Eagles 85 – Wildcats 78
I would like to start this blog with a grim warning, just in case any of you are sitting comfortably thinking Lord Ashley of S***** D*****.com would never change the name of Newcastle United FC; the Newcastle Eagles, I’ve learned, are now called the Esh Group Eagles Newcastle. If ever a name was thought up in a committee meeting then this has to be it, I don’t know about you but I can just picture it, a round table littered with empty Starbucks Venti sized cartons and a huge piece of paper over which a bunch of Jack Whitehall lookalikes have held an idea procurement session, I think we used to call them brainstorming before the insidious political correctness crew told us we ought not to say that. I guess what I’m saying is, can you imagine the Sports Direct Group Magpies of Newcastle? I can imagine it, and I tell you this, it kept me awake last night. I know you might say it’s only the Eagles, but you know how Mad Mike’s mind works.
Anyway… to business! Last Friday saw the Eagles first game of the season at home v Durham Wildcats, not a bad way to start the season with a Tyne/Wear derby eh? New players such as Malik Cooke turned in an impressive shift and look quite promising for the coming season given his and fellow newbie Scott Martin’s double figure points tallies (imagine Cisse and Remy getting a dozen goals each… how mint would that be……ahem!!!). The game was in my view won in the latter part of the first half, some great Eagles defending kept Durham at bay with only a few points scored in that time, it gave the Eagles something of a cushion against the onslaught that came in the second half (20 mins).
Durham came back strongly after the break showing a lot of guts and character, and at one point looked as though they would overhaul the Eagles lead. Again brave defending from Newcastle (you might want to take a minute to savour that statement) kept the Wildcats away from the home hoop. A final half dozen points in the final few minutes sealed the win for the Eagles in a very entertaining match.
Charles Smith was the pick of the bunch in my view, a lot of that brilliant defence was in no small measure due to him. Malik Cooke (interviewed in Chronicle) hinted that the team were nervous and were feeling “the jitters” before and during the game, especially in that ‘hang on by your fingernails’ second half. He also praised the fans, who to be fair really backed the Eagles from start to finish.
I’d like to say a little about Sports Central, the fans and the atmosphere if I may. The Eagles have been playing at SC for a couple of years now, but I must admit this was my very first visit as my work over the last few years usually kept me busy on a Friday night. They previously played at the Newcastle Arena, there is a marked difference in atmosphere, SC is much smaller and therefore louder; imagine one of those old school gymnasiums with wood panelled walls only 10 times bigger. It can only hold 3000 fans which means it is almost full and all the noise zinging off those wood panels makes for a hell of a racket. The Arena by contrast held about 7000 and there were always noticeable gaps in the crowd and the atmos. Maybe in the future if the Eagles grow they might be ready for an arena like that again. One negative about SC is that there is only one entrance for people who pay on the gate, and so the que backs up half way down Northumberland Road and a lot of people missed the start of the game (tip off).
The Eagles fans are if anything, an eclectic bunch, most of them I would say are under 16, which I guess is good for the future of the sport, but not so great if you don’t want to spend every break in play learning the finer points of ‘The Only Way is Essex’, apparently Gary Lineker’s Brother is in it this series don’t ya know? Leave it aaaht you slaaaaayg!!! Another thing to watch out for is kids with Klaxons, this is where my traditional football fan comes out…. I hate those fucking things, one of the little burks blasted one right in my lughole causing me to drop and break my camera, causing me to look daggers at him, causing him to fuck right off.
Most of the rest of the fans seem to be a mix of curious adult locals, serious aficionados and student types, the aforementioned Jack Whitehall lookalikes. Everyone seemed to have a canny time, no doubt helped by the result. I hope to bring you more tittle tattle from SC soon…. when I get my camera fixed.