Standing at Victoria Coach Station somewhat dishevelled, clutching a bottle of Irn Bru like a Glaswegian vagrant one couldn’t help but think that some of the glamour of this World Tour malarkey was starting to wear a tad thin. Wifey and I left Newcastle in June 2011 in order to charge recklessly around the planet before humanity’s idiot greed makes the whole place uninhabitable. This has involved a lot of waking up in the morning and saying, “I can’t believe we are doing this”, in entirely different tones of voice depending on our circumstances; from incredulous to privileged we have regretted little and met some incredible people in astonishing situations.
Newcastle fans from all over the globe have helped; ranging from advice on Twitter, helpful emails and contacts – to people showing more kindness and generosity than we ever would have asked for or expected. The rest of the page should be filled with names and deeds but I don’t trust myself not to forget somebody vital and I have tried to thank people as we have gone along. On the last leg Chris and Ilse in Thalang (Thailand) rescued us; picking us up after a 21 hour bus trip (it should have been 12) and dropping us in their pool with a freezing cold beer or ten before feeding us and providing a bed for the night. The fact that they didn’t know us from a hole in the ground before they did so is incredible. Jon who met us back in London on the other hand has known us for years but still allowed us into his home. I should say that not all our new friends have been Newcastle fans but it has been a genuinely humbling experience. So thanks to you all, even the odd word of encouragement or “I was there in 2005, it was brilliant” online has been appreciated.
We’ve now been back two weeks and a few things have come to my attention; 82p for a packet of crisps, what the bloody hell is going on with that? How is this coven of lizards of a Government still running the country (when I left specific instructions) and why are they all pretending to shop at Greggs? “Pray for Muamba” – I hope he gets better but I’m not about to adopt religion on the back of it. “I didn’t used to believe in God but that hashtag was a theological epiphany for me” – really? Kevin Keegan on ESPN talking about Manchester City’s tactical deficiencies – what does bloody Keegan know about tactics? Or anything else for that matter, didn’t he say Ashley wouldn’t spend any of the Carroll money on players? Ben Arfa, Cabaye, Ba, Santon, Cisse –shall I go on or will we agree not to ask Mr Keegan about Newcastle anymore? After all if he had got the £25 million he was suing the club for we might not be where we are now. And before some of you start; don’t talk to me about breaking rank on keeping the pressure up on Mike Ashley when the club shops and Sports Direct in Newcastle are completely sold out of black away kits.
People are clearly excited about the team that has been put together and the way they are playing under Alan Pardew. However many seem wary of expressing that excitement for fear of being accused of being some quisling collaborator by what seems to be an increasingly rabid minority. We could all quite rightly worry that the club will cash in on some of our better players in the close season but where would be the fun in that? Even from some of the more inaccessible places I have found myself in the last ten months it has become increasingly obvious that the initial naivety that afflicted the Ashley regime has been replaced with a cold eyed ruthless streak. So any players we lose (and every team in the country could lose anybody if the right team comes calling) probably won’t be allowed to leave cheaply. Even after a season of being in the top six the journalists on Sky’s Sunday Supplement still can’t discuss Newcastle without a wry smile like the next crisis is just around the corner. In fairness to them, it probably is but again, where’s the fun in that for us fans? And, we sometimes need to remind ourselves, we are allowed to enjoy football without fretting about what might happen later.
We know the media can’t be doing with happy Newcastle fans but all they have to fall back on as evidence of our ongoing terminal misery at present is the ground re-naming. Why don’t we all agree to call St James’ Park “Uncle Mike’s Toy Box” so we can’t be beaten with that stick anymore and leave the displays of simpering sentimentality to the Scousers, who do it so much better than us. (Note: Liverpool and Everton would both happily tear their traditional homes down and we’re supposed to be worried about a name change that is easily ignored?)
Speaking of Liverpool, how does LFC fan Alan Parry always get the commentator gig for our fixture against them on Sky? Also, on the well reported condemnation from Liverpool fans and players regarding James Perch for falling over when Reina butted him in the face; how many of this Liverpool team would have stayed on their feet if the situation was reversed? And in the first half of the same game Steven Gerrard deliberately kicked the ball against Cisse, who had his back turned, at a free kick to get our player booked. It wasn’t mentioned on the commentary, on Match of the Day 2, or in any of the match reports I have seen. He wasn’t trying to take the kick quickly, it was a deliberate cynical act of premeditated gamesmanship from a player who thinks he is entitled to captain his country. Proof, if it were required, that he is not. The ****.
Finally a special thanks to all of you who have pointed out how well Newcastle United have been doing since Wifey and I left the country. In our defence NUFC stopped winning major trophies long before we started attending Uncle Mike’s Toy Box in the first place and we have had better seasons than this while in 100% attendance – so we doubt the validity of the claim. However, I’m damned I’m taking the blame for any subsequent disaster so we’ll be staying out of town until the season is over. To which end – the tour continues.
In return for this selfless act could those of you who haven’t already done so buy a copy of Spitting in the Wind – only I fancy a packet of crisps
Above is the new book “Spitting In The Wind” which is out now!
£11.99 With Free UK Delivery
£16.99 Delivered anywhere in Europe
£19.99 Anywhere else on The Planet