Some Things Change
By Paul Marsden
Monday 14 Feb 2011 17:23:00
Browse all Paul Marsden articles

Newcastle United, for as long as I can remember has been a club with a difference.  A club with something that little bit special.  Yes, my opinion is slightly biased, but if nothing else, we have always been so very unique.  At the moment though I fear that this may be changing.   I am not speaking so much of our on the field qualities or our off the pitch antics.  Nor do I mean the strange goings on in the boardroom or the front page headlines that so often find their way to toon, but the thing that made us stand out from the crowd is now so unfortunately missing.  What is it? It’s the fantastic relationship between the fans and our beloved club.  The relationship for years has been so strong and only now I am realising that this special bond seems to have gone.  Whether it be the players we have on the pitch, the guys in the dugout or the dodgy geezers upstairs in the board room.  They just don’t relate.  Our support for the club will never be in question but nowadays we are being left outside. At this moment in time, it is hard to feel part the club.  Something is just missing. 

I spent a few hours in the presence of some past heroes last week whilst at a black and white goalkeeper’s reunion.  Guests included some old goalkeeping favourites along with a few big names from years gone by just along for the entertainment.  This is where it hit me.  The small amount of time that I had spent with the likes of Pavel ‘is a Geordie’ Srnicek, Alan Shearer and the legendry Sir John Hall made me realise that guys like this just don’t exist at our club any more.  Players and people like this were something we could take for granted at Newcastle.  They loved our club, they loved the fans and the relationship they had with us was special. They fought for everything and always had the best interests of Newcastle United in their hearts.  I don’t believe you can say that about many at the club today.  Over the years we have had some superstars and some not so super stars.  Names like Nobby Solano, Philippe Albert, Tino Asprilla, Les Ferdinand, Rob Lee and Peter Beardsley join the likes of big Al and big Pav in a group of players that carried a feeling that was mutual.  They loved us just as much as we loved them.  Performances and antics could be indifferent but the loyalty and the rapport with the St James faithful was there for everybody to see.  Characters like this have found their way into the St James dugout as well.  King Kev and Terry Mac were a loveable and successful twosome.  Sir Bobby and John Carver were part of the furniture and even the likes of former skipper Glenn Roeder and Alan Thompson managed to forge a great relationship and bond with the fans and our fantastic city.  You didn’t have to be a local.  You didn’t have to be a superstar.  Just care about our club.  Realise where you are and what your here for and you will have the best years of your career at Newcastle United.  Too many in recent memory just haven’t done that.  Whether they came for the wedge or for the career swansong who knows.

The relationship between the fans and the people on the inside wasn’t built purely on talent or success.  In small parts maybe, but the bulk was built on an understanding of what we wanted and on my part believing that these very well paid professionals we so proudly follow wanted the same thing.  With the players, management and staff that I have mentioned, along with many others I haven’t mentioned you didn’t just see the flash car, the huge pay check, the supermodel wife or the Darras hall mansion. Yes, they had all of this and much, much more but these guys craved success for our club.  They craved success for us, they appreciated our efforts and despite a less than attractive trophy cabinet they are very proud to have worn the black and white.   The way that it should be. 

At the top of our club we were lead by a certain Sir John Hall, another of the guests at the reunion.  He was so rightly honoured with some gong for his services to the black and whites.  This is a man that cared.  He bought the club for us.  He wanted to give it back to us, whilst taking us somewhere special.  He helped us go so far along with a certain Mr. Shepherd (not a patch on Sir John like) until the Russian oil tycoons and the Arab billionaires started to invade.  We just couldn’t keep up.  It is this that has taken relationships like the ones I speak of away from our game.  Football is no longer just a game, hobby or passion.  It is a huge money making ordeal which has left us dossing around with the likes of Mike Ashley and his sordid lot at the helm (Although he’s too thick to actually manage anything that the Arabs or Russians have)

Of the people left at our club (excusing the already mentioned Beardo) I struggle to pick anybody out that would go down as a huge fan favourite, somebody who has found that spark with the faithful.  I suppose Jonas has his mask, Nolan has his chicken dance and Andy Carroll has our famous number 9. But so far, I just don’t feel the love.  Andy Carroll has the potential and the qualities to find this special relationship, as does our trusty manager, of whom I am a huge fan, but there is work to be done. This isn’t a knock on Andy; he is going the right way about it. Just don’t beat up our women son.  For me though, there is one man at the club that stands out. When looking for players like flamboyant Frenchman David Ginola or other favourites like shay given or toon talk regular John Beresford this guy seems rather quiet. A different kind of hero.  He’s gone about his time at the toon so quietly, always as an understudy, waiting for his chance.  Steve Harper though is the one man at the club for me that oozes passion, pride and commitment when pulling on the black and white. Or green in his case.  He spoke of his love for the club and the fans whilst at the reunion, and I can feel it.  Like many before.  The feeling is mutual. 

Players from all over Britain, Europe and the world have come to Newcastle and never looked back.  Even the odd mackem has settled in.  It is a second home now to Welshman, Irishmen, Czechs, Frenchmen, Belgians, Columbians and Peruvians.  If you can make it click with the mags you will never forget us and you will never be forgotten.

I’d like to think that it is possible for these kinds of relationships between players, management, staff and fans could return.  I’m not saying that the players or staff at the club at present could not one day change this and become one of our own like Mr. Srnicek.  But this has to start from the top.  Mr Ashley has to get out, or start letting us re-connect with our club. 

The spirit, the fight, the quality has been there for everyone to see this season.  What a great start it has been.  Now let’s start rebuilding and make this club and this city the force and the place that it once was.

Newcastle United, we will follow you forever more.  Just stop making us kip on the settee. 

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