This is the last Oz Blog to be posted by Jem Sullivan, our Australian friend who developed an unexplainable affection for Newcastle United from the other side of the world. Jem has spent the last twelve months living with us in our city, supporting United but now its time for Jem to move on.
We all hope Jem has had a great time living in Newcastle, made lots of life-long friends and will always return to his adopted home and his football club.
All the very best for the future to Jem from everyone at true faith and we hope you make regular return trips to your second home in Newcastle.
We’re all sorry the football couldn’t have been better.
What a season it’s been! My year following the Toon has finally come to an end, I can’t quite believe it’s all over. Firstly let me apologize for the lack of writing during April, as you can imagine it’s quite hard to talk positively when you loose 8 games on the trot! Enough of that for now, let’s concentrate on the stuff that matters. Newcastle are safe from relegation and are guaranteed another year of premier league football, but boy did we cut it fine!
After watching us lose down in London at QPR the weekend before, I felt very disheartened at the loss and performance as a whole. A win in West London and we would have assured ourselves safety, but alas it was not to be and it came down to the final weekend. An already relegated team beat us and the players looked dis-interested and uncaring. As a fan that puts in so much effort to supporting the club (moving myself to the other side of the planet, etc.), seeing the team deliver the performances they have over the past 3 months tears me apart.
Luckily for us we still had our fate on our side, and the players finally delivered. The game at St James’ Park yesterday was unbelievably tense, and there were moments when I felt sick from nerves (not from all the pints before hand obviously). The stadium was pumping, it was a sight to behold. I heard dozens of people say it was “just like the 90’s again”; all corners of the stadium were on their feet screaming their lungs out, urging the team to victory.
After a horrid performance, Sissoko finally stepped up to the plate and put us in the lead just after the break. The stadium went mental, I felt relief like I’ve never felt before, all we had to do was hang on and we were safe. There was one more twist, and a good one at that. As many of you will know Jonas Gutierrez has returned to the Newcastle starting line up this year after beating testicular cancer, he is a true survivor. He whipped one into the back of the Gallowgate net on the 85th minute mark, and I have never celebrated a goal like that in my life, and I doubt I ever will again. There wouldn’t be a man who deserved that goal more than him. I saw grown men nearly reduced to tears in that stadium all because one of their heroes showed the type of passion and courage we associate with our football club. With that goal Jonas further confirmed his place in Newcastle folklore, he won’t be forgotten anytime soon. With the score at 2-0 and 5 mins left to play, my friend Andrew said “surely even we couldn’t stuff it up from here”, and luckily we held on. I can’t talk about the game without also mentioning Vernon Anita, the Dutch midfielder (so often criticised by the fans) who put in absolute stellar performance yesterday, and it was easily his best in the black and white.
As this is my final article for True Faith I thought I would give a quick summary of my personal highlights from the football over the year, and also some of the things I’ve come to love about living like a Geordie. Admittedly there weren’t many football highlights, but I’ve got 4 and I can’t really choose which one was the best. So it’s a four way tie, here goes:
- Newcastle 2 – Tottenham 1 [26th of October, 2014].
My 2nd away game and we capped it off with an amazing victory. This was my only away win all season, I’ve spent far too much money gallivanting across England, but it was worth every penny for that win in London. I’ll never forget the feeling of walking back to the tube station along Seven Sisters Road with thousands of fellow mags all singing our lungs out. We’d beaten the cockney bastards in their own back yard, and it was bloody fantastic.
- Newcastle 2 – Chelsea 1 [6th of December 2014].
Beating the previously undefeated Chelsea at home with two great poachers goals from our number 9 Papiss Cisse will long live in my memory.
Newcastle 2 – West Ham 0. There are certain games or goals that fans will always remember; Rob Lee’s goal v Chelsea at Wembley, Shearers goal v Spurs at Old Trafford, etc. For me personally, it’s Jonas’s goal against West Ham. It’ll be the one I’m still talking about in 20 years.
- 4th of March 2015 – Jonas Gutierrez returns from Testicular Cancer against Manchester United. What a man.
Now that I’ve got the football over and done with, I thought I’d also give a quick re-cap of the things I’ve loved most about living in Newcastle and trying my best to become a Geordie for 10 months.
I now know what a good pie should taste like. The pastry so soft and sweet, the steak so tender yet juicy inside, I don’t know how I’ll survive back in Australia without a steak bake after a night on the lash.
- Curry and chips.
I can’t remember how or why I first had this but it’s my snack of choice now at any football match.
- Trebles in the Bigg Market.
This one should also appear on the things I didn’t like about Newcastle, for obvious reasons. Trebles 1 – Jem 0.
- The night life.
For such a small place, Newcastle has some of the best bars, clubs and restaurants I’ve seen. You haven’t had a night out in England until you’ve come to Newcastle.
Thankyou to everyone I’ve met over the past 10 months, there are too many to mention but you’ve helped to make this the best year of my life. Newcastle will always be a special place for me, and I’m thankful you’ve taken me in with open arms and showed me such a good time.
I’m heading off to Spain and Portugal in the summer before moving to London in August, I’m still going to try and get to a couple of home games and of course the London away games next season. Unfortunately #AnAussieGoesCockney doesn’t quite have the same ring to it as #AnAussieGoesGeordie so this will be my final piece for True Faith. Thank you to everyone for reading over the season, I’ve enjoyed writing these blogs and sharing my adventure with you.
I’ve had the chance to live my dream following Newcastle, and I’m sad to be going, but very excited to see what the next year has in store for me. The club is at an awkward stage currently where we need to invest and rebuild the squad (hopefully the board will listen, but part of me knows not to expect much).
We don’t demand a team that wins, we demand a team that tries.
There have never been truer words about Newcastle United fans.
Howay The Lads,
Jem Sullivan. Follow Jem on @anaussiegeordie
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