Most people go through life supporting one football team, and one football team only, and anything otherwise is considered blasphemy.
Until very recently, I too followed that same philosophy but that all changed when Newcastle were playing away and I had a bit of spare time. A few of my mates go to Gateshead games as well as Newcastle, and a couple exclusively support Gateshead which I have to give them credit for. Anyway they rang me up asking if I was interested in going to the Gateshead match, and being the football lover I am, I jumped at the chance.
For all of you unaware Gateshead FC are in the Blue Square Premier having recently been promoted from the Blue Square North, they are now only one step away from football league.
So we headed down to the International Stadium and paid on the gate and went up to the back of the stands to stand with the “Heed Army” (A cracking set of lads that like to stand and sing all game). I have to be honest I braced myself for a terrible game of football, but actually the standard was decent, and the stadium is excellent for a team the size of Gateshead.
Unfortunately a ridiculous decision by the referee saw our keeper sent off in the first half, and reduced to ten men we lost 7-1 which was disappointing considering we had taken a 1-0 lead. However despite the fact we got beat 7-1, I can honestly say I fully enjoyed the experience, just as much as a match at St James.
Your probably wondering why on earth I thought that, but it was refreshing to see players give 110% all game, to not see any players diving, and there weren’t some half bad payers. Also, it wasn’t just on the pitch, it made a pleasant change to be able to go anywhere in the stadium you wanted, to go and stand, sing and have a laugh without being hassled by stewards, and to hear a crowd that doesn’t moan after every misplaced pass.
At a time when football is an extremely profitable business for the top clubs, spare a thought (and some cash) for your local teams who will struggle with their finances. Although Gateshead have a decent side, facilities, stadium etc, the average crowd is only around 600 and it would be great to see an increase in that next season.
But I’m not just specifically talking about Gateshead, if you have a nearby non-league team nearby then why not give it a try, you never know you might love it and follow them along side Newcastle!