Think about the best moments of your life. Why were they so amazing? Was it something you witnessed? The way you felt? Thursday night was definitely one of them for me on both counts.
I found myself quite stressed when the news of the takeover broke again, and you’ll have probably gotten the feeling from my pre-takeover blog that I wasn’t confident it would go through. I was terrified of having it fall through again and I didn’t want to engage with it when it was unconfirmed.
So, all day on Thursday, I tried to ignore news of the takeover. I’d have a quick peek at Twitter when I had a minute away from my desk at home, but that was about it.
Then just as I logged off work, it broke. I can’t quite describe the feeling of that moment, I think I was light-headed and tingly-fingered.
I’m lucky that I live in the city centre of Newcastle, so I headed straight up to St. James. As I walked up, I had nervous shakes. It felt like I could have passed out at any minute.
I’d seen the videos of people singing outside of the Milburn receptions, so that’s where I headed. But as I went up, I noticed people were walking away up to the top of the main car park. It felt like a pilgrimage, and I couldn’t work out why were all heading there.
I also couldn’t work out if my shakes were getting worse, or if the sheer number of people on top of the car park was making the floor bounce.
It turned out people were heading up to the Sky Sports van to sing on camera. The atmosphere was already good at this point, so I lurked behind the van and soaked it all in.
By about 6pm, we were all back down outside the Milburn stand, crowded around the Sir Bobby statue and the surrounding areas. I went up the stairs towards the ticket windows to get a better vantage point.
At this point, I felt like I was having an out of body experience. None of it felt real. I also realised that being sober at this point felt extra strange, so I duly went to Tesco for some #cans. The shop ran out of them by about 8pm.
By the time I got back from the 30-second walk, you could barely move. The scenes in the road outside the Sir Bobby statue were unbelievable. It was almost like a mosh pit. I was desperate to join in, but my wobbly legs wouldn’t let me. But I did sing my heart out for hours on end.
I’ve got a lot of videos from the night, and although the scenes look amazing, they don’t do it justice. The atmosphere was electric. If you’ve been to an away game, you’ll know we can create an amazing atmosphere, but this was 10x better than any away atmosphere I’ve been in.
True to form, there was new monkey playing at times (only in Newcastle) and people were going nuts to it. Footballs, empty cans and beer were flying everywhere. It was a bit like the scenes in the outdoor bit at the Centre for Life when England scored in the World Cup in 2018, but more genuine. People weren’t just flinging their beer to fling it. It was a by-product of pure joy.
And that’s what the night was about. Pure joy. It’s the best moment we’ve experienced as a fanbase in a long time. It’s something we’ve been waiting 14 years for. By about 9pm, the crowd was still going strong. We’d filled the area down from the Milburn receptions, the stairs were packed all the way up, the opposite side of the road was packed too. We sang, we drank, we laughed. There was a police presence, but I didn’t see a single person get into trouble. We were just there to celebrate.
The crowds started to dissipate at about 9.30-10pm, but there were still hundreds of us there at 11.30pm when the police finally chivvied us away. If they hadn’t, it would have gone on into the early hours.
We’re a resilient fanbase, and we’ve put up with so much in the past 14 years. I’ve seen us leave Old Trafford, the DW Stadium and White Hart Lane in good spirits despite shipping four goals in each.But as I said in my pre-takeover post, even the most hardcore amongst us (including myself) were getting sick.
It’s been well worth the wait, though. The elation I felt and witnessed on Thursday night will live in my memory forever. It was pure, unadulterated joy, and it lit up the fanbase in a way I haven’t seen in years.
What a night.