Winning away from home at any time is great. Winning away from home around Christmas time when it affords the opportunity to sing Jingle Bells with 3000 of your best mates is even better. Winning in London is always a little bit sweeter and winning a second away win on the bounce is likely to get the average, long-suffering Mag a little light-headed. For the second away-day running, facing very different opposition, United utterly and completely deserved another win on the road with a performance of invention and grit. Gosh, I’m starting to love that Yellow & Blue away kit (the colours of County Durham for all of the Durham Mags reading this – oh, as well as Brazil) but seriously, we’ve been losing away games like Palace (a) all of my life so seeing the attitude the team displayed was extremely encouraging. A hearty well-done to the manager, staff and players for racking up our fifth away win of the season. 30 points before we sit down for our Christmas dinners is more than many of us expected and it puts us in a very good position.
I had a personal aspiration the team would be returning from the Hawthorns on New Year’s Day on 30pts a month ago but there is an opportunity for us now to be way ahead of that benchmark and head into January a bit full of ourselves. Now is the time to take advantage of the position we find ourselves in and with the confidence that must be buzzing around the club, really grasp the mettle.
Of the three games we have over the festive holiday period we do have the opportunity to get points. Stoke (h) would appear (on paper) our best option of a win, whilst Arsenal (h) will unquestionably be our biggest challenge whilst West Brom (a) is a bit of the great unknown in my opinion. The Baggies have just sacked Steve Clarke and the Hawthorns club have given us a severe test of our credentials in recent years. Generally speaking, they are good contests.
I’m looking forward to all of those games. I love football at this time of year more than any other. It’s great to be meeting mates in the pub, having a good swally, there’s a great atmosphere and there’s something about St James’ Park in the dark, bitter cold, under lights with a half-pissed, radged-up crowd, all primal screams and throaty roars – English football at its absolute best. I might be becoming one of those deluded Geordies I keep hearing about but I’m especially looking forward to Arsenal at SJP. I think we’ve got a chance. I love the way Arsenal play the game and as one of the aristocrats of English football, I always look forward to their visits to NE1. They bring a good following, seem a decent squad of fans and with the game sold out, I’m anticipating a revved up atmosphere. Hip flasks at the ready!
That’s not to forget about Stoke at SJP. You get the same points beating Stoke as anyone else and we’ll have to be at it to beat an improving Mark Hughes’ side. There’s not much to like about Stoke in honesty. I’ve never enjoyed watching them play and their fans generally seem to be a bit narky – to be honest, they are a bit like Boro. That’s not a good thing.
It’s going to be a great week of football.
Amidst the festivities the pasty-faced malcontents associated with this fanzine will be working to ensure we give you all of the usual shite you’d expect from us. Amazingly, we’ve done all the preparation so you’ll be getting match previews, fanzine craic, history files, TIFOSI and match reports you’d expect. I know, I know, we’re brilliant. Just keep coming back to us between the gluttony and the drunkenness.
We also have the new issue of true faith out on sale as well. As well as most half decent newsagents on Tyneside having it on sale (especially in NE1) it will be on sale outside SJP from the usual collection of sullen street ninjas staring dolefully into the middle distance with expressions more tragic than a burning orphanage. For God’s sake buy one from them. Only £3! This issue is a 72-page extravaganza that we’re particularly pleased with. We’re continuing our financial analysis of the club but by way of balance we do have a couple of pieces in this issue which offer a different view of Ashley’s tenure as our Great Leader (sic) which is at least food for thought. There’s loads of other material in there that we hope will provoke, entertain and inform. £3? The small profit we make from the fanzine keeps everything we do everywhere else running, particularly stuff related to this website etc. The best stuff is always, without question, in the fanzine.
Buy the latest issue from us directly – true faith (TF108)
Take out a subscription here – true faith subscription
Get a Digital subscription as well – true faith DIGITAL subscription
We’ve also stepped up what we’re doing with on-line surveys so we know what you lot are thinking about this and that. The results are in the new issue (TF108) from the first survey of this season but we also have a second survey online now that we’d hope you’ll take a couple of minutes to complete.
So then, the Fans Forum, planned for last Monday night was pulled and rescheduled for some time in January 2014. So, the growing list of questions supporters legitimately have concerning the running of our club will not be answered any time soon, presuming those attending had the gumption to ask them.
Why does Newcastle United give wall to wall advertising space completely free of charge to companies owned either in part or full by Mike Ashley?
Why has the club’s commercial revenue continued to decline since 2007, when other clubs of similar and inferior status to our own have grown this type of income over the same period?
Why did Newcastle United make a payment of almost £500K to Sports Direct?
Newcastle United’s online merchandising, NUFC.DIRECT is owned wholly by Sports Direct and operated from its HQ in Nottinghamshire. Where does supporters’ money go after they have bought club merchandise from NUFC.DIRECT? How does Newcastle United benefit from this arrangement?
How can Newcastle United justify continuing to out-source functions (i.e. catering) when it has resulted in a reduction in profit for the club?
We won’t be getting any answers to these questions any time soon. Postponing, only the second Fans Forum after banning the Newcastle United Supporters Trust is hardly an encouraging start for the Fans Forum, but my own view is anyone who continues to participate within the Fans Forum with NUST banned is de-facto legitimising the club’s actions. They should stand down immediately. I’m aware some believe dialogue and/or a relationship with anyone at United is some kind of Holy Grail but it isn’t. Banning this one or that one without any right of reply, failing to respond to correspondence from the Newcastle United Supporters Trust or the Football Supporters Federation, both of whom have sought a resolution isn’t the correct atmosphere to conduct relations. You would just have to wonder at the motives of anyone who would continue to participate within the Fans Forum in such an atmosphere. Naive? Opportunistic?
The Newcastle United Supporters Trust is the only correctly constituted, members based representative body for fans of our club. It operates to a standard of independent governance set down by Supporters Direct and it has elections, AGMs, reports etc. that are accountable to its membership according to its own standing orders. It was originally offered and accepted a permanent place within the Fans Forum but on a disputed point of rather petty protocol for which there has been no discussion or appeal, it is now banned. That is frankly outrageous. A Fans Forum cannot be conducted against such a background. I’m aware of resignations from the Fans Forum prior to this episode and there seems to be a sense of the whole thing falling apart but it would do the credibility of those remaining on the Fans Forum, particularly those who have come to the table independently, to stand down to prevent themselves being duped and their good intentions misdirected.
This one will run and run.
Pardew is doing a decent job with the players this season but I think he needs to stick to the football because he is losing respect with his comments regarding the club’s finances. In the summer we were stunned by his statement the club was inferior financially to Southampton, Swansea, Norwich et al whilst comments regarding the risk to the club of having to use its overdraft facility had we signed anyone had a lot of us scratching our heads given the riches coming our way as a result of the new TV deal. The latest is Pardew believes the club is in a strong position financially, which is a baffling turnaround in 3-4 months. The man is talking riddles but I would hope he doesn’t turn himself into a complete twat for Mike Ashley.
We are now also only a week or so from the transfer window opening. Looking at where we are in football terms, we have a great chance of kicking on and returning to European football, which is enjoyable for supporters and prestigious for the club. However, listening to Pardew you’d think it was the worst thing that could ever happen. Yes, it’s a crazy competition, no it doesn’t make much money for the club but Jesus Christ, it represents success and with a club that doesn’t prioritise the cup competitions (as stated by Finance Director John Irving) it is one of the few targets we have. You would think in such good form, this would be the time to pitch the club to potential players and invest from a position of strength. Unfortunately, we have Joe Kinnear availing himself of the corporate hospitality in the Premier League whilst doing the sum total of fuck all. I imagine his boss will take over operations should there any possibility of selling a player for a big fee and Joe will be left looking for another lost mobile phone. The fact is Mike Ashley has absolutely no ambition for Newcastle United on or off the park. Not everything he’s done at the club is bad, the costs are under control and we now correctly scout players before investing any money (as opposed to having names put in front of him by agent associates) but the overall strategy will never deliver the successful football club we all want or help the club maximise its potential. I expect January 2014 to simply ram that point home.
And finally … on behalf of everyone associated with true faith, I’d like to wish all of our readers a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year. Thank you for supporting us throughout the year, it’s very encouraging and we hope you stick with us in 2014.
Have a great week.