NUFC – Villa offer some light ‘relief’

Happy days for The Gouff at Villa Park

Happy days for The Gouff at Villa Park

Get in man. What a difference a couple of weeks make. Two wins on the bounce have Newcastle breathing the clean and heady air above the mire at the right end of the table.

Take a big gulp and lap it up whilst you can, it’s been a bloody long time in coming!

Instead of the weekend being ruined, drink being taken as a medicinal cure for post-match blues, cats being kicked and slippers thrown at Match of the Day – the flip side was true. This is something to be savoured and a sense of real unbridled joy.

No longer the grumpy ogre grunting one word answers at the family, no longer avoiding all media coverage of the Footy, no more burying your head in a bottle of JD and waking up on the sofa in the wee hours with a crooked neck. Well two of three anyway!

Newcastle win = full blown TV and social media assault. This amid sheer giddiness.

No more waiting for the Pink (Got rest its soul), straight onto the mobile, The Mag, Twitter, Facebook, Teletext, set Sky to record Football first, watch Match of the day, then back to Football first, then back on the mobile. We all know the drill.

What a mental addiction! Not forgetting Sunday either, Match of the Day (again), Sunday Sun, Sunday supplement (yes, even those pompous gets), Goals on Sunday, then an actual interest in the Sunday games. All of which would be avoided during the self-enforced media black-out, following let’s say, ‘less favourable’ results.

Indulging in so much black and white that one day, I will probably OD to be rushed to a drying out clinic, full of other twitching Geordies – high on 2 wins on the bounce.

Like a kid who has just eaten his own weight in Skittles, I am currently high as a kite floating around the house, the family will soon have to coax me down with a pinata stick and a lasso.

For that’s the beauty and the irony of loving Newcastle United. The schizophrenic existence of a Mag.

Don’t get me wrong, I am full of hell as to the whole Ashley and Kinnear fiasco, and I think I have suffered depressive states about the whole situation. But for now, however brief let me bask in the warmth of enjoyment.

Nowt is forgiven, nor forgotten. But I am not going to feel guilty for buzzing for the lads.

Winning away at Villa and playing well brings a huge sense of (temporary) relief to the clubs persistent itching and burning problem. It doesn’t vindicate anything that has or hasn’t occurred behind the scenes far from it. What it does is make us feel bloody good for a change.

Some managers try to act calm on the touchline, and say that they don’t get too high when they win and likewise not too low when they lose. Suppose when it’s a job you can emotionally detach yourself. When it is your life, your passion, your religion the highs send you into orbit and the lows well and truly boot you in the nuts.

Forget Ashley and JFK for the week. The cards have been dealt, albeit we knew their hands long ago. Enjoy the moment and look forward to Hull. Ashley and JFK will get theirs. Oh aye, their time will come. You cannot keep beating a good dog and expect it not to bite. The opportunity for them to influence the first team has waddled into the sunset, for now the playing staff and manager have to take the mantle. Nee choice have we!?

I think the general belief is that our first eleven starters are of good quality (though not shown enough last season). Good enough to keep well clear of the bottom pack. But, we are only a couple of injuries to key players away from a crisis.

As written on here, the team is going to pretty much pick itself. It could be a positive if all playing top of their game, gelling more and more with each passing week. Or it could mean players bang out of form guaranteed a game. Ridiculous!

Typical Newcastle, if we had strengthened – you never know we could have been in for a terrific season. Should we have a nice steady start and we do a bit of January sale shopping again, we could still end up having a strong finish and a decent placing. This despite the regime and the lack of ambition it has shown.

On the reverse, we could have three or four injuries to key first teamer’s early doors and end up shopping in the bargain bins to save our bacon come January.

That’s how fine the balance is.

So its fingers crossed that HBA, Cisse, Colo or Krul don’t get injured and see where the hell we are come January.

Keep smiling, at least until Saturday anyway.
HTL.

NUFC – a 20 year “Glove affair” ends

Cheers Stevie old boy

Cheers Stevie old boy

Last night saw SJP crammed to the hilt to give our recently departed stalwart Steve Harper a fitting send off.
Even the wife wanted to come to this one, (probably something to do with stalking Rob Lee!) but I think that’s how most people felt – they had to be there.

There is something really special about the Ground for the night game’s under the lights. It just looks fantastic.

Seeing the lads even warming up pre match was great, I was grinning like the Joker on medication watching – but I am a bit of a soft touch for nights like this.

Aye, the lads may be a bit greyer, balder, wider and slower, but they too felt the need to be there. They were loving it, the familiar grins were apparent. As were the warm ups, seeing the lads in their groups, you could have been transported back a decade or two.

The squads were both really strong and were going hopefully to showcase their talent and bag a hatful of goals at either end, sending the stadium wild. Well that was supposedly the script, aye?

The two squads were slowly introduced to the field – firstly AC Milan – one by one, politely applauded to the field amidst nuclear Bunsen burners belching fire into the night sky!

Hopefully they too would have been impressed by their welcome I thought, until it dawned on me that Paolo Di Canio was going to get the same personal introduction! Oh dear.

Enter the pantomime villain for the night, and on cue he was roundly booed. From a personal point of view I think it was really big of him to turn out, and he took his booing in good humour.

Then like entering Noah’s arc, the NUFC players entered the field two-by-two, to thunderous applause. With obvious fans favourite’s getting some big cheers – Shearer, Tino and funnily enough Barton and Nolan getting just as much love from the stands. Stevie Harper getting the biggest, after all it was his night. Well it was at that point.

It then took the teams nearly 15 minutes to shake hands, Christ I thought if it’s taking the lads that long to walk the line – how are they going to run around the field?!

AC Milan started the game well, and were using the width of the pitch extremely well raiding down the flanks and pushing Bez and Nobby back.

Newcastle unfortunately were not showing any of the old entertainer swagger, and were struggling to get around the pitch. Ginola hit an extravagant shot which flew into level 7 of the Leazes!

The best player on the pitch? Probably Di Canio, he was popping up all over and with every touch it was greeted with a boo – which frankly really started to grind my gears as he was having so many touches!

They created a few chances and one scorcher was palmed out by Harps to great applause.

After 20 mins, the running was finished for the night from the starting Toon XI and the changes began in earnest. I will not even begin to start writing who came on, who came off as I lost the plot with all the subs.

Tino came on and tried an acrobatic side on volley, which only Tino would attempt with his geet rubber legs. This temporarily woke a few from their slumbers, for cries of TINO, TINO, TINO.

The atmosphere became muted, due to a lack of any real goal action – hampered by an overly keen linesman. Flagging for offside’s here there and everywhere – like seriously man, what was he playing at?

I joked with a lad in front that it should be no offside’s, fog man back (rush goalie) and playing in skins. As much goal mooching as you like.

This was meant to be fun, but sadly it was a bit of a turgid affair. Brilliant seeing everyone, scratch that – amazing seeing everyone, but like I say the script had seemed to have been forgotten.

Half time whistle went, undoubtedly to the delight to some of the aching frames zimmering about the pitch!

Weirdly, dotted around the crowd fans began shining their mobiles and waving them around their heads like they were at some sort of concert. I didn’t dig that, I am obviously not down with the kids!

Half time saw a mini NUFC team of youngsters take on a much older looking AC Team in a penalty shoot out versus Monty Magpie in nets. I said to the Mrs. “If they cannot beat Monty Magpie from 12 yards, they need to retire now!”. A returned scowl suggested I take these things too seriously!!

Steve Harpers son was the final taker in what was a nice thing for the bairn’s. I was actually pretty bloody jealous! If only the senior’s had been on the pitch, they could have taken some tips for later!

Second half saw more intent from Newcastle and a few fresh legs, Gillespie came on and looked very lively. Credit where credit is due, the player who had excelled all night for the Toon was our very own long lost Greek – Nicos Dabizas. The lantern jawed Centre half had been solid, blocking shots, passing well and bringing the ball out from the back. The Mediterranean diet had looked after him, he didn’t look a day older.

It also saw the introduction of Gary Speeds two sons, a truly heart warming gesture for a sadly absent United great.

Newcastle had started with some concerted pressure, Gillespie whipped a ball to the near post and Tino nodded in, the Barcelona connection all over again! Did I mention the linesman earlier?

Up popped the flag like a toaster on steroids, howay man! It’s a bloody testimonial!

This Stadium is built for the sound of fans celebrating goals, and the home fans were out in abundance to soak some of that much needed celebration up. After all it’s been on bleeding short supply! But the lino was not for turning.

Beardsley and Cole teamed up (what a pair they were) and looked sharp. Beardo was picking some good (and bad passes). Coley looked sharp, culminating in a strike against the post.

Even the posts didn’t know the script.

Then in steps Massimo Taibi, the man everyone will remember for letting the ball through his legs for Man Utd, tipping over a stunning save which was destined for the top corner.

Everyone could see the stalemate coming, and to the relief of all the game ended.

Penalties would decide the outcome.

Up steps Pedro. Remember Chelsea at home in the League cup I said… On cue, saved.

Milan score.

Up steps Tino, walking to the spot like one of those dancing flower pot toys from the 80’s.

Saved. Ref decides he feels sorry for us. Saved again from Tino.

Milan score again.

Up steps Harper for his big moment of keeping NUFC in the shootout. The Milan keeper stands with his hands behind his back! Harper hits an exorcet missile straight at the keepers knees which then balloons away to safety. Oh dear.

Milan pen saved.

Thommo slots with his trusty left boot at the Leazes to give everyone small reason to cheer.

Pav saves again, can it swing?

Up steps the night’s darling for the Crowd, one Joseph Barton – has to score. After all he gave Di Canio a booting after coming on, which possibly earned the biggest cheer of the night.

Saved and onto the post. Oh dear, oh dear. Oh well, the script was well and truly ripped to pieces. Ripped to pieces, then set on fire, then urinated on to quell the flames.

Harps then said a quick few words to thank everyone for coming. It was his night, and he was roundly applauded.
The turn out showed sheer class from our fans again. Everyone stayed until the bitter end. It would have been nice to have some goals and excitement, but hey – that’s NUFC for you!

Anyway, Steve being part of the Goalkeepers Union, he might have had a little grin that it ended with two clean sheets and a goal keeper being the hero!

Thanks again Stevie. You did us proud, hopefully we did you proud mate.

Harpers Big night at SJP – offers some light relief

Can I just say how much I am looking forward to going to Steve Harpers testimonial on Wednesday night?

Revolution, may well be the topic on every fans lips, as we see burning torches and pitch forks at the ready to chase the monster from the castle on the hill. B+Q’s gardening department must be clicking record numbers! But I would like to talk about something positive.

Wednesday sees a player who probably underachieved in his career by staying loyal to the club for so, so many years. Some saw his long stint, mainly warming the SJP bench, as a lack of ambition. I think that this is very harsh. It was often said that as a pair Steve Harper and of course Shay Given were the best keeper two in the country, and I totally believe that was the case.

Shay Given at times in our net was super-human almost, Christ he got enough practice! For that reason, Steve found his chances limited. Whenever he did play, he never let anybody down, far from it. Any other time at the club, would have seen him rack up hundreds of appearances. So really he can count himself a tad unfortunate as to having the mighty Shay in his way.

His time at the club shows fantastic loyalty, and we are rightly paying our respects to a great servant. A very good professional, with a fantastic attitude.

Unlike testimonials gone by, I think as many are being drawn to the game, not just for Stevie, but also the players turning out for the Newcastle/Harper XI and the opposition – the legendary AC Milan Team of the early 90’s.

I cannot wait to see them on the pitch, and the feel good factor of a game where we can show the world how GREAT our football club is and the fantastic fans we have. A breather from the actual reality of the current plight is a relief.

That amazing AC team was just ridiculously good. I think most fans remember watching them on Channel 4 back then. I definitely did, getting right into Serie A, especially once Gazza set off for Rome, turning out for Lazio (when his leg wasn’t bust!). I was an avid follower, watching the Saturday Morning show and the Sunday dinner time games.

The Italian top-flight at that time, was kind of what we think the Premier League is now. Star studded and the pinnacle of football. Money was awash and all the cream of European football flocked there.

Van Basten, Gullit, Papin, Rijkaard, Lentini, Albertini, Maldini, Baresi – the list goes on. What unbelievable talent they had. Easy to lure them when the Italian dodge pot Silvio Berlusconi was bank rolling them, but never the less it was a purple period for them. League title Scudetto’s were trousered along with European cups and Super Cups. Quite brilliant.

Baresi has apparently been immersing himself for a fortnights training in Long Bar, Quayside. Why not eh Franco? Probably the best Centre Half I have ever seen play, never quick but read everything and snuffed everything out. No doubt using some cynical Italian tricks along the way!

To see them line up in this game, and face off with our own Captain fantastic in Big Alan Shearer, is just great. The clock has probably not done any of the past heroes any favour’s, but who hasn’t aged a little in the last 20 years? Maldini probably still looks the same – the swine!

So, all in all it is looking like it’s going to be a great send off. All for a tenner!

Well done Steve Harper, thank you from us all. Though a word now – if you end up in nets against the lads for Hull, I hope we stuff you and you have a nightmare!!

So long Stevie my good man

So long Stevie my good man


Keep smiling, Wednesday should be easier than usual!

HTL.

NUFC – Apocalypse Now

It's all going off...

It’s all going off…

Kaboom!

It was 2nd September 2013, 11pm Transfer deadline, Ground zero or just plain old Monday.

This was the date that the A-Bomb was dropped on NUFC and it’s innocent civilians.

The ‘A’ stands for Absurd, by the way! The absurdity of our club and it’s transfer market inactivity.

A nuclear error has occurred at Gallowgate!

This blast of ridiculousness has left a post-apocalyptic land-scape smouldering in a pile of radioactive black and white ash(ley).

Hopefully it also brought that moment of brilliant clarity to all Newcastle fans – however optimistic, pessimistic or somewhere in between…..

**Mike Ashley is a clear and present danger to all things Newcastle United**

We can’t say we weren’t warned, but this is not the time to be smug and say – I told you so. No, there is nothing to be smug about. In this war, we the fans are all losers.

But, we all heard the sirens going off didn’t we? Seriously, you did hear them right? They have been going off loudly since the same time last year. If truth be told, they have been going off since the Despot Dictator took the reigns from the previous incumbents.

But, we are a proud and stubborn nation, here in Newcastle.

Too proud, too stubborn? Maybe. A brave face and stiff upper lip, laughing in the face of danger?

Nobody is laughing any more. That is apart from the whole country outside of our City.

Opposing fans are reveling in our personal misery, Radio Talk in’s, the written press and TV are having a field day. What can we do but take it on the chin? You cannot argue with people laughing at us. We are now officially a joke.

The problem is the alarms have been ignored. Many clung onto the hope that the warning signs were a mistake. Sitting watching the clock tick by, glued to the TV waiting to be proved wrong. Still waiting now.

Every right minded fan had hoped that common sense would prevail at the last minute. Players would be signed, as has been promised and speculated all summer.

Why don’t be soft! Mike Ashley, JFK and unfortunately Newcastle United, cannot be uttered in the same breath as the words COMMON SENSE.

Many fans had heeded the warnings, dug the bunkers and were prepared for the blast. However prepared you are, the sheer shock and the stark realisation that your club has just became the Nations laughing stock, still has left the eyes stinging and the ears ringing.

Some of the more optimistic among us, were seen running towards the Deadline-Day mushroom-cloud blast site, in Speedos and flip flops with Marshmallows on toasting forks, blank autograph books in hand.

Those fans may well be standing now admiring their new Atomic tan, Wonga tops melted to their chests, and discussing what a successful window we have had. Who knows?

Despite setting ourselves up for the impending disappointment, regularly discussing the thought that we were going to sign NOBODY, it has still hurt.

There is pure disbelief at the decisions made by those responsible for keeping our old and proud clubs heart beating. I say, those, I mean him. It, thing, lump – whatever you may call him.

But this should be of no surprise to anybody.

Since taking over as the undeserving custodian of our club, our very own War Lord Ashley, has blazed an almost irreparable trail through the club.

The long list of embarrassing misdemeanors of the man, is well known and needs no reintroduction.

This time his guilt is associated through lack of actions.

In football by standing still, you go backwards. A football club is like a river, if you stop the flow it’s going to stagnate and die. The player pool constantly needs refreshing, both in and out.

Imagine Ashley came and built a dam at the mouth of the Tyne, stopping it in its tracks, killing it dead? Wouldn’t put it past him by the way!!

If he did carry out this evil act, (no doubt hidden away down South), Statler and Waldorf (aka Pardew and JFK) megaphone in hand’s, would be tasked with walking the quayside to scream “We are happy with what we’ve got, you should be happy too, you thick Geordie Wanker’s, trust us…”.

Now you wouldn’t believe that shite if you heard it under those circumstances (however ridiculous that may be), why would anybody believe the pre-prepared statement that Alan Pardew has had to put his name to?

We are not expected to swallow this tripe? I am embarrassed for the man.

What’s new though? We all have had a giggle second guessing the Spin-tastic nonsense that would come firing out of Pardew’s gob following the slamming of the transfer window.

This propaganda release, to me resembles the scenes created by an unhealthy backside indiscriminately pebble dashing somebody else’s porcelain. Verbal diarrhoea.

The people of North Korea get more open, frank and honest communication from the own Glorious Leader than we do.

Funnily enough, I don’t blame JFK for us failing in the transfer market. Mike Ashley was the man who hired the goon in the first place. A clown of the highest proportion, who from minute one was neither qualified, nor capable of fulfilling his role. Nor that of his ludicrous drunken promises of challenging the top four.

The man who abused fans as clueless when announcing his arrival on radio! The man who said he could phone any manager in world football, open any door! Why aye man Joe, take another pill and settle down.

I don’t think he has many phones at hand in his padded, rubber lined suite.

What chance did we have under JFK’s professional approach? Zero. But was that the plan?

After all you don’t send Inspector Cleaseau to solve a serious murder case do you?

I am sure he would give his all, no doubt with the same hilarious consequences, though ultimately fail miserably.

I think from Mike Ashley’s view, it is Mission accomplished. Wanted to spend sweet FA, and did. Bravo fat boy.

Though he is probably a little disappointed they didn’t bag a big sale like Cabaye and stuff a few more suitcases full of the clubs cash under his mattress.

All we are left with now is the conspiracy theory that the club must be for sale. Why else would, or could these events unfold? It could be the only explanation.

Christ on a bike, I hope that this theory is true and that Mike is shortly to depart our black and white world.

The fear is that he, who cares nowt for the club, the fans or the city, will happily ride the wave, impervious of any criticism or ill feeling and milk the living life out of our club.

Running it on a shoe string budget, whilst leech-like, ravenously sucking the blood from the club.

If only he was a leech, you could get rid of him by burning him off his perch with a big Benson and Hedges!

He is not to be moved. The only thing that will, is cold, hard cash. Here is hoping that somebody out there has enough to see him release his grip and allow the club, the fans and city to breath fully again and flourish once more.

Till that day lads and lasses, I wish us all the very best of luck.

Keep smiling. HTL.