I like Shola Ameobi. I really do. I’ll hold my hands up and admit that he is my guilty peasure.
Every so often a player comes along that I become so attached to that I end up arguing their case every Saturday no matter how well they played.
I did the same with our Mackem destroying, Turkish delight that went by the name of Emre. Despite the fact that he had no real end-product and never really made an impact for us bar on the odd occasion (freekick v Sunderland), he still excited me and at the time was my favourite player.
Believe it or not this is Shola’s 12th season in the Black & White, and whether you like it or not he has become a household name not only in the North-East but in the whole country. The reason for this is that no other club in England has a player quite like him. No other club has a player that has managed to stay there for so long despite his glaring inconsistencies. Then again no other club has a player that seems to hibernate for 36 games a season before unleashing their anger on the unwashed.
I would make some sort of reference to Marmite at this point, however the general consensus of fans seems to lean towards hate rather than love.
His goals to game stats are: Played 305, Scored 70, which works out at around a goal every 4 and a half games. Now I admit that he hasn’t got a great ratio, however what people forget is that he is not our first choice striker, never has been, and probably never will be. A lot of his appearances are from the bench and to be honest I think his goals to game ratio is more than adequate for a player that isn’t one of our top two strikers. Now if we were pinning all our hopes on him to be our main man then I would feel differently, but as it is I think he is a good squad player.
In early September of 2001 many people were hyping Shola up to be the next big thing after seeing him make some great performances in the reserves and a couple in the first team. However after 12 years he still hasn’t realised that potential, and I think that is why a lot of fans are hoping that Sammy Ameobi will do what Shola failed to.
Another reason I find myself always sticking up for him is the sheer amount of stick he gets off fans, which fuels my anger and passion even further. If you don’t like a player then so be it, slag him off all you want, in fact go and write an article about it, it’s great to hear people’s contrasting opinions. However when a player steps out on to the turf of St James’ Park fans should put aside their opinions on him and get behind him as he is OUR player.
It disgusts me to hear a fan booing and abusing their own player. The problem is that Shola’s reputation precedes him and before he even touches the ball people are moaning and groaning about his performance. I understand that people pay for a ticket and have every right to express their opinions, but I feel that as fans it is our duty to get behind the players and support them.
During the Arsenal game this season I had the displeasure of sitting in front of two men that were shouting profanities and getting on his back from his first touch. It wouldn’t have bothered me as much if it wasn’t for the fact that actually Shola did quite well, in fact he did better than any of our other strikers in my opinion. But these men were having none of it.
Shola received the ball in the opposition half and kept it for around ten seconds however he was eventually tackled as no-one gave him an option. As I started to applaud his efforts I heard a huge sigh from behind me followed be some great words of wisdom from the man: “CERM ON SHOUWLA YOU USELESS FERKING DONKEY”
He continued to do this throughout the game, even though the majority of the time it was another players fault, but why criticise someone else when you can scream at Shola? At one point I even heard them blame him for the fact that his Pie had no meat in it, thankfully this was followed by a brief chuckle however for a moment I actually believed he meant it.
Despite all the odds weighed up against him, he has still managed to make a success of himself as a footballer and I respect him for that. So next time you see his number come up on the 4th official’s screen you finally know who that person is that gives him a standing ovation and sings his name no matter how he’s played.
I’ll leave you with a song, as you’ve probably guessed by now it’s one of my favourites: