I read the copy of the letter that Newcastle United Football Club sent to the Newcastle based regional newspapers and couldn’t help thinking that the club had a point when they talked about the disproportionate amount of coverage awarded to the recent anti-Ashley march. A generous estimation of the number of people on the march counting them, as I am, from a small village in Norfolk, is what… 500?
This next bit of mathematics is going to make me sound like a bitter old tosser but I can live with the accusation because the result is so f****ing hilarious:- So here goes; the first two Billy Furious books sold about 8,000 copies between them. Not as many as the younger me might have hoped but still 8,000 people, mostly Newcastle fans, showed enough active interest to at least buy a book, even if they only ever used it to fling at next door’s cat. 8,000 is a number 16 times larger than 500.
In the letter NUFC wrote they pointed out that the local press had devoted 17 full pages to the recent march. For the press to counter claim this wasn’t disproportionate they would have to point to the (16 x 17) 272 full pages they devoted to the release of my third book when it came out. Maybe they did, I don’t know, I was in Argentina at the time but I think somebody might have mentioned it. I think a closer estimate might be 0 pages.
I’m not taking up arms against the protesters or their motives, despite how painfully Utopian some of them sound. I like the idea of the fans running the club or at least having some input for the greater good. But we all know that if we fans arranged a meeting to discuss the width of the black and white stripes on our shirts, then six hours later, we would be wrestling each other, drunk and stubborn, in the car park. There would be carping, moaning, back biting and a separate committee set up with its own Facebook page within two days. Most of us know this which might explain why “most of us” chose not to go on the march. I also think it fair to say that anyone not going on the march has no business singing “get out of our club” at our owner the next time they think Newcastle are going to lose a football match.
For what it’s worth I also feel desperately sorry for the journos who cover NUFC for the local rags; for years it was OK to knock out a , “Player A calls for the team to play well against Team X” piece of a Thursday without the writer being trolled savagely by one of the perpetually pugnacious bores who haunt the paper’s message boards. However, invoking the Ghost of Saint Bobby Robson before the Chelsea match by putting one of his more beautiful quotes on the front of the Evening Chronicle, made me feel queasy. There is no mention of the press in that quote. Fans were presumably supposed to wave the paper at Mike Ashley with righteous indignation until he learnt the error of his ways and stopped expecting any of the money the club owes him back. The national media have jumped to the defence of the local, claiming an attack on the press is an attack on the fans. I don’t feel attacked and I can be proper bloody paranoid if my idiot brain isn’t kept pacified by drink, Game of Thrones, loud music and Playstation games.
The media carp like they have always treated Newcastle’s fans, team and staff fairly, like they don’t and haven’t committed acts of spiteful vengeance when they’ve had their feelings hurt. The media aren’t on my side and I don’t appreciate them trying to ingratiate themselves with me and mine when they feel they are being bullied.