Firstly, on behalf of everyone who is connected with true faith can I wish all of you reading this stuff today the very best for 2017. We sincerely hope all of you have a prosperous and healthy year, that you and your loved ones are hale and hearty.

Now down to the business of Newcastle United. On the back of wins over Birmingham, Burton and Wigan I felt we were set up with some generous fixtures over the holidays to put some day-light between us and the chasing pack. That, as you well know didn’t happen and we lost deservedly at home to a strong though somewhat brutal Sheffield Wednesday, laboured to three points at home to Forest and if we are honest needed the Ref to send their nugget off to create an advantage to win. Then we went to Blackburn and somehow managed to lose a game that every statistic bar one (the score-line) tells you we were completely dominant in. However we just didn’t have enough to open the door at Blackburn and got knocked out with a sucker punch. With a massive away following in Lancashire to lose that game was vintage Newcastle United and we’ve been getting these disappointments for as long as I can remember.

To make matters worse for us, Brighton continued to win games and are looking very strong. They are a formidable rival rafa24for promotion and have been building for this season for some time. Reading are there or thereabouts too. This division is not to be sniffed at. It is hard, relentless and it is not going to be the piece of absolute piss that some might imagine unfortunately.

To say we are missing Jonjo Shelvey is possibly the greatest understatement of the season. But we know the reasons why we are missing Jonjo and frankly, Rafa does not have anyone remotely similar who can come in and do anything like the same job as him. I don’t imagine for one moment Rafa thinks Colback-Hayden offers us the same as Shelvey-Hayden in the middle of the park. I did see one comment suggesting Anita should be played in the middle of the park rather than Colback but I fail to see how that would come anywhere near to giving us what Shelvey does – we simply don’t have anything remotely comparable to him on our books. Yes, he makes us tick and it is striking how much we have missed him.

We might expect some other players to step up to the mark and provide the creative cutting edge so richly offered by our missing midfielder but they simply have not done so. Perez looks a pale shadow of the player we purred about the season before last and hoped to see so much come from. Diame has flickered but hasn’t really dominated despite their being some signs it is there inside him. Neither Atsu and Ritchie have replicated their early season form and the result is Gayle is feeding on scraps over this last few games. Gouffran has also gone off the boil despite his work-rate.

If we are going to have a wobble this season, we could not have picked a better time as the transfer window has just
opened. I’m hoping Rafa will address the lack of cover and competition for places in creative and striking areas. For what it’s worth, I think we need three players – a striker, a central creative midfielder and a winger. We know Rafa has resources to remedy those positions and whether he decides to do so with loan or permanent deals will be his decision and we should back his strategy as he hasn’t let us down so far.

There are players whose futures may be better suited away from Newcastle United. Chieck Tiote is the first name on that list. He is sitting offering nothing whilst hoovering up massive money and the sooner he can organise a departure the better. Whether the powers that be at United decide to just let him go is a moot point but I hope he’s not here in February.

The next vexed question is Mitrovic and at the risk of upsetting his voluble fan club I’d like to see this lad moved on to allow Rafa the opportunity of investing in his own striker. I’ve seen enough of Mitro to decide I’m not a fan. I don’t see a lot to his game – pace, intelligence, aggression (as opposed to violent play and scuffles with the opposition), goal instinct and I don’t rate his aerial ability. I have a fancy he may not be listening to Rafa in training and following his poor display at home to Blackburn when he got what some have been asking for – a start, he’s largely been out of the picture. What is going on in training we can only speculate but for him to be left completely out of the squad for the trip to Blackburn with Benitez talking up Murphy I’d suggest the message to the Serb is loud and clear – either do what the manager says every day in training or leave United. What passes for my money is on him hitting the door marked exit at St James’ Park this month. Mitro cost too much cash and is on too high wages to be moping around not playing or even in consideration at the club. The size of his part of the United budget could be much better deployed. If Rafa sells him and brings in his own man then that is fine by me.

However, if by some quirk of fate Mitro gets a game this weekend or anytime soon I’ll support him 100%, I’ll want him to TF Mini Ads .indddo well and if he proves me wrong about him with a bravura display that makes Rafa and the world take notice no-one will be happier than me. I’ve nothing invested in him failing, it doesn’t make me happy and my opinion just does not matter when it comes to Newcastle United being successful.

Which I suppose brings us to the vexed question of supporters criticising the team, individual players or Rafa’s tactics, substitutions etc. Bizarrely I’ve been accused on social media of apparently saying criticism of Rafa’s United isn’t allowed – like I have any authority on the matter for God’s sake. That’s something of a rum accusation given I’ve been editing a fanzine since 1999 devoted to allowing supporters to not only have an opinion but to develop it into fully-blown articles and published them. Likewise supporting a Podcast, Facebook page, match-day Newsletter and this here website with its reports, previews all with comment boxes attached to everything we publish.

What some have made the mistake of doing however is mistaking their own abuse of players, their braying, their booing and their nonsensical X-Factor team selections as opinions. When Mat Selz was hounded off twitter by some abusive nugget earlier this season we were one of many who pointed out how appalling that was and would do so again. When lots of us hear the team being booed off at HT at home to Forest by a minority of supporters we pointed out how wrong that was. If our own players are booed, abused and vilified by OUR own supporters, I think most of you reading this will expect us to pass comment and I’d hope you’d know the kind of thing we’d say.

The people who put this fanzine together don’t agree on every single thing but one thing we are completely united on is that the appointment of Rafael Benitez as manager of Newcastle United is one of the best things to have happened to our football club in a very, very long time. Benitez offers the best opportunity for our club to be built in the image of the sporting institution it should be and that the Spaniard will hopefully be here for a very, very long time building something of which we can all be proud. We are committed to doing all we can to do our bit to create the kind of atmosphere around United that will help the manager and the players. That is why we support initiatives like Gallowgate Flags, supported people moving to the Gallowgate Corner (aka Strawberry Corner) as an unofficial singing section and that is why our editorial line has been to ask supporters to get behind Rafa and the players, stick with the team when it’s tough and pull together in what is an absolutely critical season for Newcastle United FC.

According to one ferocious member of the Toon twitterati that makes people like me some kind of wannabe super-fan. How the world has changed eh? In 2017 asking people not to boo the team they support, walk out before the end, harangue the players now elevates that person to the level of super-fandom. Maybe I’m getting too old for this lark. Well, there’s no question about it, I am too old for this lark and would wonder if the club and support I fell hopelessly in love with 40-odd years ago even exists anymore. But I do know that the permanently angry and outraged of social media are simply not representative of the rank and file amongst our support who are far more considered and nuanced in their views than those piling all of the venom they can into 140 characters.

The real problem however with social media etc is the football media feeds upon this rage and presents it as the voice of the supporters – which of course it is not. And neither is this by the way. It’s just the voice of one supporter.

The real problem however with social media etc is the football media feeds upon this rage and presents it as the voice of the supporters – which of course it is not. And neither is this by the way. It’s just the voice of one supporter.

Let me tell you about the football media – it is dying on its arse. Fewer and fewer people are buying newspapers,

Newcastle Matt Richie celebrates 1-0 Nottingham Forest at St James Park, Newcastle tonight

particularly local titles and to keep going they are desperate for online traffic to drive advertising revenue. That then requires more and more readers to click on news items but the problem with football is that there is a realistically limited amount of real news but an infinite number of ways to go bull-shitting readers there is a whole lot more. You should be familiar now with the term click-bait. To get a click from nothing headlines now routinely ask questions of the readers where there is no answer … or question to be honest. News items will be cut and pasted to death with all kinds of charlatans claiming their provenance of the item. Sadly, a once great fanzine has decided to follow suit and that is a truly tragic state of events.

Of course supporters are entitled to opinions and to express them – I hope we’ve done a job down the years of helping supporters to articulate them. Having an opinion about the team you support is part of the whole compelling culture of being a football supporter. But as I well know, having an opinion does not mean you can’t be contradicted, put right or asked to see things in a different way. So, I just don’t rate Mitro. That’s just my opinion. I’ve never played the professional game, to tell the truth I was pretty rubbish at the amateur one but I’m entitled to explain why I don’t have a great deal of confidence in him just as anyone who thinks he is the cat’s whiskers can explain how I’m wrong. That is all good, clean, honest fun.

Like the overwhelming majority of you reading this I want Newcastle United to win every game it plays in but I have learnt that it won’t and I think I’ve learned to process a defeat even though it upsets me in a way it shouldn’t given the years I now have on the clock. There’s nothing unusual about me – I see myself as a supporter. I want Newcastle United to do well, to win, to be the best it can be and I want to play a small part in helping it achieve that. So, when I go to games, like the vast majority of other Mags I’m there to help the manager and the team to win. If it goes wrong, I don’t feel as though I’m entitled to boo, harangue or abuse the players. That’s the kind of talk I associate more with customers and I’ll never see the relationship we have with the club as being one of customers. Frankly, if we weren’t emotionally invested in Newcastle United as supporters and were instead customers we’d all have pissed off years ago.


And onto Birmingham City this weekend for the 3rd Round of the FAC! I’d expect Rafa will give opportunities to fringe players for this game and I do find myself in the position of wondering how much energy we can devote to the FAC this season and I’m painfully aware of many anguished statements I’ve made to the contrary in recent years. Our primary goal this season is to get promoted.


I’d like to place on record my thanks to Steve Wraith and Alex Hurst who with some good friends of the sadly departed Pavel4Pavel Srnicek donated some money to pay for the PAVEL IS A GEORDIE  flag which was displayed before the Forest game at the Gallowgate End to help commemorate the first year of his passing. true faith has also donated some money to the purchase of that flag too. The flag has now been donated to the Gallowgate Flags group and will be included in all of the displays they will organise both this season and it is to be hoped in years to come too.

There is also a t-shirt on sale which is being used as a fundraiser for Gallowgate Flags. If we manage to sell 100 t-shirts that will raise the money needed to purchase the massive jumbo/surfer flag that is intended to be displayed on the Gallowgate this season and many more to come. To be honest, sales have been a bit sluggish which might have been expected given the time of year and the climate outside but please think about making an effort and helping to get a great big massive flag on the Gallowgate.


And that’s just about enough from me. We all support the team, we all want Newcastle United to win games so let’s stick together, stay behind the manager and the players and get our great club back where it belongs.

Happy New Year!


Keep On, Keepin’ On …


Issue 128 of true faith is available to be downloaded by you at your leisure. true faith is Newcastle United’s longest running and most widely read fanzine. Since 1999 true faith has been providing the alternative view on life at Newcastle United and the world around it. The fanzine is available in 100% digital format. We hold dear to the principles of the original fanzine movement but we shamelessly take the advantages of the digital age and as fanzines have always done, evolved with the availability of technology.

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