jacket but I digress!

When Rafa went I went. I missed my friends. 5 of us from school sat in a row. 34 years after we first met in blazers and ties. In the end none of it mattered. I should have known.

Greed was the only thing that would tempt the slug to slither off. To live his miserable, dad jeans, white school shirt and £5 buzz cut (I imagine he has his own rusty hair clippers actually) Henry F Potter, existence. Out of our sight but still not quite out of mind.

I know it’s not healthy. I know it’s not kind. I know I should be better but I genuinely hate the man. Still. The misery he imposed in service of adding to the millions upon millions he already had piled up. For what? To have more?

He turned a football club into an advertising hoarding. He turned a sporting institution into a tawdry vehicle to increase his wealth. A club that served to exist. To subsist.

Enabled by the work-shy fraud previously of the parish down the road who’s about as much of a Geordie as Jacob Rees Mogg.

The Bruce ‘abuse’ narrative proved the maxim emphatically that a lie goes half way around the world before the truth gets out of bed. A concocted fiction authored by the similarly petty and vindictive heir to the Bruce throne. Joffrey Bruce.

He barely had a chant against him. He got off extraordinarily light given his public pronouncements diminishing the players, club and former manager with every utterance. Let alone the pitiful performances and, ultimately, inevitably, dire results.

We watched this play out by gaslight as his unofficial PR antagonized fans then cried victim himself as mistruths were broadcast across The Telegraph wires. Very similar plumage on Messrs Bruce and Edwards.

In truth he was an appalling football coach and manager. An atrocious communicator. A relic from a previous age and a spiteful, mean-spirited person.

He wouldn’t so much shoot the messenger as strangle him, stab him, kick him, set him on fire, then tie bricks to his ankles and throw him in the Tyne. Takes more than that to kill Craig Hope though!

Then sob that he was being picked on, it was everybody else’s fault and that they made him do it really. Pathetic.

The only surprise was that it took him so long to reach his true level i.e. Incapable of winning a match based on his input.

He could only stand on the shoulders of ‘The Mighty Rafa’s’ team for so long before he lost his balance and toppled to the floor. He eventually did it ‘his way’ and Frank Sinatra winced.

That he and his accomplices connived to get out the gates first after his departure and set the agenda was a fascinating example of news management.

A story angle accepted, unquestioningly, by broadcasters and press alike as a verified version of events that rapidly went Covid-level viral.

Despite the efforts of a valiant few to course correct it was ultimately like standing in the middle of a river and trying to stop the flow of the water.

Poor Steve. Bullied out of his job Steve. Good man Steve. Nice man Steve. Man U Captain Steve. Last minute winner against Sheff Wed Steve. Softly spoken Steve.

The irony being that he was the bully. And lazy. And terrible at his job. And in receipt of an £8m goodbye. There are many people who warrant our sympathy. He isn’t one of them. Bothers me greatly that he got away with this crime against the truth.

Supporters from clubs up and down the country then piled in on social media to have their say about a subject they patently don’t understand. Never let a lack of knowledge get in the way of a strong opinion seems to be the mantra for those picking up the megaphone of Twitter and Facebook.

I would never dream of commenting on say Arsenal. You have to watch a club week in week out to truly know it. You have to listen to everything the manager says to know him. You have to live it to know it. You have to love it to know it.

We’ve had to endure a cacophony of cack from a confederacy of dunces. Know-all know-nowts from up and down the country and beyond. Unemployable by Waterstones with their inability to distinguish between Fact and Fiction.

But we need Jedi like repose. We won.

We’re the most affluent club in the world. On Earth.

Strap any of the 7.592 billion people on the planet who love our beautiful game into a lie detector and ask them if they’d like their club to have what we have? They’d say yes. That goes for you too Miguel Delaney you cheeky rascal.

And as for the selective moral outrage and hypocrisy by sneering snides like Martin Samuel and Oliver Holt. We see you. We know you. We will ignore you. Well eventually. You’re both very annoying.

I have a lot of respect for the struggles that Paul Merson has overcome but when he says we won’t accept Eddie Howe he really doesn’t know or understand us.

We respect nothing more than hard work. Ask your Dad. Ask your Grandad. What do they think of Edward John Frank Howe going into work before 7am. You only have to watch and listen to his intelligence, knowledge and enthusiasm for 2 minutes to know he’s got it.

It’s a pleasure to just have him at the club after the personalities and capabilities of the likes of Bruce, Pardew, Allardyce, McClaren and Kinnear.

It only just occurred to me but I’m certain Eddie and Kevin Keegan would get along great. Cut from the same high-quality cloth. Like Paul Newman and Tom Cruise in The Colour of Money .Class knows class. And that makes me happy. It’s genuinely joyful.

Like a best man at a wedding making his speech you have all of our innate goodwill Eddie. We really want you to succeed. We like, respect and believe in you already….in the er, insanely unlikely, event you were ever to read this.

Now. Most importantly. Amanda if you’re reading this too. Can I have my season ticket back? Please.

DAVID CROSIER