Eternal underachievers. A phrase that epitomises the only two football teams I have ever had the unfortunate honour of supporting through thick and thin.
If, like me, you are born from the mid-nineties onwards and happen to follow Newcastle United and England, you would have also never seen your team come close to sniffing any silverware.
The similarities between supporting Newcastle and England are blatant. Both have unparalleled, die-hard fan bases but one that often attracts the label of “entitled” or “arrogant” due to the weight of expectations it demands.
Hyperbole and scandal are also never far away from either, with a media circus often surrounding the club and country that I support.
What can’t be denied, however, is the amount of talent that both have possessed over the years without ever translating that ability into success on the pitch.
I was born in 1997; only an infant for the failed FA Cup final attempts in 1998 and 1999. Euro 96 has been an ever present theme chosen by the media for this summer’s tournament to help reignite the emotions that the country went through that year. Myself and many others – including most of the current Three Lions squad – are too young to have lived through that epic experience.
My earliest memories of football take me back to when I was just five-years-old; being dragged into school early just so I could watch Ronaldinho knock England out of the 2002 World Cup. Heartache in 2004, 2006 and 2010 I remember vividly. 2018 was a beautiful time to be alive but one that, ultimately, also ended in a “what could have been” feeling.
It gets even worse from a Newcastle point of view. My earliest memories of living in a black-and-white world was the Champions League era under Sir Bobby Robson. Oh how I wish to be my current age while living through this period.
My naivety at the time told me that this was the norm. Yet, when Mike Ashley bought the club in 2007, multiple relegations, a total lack of ambition, protests, anger and disillusionment followed.
A win for England in tonight’s crunch semi-final clash against Denmark gives my generation of Geordies our first chance to see the team we support in a cup final.
After years of watching other nations and clubs taste success, we may finally get the opportunity to experience the nerves and drama of a big day like this for ourselves.
Tonight’s opponents are no fools. Denmark are an extremely solid outfit and have an unwavering drive to win for their teammate Christian Eriksen.
But I have complete confidence that Gareth Southgate and the lads can stave off the Danish invasion at Wembley tonight. We look to have hit form at just the right time and, if things don’t go to plan, we have an abundance of talent on the bench to help drag us out the dirt.
England are not just playing for Queen and country tonight, but also for the lost generation of Toon supporters who have never had a taste of success.
Come on England!