Thru Black and White Eyes


by • November 15, 2015 • TBAWEComments (9)3021

I hope you will forgive me for straying off the central topic of Newcastle United this week but the events in Paris over-shadow our grand obsession with the football club at St James’ Park.

It is often the case that those of us who make political comments in the fanzine world and attempt to demonstrate that how clubs are run, managed and operated as well as the issues in the wider game all fit into the wider social economy we live in irritate some who see no place for politics in what is a diversion from the every-day hum-drum of life and who value its escapism. I can understand that sentiment and would love to share it but it is sadly, wholly without substance and reality intrudes into that escapist longing all too often.

That was true on Friday night as deluded, heartless, death-loving fanatics attempted to take their pointless hatred to the Stade De France, not to mention other venues where life is lived and loved. But let me stick to the football for obvious reasons. The World Champions, Germany were playing the hosts France in one of Europe’s grandest stadiums in one of the world’s most beautiful and cultured of cities. The stadium was filled with the joy of sport and the unity of two great nations in competition. Regardless of religion, ethnicity, class, gender, sexuality, politics or whatever else, that stde gauche a droite et de haut en bas : Moussa Sissoko - Laurent Koscielny - Olivier Giroud - Steve Mandanda Guy Stephan (entraineur des gardiens) - Mathieu Debuchy - Eric Abidal - Franck Riberyadium symbolised some of the best of modern society and is an event I’m sure many of you will recognise as something special.

Into this joyful celebration came young men whose heads have been filled with the hatred of an ideology based upon a determination to take humanity back to the stone-age. Their ideology is anti-culture, anti-civilisation, mono-theist and it hates life.  How a sentient human being can turn their mind over to this vile belief system escapes me but then again, I’m a determined atheist who turned my back on the Catholicism of my childhood with absolute, unsentimental and complete certainty that what has been a binding faith for my family going back generations is complete bunkum. I’m no longer indifferent to religious belief I absolutely deplore it and as is required maintain a weary tolerance of its role in modern society with growing resentment. That applies equally to whatever brands of Christianity being punted by some snake-oil salesman in a frock or the peculiarities of Judaism and Islam. I know there are good people who follow those religions but they would probably be better if they didn’t.

But I’ll come back to the football. Nothing would give these mad men sitting somewhere ghoulishly celebrating the deaths of innocents greater solace than to know that we, their enemies were cowed and frightened, giving up our lives and where we were once confident are now anxious and fearful. That cannot be allowed to happen. That is why when I heard the England v France friendly international at Wembley was going ahead this Tuesday evening, I was absolGoufrannutely delighted. I’m delighted because it demonstrates our determination not to be afraid, not to be bullied and intimidated by a monstrous and murderous terrorism that is simply, stripped down bare no different to the death cults of Nazis, Fascists and many others throughout history. England v France at Wembley is business as usual. Fuck you.

I’m further thrilled to hear that encouragement for the singing of La Marsellaise by England fans before the game appears to have gone viral on social media. It’s a fantastic anthem in any event filled with emotion but sung lustily by Rosbifs  at their national stadium following Friday’s atrocity should send a message to our French brothers and sisters, you are not alone, we are with you on these islands.


But Newcastle United has its part to play also. We have forged substantial links with French football over the last few years and we have had a succession of French players who have worn our colours and we still have numerous on our books. Whether United will dismiss this because it has come from this fanzine which is by and large persona non-grata at SJP (to no great concern of mine to be honest) would be depressing but Saturday’s game with Leicester should mark our club, our city and our support showing solidarity with our great friends across the channel. The French players we have in our squad should understand we, the people who support this club in the far North East of England are with them and if that gives them even the smallest comfort it will be worth it. It will take the football club to organise it, bt organise it they should.

In the last week we commemorated the great losses of two world wars, the personal tragedies of which I have in my own poppyfamily’s story but which I’m absolutely certain is within yours reading this too. In those Remembrance Sundays we solemnly mark the sacrifices of previous generations and for me particularly WW2 where those from the North East of England joined the fight against a Nazi tyranny which threatened to switch the lights off of humanity. Those previous generations made their sacrifices to give us the freedoms and liberties we hold dear. Our government holds the responsibility for developing strategies and security to defend us and defeat these deluded monsters and how they do that is maybe not to be discussed here and definitely for another day but as football supporters, as people, this Saturday should demonstrate our defiance not to feel the fear that is their goal.


Keep On, Keepin’ On …   



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9 Responses to THRU BLACK & WHITE EYES – SOLIDARITIE – 15/Nov/15

  1. Pat Hughes says:

    I agree with all you say. Football is mixed up and muddled up with greed as corporates sit in their counting houses raking in the money with glee. The majority of politicians don’t give a second thought to the masses who enjoy (or who used to) a good game on a Saturday at 3pm. If they did they would get their fingers out and return sport to the people and give us level playing fields. How many have known about doping in athletics and simply covered their eyes and ears hoping it would all go away. How long have journalists been battling on about FIFA/corruption/greed yet those with the power and ‘stop buttons’ have only just been arsed to do something. Us fans are nobodies now – a mere backdrop to a lucrative business – businesses/corporations rich and happy > politicians happy. I’m also glad the England v France game is going ahead, not just to say up yours to the cowardly murderers but to be able to demonstrate our support to the French people. Friday was an appallingly sad and frightening day – twice in my life I’ve felt dread and terror but that can in no way compare to the events in Paris. So sad that everyone was out to enjoy their evening and unfathomable that the sick terrorists deliberately sought out the innocent.

  2. Andy bee says:

    Great article . Football is about the people , we are stuck with the modern day transfer deadlines yellow ties sky pundits wonga shirts. But we know the days of the pink the farmers rest the smell of the brewery wafting over a freezing gallowgate end are ours and can’t be taken by fat Mike or anyone. To witness kenny Wharton sitting on a ball during a top flight match or 6k defiant at Derby in the face of adversity is legend.
    So as I stated football is about the people the fans , the cowards that target any innocents in sport or all walks of life cannot and will not win. Rest in peace Paris friends , in all respects the rest of us will never give up.

  3. Rob says:

    While I agree with much of the sentiment in your article Michael I don’t think that the game on Saturday should be about anything other than Newcastle Utd v Leicester City, if someone connected with the club, or either city had died then fair enough but I feel there are ample other platforms for people to show their solidarity and support for the victims and their families, if the people of Newcastle want to organise a march to show their support then great, but the football club?, not for me. Where should we stop?, if there is a natural disaster in Senegal which kills thousands then is the logic that because Cisse currently plays and he’s Senegalese we should mark it somehow to show our support?, what about the Soma mine disaster in Turkey last year, Emre used to play for us and he’s Turkish and we are mining area so you know….. I don’t know if it is the influence of social media but we are in danger of becoming really mawkish as evidenced by the season long clapping and derision of anyone not joining in last season, the first game tribute to mark the loss of Liam Sweeney and John Alder was absolutely brilliant and surely would have been deemed sufficient in days gone by.

  4. Peter says:

    Getting into discussions about religion is always something of a minefield, but it is perhaps worth remembering that many of the great human rights icons of the last 100 years, Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Desmond Tutu and Aung San Suu Kyi, have all been greatly inspired by their religious beliefs. Perhaps the difference is that they were/are not fundamentalists and put a large amount of critical thought into determining their beliefs and their consequent actions. They allied their beliefs to the key components of intelligence and compassion and have all made a great contribution to human development as a result.

  5. Jim Myton says:

    I agree with most of what you’ve written and I’m no more likely to turn up for a church service than you are but you can’t say that people who have faith would be ‘better’ if they didn’t. You can’t make that call, any more than I could tell you that you would be better by switching your footballing alliegence to Man City or giving up your job for a more lucrative one at Wonga. Would you be happier? Perhaps superficially. Better? No, because you wouldn’t be being true to yourself.

    Other than those caught up directly in the Paris attacks and their loved ones, the biggest victims of what happened are the Muslim community of France who now have to live with the reprisals which will no doubt come, as well the guilt and shame that they will feel because Islam has been once again used as a reason for something which is un-Islamic. I’d take the Marsellaise above our excuse for a national anthem any day but by definition a national anthem is about tubthumping and that’s not what is needed.

    When it comes to stuff like this the Ashley regime do far better than in pretty much any other facet of running the club. Cover the centre circle with the CND Eiffel Tower emblem, have a minute’s silence and give any of our players on the pitch an ‘allez’ every time they get on the ball. There are more French speakers in the squad than Frenchmen, some of them are also Muslims so it needs to be done in a way that sends out the right message.

  6. Simon Sharp says:

    Spot on Jim, I agree with you entirely.

  7. Kev says:

    I went on a similar journey through a catholic indoctrination (for that is what it is) and from an early age realised what it was all about, control by menace and fear. As I grew older I realised there were other religions which although different, all had the same objective, control by menace and fear. I cannot bring myself to have any regard for any religion other than the people who believe have the right to choose their beliefs for themselves.

    It is right we should show our solidarity with one of our closest neighbours and I won’t have any problem if we show that at the match on Saturday.

  8. Big Coll says:

    “I’m no longer indifferent to religious belief I absolutely deplore it and as is required maintain a weary tolerance of its role in modern society with growing resentment. That applies equally to whatever brands of Christianity being punted by some snake-oil salesman in a frock or the peculiarities of Judaism and Islam. I know there are good people who follow those religions but they would probably be better if they didn’t”
    I have enjoyed reading this fanzine down the years… some brilliant covers, and writing, articulate and insightful. But lately cracks have appeared.. Accusing Adam Johnson of a pre-meditated wind up over MH17, and back tracking without so much as an apology. Now, the words above. Atheism is the one true faith.. All religious preoccupation is bad. Folk praying to a non existent God.. Troubling. and ultimately anyone with any faith is a lesser person and prone to fundamentalism unlike the enlightened atheist that you are. As all atheists are. This is breath taking arrogance. I can’t speak for those of other faiths but Christianity begins and ends with the words Jesus and his teachings. Whatever contortions there are through Religion can sour the Word. But if you read, for example, Matthew’s gospel, or John’s gospel, or Paul’s letters to the Corinthians without prejudice, you surely wouldn’t see Christianity the way you do. I read True faith because of the frustration of supporting Newcastle United and the informed debate that comes through these pages. This was the beauty of Billy Furious always summing up our frustrations and paranoia. Sure he mocked religion but in a gentler humorous way. So please lets get back to basics and less of the Holier than thou atheist evangelism.

    • Mark Simmons says:

      That’s the funny thing about having an opinion Coll, not everyone is inclined (or indeed expected) to agree.

      For what it’s worth, I agree with Michael – you can lay most of the ills of the world at the door of some organised religion or another, and we’d all be better off without the whole lot of it. The events in Paris last week made me weep (especially the interview with the little Japanese lad and his dad), and I can’t help but thinking if we all saw the world in a more rational way, there would be less of this nonsense overall.

      I don’t see the reasoning behind expecting this humble fanzine to express only opinions you agree with though. I’ve read Michael’s editorials for many years, both in the fanzine (ah, the smell of fresh ink on match day!), online, and later on my phone in high tech digital pdf with links to youtube and all over (good work, fella, by the way). Some of it I agree with, some I don’t. It’s always well informed, well argued, and well written, mind.

      That, in the end, is surely the point of this being our own little slice of football culture?