In our series of articles chronicling how the team at Toon Under Podcast came to support Newcastle United Football Club, Craig recalls his very first match over 30 years ago and laments the previous owner while celebrating the club’s new dawn.
My love affair with all things black & white came at the tender age of 4 and I still remember the exact date: 19th of August 1989. Newcastle United vs Leeds United in the old 2nd division. Crammed into the Gallowgate end with my Dad and his mate watching a certain Micky Quinn score 4 on his home debut. I knew from that day that Newcastle United was the team for me and I had my first hero of the game.
I sadly don’t remember anything from the game due to a childhood injury sustained about a week after the match which left me in hospital for 6 weeks. Over the years though my passion for the Toon has only increased, even at times when it looked as though all hope had been lost. Then walked in Kevin Keegan, the Messiah, and saved us from what would have been a certain disaster for a club that was on the brink of relegation and financial ruin. There’s nothing I can say about King Kev that hasn’t already been said, however I’m sure many would agree that he is by far the most important figure in the club’s modern-day history. We came so close to glory, so close to ending that drought of a major trophy but alas it wasn’t meant to be.
Fast forward through the years and we’ve had heartbreak in FA Cup finals, some amazing nights in the Champions League such as Inter away with 12,000 of us at the San Siro, the unforgettable night in Feyenoord and Andy Griffin with that goal against Juventus. Aside from a surprise 5th place finish over the last 14 or so years we’ve all thought those days were long gone. Never would we challenge for anything other than 17th place in the Premier League; never would we challenge in cup competitions because, we were told, they were “not a priority”.
Rather than thriving as a club we’ve had to endure two miserable relegations, countless unworthy managers, club legends not getting the respect they deserve, and a total disconnect with the fans that led so many to give up their season ticket – their birthright – vowing never to return until the cancerous previous owner was gone.
After 18 months of delegation and arbitration between the Premier League and the potential new owners the news broke on the evening of the 7th of October 2021 that Mike Ashley had finally sold the club to a mainly Saudi based consortium. Thousands of fans rocked up to St James’ Park with cans in hand singing “we’ve got our club back”. The party like atmosphere went on until the early hours of the morning and I even found myself watching things unfold from the other side of the world, getting all emotional at the unfolding scenes.
We now had owners with ambition, with a voice and which give our club a future that we – myself included – never thought we would have.
They say you don’t choose you club, the club chooses you and that I firmly believe that. I honestly couldn’t think of any other club over the last 30 plus years that’s had such a roller-coaster ride, with some good highs but unfortunately a lot of very poor lows. Newcastle United is the only club in the world that should come with a health warning and over the past 2 months or so we’ve come off life support and we finally have a bright future to look forward to, and I for one couldn’t be happier.
I’ll leave you with this one quote from Sir Bobby Robson: “What is a club in any case?”