It will be a cold day in hell when we get a worse Referee than the absolute clown who took charge of our game against Forest last Friday. If there is a worse referee to work at this level or above than Steve Martin, please write in and let us know. We’ve all been surprised by the really poor standard of refereeing in The Championship this season and on Friday night I openly questioned Martin’s integrity given how laughably bad his performance was. The lamentable quality of his officiating had me wondering about Far Eastern betting syndicates and I’d heartily recommend that he sticks to the body-building with his weekends as he is clearly way, way short of the standard required at this level.
I was at least gratified that both Shelvey and Dummett have had their red cards rescinded and both will be available to Rafa for selection this coming weekend. Justice has been done though I do think Jonjo has been a tad fortunate. I would imagine the panel looked at the overall disaster of refereeing provided with rubbish penalty decisions at both ends and took pity on us. You might have hoped Lansbury’s conduct would have brought sanction but we’ll take what we’ve been given and prepare to welcome that piece of shit to SJP on the 30th of this month. Scab.
The last three results have been disappointing, none moreso than the LC exit at Hull where I felt we were technically the better side but went out on penalties having conceded a soft equalising goal. Whereas there was little to be taken from the Blackburn defeat I felt there were a lot of positives in the Hull and Forest games and nothing more than the sheer doggedness, determination and graft put in by all of the players involved. As has already been written, every United player and coach looked devastated to have gone out of the Cup at Hull and I can’t compare that to what we experienced under Pardew, Carver and McClaren when cup exits appeared to be something to be celebrated rather than mourned. At Forest, United grafted tirelessly on the back of 120 minutes of football only a few days earlier with nine men and that says everything about the spirit there is in the camp. It’s critical we take that into this Saturday’s game against Birmingham and work to ensure they are the recipients of the frustration we’ve faced over this last string of three games. When United do the basics of grafting hard to earn the right to play and show our superior talent, we will invariably win matches. Birmingham are a decent side but we’re a better one and we need to work hard to show that with everyone inside SJP behind Rafa and the team. Saturday is the ideal time to get back to winning ways and put Birmingham to the sword.
I am finding some of the responses to United from rival clubs in the Championship amusing. Its irrational, incorrect but very funny. Long may it continue!
This last ten or so days hasn’t been a great one for football. I’ve been watching the ever widening revelations about the abuse of boys within the game with a knot in my stomach. It is extremely disconcerting to have United’s name dragged into the scandal as it is a well-known and important juniors Club – Montagu and North Fenham – a staple of the football scene within the city and wider region. What has been unedifying has been the sight of Sir John Hall and Freddie Shepherd deny all knowledge of anything untoward happening at the club on their watch and attempt to move responsibility onto others living and dead. I’m sorry but as the chief beneficiaries of tens of millions of pounds generated by United over that period the buck stops with them and if that means it is they and their reputations which are now under threat, so be it. I found both men completely unconvincing to the point of nausea. Don’t get me started on those two blood-suckers.
Not that the torn reputations of two avaricious former football directors is the main issue here. The main issue is to shed greater light on abuse in football which in many cases has torn apart the lives of young men and reached into their middle-age as the heart-breaking case of Derek Bell amply demonstrates. I’ve no doubt any decent person will be filled with admiration for Derek Bell and others who have experienced similar and want every support to be given to him.
It is extremely encouraging to hear Derek Bell speak so positively of the support he is receiving at every level from Newcastle United i the present day and how the club is so keen to work with Police into the investigation of what has been alleged. This is only right but when so much has gone so badly wrong in the past, there is at least optimism that United is responding in exactly the correct manner. Good for everyone at United who has made this the case. I’m not sure how this might have been handled under the cack-handedness of Hall and Shepherd given the latter’s recorded attitudes to people on Tyneside and how he spent his leisure time in Spain with Hall junior.
On a happier note, it was an absolutely fantastic night had by one and all at NINE Bar Tuesday gone as Gallowgate Flags organised its first public fund-raiser, the Great Newcastle United Quiz. The night raised a fantastic £1700 from ticket sales and raffles. Clearly, the people who made this such an outstanding success were the good, salt of the earth Newcastle United supporters who turned out on a rotten Tuesday night in December. The place was packed and in great humour. The experience of the night as fed back to me and others has been overwhelmingly positive and it is likely the event will be repeated before the end of the season.
What cannot be neglected is just how well the event was supported by Newcastle United. The club’s Head of Media, Wendy Taylor, has been different class and arranged for both Paul Dummett and Matt Ritchie to come along and those two were excellent. Both lads could not have given more of themselves as they posed for photos and signed autographs whilst chatting with fans and it created a real positive atmosphere in the place. United were brilliant in donating several brilliant prizes including two signed shirts, a signed and framed Rafa portrait as well as an outstanding VIP invite for four supporters to a game this season. They provided the centre-point of the night but it wasn’t just those prizes that caught everyone’s attention.
NINE Bar itself was a fantastic host providing prizes and surprises themselves but the same can be said for Tyneside Irish Centre, The Back-page, Toon Photography, Gallowgate Shots, Steve Wraith, Martin Hardy, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, NUFC.COM. Michael Walker as well as Paul Brown and The Chronicle who worked out the questions for rounds of the quiz. As did Rafa Benitez himself.
The Gallowgate Flags Quizmaster, BBC Radio Newcastle’s Matthew Raisbeck performed an absolutely brilliant job. Matthew gave up his own night, coming to NINE Bar straight after his show and I don’t think anyone would doubt his consummate professionalism and good humour.
But the important thing was people had a great time doing good things to benefit the club – namely raising an excellent £1700 towards what Gallowgate Flags hope will be the biggest flag to be displayed in the UK. All of this demonstrates the pride and passion there is for Newcastle United from the people who love it. Last night was an example of everyone pulling together and showing what we can do.
WE ARE UNITED!
Keep On, Keepin’ On …
It would be of great help if you could donate a few bob to Gallowgate Flags and help get them closer to the total needed to purchase that jumbo / surfer flag that will at the end of the season (hopefully) announce our return to the Premier League. Just click here to donate.
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