THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Leaders of Men – 13/Apr/14

by • April 13, 2014 • TBAWEComments (16)1683

There is absolutely no question about it at every level of its operations Newcastle United is LeeCharnleynow suffering from a crisis in leadership. In the boardroom, in the dug-out and out on the pitch, Newcastle United is afflicted by a complete absence of courage and responsibility. Obviously the general mood music is set by Mike Ashley whose slavish obsession with the bottom line is threatening to derail the whole club.

Much of this last week has focused upon the appointment of Lee Charnley, a man whose CV is so threadbare for the position he now occupies as to be laughable. I am no fan of John Hall but in one area he got something absolutely spot on and that was in the appointment of Freddie Fletcher, who whilst not always doing the things we wanted him to do, came to Gallowgate with absolutely copper-bottomed executive credentials following his pivotal role in the renaissance of Rangers FC and earlier with Morton. Fletcher helped transform United into a cash register in the early 90s. It would be churlish not to recognise his role in the transformation of Newcastle United from the early 90s onwards. If KK nicknamed the abrasive Scot, the Jockweiler for his tenacity then I can only compare Charnley to a Lancashire lap-dog, given how the huffy nobody of Barrack Road has risen without trace at our club. He has held no other posts in football, other than those at United.

It was interesting to note that another of Ashley’s appointees, Keith Hellawell, notional Chairman of Ashley’s primary interest, Sports Direct should be so described as a “corporate lightweight” by some in the City. That world is a mystery to me but what it does sound like is much the same as Lee Charnley and Alan Pardew. Placemen for Mike Ashley.

Ashley appears to appoint people to key positions who will do what they are told. That is all very well when you are running an assembly line but in a sporting enterprise that Newcastle United vaguely resembles, there is a need for people to challenge, innovate, create and bring some drive and ambition to their role and thus their business. What we have in Charnley is a yes-man, a drone, so grateful for his undeserved and unqualified position and without any options elsewhere at a similar sized operation that he will put up with any decision made by his boss, so long as he can carry on the pretence of his ridiculous job title and maintain a salary he knows he will earn nowhere else. Ashley has turned the club into a Venus fly trap for the mediocre.

The statement which appeared on the club’s website last week was so cautious, so lacking in ambition, so utterly joyless and unimaginative as to make you check whether it applied to a sporting outfit at all. No ambitions for trophies, no aim for sporting glory, nothing to challenge at the top end of the league, no unifying call to arms but more a familiar and monotonous repetition of a capitalist credo that is spirit crushingly depressing. Orwell invited us to imagine a jack-boot stamping on the face of humanity forever in his visualisation of a totalitarian dystopia. Ashley has delivered its football equivalent at United with a Reebok Classic (the burglar’s favourite) kicking us forever in the bollocks as we continue to pay for the privilege.

Charnley’s statement concerning investment in players blew out of the water completely what Pardew has been spinning about rebuilding the squad over a busy forthcoming summer but then again from the moment Carroll was sold despite the manager’s earlier promise to the contrary nothing he has ever said, has happened. Our name is now being linked with a wish-list of players who will not sign for Newcastle United if they have options elsewhere. It is a circus for fools.

As expected, the appointment of Charnley appeared cold and bland on the website. No press conference, no interviews with journalists, no Q & A opportunity just a grey-faced, white collared dissemination. It amounted to someone switching off the light at the end of the tunnel.

It was appalling and suggests Ashley’s people (they haven’t worked for the club for a long time) no longer care if supporters buy into the club in any way at all. Letters from fans writing in explaining they are terminating their season ticket direct debits are routinely ignored. I imagine a dead-eyed Ashley wage slave shrugging his or her shoulders as they check the relevant small-print to give an utterly defeated Mag, the bad news – they are handcuffed to this never-ending farce. Or pressing a few buttons with no communication up the food chain at the alarming disengagement supporters are now having with Newcastle United, if it can be so called.

Then there is the manager, whose puny surrender to any indignity Ashley has delivered to him has, along with his own shortcomings, painted him into a corner. There is no way back for Pardew now. Once the away support, known for its stoicism calls time then he is a dead man walking. Pardew will know this but we are now into an end game of paid up contracts and positioning for the next job which I’d guess will be in the Championship at best. Pardew won’t resign. He has the security (so we are told) or diamond studded handcuffs of a long contract which he will not want to compromise. This is what explains the nonsense about Newcastle United being a hard club to play for, the shirt being a heavy one to wear, the academy kids not being from a preferred socio-economic class, imaginary injuries, an unhelpful local press and unfavourable weather conditions. It’s all eye-wash, pathetic dissembling to shore up what after this coming weekend will be an untenable position. Ashley will likely not be in attendance but I predict a toxic reception for his manager, his staff and his gutless team at St James’ Park when the admirable Swansea City visits Tyneside.

The cowardice that Pardew has displayed in his dealings with Ashley has reached its end point. This is where thoughtlessly towing the party line, bending over and having it stuck up has brought him. He will leave perhaps with his bank balance inflated but his dignity ripped to shreds. This is Ashley’s modus. There is no loyalty only manipulation and I’d guess right now another desperate dupe, certain to fail, is being lined up. Kinnear? I don’t think he’d dare. Even Ashley doesn’t want the club relegated, though he fails to recognise the link between his decisions and the likely consequences.

On the pitch, the players are going through the motions. Sometimes not even that. The stats are being compiled illustrating their ineptitude while Pardew is desperately hoping for the return of Loic Remy, a player like some others I’d guess who have their bags packed waiting to get the fuck out of NE1 4ST. Injuries are being racked up and taking a while to repair, which the cynic in me watches with suspicion.

Will we defeat Swansea on Saturday? I very much doubt it and the bitterness is such I can seek some solace in the team finishing out of the top ten and deny Pardew, staff and players their bonuses. 9th or 11th? I really could not give a fuck.



Many thanks to all of you who have dropped e-mails, responded to the news item on this site as well as made comments on Facebook and Twitter regarding the forthcoming switch to a Digital only version of true faith. Some of the very nice things that have been said have been really touching and I’ve had something in my eye on one or two occasions. But it really isn’t the end. The melancholy is completely misplaced.  It really, really is the beginning.

Publishing a fanzine, ultimately a small regional title like this one became possible due to the affordability and availability of Desk Top publishing throughout the early 90s onwards. Without that we’d never have kicked off. We’ve had Quark Express and Adobe Photoshop and Apple technology to thank for allowing us to develop the fanzine as we have done. Previously, fanzines were restricted to Letraset and photocopiers. For some reason that era is seen by some as the authentic period for fanzines for reasons that escape me! Similarly, web-based software has allowed us to develop this website in the same way. We may not care to admit it but we are all under the control of the geeks.

Last week Glenn Ashcroft, the design guru behind true faith and I met to discuss the potential of the Digital fanzine in the future. It is enormous. I promise in 6 – 12 months’ time the idea of returning to a paper format will be seen as a ridiculous. I have noted the misty-eyed nostalgia surrounding vinyl as opposed to i-tunes. I will confess to missing record shops but the people as consumers have voted with their feet and wallets. What people are also confusing however is the excitable discoveries of their youth and the onward march of technology.  I’ve heard some people claim vinyl sounds better than downloads. Utter crap. It definitely didn’t if it was scratched or warped. Or as often happened, they remained borrowed by mates and never returned. When I was my daughter’s age (21) I think I had about 60 LPs and about 200 singles. I was considered an enthusiast. There will be those reading this who regard that as a piffling amount but I was normal and it was a big collection compared to some. When I am allowed to look at my daughter’s lap-top and what she has been listening to I am staggered by the range of genres and how developed her tastes are but also just the sheer scale of what she has available. No-one is going to convince her that she should invest in a crap record player (as I had) and listen to music lying on the bed with massive ear phones on in a freezing cold bedroom on a council estate in Gateshead.

And the same is true with the printed media. I’m far from academic definitions of the “digital native” but it is a while since I bought a newspaper and it will be a while before I do again. The format is dying a slow lingering death with the infrastructure around the regional press, as has been shown by our experience to be crumbling. We won’t be the last to go down this road.

Over the next few years what we understand of a magazine will change completely and I am hoping we can play our role in this discovery for the fanzine movement. We have some challenges and knowing myself as I do, I’ll want to be over the mountains onto the other side before I’ve loaded the car up or put petrol in the tank. Glenn and I are going to batter each other’s heads in with this malarkey, I’m sure.

That’s not to say we want to lose what we have currently have. There is a certain intimacy and tactile feel to the printed word you don’t get digitally. I accept that. However, you will absolutely recognise true faith when you take out a Digital Subscription (you are taking out a bastard sub by the way) because it will contain all of the features it has now except only moreso. The fanzine looks great on lap tops and PCs but I recommend tablets and i-pads and in that way you’ll still be able to sit on the pot reading Paully’s Postcards From The Edge, go through Mr Whelan’s misanthropic A-Z in Sub Culture lying in the bath or read Gav’s excellent The End sitting on the bus or the train as well. It’s all there. You can only gain.

It is also going to become cheaper as well as faster and better. I’ve winced at the subs costs for the fanzine but they are all postage costs we have no control over. Add currency exchange costs into the mix and we haven’t been far south of selling true faith for a tenner each to some subscribers around the world. That’s just ridiculous and those postage costs are going to get worse now a service to the public has been turned into a trough for the Government’s mates in the City.

It took us a bit of a while to establish true faith as the glorious technicolour pocket Vogue you have before you nowadays. We achieved those improvements a bit at a time and we will do the same with the Digital only version.

But the really critical and vital ingredient we hope we’ve brought to true faith is quality writing and originality. That remains our watermark whether its paper, Digital or hologram … oh have I told you about the hologram fanzine …. maybe that’s a bit off yet …

Stick with us.


Keep On, Keepin’ On … TF_INITIALS_LOGO

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16 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – Leaders of Men – 13/Apr/14

  1. Malcolm says:

    Another cracking spot on summary of the cancer that is rotting Toon to the core. Where will it end?

    If this is it – is it time for us to strike out on our own and set up a new club that represents our city?

  2. Paul Brown says:

    Maybe there’s one ready made just over the river

  3. Ian Summers says:

    I hear Gateshead Council have spruced up the High St. pubs in readiness.

  4. Rob says:

    I hope the atmosphere at SJP on saturday can come close to that of the Hull game after Keegan walked. The owner, manager, and media should be left in no doubt what the feelings of the fans are.

  5. Mark Robson says:

    You are absolutely right about the club but slightly misguided regarding digital publishing. I have no interest in digital subscription. I like buying print copies of your fanzine. I collect vinyl and sales of the format are on the rise. Vinyl in good condition sounds much better than MP3. I know because I DJ through good quality systems and compare formats. Nothing beats browsing through a vinyl collection and reading a print mag is far more involving than scrolling through a website. Nevertheless, good luck with the new venture.

    • Hi Mark, I respect your opinion but you are wrong in my experience and surely the irony of you commenting digitally isn’t lost on you. Vinyl is niche and expensive and appeals only to purists. Its a fad. Digital publishing for fanzines will breathe new life into fanzines and keep them alive. We will do more than that and over time produce something far superior to what we are able to via paper where we have reached our limit. The technology is there and accessible and the potential is enormous. Stick with us because the content is the same.

      • Chris Baldwin says:

        The logic of going digital in terms of cost etc is sound but I won’t be buying which is a shame as I enjoy reading TF enormously and have done for over ten years now. The same applies to The Mag, sadly.

        With respect to you Michael, there is a world of difference between reading and commenting on a short(ish) online article which takes a few minutes whilst having a skive at work like this one and sitting down for hours on end to read a digital publication. The latter just doesn’t appeal to a lot of people, myself included, and there are still quite a sizeable chunk of folk who like reading words on paper and who wouldn’t buy a kindle/tablet if they were for sale at ha’penny each in the Grainger Market.

        Agreed on everything else, otherwise. The club, sadly, is dying.

      • David Rutherford says:

        I’m not sure you can call something that’s been around since the 19th century a ‘fad’.

  6. east stand exile says:

    Excellent summary. On the subject of the next manager, whenever that may come (and it might well still be next season, these bastards cling like limpets), it seems blindingly obvious to me that Beardsley will be the man. One of my heroes, but sadly a fully paid up Ashley lickspittle. No even half decent external candidate will come, and PB brings the massive bonus of credibility / goodwill from the deluded end of the support (still plenty of them too). No brainer for Ashley I’d reckon.

    • David Rutherford says:

      Good god, I never considered that. Much as I dislike Pardew and want rid of him, the idea of who they’d replace him with doesn’t bear thinking about it.

  7. john rush says:

    If anyone out there truly believes that ashley, pardew and co are doing a good job the events at anfield today where liverpool took a big step towards the championship should prove a salutory lesson in what could have been achieved here with a modicum of ambition. Two years ago we finished thirteen points clear of them, instead of strengthening from a position of strength we had pardew telling us we should be grateful that we had managed to hang on to our stars. The sacked Dalglish despite him winning a trophy and began to rebuild. In January we sold ba to Chelsea, ee should have been in pole position to sign sturrige in exchange, instead we bleated about being unable to do anything about release clauses. In the summer they told arsenal where to stick suarezes release clause even though those currently involved in the scouse wank fest were terming him a liability dfor getting their pal kenny sacked. We appointed that baloon kinnear and pardew told us we were vulnerable to offers from”bigger” clubds and said ee could not compete with hull and Southampton. They have taken advantage of man u and chelsea in transition and could win the league, for us 10th is success. So do you still think ashley and pardew are doing a good job?

  8. STEPHEN says:

    and Lee ‘if i have to leave Newcastle i’ll go and play for Gateshead’ Clark (except he missed the Metro Stop and ended up on Wearside) as Beardsley’s assistant.

  9. john rush says:

    The eagles have won the bbl tonight, thats nearly 20 trophies in less than ten years. Add to that the diamonds and durham ccc who have no trouble winning things, gateshead challenging for the play offs. just goes to show you can win things in the north east despite the crap pardew spouted yesterday if you are professionally run

  10. Ant says:

    Do you reckon we can get Hughton to come back? Or have we burned that bridge too? I am not saying that he was a genius, but at least he was a good man-manager and, given next season’s threadbare squad, we’re going to need to make the most of what we have.
    No I don’t have the gift of prophecy, but happy to bet good money that Colo, Remy, HBA, Debuchy, Cisse and Marvaux are on their way out; and I can’t see us getting 6-8 new recruits in, so Armstrong, Dummet, Sammy, etc will need to step up. And Pardew is not the man to nurture young players!

  11. Army Kev says:

    The mention of Freddie Fletcher (may he rest in peace) struck a chord about the changes in Newcastle United over the years, after a monumental fuck up over 1999 FA Cup final tickets (me and my dad had been to every league and cup home game a good majority of away games but never got a ticket) a letter of complaint was sent to Newcastle. Now you can imagine nowadays the club would not give a shit and would simply add a surcharge for there trouble and cast the letter aside. But a more classy establishment as Newcastle was then (you can say what you like about hall and shepherd buts it’s true) took action and Freddie Fletcher actually took the time and personally rang my dad with an explanation. He certainly may have been a ‘jockweiler’ but he knew the lifeblood of the club – the fans, now that’s an example of a good, classy businessman, not that charva tramp who owns the club now.