This season my commentary on the life and times of Newcastle United has been, for want of a better word, spotty. I’d like to give up credible excuses such as being a final year Law student is so demanding that my time for writing is nil, but that wouldn’t be true. The truth of the matter is this: I’ve lost my appetite for NUFC. The lifeless way in which the club has been run for the past 8 years was so wonderfully surmised by our grossly unqualified M.D Lee Charnley last month. I’m not going to add to Charnley’s comments, or even critique them other to say that the NUFC I loved growing up is dead. Our point at home to Stoke has all but ensured Premier League survival for another season and our exits from the cups means we’ve got bugger all to play for. While steady as she goes is the message from the club constantly treading water evokes no excitement from anyone save for the purists who, apparently, think we have plenty to play for and that each game is worth 3 points and we should get behind John Carver and the lads. To them I say only this – f**k off.
While it is safe to say that cup ambition is in short supply up in Barrack Road, a short metty journey to NE29 sees the cup buzz in full swing as North Shields took on Phoenix Sports in the FA Vase on Saturday. I was fortunate enough to sample the atmosphere of a small town buzzing with cup fever, proud of their lads who have gotten them this far and hopeful that they can go even further. As a Newcastle fan it’s been too long since I’ve felt like that, so it was a refreshing experience to say the least.
Admittedly, I am not from North Shields, however as I was cordially invited by a good friend of mine, born and raised in North Shields, I knew I would be made welcome, and what a welcome I got! After sharing a few Newcy Broons with my good friend as well as being accompanied by former Newcastle forward Paul Cannell, we made our way to the Spring Gardens where the atmosphere was electric. A few more sups and we made our way to the ground with a real sense of anticipation in the air – how a proper cup game should feel like I would imagine…
As we formed part of the 1000+ crowd who attended the game I must say I loved every minute of it. From the North Shield’s unofficial mascot – a fresh fish – being hoyed onto the pitch tied up with some catgut (all in the name of bribing the linesman for some favourable calls), to the less than gentle teasing being directed at the NUFC stewards who were present, decked out in Sports Direct clad orange jumpsuits no less. Chants of “you sold your soul to the devil” garnered some chuckles, but served as a stark reminder that there is no escaping Ashley’s grip on football in Newcastle.
As for the game itself? I won’t bore you with the details, other than to say that a more than capable North Shields side easily dispatched of the previously undefeated Phoenix Sports 4-1 without even having to break sweat. The soft southern lads were given a harsh lesson, and it was a joy to watch. Next up for North Shields is an away trip against the winners of Holbeach United and Erith & Belvedere with the winners of that match being 1 game away from Wembley. It is still too early to be talking of Wembley for the Robins, but those whispers are becoming murmurs and one more win will have them within touching distance. With North Shields thriving in the league, and only a few games from Wembley, it is nice to see at least one local team with some ambition.
I certainly cannot promise more articles on Newcastle United this season as it would involve actually watching them play, and at this rate I’d rather stick rusty pins into my eyeballs. However, as the general election looms large I may throw in the odd tid-bit about politics, and while not in keeping with this being a NUFC blog, I would kindly remind people that I really couldn’t give two f**ks.
Keep on keeping on!