As I mentioned in my last blog, my first away trip for Newcastle (to Stoke of all places) was coming up in a few weeks, since then its been and gone, and there are more than a few stories to tell! With Monday and Tuesday booked off work, the later to cater for my monumental hangover, I jumped on the supporters coach from St James’, of course my chaperone through this whole year and good friend Andrew McTernan was with me the whole time to ‘show me the ropes’. His first away game in eight years and my very first, it’s fair to say we were both more than a little excited.
It was an ‘interesting’ journey down, with a few lads all on their first away day. Tensions were high, but more importantly we were all desperate for that crucial first win of the season. With Cisses’ second half heroics fresh in our memory from the Hull game the previous weekend, there was a renewed sense of optimism floating around the coach. The cynics amongst the lads (me included) thought that the optimism was a sure sign we’d get done over. If being a Newcastle fan has taught me anything, its ‘don’t get your hopes up’, because with Newcastle being Newcastle, they’ll be sure to break your dreams.
We arrived on the outskirts of Stoke, and upon first sight of the Britannia, we began to chant, “I wana go home, I wana go home, Stoke is a s**t hole, I wana go home”. This was going to be an interesting night. As we disembarked the coach, it immediately started to rain. I’ll mention that we did leave a bright and sunny Newcastle, to travel 4 hours and stand in the rain on a Monday night. The things we do for this mad football club. There were only two pubs (if you could call them that) anywhere close to the ground. Which made me think, Newcastle must surely be the best away day for other club’s fans. For a start, our stadium isn’t in an industrial park, and there are literally hundreds of pubs, bars and clubs within a 20 minute walk. We got into a ‘Harvester Salad and Grill’ for a few quick drinks before the game, apparently about 1000 other Geordies had the same idea, within 45 minutes the place was bone dry of all the Carlsberg and Carling, so onto the Stongbow Dark Fruit it was. I can’t complain too much, I bloody love the stuff.
It was properly raining by the time we were getting ready to head to the stadium. Unfortunately for my ‘experienced’ away day friend Andrew, his jacket didn’t have a hood, so after our 5min dash to the away end he looked like a drowned cat. We entered through the turnstiles, after downing a few lagers we entered the away end. Our away support is incredible, people often say Newcastle have the best fans in the country, we had 2000 people to Stoke on a Monday night in the pouring rain. Incredible. Its easy to say the big teams such as Chelsea and Arsenal share similar figures, but they’re often assured a good performance and more often that not a win, a luxury long since forgotten by Newcastle fans. Nevertheless, we turned up in droves to support our team.
And now to the slightly more depressing section of this article, where like it or not I do have to quickly mention the whole reason we were there, to watch some football. We all know the type of football Stoke play, you wouldn’t exactly call it ‘exciting to watch’ and with Newcastle in the form they’re in, I wasn’t expecting the game of the season. Within 15 minutes Stoke went 1-0 up, thanks to an easy Peter Crouch header helped by some dreadful defending by us. And that’s how it stayed for 90 minutes. We rarely threatened in the face of goal, with Stoke happy to sit down and defend their slender lead. Even though we were witnessing a truly lacklustre and dire display from both teams, we never stopped supporting our players. It did get slightly more downbeat in the 2nd half, probably as most started to contemplate the four hour journey home and work in the morning. However despite this, the singing and chanting carried on for the majority of the match. This would have to be the big difference between an away game to a home game, the constant and unwavering vocal support for the team is incredible. There was lots of anti-Pardew chanting throughout the game as the final whistle blew. It seemed like half the Staffordshire police force had gathered around to try and contain what had become a very hostile and agitated away end, with most of the verbal abuse aimed at the muppet we have to call our manager. With that all over we jumped on what was definitely a more subdued coach for the trip home. Despite the score, the away day experience was one I’ll never forget. It was amazing to be apart of, and I’m primed and ready to do it all again this weekend for Spurs away!
Thanks to everyone who has been reading my articles over the past two months, I’ll have another blog for you in a few weeks. If you haven’t already, please check out my twitter account @anaussiegeordie!
Howay The Lads,