We’re still over two months from the start of the new Premier League season yet it there is much to discuss. I would have hoped to be able to able to write a first editorial without needing to touch on the tragic death of a former player. Due to a deeply divisive election and several other things going on with the club, it seems much longer ago than six days that the news broke of the death of Cheick Tiote at just 30 years of age.
I’ve been undecided on whether to write on this subject. On Monday I was immediately contacted by TalkSport within around 40 minutes of the news going public, who wanted me to go on their station and discuss our former midfielder. Ignoring my personal dislike of the show that invited me on – I declined the invitation as I didn’t think it was right. I’m sure TalkSport will have found another Mag to do what they wanted and I don’t blame anyone who did accept the invitation and no doubt they paid fitting tribute to what was someone who was warmly regarded by anyone who knew him professionally or personally.
However the tragedy of Cheick Tiote’s death wasn’t that he played for Newcastle United. As the week has moved on there has been some debate about the veracity of some people on social media payiing tribute. Private photos being used, photos of children, shirts being retired and yes, flags. On Monday I didn’t feel it was right to go on national radio and discuss Tiote’s goal against Arsenal, his yellow card record or anything else that a sports radio show would want to discuss. That’s just a personal feeling – I understand that some people will immediately want to celebrate what they knew about our former player and pay respect as soon as possible.
I didn’t know Cheick Tiote so didn’t feel it was right to go and talked in hushed tones about how devastated we (the fan base were) and how we are grieving. No one at true faith would claim to speak for the fanbase. I didn’t think going on a radio station which continually belittles Newcastle United and pretending that Cheick Tiote was a fan favourite was appropriate for true faith or me.
That doesn’t mean I don’t have fond memories of Cheick Tiote. The Arsenal game will live long in the memory. Level 7 at it’s best in that second half. I had a seat next to the away fans. Loads of the Arsenal fans waving wads of £20 notes at us. Imagine going to the cash point for that reason. This was 2011 by the way. Anyway you know how it ended. The lads waving the notes at us weren’t there at full time, thanks to Cheick Tiote. His career at United fizzled out badly for whatever reason. Even though his best days came in season 2011-12 there haven’t been many players that could unite Tyneside in despair as he did when sent off as a substitute against Stevenage. Not that the red card or the game was the issue. It was a week later, sat in Wetherspoons opposite Central that blokes who didn’t know each other, drinking pints with their breakfast, unanimously agreed that any chance of winning at the Stadium of Light was gone without our imperious Ivorian. We were wrong of course and should have won the game, but his presence in the starting eleven for those couple of seasons gave you a lift as a supporter.
I’m sure plenty of you reading this have your own memories of the player. Some of you will have shared them online, others not. Life went on for the vast majority of people, myself included on Monday. It was not a relative or a friend who’d passed away aged 30 but someone we paid to watch playing a sport. Social media was stricken with grief and still is to an extent. Social media is not representative of real life. I was at work when the news of Tiote’s death reached social media and there was shock in the office. Then sadness as everyone continued with their afternoon. Compare and contrast to social media. Much of the grief went on for days. It continues still. Depending on your outlook you may think it genuine or a public search for validation. To some it seems impossible to mourn a person privately – your grief must be public and absolute.
Cheick Tiote was a good player for Newcastle United. He scored a great goal that be remembered and played for many years to come. Nothing in the previous sentence adds or takes away to the tragedy of the death of a 30 year old man. His death is a tragedy for his family all who knew him. There is no need for a public campaign to retire the number 24. There is no need for a flag. If that upsets people then so be it. Fans can create whatever memorials they please, clap on 17 minutes for as long as they please or do whatever else. However other fans can abstain or criticise. It’s just football and aside from the occasional fitting tribute I don’t want to mourn every time I go to St James’ Park. It’s a personal choice. We all have one.
Regardless of your politics the General Election result was bad for football fans. Labour is the only party looking at changing the flow of money from fans to agents and directors back into grass roots football as well ensuring Supporters Trusts’ are given the opportunity to buy shares in football clubs when they were changing hands. I’m sure Theresa May has enough on her plate right now, but if you’re reading Theresa – tell whoever is replacing you that these are fair and realistic proposals that should be implemented as soon as possible. They will make millions of people happy and it will not cost you anything.
In my role at Gallowgate Flags I am in discussions (alongside Wor Hyem) with Newcastle United about a small singing section next season for people who wish to stand and sing all game. We’ll release further details when everything is sorted with the club. It will likely be able to hold 2-400 people so it’s not huge, and it might not be for everyone, but it’s a start.
Details to follow.
The club released their ‘retained’ list this week with no real surprises. Harris Vuckic and Sammy Ameobi didn’t ever look like being Premier League footballers in their time here. I’m sure we all wish them well for the future, particularly Sammy, a local lad. Vurnon Anita leaves United after five seasons. he came with as a Dutch international but largely disappointed in the Premier League. He was probably at his most effective playing in a three man midfield alongside Cabaye and Tiote. standout performances from him in 2013/14 at in wins at Crystal Palace and Manchester United, as well as West Ham United at home in 14/15. A limited player who played his part in our promotion campaign who seemed like a good pro. All the best, Vurnon.
My plans for true faith are broadly to do more of the same. We have our niche amongst other fan outlets and we’ll always be not for-profit and non-clickbait. We aren’t after a blue tick on twitter. We exist to provide an alternative Newcastle United view. If you want to write for true faith please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org – we will be expanding an improving this website. and we are looking for more online contributors. The fanzine will be produced more regularly and be more compact. We’re also launching a you-tube channel soon. If you know anything about equipment or video production I’d love to hear from you if you can advise or even help. I’ll not go as far as saying I’ve I don’t know what I’m doing in this regard but John Carver thinks I’m a youtube expert.
Most of all we’ll be going into a season full of hope and expectation. Through the podcasts, this website, youtube and the fanzine we’ll continue to have NUFC covered with content produced for mags, by mags.
When the season approaches this editorial will be produced weekly. Until then…..
Alex Hurst – Follow on @tfalex1892
E-Mail – email@example.com