Over the Easter Weekend I watched three games of football: two in person and one on tv. The first two were both up at Merthyr Town. I’ve been up to watch them a few times this season and I really like what they’re about. A proper fan owned community club, they put four and nine past Mangotsfield and Bishops Cleeve respectively, gaining in the process the points they needed to earn promotion and the league title. Next season they’ll play in the Southern League Premier, the league that they were in five seasons ago when, playing as Merthyr Tydfil FC, they were liquidated. Grouping together, the fans took on the running of the club and three promotions in five seasons later, and having secured grants that will improve facilities at their ground, things look bright on and off the park for the Town.
I tweeted on Easter Sunday evening that, as a club, they are the complete antithesis to Newcastle United. They are. This was after watching yet another mind numbingly gutless surrender. Being a derby game made it slightly worse, but in truth it could have been any team. Go back a few weeks to Man Utd at home, Man City or Everton away, and Stoke at home (videos of which doctors have started using in place of anaesthetic). All of them saw something masquerading as a football team take the pitch. Depressingly, they are just a few of many, many examples.
I don’t think I’ve come as close to walking away from Newcastle United as I did on Easter Sunday. This isn’t my team, my club any more. This isn’t the club who my Dad passed his support of down to his children. This isn’t the club who I hold as part of my identity. This isn’t a club that is connected with its most important stakeholders. This isn’t a football club, full stop.
There’s a reason for that. We all know what that reason is. While that reason remains, so does the lack of anything resembling a football club. All that is left is for us as a group to try and force the issue, because the future of Newcastle United is at stake. But I also think it’s about more than that. It’s also about Rangers, Blackpool , Leeds, Coventry, Cardiff, Hull, and any other team where fans and traditions are being trampled on in the name of the owner’s interests. It’s about the future of our game, and whether we want both it and our clubs to be run in the interests of a handful of people rather than the fans and communities these clubs represent.
That’s why we have to do something, and that’s why I support #BoycottSpurs and Ashely Out. Nothing will change overnight. Every fan won’t be persuaded overnight, as we all enjoy football for different reasons, and that’s part of its appeal. This will be a long fight, and if in the end it isn’t successful, at least we’ve tried. All I want is a team, a club that I can be proud of
If I still lived in the North East, I know where I’d be on Sunday afternoon: in the park behind the end of the ground where I used to have my season ticket. If you aren’t going to the boycott, then I hope the team puts in a shift for you, and if you ever do get to the end of your own personal tether, know that there are good people out there, who care deeply about what our club is and represents, that will welcome you into their fold. If you are going to boycott the game, you have my full support, because what you are doing will hopefully be the start of something great. And if you are going to feed the ducks in Leazes Park, remember not to feed them bread: it’s bad for their digestive systems.