Losing at home to relegation threatened Blackburn on the back of an undefeated run of nine matches should not surprise anyone who has supported Newcastle United for more than ten minutes. This was the typical banana skin and we went looking for it. I think you could see the mentality that has served us so well for much of this season was lacking in the first ten minutes. Against a well-organised and hard-working Rovers team we struggled to really put the Lancashire side under any real, sustained pressure and although we created some chances that may have been enough to win the game on another day, I don’t think we really hurt them. I felt Ritchie, Perez, Atsu created little and Mitrovic put in the kind of leaden performance that makes a mockery of his cult status with some fans. Defensively, we lacked the composure provided by the Lascelles-Clark combination and I don’t think Mbemba did anywhere enough to disrupt that partnership.
There were some words of criticism for Rafa post-match with some questioning the number of changes he had made doubtless aware of the testing schedule the squad has over eight days. But every team has bad days and this was ours. It’s critical we forget Blackburn and now focus completely on Hull on Tuesday night. I’m one of the lucky ones with a ticket for Hull and it’s fair to say we are relishing this opportunity to show how much we’ve improved under Rafa against a current Premier League side but also get into the semi-final of the League Cup.
Speaking of tickets, Hull have been ridiculous in their allocation policy for this game. Their own fans appear to have little enthusiasm for the competition whereas I’d guess we could have easily shifted a good 6-7000. It’s a ridiculous turn of events when football clubs prefer empty seats to supporters paying to watch matches in their stadium. It is inevitable some of our supporters will find their way into home sections of the stadium. If there are any public order issues then the responsibility rests clearly with Hull City AFC.
But about the football. I think Rafa will play a more recognisable side from the one that fluffed its lines at home to Blackburn but for me I want to see a much greater level of appetite and leadership on Humberside than we saw on Barrack Road v Rovers. Ask anyone who saw United pull Leeds apart a week last Sunday and the notion we would lose at home to Blackburn was preposterous. The side played with aggression, determination and energy for the vast majority of the game. From that basis our superior quality really did for Leeds and I was expecting more of the same at SJP. Clearly, Rafa will have had his mind on three games in eight days and as we’ve seen the manager likes to freshen the team up regularly and I believe that is to preserve energy in what is a relentless division. Blackburn didn’t come off and we have reined in a little from our promotion rivals. The coming week is a big one in terms of us progressing in the League Cup and keeping our position at the top of the division looking impregnable.
It’s a busy week for everyone involved in putting this fanzine with previews, match reports, podcasts and The Special newsletter to pull together. We really have a great team of people who make it all happen and we are grateful for the great feedback we get. Sometime this week we hope to publish the new issue of the fanzine (TF128). We won’t have an issue of The Special for the Hull game as time is against us for those Cup games but we’ll have something on the go for you on Friday ahead of the visit to Forest.
It was fantastic to see Rafa and the coaching team out and about in the North East learning about the region’s rich cultural heritage and unique identity. Newcastle United is a lot more than a mere football club, it represents the region in a way that clubs like Athletic Bilbao and only a few others would understand. That Rafa has taken time out to get to understand learn the history and people of our region further underlines that we don’t just have a great manager at St James’ Park but we also have a very good man. Vamos Rafa!
If I can be brutally candid, the current scandal enveloping football regarding child sexual abuse does not surprise me one iota. Looking at how Sunderland AFC handled the Adam Johnson affair revealed where executives at that club had their priorities and it wasn’t the welfare of an under-age girl. Although I’d hope massive strides have been made in terms of Safeguarding arrangements at football clubs for the care of young people, I really don’t think anyone can be completely confident this is the case. There are players being transported all over the world and the rewards for them if they are successful are stratospheric. This places some people within football in extremely powerful positions as gate-keepers to potential fame and fortune. Within that environment exploitation can thrive. The Roman Catholic Church, Church of England and BBC have demonstrated in recent years that men in authority have received far too much deference, patronage and trust. Similarly, the needs and reputations of institutions have been placed before the care and nurturing of children. The ability of the Police and others to investigate allegations from children has also been heavily questioned.
The focus of the current crisis engulfing football is centred around Crewe Alexandra and the convicted paedophile Barry Bennell whose full range of offences only now appear to being made public.
I would recommend the excellent coverage provided by Daniel Taylor in The Guardian to become updated with this scandal. Please click here
As ever, you have to wonder how this scandal has managed to remain covered up for so long. You have to wonder how many people stayed quiet and you are frequently bewildered by how the interests of others – clubs, directors, coaches etc are elevated above those of abused children.
Not for the first time however, I am absolutely flabbergasted how the PFA (Professional Footballers Association), LMA (League Managers Association) not to mention the Premier League, Football Association and Football League have been blind to what has gone on with children and young people coming into the game.
The scope of the scandal has been extended to Leeds United, Manchester City and our own Newcastle United.
A character by the name of George Ormond who has been convicted for sexual abuse of boys has been named by a former United player as his abuser. As yet it is unknown when that abuse took place but the matter is being investigated by Northumbria Police. I was pleased to hear Newcastle United make a clear, public statement regarding its readiness to co-operate fully with the investigations. As it should do.
It might be easy to shrug this off as something that happened a long while ago and we have all moved on now. That would be an insult to the victims and an extremely reckless direction to take. Sunlight is the best disinfectant and this needs to have a full root and branch review for three reasons. Firstly, to locate and prosecute culprits. Secondly, to provide support to all of those who have been abused and thirdly to take all possible steps to prevent the possibility of this ever happening again.
I did note the FA has signalled its intention to review arrangements but frankly that fills me with no confidence whatsoever. It may be premature but I strongly believe the intervention of government is necessary to hold a thorough independent inquiry of the type ordered and conducted by Lord Taylor following the Hillsborough Disaster. Football cannot be allowed to investigate itself.
If anyone reading this by chance has faced any of the abuse experienced as described in The Guardian article please see below:
- The NSPCC’s hotline is 0800 023 2642 and Child Line for children and young people can be contacted on 0800 1111.
- NAPAC, the National Association for People Abused in Childhood, can be contacted on 0808 801 0331.
- In the UK, The Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255. In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14.
But please also contact the Police.
Gallowgate Flags are in the throes of organising what promises to be a great night out at Nine Bar on Tuesday 6/Dec.16 KO 7pm. It will be the biggest ever Newcastle United Quiz and some good people have donated some great prizes for those entering the quiz and showing what they know about our club. Gallowgate Flags are also really expecting some great guests on the night as well.
Entrance to the quiz is only £5 per person with teams to a maximum of four.
There will be numerous rounds with separate prizes but every penny raised will go towards funding at least one massive surfer flag to be displayed towards the end of this season. In the Gallowgate End obviously.
A sum of £4000 is needed and it is Gallowgate Flags’ biggest project to date.
To get tickets for the Great Newcastle United Quiz, please just click here.
Gallowgate Flags is a unique group. It is determined to improve the atmosphere at home games and give St James’ Park some of the most impressive flag displays in the country. All of the displays are funded by supporters, the designs are decided by supporters and all of the back-breaking toil to get everything done is done by supporters. The poor atmosphere at games around the country is a subject of debate amongst all supporters but Gallowgate Flags are actually trying to do something about it.
Gallowgate Flags are putting in loads of work but they really need our help.
See you on the 6th of December at NINE BAR.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
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Come On United.