By Brian Hall
Thursday 21 Jun 2012 10:42:00
Browse all Brian Hall articles




I was amused this week at a rumpus which broke out at Royal Ascot races. A potentially dangerous situation, as it involved the Jocks, was narrowly averted. Some posh character tried to ban displays of the Kilt, on the grounds of its inability to cover below the knees. A compromise was hastily found. Just as well, as the last thing that display, of wealthy people carrying on as if there was no recession needed, was a bunch of wild, angry Scots on the loose.


That plot reminded me of some situations in which I have worn my national colours. Black and White, that is - I dont have an England strip, and divvent want one. Sometimes, my wide variety of NUFC Nation dress wear has led to potential disaster, other times, to a very positive outcome.


Take visits to Spain, for example, over the years. Wearing a blue t shirt, with my national NUFC badge on, I was desperately trying to catch a train out of Bilbao in the Basque Country. Flagged down a taxi, he saw the emblem, and blasted through every shortcut he could find. Train caught, and he charged me more or less buggar all money. Honest. He was an Atletico Bilbao fan, and remembered his visit to SJP, and the return back to his city of the Mags - EUFA Cup tie - with fondness and much laughter.


Ironically, given that Basque angle, a less friendly situation occurred when I was staying with Spanish mates in Granada, the Deep South of Spain. Nowt to do with the locals there, they like our NUFC nation. Far more to do with the fact that I was sitting in a cafe/bar on my own, and a group of young lads were banging on the window, giving pretty nasty gestures with their hands. At me! I was sporting the full regalia, the black and white stripes themselves, and they mistook me for a supporter of Real Sociedad, the other major Basque team, whose strip looks similar to our's. There had been a bombing on the coast, planted by ETA, the Basque terrorist group, so they were not too amused. I had to go outside and show them the badge, they shook hands, and departed. Phew! Think I had to go to the toilet just after, if I remember right.


Wearing my national colours got me into a potentially awkward position, too, at Kings Cross in London. I had been to meetings for a  

a couple of days or so down there, had changed from suit to strip, just missed the 7.00 evening train, so popped into the bar there, to kill time before the 8.00. Next thing I know, I had a rather large irate character standing next to me, complete with his Chelsea cap, nudging me and calling Alan Shearer a Geordie traitor! Something to do with Big Al packing Ingerland in, so that he could focus, given his injuries, on playing for the Toon. I pointed out to my uninvited guest that all Geordies preferred him fit for the NUFC if that was the choice, and added that Wembley used to turn on him anyway, whenever the English lost a game. He took the huff, said Geordies were not English anyway, and walked off. Exactly, marra, I thought, and finished my pint.


Scottish trips have also brought good and bad memories regarding the Wearing of the Colours. A very awkward situation occurred when I was on my way up to Oban, and it began early morning in Newcastle Central itself!  I was waiting for the train - that I had to catch, otherwise, it would have meant no connection in Glasgow to land in a holiday cottage in that Highland town with the bairns awaiting with their Mam. Noticing a canny few red and white strips, and some dodgy characters without any sign of that colour on them - Casuals, they call themselves - I checked the Journal. It was July, so what was going on? Aye, a SAFC friendly in Edinburgh! Now. That was definitely not a relaxing journey, to say the least. I was by myself!! I will never forgive Tracy and Scotty from Walker, as I immediately rang them from the Central, asking if they fancied protecting me on the journey ahead! I would have paid for their tickets, obviously. They just laughed. So-called mates. Never mind, surprising how many times you can read the Journal against a background of abuse!


Far better welcomes occurred in Scotland though, over the years. Just two examples. One in Oban itself. A Jock bloke came over, when he saw my national colours. He bought me a pint immediately. His cousin had played for the Toon reserves and got an occasional first team game for a couple of years, though had never made it as a major player. That fella loved the NUFC.


And the other? Up in Forres, near Inverness, to see in-laws at that time, I was looking out to see if our match was on the telly somewhere. My then bro-in-law suggested a couple of places, and I landed in one of them. The bar was supporting Our Geordie Nation anyway, but just to make it better, the landlord emerged just afore the kick-off. Saw my national colours, and I ended up hardly paying for drink all night. He had lived in Ashington for 3 years, working down here, and used to gan to the matches with the locals to stand in the Gallowgate. 


True stories. Any lessons to be learnt? I suppose sensible advice, given potential disasters, might just be NOT to put the national colours on, just in case. But since when have most members of the NUFC tribe been described as sensible? Na. Wear the national badge with pride, that is what I say.





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