And we’re back for the second instalment of Amazon Prime’s ‘We are Newcastle United’. This episode centred around the most important game of last season: the Carabao Cup Final. It was a highly emotional affair for everyone involved. Let’s take a look at how the documentary captured the hope and the heartbreak…
The minute the final whistle blew on the semi-final against Southampton, the city became electrified.
In the episode, we see fans trying to arrange the trips to London via local travel agent Westoe Travel; packing their suitcases for the overnighter; putting their flags up on their car windows; and getting on the seven-hour bus journey down to the Big Smoke (it is within this snippet that you may or may not see the forehead of yours truly). Stores in the city joined in too, with black-and-white bunting, graffiti style artwork and messages of good luck displayed on their front doors.
But, probably the most impressive display of support of them all has to be the Wor Flags team stringing up a Newcastle ‘jersey’ onto the Angel of the North. Having the opening shot of the episode as that of a national landmark decked out in Geordie colours recaptured how all of Tyneside was overcome with Wembley Fever.
The fans took the Fever down the M1 to the capital city, culminating in a night of heavy drinking and hearty singing at the infamous Trafalgar Square. It was a wonderful, magical evening, filled with hope and hunger. The episode captures that lightning in a bottle night, where for one brief, shining moment, victory was about to be ours.
Okay, I’m getting very sentimental here. But, I guess that’s what the filmmakers wanted!
Whatever Will Be, Will Be
Into the final we go. Soundtracked by the jittering instrumental of Sam Fender’s ‘Play God’, the episode drags out the build-up to the match, similar to how they take forever to announce the winners on reality shows. Clips of the fans travelling up Wembley Way are interspersed with Amanda Staveley, Mehrdad Ghodoussi and Jamie Reuben talking of their nerves and sheer disbelief that the team have reached this stage so quickly. It was clear that the same nauseous ecstasy was felt from the top down.
Alas, all good things must come to an end. Echoing Amanda Staveley’s sentiment, they caught us in a bad patch and we caught them in a good one. It is even more heartbreaking to the game watch back, especially with the several clips of Man United lifting the trophy. That, coupled with cutaways of this episode’s local hero, Dan Burn, saying how much a trophy would mean to him as a native of Blyth, adds that extra tug at the Magpie heartstrings that brings a tear to the eye.
But, what was uplifting was the flag display. Even 2-0 down in the dying moments of the game, our fans lifted up their flags and waved on their team in support. I assume there were more Geordies left to wave their flags than there were Mancs to watch their team lift the trophy. Sorry, still very heartbroken.
It was nice to see Staveley and Ghodoussi comforting Loris Karius, who was drafted in on a technicality after Nick Pope’s nightmare red card against Liverpool. It was a plot twist that the filmmakers could’ve only dreamed of crafting!
And so, our euphoric trip to Wembley dissipated into misery, but the spark burns on. Whatever will be, will be.
The second half of the episode follows our ‘bad patch.’ We hadn’t won a game in two months, post World Cup. The goals were few and far between and we had slipped out of the top-four for the first time that season. This portion of the episode was structured like a stereotypical sports film: sports team are struggling; they work harder to get themselves out; but they don’t know if theit efforts are good enough; the prize is slipping away; and it all culminates in the team getting a win. The win in question was the 2-1 victory over Wolves back in March, where Miguel Almirón came on to score the winner that took us up to 5th place. A real turning point, and happy, happy days.
Clothes Maketh The Football Club
Amidst all of the Wembley and League chaos, this week’s edition of ‘Succession on Tyneside’ centred around Peter Silverstone, our newly appointed Chief Operating Officer, who spent seven years at Arsenal. He compared our commercial team of roughly about five people per department to Arsenal’s 150 to 200 staff, just to highlight how far we lag behind-the-scenes.
This is further highlighted by the bar charts imposed on-screen and the business meeting Darren Eales conducts at Alnwick Castle (our owners like that castle more than the Harry Potter filmmakers).
And so, to get us further up to speed with the league’s big hitters, Silverstone is tasked with finding a new shirt sponsor. This was met with controversy, as the other league teams feared our owners would cook the books to make one of their Saudi-based companies the sponsor.
This sudden interest in our sponsorship makes a change from when Mike Ashley slapped the Sports Direct signs all over the stadium, suggesting that the other teams are starting to see the team and the club itself as a threat. This matches a recent article by The Athletic that insinuated that we are now entering the era of the ‘Big Seven,’ with Newcastle taking up the final slot.
Ultimately, we know that the board chose Sela for our sponsorship, an entertainment and hospitality company that is also funded by the Public Investment Fund. This, once again, gives the elephant-in-the-room question about state ownership a rather fuzzy answer.
Whilst you can have a brand-new shirt sponsor, the shirt is nothing without a likeable, talented and friendly footballer to promote it. And that’s exactly what Silverstone has on his hands with Bruno Guimarães. We see his family home where he lives with his now-wife Ana, their son Matteo and two golden retrievers. He comes across well in his interview; warm with a strong personality and a burning desire for winning. Also, he speaks of his dad, who has become a cult hero amongst the fans, simply for being his dad.
The next scene sees Silverstone talking about how the more people watch, the more money they can use to pay Bruno and more players like them. Whilst we all know this is a part of the business, it is quite jarring to go from an innocent craze about a beloved player and his father to a businessman who wants to weaponise this to cultivate a brand image that generates more money. Everything we do is analysed to make more money for the club, whether we like it or not.
Onto the Roaring Rampage of Revenge
Next week’s episode teases the thriller against Man United, two months following the Cup final. It’s a drastically different feeling to last week where I was dreading the upcoming episode; I am completely ecstatic for next week’s and even more excited to recap it! See you next week!
Grace Laidler @gracewillhuntin