Cottage Industry: Toon Lament
Why do you support Newcastle United Football Club they ask?
The answer is complicated. Let me resolve some questions you might have asked.
Have you any association with the North East ?
Did your Father support Newcastle?
No, he was a Spurs fan (Tottenham Hotspur- N. London based)
Did he mention Newcastle to you?
Hardly, but he did say that Newcastle's ground St. James's Park was a good place to watch football.
He must have visited it then?
Ok then what were your reasons?
I believe I was seduced by the lilt of their accent; the sense of being out of the way of anywhere else.
I loved the sound of the Northumbrian Pipes, lonely and wistful. I liked the idea of being the only football club in the city, or perhaps I should say 'toon'; unlike Manchester( United and City) or Sheffield (United and Wednesday).
Newcastle have been waging a very 'Civil' war against their nearby neighbours Sunderland for over 200 years, with competing stripes (N. black and white S. red and white).
Sunderland were on the side of the Cavaliers, Newcastle were for the Royalists. I never would have been a Cavalier.
Is that it then? Doesn't really stack up does it?
I guess not; but it'll have to do.
So can you, at least tell me when you started this affiliation?
That would be the 1973/1974 Cup Final against Liverpool.
Did they win?
No they lost 3-0. Never had 'a kick' in the entire game; even with their star player "Supermac" Malcolm Macdonald.
I felt they needed my support. It was my first introduction to the fans relentless enthusiasm, coupled with imminent disappointment. I was reminded of the Elton John track 'Roy Rogers' from "Hello Yellow Brick Road," where the armchair cowboy, reviewing his daily life says:
"Nine 'o' clock mornings.
Five 'o' clock evenings,
I'd liven the pace if I could.
Oh I'd rather have a ham in my sandwich than cheese.
But complaining wouldn't do any good."
Well, I can certainly say, there's been a lot of 'cheese' following Newcastle and a distinct lack of 'bacon'
But hey-ho, hope, like the Tyne, flows with an eternal force.
Right that's enough of that; one final question, in all these years supporting the 'black and whites,' from your situation in the 'soft-belly south,' have you ever seen them live?
Ah I was coming to that .........
My eldest daughter, has lived for some time now in Kent and looking at the football fixtures for 2010/11, I noticed that on Wednesday February 2nd , Fulham ( west London) were playing Newcastle at home at eight 'o' clock in the evening.
After some dithering, I went on the 'tinterweb' and ordered two tickets on Boxing Day.
They came in only two days, which left me with a good feeling, regarding the match.
So, on Wednesday, having met with my daughter, we joined the 'human cargo' aboard the Tube and with the internal temperature rapidly rising, eventually arrived at Putney Bridge station.
We followed the crowd down the Fulham F. C. special exit and arrived on the pavement.
Walking round the corner, we asked two policeman the way to the ground. They pointed straight ahead, across a road and into the entrance of a park.
Before exploring further, we elbowed our way into a nearby pub and settled down with a refreshing pint of London's Pride. It wasn't long before I heard some northern voices and got into conversation with a man who had come down from Edinburgh for the game . He had left at eight in the morning and was returning on the 'Sleeper' that night. Hearing this, made me feel positively parochial!
Replete, with liquid content, we walked through the park, with the River Thames, on our port side and thus we managed to combine football with a stroll along part of the Thames Path.
Having reached the ground itself, we soon found the Putney end, where ours and the travelling Geordies' seats were.
By booking early we had two seats in the front row, right behind the goal; a perfect position.
Here is a video I shot, shortly after taking my seat:
The ground looked in good condition and the powerful floodlights afforded a clear view of the proceedings. As time came for the kick off, the crowd built in size and the banter began.
Here is another picture for you. Our reserve goal-keeper Tim is about to kick a practice ball. By the way if you scroll up to the top, you may wonder what's under the black plastic bag. The answer is a television camera, positioned ready to take shots of the ball flying into the back of the net.
Fulham F.C., close to the Thames was founded in 1879, and is the oldest professional team in London.
The name of the ground is Craven Cottage. The original cottage was a hunting lodge, built by Baron Crave in 1780. It was situated, where the centre of the pitch is today.
The ground capacity is now 25,700. Remarkably, on this Wednesday night, in February, the attendance was 25,620; well done the lads!
Another interesting fact, is that both teams, have the same team colours, black and white. This proved useful, walking to the ground in almost a disguise outfit.
Here is a picture of Newcastle, defending the goal in the first half, behind which we sat, in their change strip of blue.
Steve Harper, who had an excellent game, was in goal.
The night rang out with " Shoot the goal ''; 'We're going score in a minute"; the famous " Blaydon Races" and of course " Toon Toon Toon...... Army". It was exhilarating stuff. The Geordie hordes, were not very complimentary; regarding the volume and quality of the home support and consequently gave the Fulham fans a hard time.
As to the game itself, we bossed the first half, but struggled to translate moves into chances. We were unlucky to lose our main striker Shola Ameobi, in the 10th minute, with a broken jaw and from then on we were pretty toothless in attack. Damien Duff, because he used to play for Newcastle was the subject of remorseless booing from us Toons. Damien ignored the abuse and although not scoring this season before tonight, managed in the 67th minute, to poke the ball beyond Harper for the only goal of the match.
Fulham 1 Newcastle 0.
Pass the cheddar please.
Finally I must post my thanks to Fulham Football club. They made us very welcome and their supporters were very friendly and seemed to enjoy our visit. We left the ground together and without any seen incident, made it quickly back to the Tube and home.
P.S. nothing to do with the above, but returning home on Thursday morning, on my way to Victoria Coach Station, I walked through St. James's Park and saw this welcome sign of Spring.