By Gary Lowe
As a Toon fan living ‘darn sarf’ (East Yorkshire), we tend not to get the full emotion of what’s going on in and around our great club.
This isn’t because we don’t care or haven’t a clue, it’s because we feel a bit detached from it – unlike those living in the great city day in day out; a city that eats, lives, breathes and sleeps all things NUFC. Match days are a part and parcel of everyday life. Theres a Toon supporter wherever you go.
Down here we are surrounded by Mancs, Leeds, Liverpool and Hull City fans with the odd Huddersfield fan & Mackem thrown in. Being here 12 years I can count on one hand the Toon fans i’ve met that live here…hell, I even worked in the same building with one ( and still do) for two years before we found out we supported the same team!.
We get bits of stuff from social media and the likes of The Chronicle. Fan groups and pages like this are also essential to us and we can see the passion that comes from the die hard fans present for every home game plus our fantastic away following. Yes there’s fans here that get to games, but we’re few and far between.
Now to my own story. Having been born and brought up in Doncaster in the late 70s (next village to King Kev by the way!) we all knew about Keegan as kids as he was one of the icons of the day and being a local lad added to it, with stories from parents that knew him as a youth.
My dad decided to take a trip to visit family up north. His side was originally from the Bedlington area (my Mam’s side are from Seaham but ssshh, we dont say that too loud), so i went with him.
Seeing the sights and landmarks as we drove through the Tyne Tunnel and Newcastle city centre, I sat in awe of it as most 7 year olds would. This place was massive and so busy (coming from a small mining village where anything over 3 floors was scary), i didn’t really know about NUFC but that would change within the next few hours.
We eventually arrived at my aunts house in Bedlington. In we went to be greeted by some strange language I could hardly work out but it sounded friendly with lots of “pets” and “howays”. First question (I think), ‘Do yee like football?”. Course I did, who didn’t. What followed next was what can only be described as an indoctrination to NUFC.
Names were mentioned…’Wor Jackie’, Gallagher, Moncur to name a few. I must admit the ‘wor’ bit confused me. We had just been to “war” with Argentina a year or 2 previous, so I just thought these guys must have been soldiers of some sort! Past glories were told in detail about cups and titles. “If ya going to support anyone kid, Newcastle United’s the team. Don’t be one of them Leeds or Manchester fans, a good honest club up here”.
So began my love affair with “The Toon”. In a world of Bremners and Busby Babes I stood alone eagerly looking up results every week in the paper. Keeping the odd clipping, collecting the stickers. Always being Keegan when we played footy at break time, later it was Gazza.
We’ve seen some bad, very bad, lots of good and too much indifferent. The longing to see “my club” relive the glories once told by a late uncle up north. Too much lately celebrating mediocrity. What once was shall be again….maybe not soon, but eventually.
So…I may not be a true Geordie like most. Your body can be anywhere in the world but your heart will always be “there”.
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