The Furious World Tour was in Melbourne when Tottenham beat Newcastle United thanks to a goal and four assists from a player who should, by any definition of fairness, have been ineligible. Firstly, Premiership teams have no business doing other teams in the same division favours.More importantly, how can it be against regulations to play a deliberately weakened team when a fit and available player (Adebayor) can play against one team (Newcastle) but can’t play against another (Manchester City)? The loan system is being abused; Manchester City have bought enough advantage without being able to plant “ringers” in to other teams and our chance of winning the League this season has been ruined entirely because of it. (A brief pause follows while I try to maintain an expression of serious and angry incredulity.)
The team and supporters of Newcastle United then enjoyed one of those mid-winter breaks that folk have been rattling on about for years. How was that for you?
Enough about you, we were in Melbourne to hook up with Andrew from the Aussie Mags. Andrew was such excellent company that we hooked up with him again the next day by which point he was presumably regretting being quite so excellent. Melbourne looks to be a cracking city with loads going on but the price of the drinks was enough to send us scuttling out of town, never mind the fact that the trams there seem to be actively trying to kill visiting drivers. We drove back to Sydney along the coast which took the fat end of four days. On the map this journey looks to be about three inches but Australia becomes mind-bendingly huge when you start trying to move around it.
Australia’s cricket team were playing a three way One Day International series with India and Sri Lanka so we went to the SCG to see a match. We lost two hours because of rain but Sri Lanka still won easily, Ricky Ponting was out for 2 but the highlight was getting to see Malinga’s bonkers bowling action. We have been calling him Chucky Whorehair for years but had to keep our voices down because we were sitting amongst some of the hundreds of enthusiastic Sri Lanka fans. Four English pounds for half a pint of draught witch’s piss by the way. For the same price you can buy four large bottles of delicious 5% Singha beer just off the Khao San Road in Bangkok. So despite the noise, the crowds and the pollution we were delighted to get to Thailand.
The first Thai person we spoke to at the airport asked where we were from, when we answered he said, “Newcastle. Tynesiders. Toon Army. Our Prime Minister before last supported Newcastle,” then he showed us his Manchester United key ring. The people are astonishingly friendly, inquisitive and helpful in Bangkok, even the people who are not trying to sell you something. They point insistently towards tourist attractions even if you have just been there and they always ask where you are from. One guy tapped his heart and simply said “Gary Speed” when we told him.
If you have read The Beach or seen the annoying film (with Leonardo DiCaprio) of the same story you will be aware of The Khao San Road; if not, you should know it is the backpacker capital of this planet. Dreadlocks, tattoos, tatty clothes and piercings abound amongst tourists of all ages from all over the world. It’s a place that buzzes with life 24 hours a day, people will knock you up a banquet from a wheeled cart, that you can garnish with fried grasshoppers, worms or scorpions from another. But there is also a KFC and a Subway and amongst the stalls selling handmade crafts are impressive looking copies of Dr Dre’s Beats headphones in very convincing boxes. Nearly all the bars have TVs and nearly all the TVs are showing football. The locals fall over themselves to tell you they love football, with Man U, Chelsea and Liverpool depressingly and predictably prominent. We did see a couple of Man City shirts but the only Newcastle shirt was on the young son of a French family visiting the stunning Wat Pho Buddhist temple. However, for all the brutal bulldozing of Premiership marketing one of the important things we have learnt from this trip is that Barcelona are the people’s team right now. Red and blue shirts, usually with Messi on the back, swarm where so ever football beats in the hearts of the people. Basically what I’m saying here is that all Newcastle need to do to be the biggest team on the planet is to behave and play better than Barcelona. It really is that simple.
We have since moved on from Bangkok; we took the train to Cambodia and are currently holed up in Siem Reap which is where you stay when you want to see the temples. Oh and you do want to see the temples – you might not know it – but you do. The picture at the top of the page is of the sun rising over Angkor Wat and that wasn’t even the highlight of our day yesterday. I’ll spare you the details because there is no way I can bend them to include Newcastle United. Truth be told I forgot all about Newcastle United which was a rare and wonderful feeling I can tell you. And you can’t touch me for it because I was on a Winter Break.
Above is the new book “Spitting In The Wind” which is out now!
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