By Brian Hall
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I first met my wife way back in 1965, although, as small young bairn, marriage was obviously the last thing on my mind. Over the years, our bond and friendship intensified, and my commitment to her was intense. I would travel hundreds of miles just to see her for a couple of hours, and spend endless days thinking of her every move. Inevitably, engagement became marriage as soon as it was legally possible.
She is actually a very well-known figure, an institution really. Her abbreviated name is NUFC. There have been some highs over all our years together, and to be honest, a far higher amount of lows, but I have stayed with her. Obviously, trial separations have occurred – one, after a visit to Wrexham in the FA Cup in the late 70s when she simply did not turn up, and another in Newcastle itself, when she promised me that she would at least make an effort at a relegation event held against Norwich City, and then did not.
Being apart, however, never lasted that long, as I continued to think about her during those splits, and I ended up returning to the house at St James’s Park, and our weekend travels across the country would resume.
Marriage, it is true, needs working at. And I, like others in similar situations, have tried hard, and put in a huge amount of effort on that front. We have enjoyed some good times, of course, and met many friends and acquaintances along the way.
But when a relationship is hitting the rocks, it is easier to recall the hurtful and painful incidents. That day out at Hereford, that humiliation in London with Liverpool, that play-off with Sunderland, to name just three. And you tend to grow more and more weary of the promises of happy days ahead or the excuses for her behaviour.
For me, I can say the marriage is now at its lowest point ever. Not because of her latest flirtation with relegation itself. She has ran off with that relegation bloke before, and I stood by her. No. My realisation, and recognition, that we have reached our all-time low came on Saturday night. You know why? Because I simply expected her to behave the way she did as she met up with Liverpool. It did not even come as a shock.
You see. She had excited me, despite years of experience, with the prospect of a blissful weekend in Amsterdam in a Europa Cup Final. If anything, I wanted that for all my friends and acquantainces even more than for myself. They deserved it. Yet she blew it in Lisbon, and confirmed that fact back in Newcastle. A few days later, she was supposed to meet Sunderland in Toon, yet did not even turn up. I was annoyed, but no longer as angry as I would have been with her on previous such occasions. Lisbon had took its toll on me.
Then came Saturday. I do not exactly have many fond memories of meetings in Liverpool, as there tends to be an air of would-be attempts at mockery inflicted towards me, and others, when the wife humiliates all concerned with her behaviour.
But a strange and possibly significant emotion occurred for me on Saturday. Given that I expected her to let me down, possibly in absolutely degrading style, I was almost immune from hurt. Sure, the next morning, I was in a low mood, but that was all. Not angry, not depressed, and definitely not surprised.
That, in any book, is a sign of a marriage in very serious trouble indeed. I will stay in the house with her until next month, as, despite everything, I do not wish her ill, with a life visiting places such as Burnley, Ipswich, and Doncaster.
Time, they say, is a Great Healer. For me, this could go either way, and at this moment, the divorce option seems to rule the heart, more than the alternative of more years of broken promises and dreams, and downright let-downs and lack of effort at our relationship.
If it does end up in a very painful divorce, I can pledge one thing only. There will never be a relationship with any other woman. That would be impossible for me.
BRIAN HALL – AUTHOR OF LIFE OF BRIAN IN BLACK AND WHITE
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