The very first time I was taken to SJP was by an uncle to Tony Green’s testimonial and he told me I might never see a player of his like in the black and white stripes again. There followed some lean years and I was beginning to think he might be right until one day in 1983 when Kevin Keegan arrived and changed everything.
People were talking about us again and we started winning games, regularly. He helped nurture 2 future England internationals in Peter Beardsley and Chris Waddle. We scored goals aplenty and it felt special.
When he left in a helicopter I saw grown men hiding tears in their eyes and kids in complete awe at this Hollywood like spectacle.
KK returned again 9 years later to manage us. He saw the potential, he understood the supporters, he got it. What he started and what we experienced from then on was nothing short of wondrous. As well as games we won hearts. Fans from other clubs called us their 2nd favourite team. We were called “The Entertainers” and it was dream land. All because 2 men in Keegan and Sir John Hall shared a dream and an ambition for a club so very close to their hearts.
A period of European football, some of the best players in Europe, the legend that is Alan Shearer. All because of the foundations laid by Kevin Keegan. And of course the best player I’ve ever seen in a black and white shirt, David Ginola, gracing SJP like a magician. I bet Neil Cox still wakes in a cold sweat thinking of Ginola tearing him apart at SJP.
In the years that followed we graced the Premier League and Europe. We had the great Sir Bobby Robson, still attracted top talent and felt relevant.
Okay we won nothing but it still felt like we supported a proper club. A club a great city could be proud of.
Let’s fast forward a few years to our current situation. Things couldn’t be more different. Our current custodian not only lacks ambition, he lacks any football nous. A man, and I use the term loosely, whose sole aim is to become King of the High Street. Who hoovers up failing businesses and treats his staff like a modern day Fagan. A supposed genius of the business world who doesn’t recognise that his biggest asset, our football club, cannot be run on a shoestring. A man who is so stubborn that he’ll shoot himself in the foot rather than admit he might be wrong or that others know better. In short the bloke’s an imbecile and he’ll continue this way until we do something about it. Only us, the fans, can force this parasite out of our club.
We need to do the unthinkable for most and stop attending games. Stop giving this man the thing that he craves more than anything, our money.
No more shirts, no more beers, no more pies, no more. Stop attending the biggest billboard in the world that is SJP. Nothing else will work and if we are relegated again then so be it. It’s all in our hands however difficult it will be and however fickle and stupid we’ll be called by other fans and in the media.
This can’t go on if we ever want our club back again. It’s up to us.