The goldfish bowl

St James' Park
Many people and players have an opinion of Newcastle United being a ‘goldfish bowl’ type of environment, and in a way they are correct.

It was Jermaine Jenas who made the goldfish bowl saying famous, but a former team-mate of his, Gary Speed R.I.P, once said; “You have to be a special kind of player to play for the club, to be able to handle the pressure and appreciate what it’s all about.”

He’s correct of course because by becoming a part of the club, you become a part of the fans lives and with the club being the main stand out talking point amongst the general public you can see how the pressure can build. Any player that comes to this club and makes a name for himself immediately comes under the fan and media spotlight, sometimes so much so that some cannot handle the pressure of being in this goldfish bowl type of environment where it seems every aspect of their life is under the microscope.

Some players can handle this and accept it as part and parcel of being at a club like Newcastle and some actually thrive on it. One person who seems to thrive on this is Fabricio Coloccini, who at first was probably in the ‘cannot handle the pressure’ bracket because, as we know, he didn’t exactly start off as a fans favourite did he? However he has turned it all around and is probably playing the best football of his life – something that was obviously seen in him when he was first signed.

It can be argued that all players are under pressure when signing for their respective clubs and I suppose that’s true, but it isn’t a goldfish bowl for most in my opinion. Newcastle United seem to have this air about it for me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, I don’t know.

I think there’s a collective amount of things that makes this club stand out as to why it seems to have a sort of stigma attached to it, as though you have to have that X-Factor type attitude to succeed here.

Firstly, the fans knowledge of the club and game stands out, plus the sheer fanaticism and their undying, unconditional love for the club probably stands out as a main focus for any new signing in that they don’t actually understand just what kind of a club they have signed into but realise, quite quickly, once they get their head around the full set up, right up to making their debut at home in front of what can only be described as “fantastic” support and also the fact that they are mobbed and idolised if they perform to the expectations of those fans.

The thing is though, although some players revel in that kind of environment, other players probably put too much pressure on themselves in not letting down those fans especially in the trying stakes because they soon find out that hero to zero can come about quite quickly for failure to do the required amount on the pitch.

Naturally, we always seem to be one step away from some kind of controversy or another, whether it’s a player leaving or dealings within the club which naturally puts the players at the mercy of a media feeding frenzy, which then reaches the fans who then decide on the appropriate action on the terraces and also on the street, which can be positive or negative depending on the seriousness of what the media make it out to be.

I think Joey Barton has had his fair share of this goldfish bowl scenario and probably knows better than anyone about dealing with the pressure on and off the field. In his early days at the club he looked like he struggled to deal with it all because in his own mind he will have known that the fans were split down the middle about having him here at all. He didn’t exactly repel the attention away from himself or the club did he? And to be fair it was mostly negative attention.

He did knuckle down and put a few of his demons to bed and actually got the fans on his side, which is no mean feat with Newcastle fans is it? But in the back of my mind I had this dread of the proverbial s**t hitting the the fan with him and in that respect, I think players like Joey actually plant themselves into that goldfish bowl either by want or previous.

Anyway I actually agree with the comments made by former players that it really does take a special kind of player to be able to perform to the standards this club and the fans require and is probably the reason why we haven’t quite managed to actually achieve what we have threatened to achieve over the years.

I feel now though, that, although it is still a pressure pot for new signings, that the club are now vetting the players mental ability as well as their skill and physicality to be able to do the job required of them.

I probably appear all gobbledygook in trying to explain what I’m actually talking about but in my own mind I understand in a way what players mean by this goldfish bowl. Naturally it’s all just my opinion and you’d be surprised what’s jumbling about in my head. Or not…

What is your idea of this goldfish bowl stigma?

About wolfie

Newcastle Uited fan. Always have been, always will be! When I was 14 I was invited for trials at Newcastle United with the blessing and full backing of my family who raised the fare and money for digs for me but I spent the money on cigarettes and pop, plus a few canny bags o Tudor and some kets and missed the train. I ended up being a total waste of space as far as football ambition went and I ended up in a factory and moved on from there to build my life up to what it is now, a self employed complete waste of space hand to mouth dribs and drabs grab it when you can tycoon. So there you go, that’s about my life in a nutshell apart from piles and one in grown toe nail. Thanks for reading and I hope this somehow has a reflection on the way your life is going and maybe this could shock some up and coming kid into knuckling down and not ending up like a dip stick like me. lol

43 thoughts on “The goldfish bowl

  1. Have to disagree with you wolfie the writer of this article is obviously very self-absorbed, woops. lol


  2. One club City that is obsessed about football. Of course its a goldfish bowl. That isn’t a bad thing mind, certain players make the worst of it by their actions. If people behave properly and give their all they get revered. If they act like cocks then they’ll get negative attention.


  3. As Toonsy says, one club city and not a very big city at that so it’s probably harder for players to go around incognito. It would be the same for the 5under1and players too if it wasn’t for the fact that most of them live in Newcastle….where nae feckers even heard of them πŸ˜†


  4. Also agree with wolfie about some players revelling in it. I’ve no doubt there are players who actually appreciate and need the spotlight to help keep them straight, and others who feel appreciated just for acting like pros


  5. If they can’t handle the heat get out of the kitchen, the saying goes and its true at newcastle. We are a big club, who dominates a large city thus there is bound to be pressure some thrive on it seem keel from it. 😎


  6. I remember Beardsley when he was asked about life at the club and being in the spotlight and how he handled it, he said ” at the club it’s easy to deal with because you are playing for the club and for the fans and it gives you a tremendous feeling when they are right behind you”, he also said that, he wouldn’t change it for the world and it’s a privilege to be be able to play in front of the best fans around.
    He said ” it can get a bit too much when you are out with the family and the attention is constantly on you and you don’t seem to get any privacy but that is part and parcel of playing for a club with fans as fanatical as these.”

    He said “obviously it all brings it’s own pressures but this is a special club with tremendous support and if you allow the pressure to get to you, obviously you will struggle tremendously.”

    When the interviewer asked him why he keeps on saying, obviously and tremendously all the time for, Beardsley replied, ” obviously that’s just the way I come across when interviewed to be fair and people like you take a tremendous delight in obviously trying to take the piss out of me for it to be fair”

    When the reporter said, “look Peter , you’re saying to be fair now”, Peter replied, ” look to be fair, let’s just stop this interview because you are obviously pressuring me and to be fair it’s putting a tremendous strain on me to be fair.”…

    Well ok , the last bits I might have made up but the first parts are true, to be fair. πŸ˜€


  7. Newcastle a goldfish bowl? probably..

    the players that can’t handle it are the ones that don’t want to be caught out clubbing everynight.

    The ones that live for football absolutely love the ‘gold-fish bowl’ mentality as it absorbs the whole city.

    Just read Speeds biggest regret was leaving the Toon when he did πŸ™

    We’re meant to wear scarves for the match Sat, just got my Inter Milan away scarf out of the loft, its like new πŸ˜€ Speed played in this match so its quite fitting i wear it.


  8. aye Jenas might call us but he’ll never get the chance to go to the likes of Inter, Barca, bayer Leverkusen, Dynamo Kyiv & Juve.

    Perhaps some players should enjoy what the get our of life, playing good football instead of wanting a better social life. Give me the toon anyday over London


  9. fuck, have you heard the song we’re singing on Saturday. Sods law the M.O.T.D cameras will clock a tone-deaf numptie make a cock of himself miming πŸ˜₯


  10. I can see that there must be a huge pressure being in the limelight at St James Park, be it player, manager or chairman/owner.

    Toonsy is right though, players who have the privilege of wearing the black and White shirt are expected to do one simple thing…. play your heart out week in week out!!!… simple.

    The great thing about our club is that we make heroes. There have been some really great players at St James Park, and some not so great players who’s names have echoed round the ground simply because they leave everything on the pitch.
    How many people could Brian “killer” Kilcline walk passed on northumberland st, Shaka hislop or dare I say it, shola Ameobi?!
    I can understand Pedros comments, it must be tough when you’re out with your family and fans feel free to approach you at will, but hey no job is prefect.
    These players are well paid and like I say, hero worshipped.
    Yes everyone in Newcastle is a pundit or could do a better job, and as well as the team are performing at present we are still on the backs of some players, good, all we are guilty of is loving our football club.
    Every job has pros and cons, from the outside looking in, being a footballer is top heavy with pros and as far as I can imagine living in a goldfish bowl is only a con if you’re a slacker.


  11. @richietoon

    you obviously havent heard me sing.. πŸ˜†

    i can just imaging the song stopping, crowd goes quiet, who the fuck is that singing … me 😳


  12. I’ve never had a job where a pro and a con have been looking at me from the outside. Another thing I’ve missed out on in life!


  13. Bris – that’s coz you’re not a footballer, if you want to know a bit more about it I can recommend Wayne Rooneys autobiography


  14. Interesting article – think it’s generally the fact that Newcastle is a fairly small city, I actually love the area but moved doon south partly for job reasons but also for the fact I knew everyone in julies etc and who they had shagged or not shagged – younger readers won’t remember any of my old clubbing venues so I’m showing my age here though they had shut Blyth pit so my job prospects were grim indeed
    Ultimately we’re relatively small city with big expectations tho 100% commitment will usually get the fans on your side
    Players we’ve have at the mo seem to understand fans commitment to the club which is prob down to pards and Carr and therefore realise it’s part and parcel of playing for toon
    I prefer it to players like Butt and Owen who helicoptered from cheesier every day, even tho I understand its full on with the fans they can fook off if they don’t like it

    And fook jenas, he were shite, a proper one season wonder


  15. Talking about players who become favourites despite limitations…. Anyone thinking John Anderson? Not the best technically (not the worst either mind) but he gave 100% every game and became a crowd favourite because of it. I wouldn’t have liked to gave been on the end of some of his tackles 😯


  16. Mark, I say if that happens just look proud and sing at the top of your voice with a big operatic finale. People may stare but by god they’ll respect you. :mrgreen:


  17. good read wolfie,with newcastle being a one club city,i suppose players will get more attention,maybe, thats one of the things graham carr looks at when he’s looking at players,he has said before its whether they will fit into the newcastle set up,the big plus with the players we have signed, and retained, is that none of them, seem to fit into the drink culture of previous years.aye toonsy the fans will always give backing to 100% players like john anderson another one was david mcreary,not overly gifted, but loved wearing the shirt.And always put a shift in what more can anyone ask of a player?


  18. MG Man – I just think at Newcastle it’s a bit different. Some players have even said that, like when the fans applaud for tracking back or putting in a tackle etc etc. We’ve made legends of average players at times, but only because they’ve put the effort in. The don;t have to be world beaters to get our adulation πŸ™‚


  19. Just saw the Lawro predictions… he actually picked us for a draw… guess our run is over now that he thinks we can play…


  20. Jenas didnt make that famous comment.
    It came from Graeme Souness. It was his attempt at PR – pandering to our sense that our club is special.
    Jenas actually distanced himself from the quote, he just wanted to leave because being in the England setup, he thought he could play for a better club (in his opinion, anyway).

    Hope he’s enjoying the league table now, haha


  21. I expect most people are bored to death with the whole thing by now, but if anyone’s still interested there’s a video clip on youtube of part of Barton’s ‘Open all R’s’ interview – about 7mins long and starts at the bit where he says he wasn’t paid while he was in jail:


  22. “..we had a great affiliation with Chris..”

    “…those two, but yeah, I’ve got a great affiliation with the football club and really hope they do well..”

    Joey, the correct word is ‘affinity’, not ‘affiliation’



  23. Good god. Just seen the rant on the other site. About how people who disagree are plants by Ashley 😯

    1 – Does Ashley care enough about what fans say to do such a thing? History suggests not….

    2 – Would Ashley pay for someone to do something like that? History suggests not….

    How about people just disagree sometimes? πŸ˜•


  24. [email protected], Davy McReary fell into that category, he wasnt the worlds most talented player but what a tackler, awesome, and also for sheer effort and end product I loved to watch Peter Withe and Micky Quinn.


  25. Robert – Exactly. At other clubs they’d be deemed not good enough, but here they flourished based solely on the effort they gave and the adulation the fans returned to them


  26. Witters – You sure you’re not some supercyberplantything sent to change opinions of people sub-consciously? πŸ™„

    Not denying it doesn’t happen of course. I’m merely arguing whether Ashley would actually care enough to get someone to do that…

    Like the way that new members get questioned also. Dead classy. And to think this place gets called a clique…. πŸ™„


  27. I just tend to say what I think & that generally includes an insult or three nowadays. There’s no reasoning with them at all. I’m not proud of it but I think they’re on another planet, some views on there are so far removed from reality & there’s so much hatred it frustrates me.

    I had to end myself imposed exile yesterday cos of that same thread & the shameful hypocrisy of it.

    I’m looking forward to AndyMac’s thread tho…hes already sorted the title but I think ‘the ramblings of a ‘ is probably more descriptive!

    Rant over


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