After a summer of weird post-relegation optimism I think we got a bit of a reality check at Craven Cottage when even a world weary cynic like me thought we were a shoe-in for a win as stage one in the Rafalution. In the end what we witnessed was vintage Newcastle United – sky-scraper optimism and a massive 7000 away contingent full of enthusiasm and the inevitable disappointment. It’s such a cliché it’s almost funny. Anyway, it’s gone now and we need to look forward to the Huddersfield game when I’d guess St James’ Park will be completely sold out for The Terriers from West Yorkshire. Once again, whatever Newcastle United lacks, it isn’t support.
I thought the players looked a little nervous on Friday and that anxiety may have explained the absence of a desire to really go for Fulham when it was clear we were the most accomplished side. Whether Rafa’s plan was to make us solid, which might explain why all of Anita, Colback and Hayden started the game remains to be seen but for a large passage of the match with Perez struggling badly and Gayle anonymous only Ritchie gave us any attacking threat but with The Cottagers sitting deep he was nullified.
One area of criticism may have been the personnel but I didn’t like the slow and deliberate pace we played at and it wasn’t until Shelvey came on that I thought we played with any real drive and pace. Ironically, I’d made Lascelles one of our better performers but he was badly at fault for a very poor goal to concede but he has held his hands up to that and we have to stand by our players when they make a rick. This isn’t the time to slaughter our players when things are only taking shape and what we are seeing now isn’t the team and how it will play out for most of the season.
I think I agree with the generally held view that this is a wake-up call. I thought we’d win on Friday and said as much. Perhaps we might have had the woeful whistler Hooper had any level of competence. He missed two blatant hand-balls in the Fulham box and maybe the home team might have been a man down for the pull-back on Perez. We’ve seen our players see Red for less (Colo at the Mackems last season for one) but we can’t allow piss poor refereeing to gloss over what was a lacklustre performance.
Personally, I do think we need more creativity and goals in the team, though granted Rafa didn’t have a full pool to pick from. Rumours in the papers about the future of Mitro and other claims about new strikers incoming may or may not be true but I’d be happier with more goals in the squad.
For all of that, I think once we get a goal and a win we will do very well this season but it isn’t going to be easy. It is not going to be a cake-walk and anyone who imagines it will be a stroll back to the PL needs to have a word with themselves. This is going to be tough but we can do it.
Over the summer, our support has been making some changes. It started with an exodus of those who want to sing and back the team vocally moving at first to The Corner and thereafter to the lower tier of The Gallowgate. It’s no accident, The Corner was the first part of SJP to declare a sell-out of season ticket holders. So we know the noise coming from one part of SJP will be vastly improved on what has been the case in recent seasons.
Then the emergence of the Gallowgate Flags group has tapped into something with over £5000 made in donations and that has allowed 470 flags to be purchased and to be fair United has co-operated every step of the way with the word out Rafa completely behind what the supporters are planning. This is now something for the whole of The Gallowgate.
So, there’s a few things you can do:
- You can donate to Gallowgate Flags because the intention is to grow this as part of our match-day culture and create memorable spectacles that will mark down the Gallowgate End as having the best supporter-funded displays anywhere in the UK. Just click here to donate.
- Just as importantly, we need those with season tickets in the Gallowgate End to volunteer to support the displays. Ultimately, this means turning up to the match 30 minutes early and waving one of the flags and returning it at the end of the game. To become a Gallowgate Flags volunteer please e-mail – email@example.com
- That will support Black & White Day planned for this Saturday v Huddersfield but Gallowgate Flags needs more. They need you to put the word out amongst friends who go to the games, encourage everyone to get to the match early and understand what is happening. Not everyone is engaged with what happens online and loads of people still haven’t got a clue what’s going on. Tell your mates what is going on and be ready to support and witness the display on Saturday.
- No matter where you are in the ground on Saturday, please come with something in Black & White, preferably a scarf. When the team emerges and runs to the Gallowgate, we want the whole of SJP to be a riot of Black & White. There will be plenty of flags on display but swirling Black & White scarves will all add to the spectacle too. What a welcome that will be for Rafa in his first home game following his decision to stick with United but also a memorable way for those players new to the club to mark their debuts.
Ultimately, this will all be as successful as we want it to be. Gallowgate Flags are ordinary fans like you and me but they do need your help to achieve something for our support and for our club. They need our help. Don’t be found wanting.
So a new season is upon us and here at true faith, we are back hard at it. We’ll have a new issue of the fanzine out in early September and as is our practice in the new age we’ll be offering it completely FREE and in digital format. true faith is Newcastle United’s most popular fanzine by an absolute mile but it is also Newcastle United’s longest running title too.
On the morning of the Fulham game, we had our matchday Newsletter, The Special hitting the in-boxes of thousands of supporters and we’ll be continuing that for every single league game we play this season.
If you want to get signed up for The Special, just click here.
The Special is absolutely and completely FREE. We won’t use your details for any marketing scams either. That’s not our scene.
If you haven’t seen a copy of The Special, you can have a look at the issue we brought out for the Fulham game. You can laugh at my pre-match optimism. Just click here.
The true faith Podcasts we have been recording over the last few years have grown massively in popularity and like the fanzine, our Podcasts are the most widely listened to on the Newcastle United beat and indeed amongst the biggest on the independent supporters’ scene anywhere in the UK. Our Pod-Squad will be dong more this season and we’ll have more post-match podcasts that will be embedded into our match reports, which as ever, are always written by people at the match, in the stands, doing the supporting.
We now have a true faith Radio Show and it is in partnership with our new Bessie mates, Radio Tyneside. We’ll give plenty of advance notice about when the show is on but you will catch it here – MW radio 1575 and online here
We are also in discussions about a regular TV spot and we’ll have more gen on that for you soon as well. We are going to do more with Video Blogs soon and we’ll have more news on that score when we’re ready.
So, your gobshite fanzine finds new and ever more inventive ways to get supporters voices heard in the coverage of Newcastle United FC.
If you want to be part of what we do as a writer or anything else, just drop us a line on firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll get you put to work.
Let’s not be too down about Friday night, Rafa will sort all of this and he and the players will know on Saturday they are playing for the greatest supporters in the world.
Keep On, Keepin’ On …