The above is a question that I have been asked countless amount of times in my life. “Why do you support Newcastle United?” If I did have £1 for every time I have been asked, then I would be able to buy the club myself.
First, let’s go into the reasons why this question is asked of me.
According to Google Maps, St James’ Park is exactly 324 miles from my house, so it’s not exactly my local team. In fact, I had never set foot in the city until 20 February 2010, a couple of weeks short of my 20th birthday. Anyone who knows English football knows that they haven’t been the most successful team recently, indeed their last piece of silverware came in 1969 (No one counts winning the Championship as a trophy, right?). So I’m not a glory hunter. No one in my family supports Newcastle, my father only follows England and my sister is a massive Arse….nal fan. So it’s not a case of sticking with my family.
No. There is a deeper reason as to why I follow the Toon Army and it’s below:
Yes…That beautiful specimen of a man. The legend among men. The man who turned down the chance of trophies and personal accolades in order to play for his boyhood team: Alan Shearer.
Alan Shearer was born in Gosforth, Newcastle on 13 August 1970. He first signed for Southampton as a youngster, being winning the English Premiership in 1995 with Blackburn Rovers. A year later, he had signed for his hometown team, Newcastle United, for a then world record transfer fee of £15million. He signed for Newcastle even though he was being courted at the time by the giants of Manchester United. In this move, he chose his heart over the trophies that he would have undeniably won with the Red Devils.
My earliest memory of watching football was when Euro 1996 fever had swept over England, as the host nation of the competition. Watching Shearer, Gascoigne, Sheringham and of course Southgate playing with the hopes of a country and their shoulders and nearly taking that country to glory was an eye opener for a me as a small 6 year old boy. My dad enjoys retelling the stories of me running into the back garden and copying Shearer’s one hand celebration after I had scored another ‘wonder’ goal against the family dog.
Going back to School after that summer, all everyone could talk about was football and what team everyone was supporting for the coming year. My answer of ‘Alan Shearer’ was met with delirious laughter. It was then that I was told that I must be a fan of Newcastle United, as they had just signed my hero from Blackburn.
For the next 10 years I supported my hero in black and white, and although I ended up loving some other members of the team, including Shay Given, Laurent Robert and Temuri Ketsbaia to name a few, no one would ever get close to Shearer. Within those 10 years and after 405 club games, Shearer had scored a total of 206 goals to make him Newcastle’s all time top goal scorer, an average of a goal every 1.97 games. This record just cemented his place in, not only mine, but the hearts of millions of Toon Army fans. However, after all that and with his body breaking slowly, Shearer had decided to call it a day on his football career after the 2005-2006 football season.
Since then, many pretenders had tried to succeed Shearer and his famous number 9 shirt, however everyone had failed to get close.
These are detailed below:
Obafemi Martins: 35 goals in 104 appearances (goal every 2.97 games)
Oba Martins came to Newcastle from Inter Milan for £10 million and initially struggled to settle in the North East. Once he had broken his duck with a goal away at West Ham, he went on to become an explosive but inconsistent front man for Newcastle. He went from some breathtaking goals one game to being selfish around goal in others. After the clubs relegation in 2009, the forward trio of Martins, Michael Owen and Mark Viduka were shipped out, with only Martins receiving a fee of around £9 million as he left for Wolfsburg.
Andy Carroll: 33 goals in 91 appearances (a goal every 2.76 games)
The stage was set for Andy Carroll to take over from Alan Shearer as a local boy who had come through the club’s academy to the first team. Following our promotion back to the Premiership, Chris Hughton handed the number 9 shirt to Carroll in the hopes that it would settle down a striker who was known to love a drink and a night out. Famously, Andy Carroll was court ordered to live at Kevin Nolan’s house in order to curb his antics. Following a decent start to the Premier League season, Carroll was signed by Liverpool for £35 million and therefore, in my opnion, was not given enough time to emulate his hero.
Papiss Cisse: 44 goals in 131 appearances (goal every 2.98 games)
In January 2012, with Leon Best injured and Shola Ameobi being Shola Ameobi, Newcastle were crying out for a new striker in order to take some of the pressure off Demba Ba as our lone goalscorer. Step forward Papiss Demba Cisse, purchased from German side SC Freiburg for an estimated £9.3 million. Cisse started in blistering form scoring 13 goals in 14 appearances before the end of the season, which made me believe that we had finally found our new Shearer some 6 years after he had left. However, the start was not to carry on. Cisse has since struggled for goals in the next seasons with offsides and off field problems getting recognised more than his on field talent. Cisse was finally offloaded to Chinese club Shandong Luneng in July 2016 following our relegation to the Championship.
Dwight Gayle: 23 goals in 40 appearances (goal every 1.74 games)
Following Cisse’s departure, and the club’s relegation, a new striker was needed to fire us back to the big time. Dwight Gayle was bought from Crystal Palace for a reported £10 million, and was handed the number 9 shirt following a training ground face off with Serbian Aleksandar Mitrovic. Gayle certainly did fire us back to the Premier League with 23 goals in 32 games however injuries cut short his season meaning that he missed out on the end of the season and ultimately the league’s golden boot. Following our promotion, lots of us were willing to give Gayle a chance in the Premier League which some believe he has never had before. 0 goals in 6 games, losing his place to new signing Joselu and the rumored offers from clubs on deadline day mean that this has been a stop start to the season for Gayle, with his injuries troubles returning. Gayle is still with the club, and therefore hope is still there that his goalscoring form could return, however will he ever get over his injury problems?
Remy, Owen and Ba are a few others who’ve come and gone in the meantime, but as you can see, no one has yet managed to step in Alan Shearer’s boots – shoes that are almost impossible to fill at NUFC. Although Shearer only had 2 runners up medals to his name as a result of his Newcastle career, he had found himself the hero in so many people’s lives, including myself.
In summary, the answer to the original question, “Why do you support Newcastle United?” Alan Shearer.
Always has been and always will be.
I’ll love you forever, Alan.