NUFC and the immovable object

Mike Ashley and JFK share an embrace for the media cameras

Mike Ashley and JFK share an embrace for the media cameras

I have sat back for a week digesting all devastation left in the trail of the most recent of debacles at Newcastle. I have not been able to put into words anything short of expletives and blood spatters. Hopefully this makes some sense of the unfathomable.

Can Newcastle United rise from the rubble of civil war? A war started by Mike Ashley – the super villain of all villains and his evil henchman Jaws (F) Kinnear.

Like Blofeld, Dr Evil or Scaramanga – Mike Ashley has made some ruthless and indeed crazy decisions. Admittedly not about world domination (the irony) – regarding the well being of our club.

We have already seen Nic Nac (Dennis Wise) have a crack at DoF – a fail of the most epic proportions. Humiliating, undermining and ultimately ousting one of the biggest (personally my favourite) Gallowgate heroes of all time – Kevin Keegan.

Not long before the big man himself humiliated Alan Shearer, then Chris Hughton, followed by Alan Pardew – not to mention the fans suffering the embarrassment of relegation under his turbulent tenure.

Next in line was turning SJP into a giant advert for Socks made by slave kids in Sweat shops. An advert once painted to the Gallowgate roof, became only the second man made structure to be seen from the moon alongside the great Wall of China.

An act which removed a proud old name of our fantastic club, but not its soul.

The shirt sponsorship came next, we settled on the money from Mr Willy Wonga! He offered the loot, he took the deal. We should count ourselves lucky that Al Quaida, or Satan himself didn’t come up with a sponsorship package.

Does Mike Ashley have a drinking problem? That can be the only reason I can find to explain his rampant crazyness of the last few years. That’s it, he must be pie eyed.

Now apart from changing the strip to red and white stripes, erecting a bronze statue of himself on top of Greys monument flicking a victory salute, or firing a laser from his secret volcano base destroying the Tyne Bridge whilst the Great North Run is being ran live on the BBC, I really don’t know what else he can do to cause more upset in these parts?

Is this what stability is? Aaaagh right…

But, after all the crap that has happened – he is still here. If he has survived all of the above, and not got so sick of the grief coming his way (wherever his way is!) and abandoned ship – then he never will. The guy must have skin thicker than a morbidly obese rhinocerous. No doubt he could survive a nuclear blast without waking from his cosy sleep.

Unless some super rich Oligarch or Sheik (ya money) comes in – we are stuck with him.

Meetings have been held and flak has flown. Reports will make their way back to Lord Ashley, and no doubt they will be filed under “B” for “Bin”.

The only thing that can happen now that can drag everybody together is for the club to sign some players. Players that are going to excite and help Newcastle win football matches.

I am not saying we should sit back and think of Queen and Country whilst we get shafted, but truly short term what can be done to shift him? Short of fans swinging through the windows like the SAS at the Iranian Embassy, I’m not sure any demonstrations, meetings or discussions will stir the beast.

I totally understand people wanting Ashley out. This is the side of the fence I lie on.

I also understand people wanting it to blow over, leave him alone – to save the uncertainty and trauma threatening to doom our season before it starts. Nobody likes negative press or NUFC being dragged through the mud.

But these gaffes are not of the supporters making. These gaffes are of the owner of our club. His decisions are dragging us unwillingly through the mire.

The ideal scenario would be that Mike Ashley loved Newcastle (or even remotely gave a toss), was determined to make the club the best it possibly could be and reach its full potential, to make decisions that the fans understood were to be progressive, for everybody to live happily ever after. Unfortunately that is not NUFC. Certainly not the current Newcastle discombobulated we know.

We know from recent memory under KK, just what the potential of this club is. You can’t live in the past – granted, but you cannot help compare – it is a natural yardstick. We are falling well below the expected grade.

The problem is, we are stuck. That’s it in one massive and frustrating nutshell.

We should be sponsored by Super-glue, because old Ash is going nowhere. Change the name of the stadium to the Groundhog day arena.

It will be the same every season under him – unless he has a huge change of heart.

Keep smiling.

HTL

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NUFC – Transfer warfare

Don't panic! DON'T PANIC!!!

Don’t panic! DON’T PANIC!!!

I must admit, every day I love looking at The Mags “Newcastle United rubbish transfer news service” and it makes me laugh.

Honestly, what a load of twaddle comes filtering through the papers about possible incomings and outgoings. This page just highlights the fact superbly well.

Don’t believe a word you read regarding possible incomings. In reality when it comes to NUFC – who really has a bloody clue what is going on in the inner sanctum of Mike and Del’s Ivory (and Ebony) tower?

I have images of a second world war tactical warfare planning room with miniature football figurines being pushed across a large map of Europe by a cigar smoking, Churchill-esque Graham Carr. Operators in the background hurriedly making calls, intercepting agents and breaking codes.

No mentions of big Micky A. being the Fuhrer though! Even though he has been labelled Iatola in the past by a certain ex-player of ours plying his trade “en France”.

Derek “Bomber” Llambias is seen to be kitted and briefed prior to his top secret parachute mission behind enemy lines. This mission upon which he will nail all targets upon his list.

Where is the secret location of said mission you wonder? France, Holland, Belgium the Congo? Who knows?

Like the bastard love child of Chuck Norris, Steven Segal and Charles Bronson, Del boy takes no prisoners on his transfer target mission. Armed with transfer bid grenades that aren’t aimed to kill, but merely to cause a mild disturbance.

Bids in each hand that when presented to the enemy clubs, massively under value the targets in question – but our guys are professionals and won’t back down. After all transfers are not about negotiation are they? (Detect sarcasm).

The resilient enemy refuse to give in to such demands and stand firm. Leaving wor Dekker empty handed, and the targeted players slightly unsettled.

Are they unsettled enough to force a move themselves in the very same window, or possibly the next?
Either way, these days buying a player is not simple – I understand that. But what we need is players THIS window, no repeat of last years hard ball tactics resulting in players not being brought “over the line”.

If we play the same game this summer, I fear not only huge disappointment for the fans, but disillusion amid the current playing staff (leading to deserters) and ultimately a battle we will be destined to lose over the coming 9 months.

A battle guaranteeing “certain death”, at which point Mike and Dekker remain in the War-rooms whilst Captain “Hannibal” Pardew and his beleaguered troops go over the top of the trench knowing they will be shot down.

I cannot and will not buy into the thoughts that we have a brilliant squad that underperformed and will be fine next year. Are we really going to take that gamble?

As we travel across enemy territory, there will be inevitable casualties (just like last year) – so safety must be achieved in numbers.

The situation has left many fans shell shocked from last season, and due to my own PTSD from the horrors witnessed first hand last season – is probably why am scribbling such bizarre analogies.

But at the base of this admittedly odd article, is the deep down fear of what is happening (OR NOT) behind the scenes.

Hopefully all come deadline day will be tickety-boo and we will start the season full of optimism and all return home triumphant in time for jelly and ice cream…

To be continued.

HTL

NUFC – standing up for your team

Stand up if you love the Toon

Stand up if you love the Toon

They say in life you should never go back. Doing so would be a backward step. Didn’t do Newcastle United or Peter ‘Pedro’ Beardsley any harm when he took his own retrograde stride back to Gallowgate from the colour’s of Merseyside to the Black and White garb of the Toon.

Beardo asides, it’s not a trip down memory lane here recalling the players who graced us in yester-year, but more of a look back at the whole match-day experience.

With the talk of safe standing being brought back to the game, lets warm the cockles of our hearts with a shuffle through times gone by with the sights, sensations and….smells of standing at SJP!

So like all good stories, set the ambiance by standing in the garden, get your other half to pour water on your head through a watering can and boil some burgers and onions in the kitchen, – we are going back – close your eyes, actually don’t as you wont be able to read this! Squint maybe, you won’t wake as Henry 8th I promise.

Picture it, match-day at the old St James Park. It’s a Saturday, well when else would it be? The Toon are going to be playing Whoever City, it’s February and its Baltic….

First off for me it’s wrapping up like the Michelin man on steroids. Being a nipper, I would put pyjama bottoms under tracky-b’s under jeans, topped with two t-shirts, a jumper then the Toon top on top of the jumper. Matched with fetching sun hat (the irony) and half toon / half Brazil Mirandinha scarf. Then buying the ‘programme’ by the blokes who shouted just like the Chronicle seller Barrow boys. Whilst dodging the blokes selling five lighters for a pound!

The programme was for reading after joining the queue in front of the shut turnstiles on Strawberry Place. We stupidly used to like to try and get in first to get a spot and queued from 12 noon onwards. What a bunch of knackers we were!

During the wait the craic would be great, apart from the rabid police horse that used to parade up and down the line, foaming at the mouth like a broken washing machine. Its spittal would be daubed across the back and heads of many unfortunates, not long before it would jettison its cargo from the other end! On cold days you would see the steam!

The turnstiles were like the gates in your grannies back lane, studded through the brick. Eventually you would here the click clacking and they line would move – to cheers.

The pittance of a couple of quid (in change) would be handed over. Then click clack, you are in to the Gallowgate Court yard – the last haven before the steps to the Cathedral. Bovril and the smell of urine fill the air. I never once went to those bogs as a kid, though admittedly I wasn’t full of drink. You would have to be full of drink to go in! Always bought a Bovril, clutching it through stingingly cold fingers, so nuclear hot you couldn’t drink the bugger until it’s half life had passed.

Up we would go to the K-section, more commonly known as “THE SCOREBOARD”. I would stand at the very back, being slightly vertically challenged to try and grab myself a bird’s eye view. Too young for the Corner at that point in my life, though lived the experience once against the Mackem’s with my Uncle, in the rain, when ‘Salty’ Sellars won the game. Micey isn’t the word!

Person by person as the clock drew to three, it would become tighter and tighter. A couple of lads would be up on the barrier, I seem to remember some guy called Oxyten (?) leading some chants. Nobody had tickets, or numbers, but like creatures of habbit – everybody had their spot. Every player in turn would be serenaded by the crowd – bar none. Taking in turns to step forward for their adoring public. I used to love that. The atmosphere would be rocking well before kick-off.

Then just as its about to kick off, some late coming massive gadgee would stumble in at 2.59 with a head the size of a cannon ball and plonk directly in front of me! Bollocks, I would never get the Pinks face in the crowd now!

The announcement of the teams then, to which every player was ferociously cheered. Not like the half hearted stuff you get now. Every man a hero. Even Franz Carr.

During the game, the mass would sway keeping warm like the penguins do in the Arctic. Leaning from side to side arching to see the ball on either wing. As for corners at our end, don’t think saw one yet!
When the Toon would score you were off, I lost a shoe for the entire second half of a match. Whisked away by the black and white twister.

Should we go behind, the crowd used to get louder in defiance…

These are all happy memories from when I fell for my first love – Newcastle United.

If you take the rose tinted specs off though, it’s true that – you couldn’t see, you were jammed in, some dirty old swine would be firing out rotten beer and egg farts that you would have no choice but to chew on and inhale! You would regularly have your feet and the back of your legs watered with steaming hot piddle, as nobody could be chewed to fight the way through the crowd.

The ‘ow man, hey man’ surge to get out at the end was always a pretty tense affair.

But do you know what, for the whole experience and atmosphere – you weren’t bothered by that. It was all part of the whole day.

My route to the seats was staggered. After the Gallowgate days, came the B paddock – then into the newly built Gallowgate. When I first took my seat I was blown away by the sheer size – and actually seeing the whole pitch properly for once. The atmosphere carried on, but people were always unsure about the etiquette, up and down like fiddlers elbows with a sit down on the folded up seat for the semi exciting bits. In film classifications it had went from 18, to PG to U.

Over the years it has become more and more tame, great for families etc. But a very, very different experience altogether. It’s like back in the day watching a film on bank holiday on the BBC that has dubbed the swearing out and edited out the boob shots – a little disappointing.

It’s all very comfortable, and nice and all that. But it’s not the same. Its just not is it? Would the introduction of safe standing be beneficial – I would say for me – undoubtedly yes. For everyone – obviously not.

The Bundesliga is thriving on it. Attendances are through the roof, prices are rock bottom and atmosphere looks incredible.

I am (and we are) probably all a little too soft around the edges to go back to the real old days, but a half way house would suit me down to the ground.

Will it happen? If the money savvy chairmen want more bodies in, spending on tickets and matchday fayre – you can guarantee it.

So here is one fan looking forward to a glance backwards.
HTL.

NUFC – Bored to tears

4mph top speed - whoooah!

4mph top speed – whoooah!

Q. Is there anything worse than close season?

A. Yes, a close season with no World Cup or Euro’s.

Q. Is there anything worse than a close season with no international tournaments?

A. Yes, following Newcastle United waiting for transfer news, or any news for that matter.

God above, how the boredom never relents regardless of age. I used to have to wait to get home to read the Chronicle to get a whiff of action. Or ringing Club call (and accruing a bill of such mammoth proportions that my parents aka the bill payers – had assumed was obviously a sex line) back in it’s inception. I can still remember the bloody number from 1992! Brainwashed is not the word, just desperate for news. Lucky now I suppose, problem is – no news!

So now we suffer just as badly flicking constantly on our mobiles through every possible channel hunting for information.

However, What we usually end up reading is the drivel of people ITK (in the know), the rantings of lunatics, or the oh-so flipping boring ramblings of the breakfast photograph brigade that has #NUFC on (??). All this while the clock ticks ever closer to the inevitable closure of the transfer window. That sodding clock!

Like a man who fears his own mortality, I feel I already have the Grim reaper of Transfer Window deadline on my shoulder laughing at me. More commonly known as Sky’s very own goon – Jim White.

Just like the gimp of Pulp fiction fame – shortly he will be released from his tethers, and come crawling out of his box to front the countdown. Blah, blah – Its only 8 weeks, 6 days, 3hours and 4 seconds until the window “Slams” shut. It’s never just been closed has it?

Before you know it, we will all be sitting on the couch in our usual arse-grooves dreaming of the big hitter coming in as the Scottish Clown Prince Jim injects another adrenalin shot into each eyeball and combusts in a ball of flames and scorched haggis before our very eyes. If only.

I bloody hate this transfer window malarkey. Maybe if we were doing a Man City or a Chelsea, or in fact anybody else for that matter I might take a modicum of interest in proceedings. Every Premier League Club has won the Lottery. Whilst those clubs all jet off to the Copa Cobana leading the exciting millionaires life-style, buying and bidding for players left, right and centre – we still go back to work with a “money won’t change me” mentality, money smouldering in an untouchable account.

The activity behind the scenes for potential signings is about as fast paced as Pat Mustards Milk Float. And the general air of excitement can only match that of the Grannies surrounding the Tombola at my annual school jumble sale circa 1984.

But whilst I moan, the clock is ticking, louder and louder and the bell will toll for the Toon. Surely we have to have learned from last seasons catalogue of errors?

We are all deliberitating, cogitating and digesting each others ideas and transfer notions – talk of multi million pound deals, swaps etc. Deep down though – apart from the slightly more remedial of our clan, does anybody truly believe we are going to somehow eradicate the wrongs of transfer summers gone by?

Does anyone truly believe that in addition to exiting hero’s that they will not only be replaced – but bettered?

Does anyone truly believe that in addition to replacements that there will be extra bodies brought into the squad? Players with skill and flair, players that will excite the fans, how about this for a giggle – players we have heard of!?

I hope for better, but keep hearing all the buzz words and propaganda that filter out of the Cathedral on the Hill – you know “Value for money”, “Over-the-line” and all that jazz. Like Austin Powers, I have indeed lost my Mo-Jo.

But, if you have no expectations then you can’t be disappointed I suppose…

Not much!

To be continued. HTL.