A guest blog on the state of Newcastle United by George Caulkin, Northern Sports Correspondent of The Times

On a good day – and it has to be a good day – you can still feel it, a heaviness that hangs in the air like a soupy fog. Call it sentiment, hogwash or delusion, but I swear you can feel it; those countless, trooping footfalls, those million hearts beating before yours. Perhaps it is because Newcastle have always been here, the same stretch of turf Jackie sped across, where Keegan dared you to dream, where Shearer raised his right arm in celebration. Ghosts, everywhere.

 

Perhaps it is because you first came here with your dad, or your mam or brothers, where you stood for so long that your legs locked in protest. Where you rocked on your feet, awash with drink, where you communed with mates, p*ssed and swaying. When St James’ Park is empty and you can find a space to gaze at, free of that scarring, jarring advertising, you can still feel those relationships, that extension of who you are.


At its most basic, this is what a football club is about. A club, by definition, is a collection of people brought together by a common cause and when it comes to football and the North East, there is a direct correlation between heavy industry and release, the rhythm of a working week culminating in this expression of identity, family and noise. Even when things were bad – and, by God, things have been bad – we turned up and we sang, because this is who we were.

 

But who are we now? Through not-quite thick, thin and thinner, we bore witness and we did so in the hope of better to come. We did so because we had a player to watch, we did so because however witless and rubbish the team was, it was our rubbish and our team. Our history. And we did so because forever beyond the fingertips, there was this great straining and yearning. My kingdom for a trophy, any trophy.

 

From a trophy to atrophy; this has been Newcastle’s journey under Mike Ashley. They no longer strain for anything and certainly not for sporting glory. They are profitable yet specialise in footballing austerity, disengaged from their supporters and the city they tower over, doling out dry, unemotional, corporate statements, speaking about cups as if they were a threat to the lifeblood of a club rather than the essence of it.

 

Through the whole compendium of Ashley’s contentious missteps – Kinnear and Wise (who sound like the worst comedy double-act of all time), Wonga and name-changes, that bitter, loveless relegation, the belittling of Keegan and Shearer and too many other acts of vandalism to mention – there has been a stoicism from supporters, a few flashes of fury aside. However desperate it becomes, turn up and turn up. Turn up, regardless.

 

sjp_old

 

It has not all been terrible. There has been a merit in doing things differently, in promoting self-sufficiency in an era of financial restriction, in seeking young, hungry players of good value after too many vanity signings, in targeting stability at an institution which had been reconstructed on quicksand foundations. Yet the model has become stale, lacking the intensity and innovation to push things forward and stability has become stagnation.

 

Stability is fine when it is the byproduct of competence. When it becomes the goal itself, corrosion sets in. If cups are not a priority, what is? Why would footballers commit to a club which seems content to exist in mid-table, never over-reaching? For two seasons in succession, Newcastle have effectively boarded the doors in January, either selling their best player or delaying the appointment of a permanent manager. What message does that deliver?

 

John Carver may have struck upon something when he talked recently about the character of a squad which has contrived to lose five consecutive meetings with Sunderland, but how can players understand what Newcastle and that fixture represents when Newcastle represents nothing? What does it say to them, to anybody, when judgement is continually being deferred, whether to the next transfer window or until the new man arrives?

 

It was at St James’ that I first knew terror and felt love, that enormous, befuddling stretch of green amid monochrome, those thronging, swearing, dangerous crowds. It was where I saw Paul Gascoigne’s sharp elbows and bagatelle feet, his chip-shop shine and where I realised there could be poetry in football, where I felt a powerful outburst of regional belonging when the North East was being trashed by a despised government. It made me long to do what I do.

 

As a journalist, those feelings mutate; they have to. I love Sunderland, Middlesbrough and Hartlepool, have built friendships and relationships there and feel a shared kinship (I realise most people will not), and I know that if I’m any good at all at this stupid, wonderful, ridiculous job it’s because I’m writing about my home, the place I care about most, an area of outstanding beauty and goodness, passion and integrity.

 

Over the last couple of years, Newcastle have made me want to turn away. From this loveless club, this lack of access and openness, from this cold, hard, business. Anecdotally, I know those feelings are harboured by others – by others who pay for their tickets – because many of them are friends and family. Perhaps it is a fact of life, of advancing years and other priorities and perhaps those people are being replaced, but something is changing. Soul is being lost.

 

This is only part of the context behind Tottenham Hotspur this weekend and the notion of a boycott. It is my context, really. When such a big part of us has been about being there and being there forever, the idea of wilfully not being there is agonising, whether in terms of one match or more, and because this daft and vital game is now my occupation, it is not my place to urge people to stay away. It is and should be a personal decision.

 

What these few days provide, however, is an opportunity; an opportunity for supporters, for all of us, to reflect on what it is that we want from our football club(s). What do we expect from them? And what do we receive in return? And if the answer to any of that is unsatisfactory then how, if at all, can we go about registering our disapproval? If Ashley will not go until his asking price for Newcastle is met, then is there a point to protest for protest’s sake?

 

But there comes a moment, whether it is in football, politics or anything else, when a line is crossed and a stand must be taken. There is power in simply stating enough is enough. However difficult or impossible the circumstances, there are times when you have to say this is not being done in my name, this is not who I am, what I stand for, what I believe. Is that moment now? Go or don’t go on Sunday, but there is a choice beyond impotence and apathy.

 

Ashley owns Newcastle, but he is not Newcastle. He is not the blessed air in that stadium, the air that you breathe and which your relatives and friends and idols inhaled and exhaled before you. He is not the club. The club is your memories, the club is inside you, that power, that meaning, that identity, that black and white beauty, those long bus journeys, those bleary mornings and late nights, belonging and feeling, loving and hurting. Those good days. Your family. Your club. The club is you.

 

By George Caulkin, Northern Sports Correspondent of The Times

  • Nice one, George. Your sentiments summarise those of many.

    • Tim

      Join the discussion…so eloquently put George. This club is our lifeblood and leaves me feeling like a jilted lover, having poured my heart into the relationship for a lifetime. How much longer do we have to put up with the pain of sapping passion? I have stood firm for 23 years, living in enemy Manchester territory, wearing the Black and White shirt and rearing my young to be faithful geordies, proudly resisting the taunts. Sadly, even this has subsided, replaced by sympathy. Something needs to happen and quick. If I were in thr Toon tomorrow I would be proud to stand shoulder to shoulder in protest. Go for it lads!

  • Mal Maclean

    Brilliant. Absolutely bang on.

  • John Burn

    Great piece and totally spot on.

  • foolsdietoo

    Fong him!!! Fong the pathetic owner!!! The Ghastly Ashley!!! The Football Fool!!! The Pauper Billionaire!!!! Ashley Out!!!!

    • Gary Linney

      Totally agree! .. I had to check what ‘Fong’ meant tho’

  • Shaunieo

    A man that understands it all!

  • Depressed Toon Fan

    Great piece!! Lee Ryder should give it a read and grow a pair!!

    • Munich Mag

      why ? He doesn’t want to lose his cushty job, following the toon near and far and getting paid for it. a bit like jc at the end of the day.

  • Jeff Burn

    Brilliant write Mr Caulkin. Well done on not mentioning the name of his company. It should be a rule, at least on this site never to give it the air of publicity. “The Owner” and “His Company” should only be used.

  • Dale Lewis

    Superb piece, bang on

  • Radgepacket

    Excellent article.

  • Gary Linney

    Well said George… but like many (or most) of us, you’re telling the tale to the converted -we feel your pain too! We should be (rightfully) making a mockery of NUFC’s sad & embarrassing situation in the national media… Spread the word people and I hope the boycott is BIG news! ASHLEY OUT!!!

  • Matthew Moore

    Well said

  • Bri

    Good man George. Perfect prose.

  • Atilla McNamee

    This is the best piece of regional sports journalism I have read in many a year – poetic, moving, a call to arms. I’ll be there on Sunday – handing out leaflets asking you to support the boycott!

    • Munich Mag

      dead right, a historical and lendary article imo

  • Yer Da

    Great article, the point about stability is a personal highlight.

  • Nigel Greaves

    very moving and to the point

  • Phil Bell

    Beautiful piece of writing, George. I quit 4 years ago, but every single word moved me, just as every single appalling piece of behaviour by the owner still enrages me. Please continue to fight the good fight – it’s essential that as many influential voices support or publicise the action of the fans. There’s too many staying silent on this.

  • Laurent Robert 32

    Excellent, George. It’s great that you can speak the truth when other media representatives toe the Ashley line in fear of their jobs or access within the ground.
    I’m boycotting the Spurs game, and I hope all of you who want to show your disproval at the shocking way Ashley is treating the club and the fans will do the same. Head to Leazes Park instead. Now is the time to make a visual statement with organised group action.

  • Chris Heron

    Get in! Fantastic stuff.

  • afos

    Take the fight to Ashley and his beloved sports brand. Use the time on Sunday to go to his store on Northumberland Street and stop it from functioning – the sheer numbers ‘browsing’ and engaging the sales staff without purchasing would stop others from placing their cash in the tills – if they could even get in. A token gesture but if this could gain traction and publicity the ‘mass browse’ could be extended to other stores in the North East; investors would get nervous and the share price would drop.

    • Munich Mag

      interesting idea 😉

  • Graeme

    Superb article, exactly how I feel. Nice one George.

  • Michael

    Very eloquently put, but what is it actually saying? Metaphors and memories are great but there’s nothing constructive here, nothing to hang a scarf on.

    Pleased to see an article that at least credits some of the changes Ashley has introduced and recognises that there was a lot of dreadful football before Ashley.

    I’m starting to think the modern football fan just likes to moan. When David Conn of the Guardian wrote a similarly flowery but flaccid piece on nufc this month half the comments were from fans of other clubs asking him to do their team next, like 80s Tory MPs asking for Spitting Image to do a puppet of them.

    I think Ashley is a symptom not a cause, and the malaise if it exists is wider than Newcastle. The FA Cup was devalued years before Pardew picked Dan Gosling in the 3rd round and TV money means Premiership survival is a trophy in itself unfortunately.

    I don’t think most of the issues with our club on the pitch this season are Ashley’s fault. I doubt very much whether he insists his managers play Gouffran in midfield, or bans practicing set pieces on the training ground. The next manager appointment is huge, and I’ll judge the regime on that. I have a feeling they’ll get the right man and I’m willing to hold off any boycott or condemnation until Christmas.

    • Mattoon

      Ashley is the man who hired these coaches (on the cheap) he is indirectly responsible for all of it. Cheap managers, cheap players, cheap tatty brand!

      “I’ll judge the regime on the next appointment” “I’ll judge the regime on the next transfer window” I’ve heard it every season, wait for this, wait for that. All you’re waiting for is more disappointment and more lies. Perpetually waiting for nothing to happen, existing rather than living.

      Nothing will change under this man, the mantra is clear, we’re not NUFC anymore, we’re Sp***s Di**ct United merely existing as an advertising hoard for his tatty brand where his true passion lies.

      You’re still waiting to “judge” this regime after 8 years? There’s no hope for you.

      • Michael

        Behind those Sports Direct (and people that say you shouldn’t say the name should look up Jed Bartlet’s thoughts on calling his political opponents “my opponent” rather than using their name) advertising hoardings are Shepherd Offshore adverts, has everyone forgotten them?

        “Nothing will change under this man…” – everything has changed under this man, whether we agree with it all or not.

        We used to be the place to go for journeyman players looking for an easy and well paid end to their careers, and for the players that didn’t cut it at big clubs. Where else in the world would Duff, Smith, Geremi, Viduka and Butt get long contracts on over £50k a week, apart from Sunderland obviously. Now we are seen as a stepping stone for European talent to make their name in the Premier League, usually on basic salaries, with a view to a big move in 3 years to the benefit of player and club.

        We went from changing our managers about as often as Carver changes his kecks to having the second longest serving manager in the top flight. I didn’t always like Pardew but the stability brings benefits.

        The Director of Football or signings or whatever we have in place now might not always be popular, but it’s better than what we had before. How many times did we give a manager £20m to buy players he liked in the summer before sacking him by Christmas?

        Most importantly we have gone from financial free-fall to a solid footing. I don’t think profit is the be all and end all for a football club, but the previous regime we borrowing more and more against less and less assets and I don’t think it’s impossible we could have been another Leeds.

        There might not be any hope for me, but until somebody can point to something concrete Ashley is doing wrong rather than blithely accusing him of ripping the soul out of our club, I’ll keep being optimistic. It’s a fan’s right, stupid or otherwise.

        • Mattoon

          I’ll start with your misinformation about debt, this has in fact DOUBLED under Ashley, through his own making I might add. I don’t disagree that potentially we are looking at the right players more than those journeymen of yesteryear. However, instead of aiming that little bit higher with regards to fee/wages (of worth I might add) we go to option 2 or 3. I.e. Instead of Bony or Lacazette we end up with Riviere, therein lies the problem.

          I have no problem with us being a stepping stone to begin with, 2 or 3 seasons down the line though we should be in a position where these players want to stay with us because the business model is building a better team. This will never happen under Ashley because he plays the game of lowest financial risk, buy cheap, sell high or write them off with little cost.

          Pardew was a lickspittle, please tell me what “stability” he brought? Other than losing to Sunderland twice a season and getting more sound thrashings in his 4 years than a previous decade of other managers. This has been discussed to death and although he is doing well right now at Palace he was spent here and I’m glad to see the back of him.

          You have every right to feel the way you want to about the current regime, but all I can see is more penny pinching, more lies (proven in a court of law) and even less ambition. Initial rounds of manager interview after Pardew left included the club proviso of “we are only interested in 8th to 17th” along with the admission that cups are a danger, where is the ambition in that?

          Answer me this, do you want NUFC to be the best it can be to whatever financial constraints it holds or are you happy with it merely existing and giving up trying in January every year when we are mathematically safe so we can guarantee next year’s money?

          I know what I want, not to buy the best players around, not to expect to challenge for the league every year, not to expect to win a cup, just to try. Try and do the best we can, try and buy the best players we can afford, even if it is that £1m extra, try and keep the players at the club unless we get silly offers, not publicly flaunt their availability every time they string a couple of good games together.

          I don’t think it’s too much to ask, I don’t think I’m being delusional and I don’t for one second believe we can’t afford to do it or that Ashley cares past SPORTS DIRECT enough to attempt it.

          • Michael

            Fair enough, I can accept most of that. And good use of lickspittle.

            At least the debt now is notional to make sure Ashley gets his money back from any purchaser, rather than owed to a third party with strict repayment terms and the possibility of defaulting and losing the stadium.

            We got Rivière but we’ve paid more for less in the past (remember Luque?) and we did get Perez as well. Yeah we’ll sell him for £15m in 2 years he’s good business and a treat to watch.

            The main difference between us is that I’m naive enough to think we’ll get the right man as head coach and spend a bit of cash this summer. If we do I think we’re in good shape.

          • Mattoon

            I can empathise, I wasn’t one of the first to go against Pardew, however there’s only so many false dawns and “next season”‘s you can endure before the penny drops. We may well make a half decent appointment in the summer but there will be more papering over the cracks than fixing the issues because that’s the cheap way.

            I also agree that the current scouting system has potential, but I believe it is ultimately flawed based on my previous examples (you have to realise we were arguing over the odd £1m on transfers while that £38m was sat in the bank). There is a middle ground between Shephard and Ashley, look at Southampton.

            I’d love to think Ashley is sat somewhere thinking about targeting young hungry managers with an ability to shape a good team on a tight budget and listening to his advisor’s telling him what players we need next season to have a decent competitive squad within his financial constraints. Whereas the sad truth is he’s wondering what his cheapest option is to keep the supporters quiet and survive another season in the Premiership. You will realise that one day, hopefully soon because we won’t be a force to be reckoned with until the majority of supporters pull together.

          • Logicophilosophicus

            You know this HOW? I thinks the odds are that there will be an exciting managerial appointment and a planned rebuilding of the squad rather than the polyfilla spend in January that would have moved us a little further up the mid-table and wasted the war chest ahead of that appointment.

          • Mattoon

            I know this because this is what Ashley’s done for 8 years, what makes next season any different? Wake up and smell the coffee, the club tell us what we want to hear to entice us back, like every season. Would this be the same “war chest” that appeared in the 13/14 P&L and could have been spent at the beginning of this season?

    • Montagu Montgomery

      What is he saying? You either didn’t read the article or you’re not a true United supporter.

      • Michael

        Why? From the articles and posts on this site a ‘true United supporter’ is somebody that thinks we have a God given right to be bought by a multi-billionaire, to be his or her play thing. My idea of being a football fan isn’t waiting for a handout.

        To turn things round – who would you like as a chairman?

        • Mattoon

          Nobody thinks they have a right to be bought by a billionaire, all people want is someone who has the club’s best interest at heart. Someone who wants to compete, to try as a club. I could handle being beat, being rubbish, being in the conference, if I believed the club was doing the very best it can to compete. The problem is the lack of ambition, nothing else. I want an owner that wants NUFC to succeed, not one that wants to stifle it’s ability to merely exist to make money from it.

          • Brian

            We do ‘compete’ albeit in the lower half of the table since our club spend is less than the majority of the teams above us and the 2 or 3 cockney clubs who attract the better younsters.

          • Mattoon

            To compete we need to hire a manager and not another lackey Ashley met down the pub. We need to buy players in positions that have been crying out for new blood for years, not paper over cracks. To compete we need to try the best we can, not give up once we’re safe, not throw in the towel in cup ties and avoid European places. We don’t compete, we don’t want to compete, we want to exist.

    • Darryn

      I don’t think most of the issues with our club on the pitch this season are
      Ashley’s fault…HUH ?
      Baffling comment. So whose’ fault is it?

      The FA
      Robert Maxwell,
      The world banking system
      George Bush.
      ??????

      The person
      to blame is MIKE ASHLEY !!!

      • Michael

        Pardew, Carver, Stone and Woodman, and Robert Maxwell if you like.

      • Brian

        If you want to be honest it’s partly down to Ashley not spending enough when compared to the rich foreign owned clubs, The biggest problem though is that a lot of top players opt to play at lesser renowned clubs like West Ham or Palace just to live in London.

        • Darryn

          or Manchester… or Liverpool

    • Brian

      Bang on

  • harrogatemag

    Great article. To me the ineptitude of our current club leadership was summed up when they met a delegation of Middle Eastern potential buyers in Newcastle a few years ago. The delegation left fairly swiftly because they felt they hadn’t been taken seriously, drove down the motorway to Manchester, and promptly bought Manchester City. It still makes my heart ache every time I see Man City win another trophy or buy another trophy player. That could have been us, but it set the tone for the years of utter bollocks that followed. We’ve got a reputation for getting things cheap and selling on for a good profit – a bit like one of his other businesses. That’s the business model, if you don’t like it, stop shopping.

    Culturally, the current style of leadership is about as far removed from ambition as it could get. This is a state of perpetually treading water to collect a Premier League cheque every year. Of an MD treading water to keep his job, of an interim manager treading water until someone proper gets the job, of players treading water until the summer when they’ll engineer a move away. There is no plan B.

    As a fan, it really hurts, especially when the next generation ask why I made them fans. I took them very young. They loved the match day atmosphere, the crush of the crowds, the banter, the goals and the good players we once had. God, remember the goals? Goals are a distant memory these days.

    They’ll never follow any other team, but their supporters enthusiasm is already being crushed and they’re only teenagers. They speak of their club with sadness not joy. They can’t see any good reason to be positive about the club. I worry that at some point in time they’ll just switch off. They’ll stop caring, they’ll ask why they should take their own future children to support a team that doesn’t go anywhere. I’m sure they’ll still be fond of the team, but they’ll stop supporting the team.

    This madness has to stop. As George said, enough is enough.

    • Martin Rooney

      You just make this up man city were bought by Maktoun before the dubai muppets who were playing games as they did not have money, same as steve McMahon’s sheisters

      • harrogatemag

        Don’t think so. Read this link at the end of this response. Fact of the matter is they wanted a big fan base to start with, couldn’t get what they wanted with Ashley so then bought Man City because of the latent potential of untapped support. Man City crowds were much lower than ours at the time. And there are dozens of other articles online describing exactly what happened, and if you can read Arabic, I’ll send you a link to an Arabic site which describes the circumstances exactly as I have. Ashley dismissed them because he had a new toy and wanted to play the big man.
        http://www.themag.co.uk/2014/10/reason-sheikh-mansour-will-regret-choosing-manchester-city-newcastle/

  • Mattoon

    As always George you put the majority feeling into a fantastically written article. You venture where most journalists dare not and speak the truth eloquently. You do the region proud, by far my favourite writer and I look forward to reading your articles.

    It’s there in Black and White, it’s one game, it might not affect Ashley’s pocket but it’s a statement of intent and it’s about time the Toon Army woke up and sent a message.

  • Tropicalmag

    He is using our traditions and passion against us.He has taken away our
    pride and worst of all any HOPE….Get rid of this parasite…Support
    the boycott against Spurs.The Team he really supports….We are but a
    cashcow and advertising hoarding for TAT DIRECT……

  • mickey667

    Why are these shills over at the Chronicle not prepared to write in such honest terms as these.

    It is beautiful, poetic, heartfelt and accurate, capturing the meaning of football behind monetary value and he meaning of taking a stand for ourselves, not necessarily for it being immediately effective in getting Ashley out.

    We must take a stand now, enough is enough. We know Ashley won;t go on Monday, but of we don’t do it now we are finished.

  • Peter Morris

    Said from the heart superb and it hits home

  • Paul amour TOON

    Well said George

  • carvout

    Genuine brilliant article…wholeheartedly agree.

  • jaguar231

    This is not journalism. This is us. This is the black and white. This is our soul.

  • Ian big blue

    Wonderful piece of writing. Unfortunately Ashley appears to be a business man akin to those ‘merry’ middle eastern soulless types who keep sending out any idiot willing to spout his idioms, spread his word and strap a bomb to themselves….Carver being the latest recruit. Sports Direct is the pinnacle of the point of his use for Newcastle United….This is the ‘hydra’, the multi headed beast that needs to be ‘attacked and slain’! … We need a Hercules…

    • Scott Gibson

      I fell out of love with the Premiership and Newcastle even before Ashley set foot in the door. when Graeme Souness said he wanted to build a team around Kieron Dyer, I had to question what I was doing.Overpaid players, mediocre talent and an owner with no ambition. We are becoming the Crewe Alexander of the Premier League. Any real talent is guaranteed to be sold for a profit. I really applaud all those fans who have managed to continue to renew season tickets with little hope of success in the league or cups. I am still in love with football. I still love the FA Cup and my team have played more games the competition this season than NUFC have played in the last five. I have have watched a team of young, hungry and dedicated players who play without fear. Can you imagine this, wingers who are told to get a the full backs, full backs who are always on the outside of wingers, over 100 goals this season and a crowd called partisan by the other teams. My 7 year old was inconsolable after after a defeat in the FA cup by Birmingham. I was so pleased he had the opportunity to experience to FA cup in all of its glory.

      Two weeks ago by son attended the Nou Camp to see Barca . A four nil victory and Messi didn’t break sweat. His parting comment upon leaving the ground was “dad it was good but it’s not BLYTH”

  • A brilliant piece of writing that transcends club divides. This speaks to every fan who has ever questioned their own devotion to such a dysfunctional behemoth as a football club.
    As a fellow journalist, and a fellow fan of football, thank you George.

  • tom connolly

    Great writing. As a life-long Arsenal fan I urge all NUFC to pack out St James’ Park on Sunday and the remaining games this season, to produce a wall of sound like only you can, as a living, visceral, throbbing advert for a football club. Turn up, support John Carver and your club and announce – “buy this club and this is what you will get at every home game, a packed stadium, a great club. Buy this club this summer and together we’ll take NUFC back to where it belongs. And promise Ashley that if he doesn’t sell the club now he will be sitting in an empty stadium next season.
    Great article.
    Tom Connolly

    • Gary Linney

      You haven’t got a clue have you? You’re a Gooner not a Geordie- you don’t know how this hurts us, man!

      • tom connolly

        I have a different view to yours Gary so I don’t have a clue. That’s mature of you. Every fotball club has great lifelong fans. I’m one of Arsenal’s you’re one of Newcastle’s. I think you need a new owner and that advertising the greatness of NUFC fans and the club for the remainder of the season and threatening to boycott next season might be a better way. It’s just an alternative opinion and it was a compliment to Geordie fans you prat.

        • Gary Linney

          Yes, I agree with you – we DO need a new owner but you don’t understand the gut-wrenching horror of seeing your own club slowly going down the pan!
          I’m not knocking your response as a football fan either, Howay, us Geordies were 52,000 guaranteed sell outs EVERY home game with a waiting list for a season ticket measured in years etc,etc. But Ashley, his cronies and his brand have sucked the soul out of the club. Ripping us off and pillaged the club of talent for his own selfish profit!
          Read most of the responses here… NUFC is the lifeblood and the spirit of our city. Football means everything! I have worked with fans of other premiership clubs and not one of them gets what this means to us!
          Sorry Tom, you just don’t get it …but at least you’re not the only one!

        • Gary Linney

          I hope you do read this article … see, it’s not just me, Tom!

          http://www.themag.co.uk/2015/04/idiot-guide-to-nufc-mike-ashley-and-the-boycott/

          I acknowledge your supportive view as a football fan but you, and many others, honestly don’t get it! This article adds to the fact that most non-geordies don’t – and I’ve worked with loads of them in the past 40 years!

          Ashley has brought embarrassment after embarrassment to the club, the fans, our heroes, our City,… he has banned local journalists and Supporters Club members from attending club news briefings. On Monday this week , framed photographs of our heroes and other club memorabilia were found slung in a rubbish skip outside SJP amongst garden refuse & grass cuttings, etc. Need I go on? …’cos I could, the Keegan debacle, Shearer, relegation, Kinnear, Pardew, SD Arena, Wonga??? It’s as if he’s doing it deliberately, just for the ****ing fun of it… ‘cos he can!
          He is just taking the p*** , NUFC is his plaything!

          The boycott is not about not supporting the team. It isn’t about getting behind the lads following a string of poor results, or season after season of under-performance or even string of poor managers. Dare I say it, NOT EVEN 5 consecutive losses against the mackems! The Toon Army must make a stand against this knobhead of an owner for the very survival of our club!

          We know, 53,000+ loyal Geordie fans will turn up at St. James’ to see good football, that’s guaranteed! I don’t believe we don’t need to put ourselves in the shop window! This IS about club survival and we must make our presence felt and our opinions heard,

          I hope this is just the beginning!

          • Mattoon

            Well said, my sentiments exactly. I cannot fathom how some of our own supporter don’t see this, I can forgive an uninformed outsider but we actually have supporters that back this regime… doing this!?!

  • David Mushy Marsh

    Superb! That could be about my club, Liverpool, or probably a half dozen of the glamour clubs where business men have seen the disgusting money created by Sky’s exploitation of football for advertising revenue and wanted their nose in the trough! Good luck with the boycott!

    • Brian

      Spot on!

    • Michael

      I think the fact we have Liverpool and Arsenal fans on here and other fans commenting on similar pieces in the national press shows that it’s not just Newcastle and therefore not just Ashley.

      • David Mushy Marsh

        We’ve had idiot son David Moores, Gillett and Hicks and now FSG! all have held the club back, we were one of the biggest sides in Europe and in a perfect position, but that idiot Moores couldn’t see what Manchester United and Chelseas board and owners could see. We should be in a 70,000 seat stadium now, arsed if we never sell out, we have thousands of tourists and sky high prices keeping locals away. The yanks are another situation all together… what could have been! Over 25 years spunking big money on dross and living on past glory… LFC is brim full of half wits on the gravy train!

  • John Bell

    “By George …I think he’s got it … I think he’s got it !!!” (Apologies to Professor Higgins)

  • Graeme Allon

    Beautiful piece.. Very well done!

  • Logicophilosophicus

    Load of tosh. “From a trophy to atrophy…” Which trophy was that? Ashley came into football club ownership when profitability was virtually impossible – it was his love of football, or sport, or gambling, that brought him here. Since then, we have been in the top 5 one season (bouncing back as champions), in the second tier one season. That is well up to our historical par. Newcastle’s current poor season may provide a handy excuise for your purple prose, but it will ring hollow in 6 or 8 months’ time.

    • Brian

      spot on!

    • Mattoon

      An average Premiership finishing place of 8th before Ashley, an average of 13th during his reign (which will drop again this season) #progress

  • Logicophilosophicus

    sorry – bracketed section obviously misplaced

  • Geordieknox

    George it is our club. It is part of us. It is our shared history, our passion our heritage. I own Newcastle United more than Mike Ashley ever will. He cannot ever understand that because he just doesn’t get it.

  • Brian

    This is half our problem – too much sentiment. You see all fans from all 92 league clubs have this sense of belong etc we’re nothing special. We talk about ousting Ashley, who is English, and hoping a moneybags foreigner will buy the club. I think that scenario is worse since we lose our identity even more. Let’s face it money and location wins titles these days. Let’s say Bill Gates buys the club – I’d get very little satisfaction from winning the league with 11 foreigners on the pitch costs 500M and maybe a few sub-par local lads warming the bench. I think we’re better off staying British owned, plod on in the lower tier or the prem or drop down into the championship for a few seasons and focus on our grass roots which I have to say is awful at the minute; Our last protest was a disaster ousting Pardew, who as it turns out now, is potentially one of England’s best managers. There’s too many short sighted fans (mostly youngsters) on social media who crave success yesterday and banging on about the cockney mafia it’s pathetic You talk about `Wor’ Jackie, Shearer and KK – they all played at this club under similar regimes (albeit local businessmen) and it was only in the Milburn era that we won something.
    We need to stop this childish behaviour and be constructive about the club. Make our feelings felt about more realistic things at the moment, get a proven manager in, try and develop a communication line with Ashley, give him some credit and get him on our side, plough more resource into grassroots etc. I love the mags but it would not be the same for me if we went down a Manchester City type route.

    • Mattoon

      There is no “communication line” with Ashley, he cares not a hoot about you, I or the club.

      Who has said they want an international daddy Warbucks to come in and buy success? Could you be making things up to fit into your agenda? Anyone who isn’t happy with the way the club is being destroyed is childish? Get a grip man!

      Plod in the lower Premiership? (Ashley’s wet dream while he creams off the free advertising and Sky money) or the championship for a few seasons? I’ll go with that, dry up ‘ol Ashley’s gravy train, he’d be off quick smart.

      I look forward to your view on the situation when Carver is in charge come September with a few new cheap imports filling the cavernous gaps in the squad.

  • Martin Rooney

    I’m utterly disappointed with my fellow Newcastle fans. Whilst I feel alone in my thoughts that there’s something missing in the Psyche of toon fans i have to tell myself its just some and not all. I’m worried that the some god complex amongst many of the keyboard warriors starting the protest movement, long lost migrants away from the northeast who haven’t been to a Newcastle game in an age. Those who haven’t been able to cut the ties with the Northeast and hang all their misplace parochial emotion on NUFC. Screaming away at the club in an angry silence on the laptop smartphone or PC. Football is important but shankley was wrong there are many much much more important things in life family and work are just two, with most football clubs under going a period of rejuvenation each summer the out cry of pain from these so called fans is nothing but a false emotion.

    There will be no acceptance that their have been many influences on the performance of on the pitch by the playing squad, and that the least of them is Mike Ashley. Having been identified as the ideal replacement for a player like Yohan Cabaye, Siem Du Jong was bought and Heralded as a great addition with many national journalists surprised nufc could attract such a player. Adding significant players like Janmatt an improvement on the french international full back that was angling on a move ever since his Striking best mate moved on. That they bought a player who was proving a goal scoring talent in the french league is ignored because the guy hasn’t performed instantly. The stupidity of Cisse twice, Colback, Colo, Sissoko again twice has led to already weakend teams being played even further hampered with injuries to Tiote Krul, Cisse, Elliot, R Taylor, S Taylor, Dummett, Haidara along with fringe players like Obertan Aarons Abeid Jonas who are meant to be the back up. It’s all Mike Ashley’s fault.
    Dismissing the fact that the club which was honest enough to speak the priorities of all bar 5 premier league clubs and ye still reach the qtr final of a cup this season, only going out after the rookie keeper under pressure makes a ruck of things. It’s all Mike Ashley’s fault.

    Looking to create future success by investing in top quality talent, Darlow, Perez Lascelles and doing their damnedest to sign Deli Alli shows a complete lack of Mike Ashley’s interest in thinking about NUFC’s future it’s obvious.

    Only 4 clubs have used more players than nufc this season and yet the squad is said to be too small, players have been sold they cry Santon, the one the fans wanted hung after his performance against Sunderland last season, Mbiwa a liability of a player who has had few games for nufc yet stand out performances include sending offs and fouls more akin to assault than whats needed in the premiership, his international team mate Nasri will stand, or maybe won’t, testimony to that.

    It’s all Mike Ashley’s fault.

    Mike Ashley spent Qtr of a billion pound on the club I think that gives him the right to put a billboard up, it is after all money that came from yes the customers of Sports Direct. That’s the company which put an end to the lack of competition in sports replica kit for fans.

    We’re sponsored by wonga a despicable company, one which lends people money after they approach them for the money, but online gambling and alcohol companies are just fine and dandy. It’s all Mike Ashley’s fault.

    Fans want the club to be buying the likes of that Premiership success Ozil or his team mate Sanchez, yet go screaming for the every penny in the pot to be spent instantly Arsenal took six years to build up their transfer pot in order to buy big players and once able to do that have paid dividends that after two years they may just may be in with a chance of the title but more importantly assure CL football without qualifying rounds.

    There’s clearly selection in the minds of many Newcastle fans there really is nothing that that the club can do differently to what it is now to move much higher up the table. Any club that has had our injuries would struggle even a team like Man City with all their riches have found that key injuries completely scupper a season.

    If anyone can put reasoning behind a different plan of how the future management of the would be better please put one forward, FFP stops any owner spending hundreds of millions.

    Strangely though it seems that the one thing the protesters don’t want to do is support the team, they haven’t all season at SJP, and they won’t until nufc start qualifying for the champions league, to my shame, maybe all those away fans singing where were you when you were shit maybe right, maybe our big crowds are just glory hunters, and not solely down to there being bot all else to do on in the Northeast on a Saturday afternoon.

    I’ll be there Sunday so will my lad.

    • Mattoon

      Support the team, fund the regime. As you so rightly put, this is Ashley’s club, ergo everything associated with said club is ALL his fault, he gave us a threadbare squad full of amateurs, he CHOSE to use a questionable sponsor, he hired inept coaches and medical staff who cannot maintain a healthy squad, he sanctioned the purchase or Siem De Jong, who no one else touched because of his medical history.

      Other teams may not prioritise cups, but at least they take them seriously and don’t actively try and throw them.

      No keyboard warriors here just realists that see the issues at hand.

      Yes, let’s all go and “support the lads” because that’s been working so well, heaven forbid there’s no support on Sunday and we, shock horror, lose. They clearly don’t care about us, the gutless, spineless performance at Sunderland spoke volumes in that regard. Rotten club top to bottom.

    • Marknewcastle

      My God Martin, I thought I was the only one. Thanks for the balanced view.

  • Kaufman Is My Brother

    Beautifully written.

    Ashley knows business, but he doesn’t understand a creative business like football. He’s clueless.

  • Paul Doxford

    Brings tears to your eyes this piece. It could have easily come from SBR it has so much hidden feeling and is about something Ashley doesn’t or won’t understand. It is about us and OUR club.

  • Jaybee

    Brilliant. Sums up what many folks feel about the club & it’s owner. Well done for having the guts to write this. No doubt you will be banned from future press conferences for it but we need truthful articles like this. Thank you.

  • Gary Linney
  • foolsdietoo

    We can make a difference! Ta for your response Gary Linney by the way mate. Keep up the brilliant work George. This Ashley creature must go. He is a Soul Sucker, a leech, a destroyer of hopes and dreams. Ashley oot!!!!

  • Munich Mag

    great post George, spoken from your and our hearts.

  • lummo

    Think this article has help me change my mind, well written, moving and really hit home with me.
    I was dead set against protesting on Sunday if I’m honest, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it, but Mr. Caulkin has hit the nail right on the head.
    The line has been crossed by the owner, and I do feel like enough is enough.
    This may not have any effect on the owner and his willingness to sell up, but we’ve got to start somewhere if we want change.
    Glad I’m now on board.

  • Bobby1892

    Well written and from the heart by a good Journalist, as usual George.
    Not too sure about the boycott though, we have far too many season ticket holders these days, He wont feel the loss of a pie and a pint, he has already got your money. What needs to happen is a mass non-renewal of season tickets for next season, thats the only thing he will understand.
    But even then, given we now talking 5 billion TV deals matchday sales are becoming less important to his “business model”
    I remember walking away from the Gallowgate end when the supporters for change group had the boycott on the go. In those days KcKeag felt the loss as i paid on the gate. No Stupid telly money, hit them where it hurts.
    I have stopped going not because I think it will change a thing but purely because I hate the thought of the bloke who has ripped the heart from a club i love making a single penny out of me.
    Stay away, but for more than a day, in my opinion.

  • Pokon

    More knee jerk crap dwelling on the past, playing the empathy card and wringing them emotive rag dry- and you call yerself a journalist? GTF , You are living in some kind of sepia tinted land of make believe, where Gazza didnt leave cos we we skint ( again), Supermac deciced to stay,even after a record offer from a big club and Shearer decided to choose a medal or two at a top club rather than hang on for a bigger pension.

    This is the new era of football. NUFC survive. NUFC make a profit. NUFC are liquid. Whatever happens after this season will be judged on the numbers.No doubt the Chronic boarda will be aflame after this. like fuckin w00t.

    There is no future in bringing up the past.Ask Leeds, ask Ipswich or Forest whether they would have sucees now or a decade ago. It is the lowest tactic to write from this perspective,sloppy, irrelevant and unerringly needy to dredge this fetid crap up crap up once again to get the group idiocy applauding, NUFC fans are not scousers, to deliver emotive toss is both lazy and imperfectly targeted. Fuck you if this is the best you think the deserve

    Support Ashley- he is all we have got – Thank fuck there was not another rapacious black and white messiah to once again use our ill founded loyalty to fill his fucking boots & sneer at us , again – you might not like him – Im sure he doesnt like us either, but he is all we have got.Get used to it, grow up, and Hacks – write something that isnt shitty toss for fuckin once.Fuck off back to your shit encrusted office

    /out

    • Bobby1892

      Pokon, worked for the club long? 🙂 Did Freddie not give you a big enough bonus?

      NUFC Survive??? Is that the sum total of your ambition for the club!

      Ask Leeds or Forest about sucesss now or a decade ago? Since when was making a profit described as sucess? Hes making a profit out of you ya mug!

      But your right, much better a cockney sneering at us and laughing his way to the bank!

      Thank fuck you are in the minority or we would be knackered.

  • Robert Chisholm

    Bang on in so many ways! Written with balance and honesty whilst expressing undoubted frustration. If we can all get our point across with such class then we will remain unbreakable, United, Newcastle United!

  • Pokon

    utter toss

  • Guest 2

    Here’s an idea, lads –

    “The proper question now is, what is the point in Mike Ashley continuing to own a football club that does not want to do any of the above.

    Only Mike Ashley knows that answer and he does not take questions from anyone other than Sports Direct shareholders. So if you want to know, buy some shares and go the AGM in September.”

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/sport/football/teams/newcastle-united/11549853/Mike-Ashley-knows-hes-made-a-mess-of-things-at-Newcastle-United-so-why-wont-he-sell-up.html

    • Brian

      Not sure it would be as easy as that and anyways our season tickets should count as shares.

  • John Norton

    Good news for Newcastle fans His Sports Direct Shop in Bury St. Edmunds is closing down going into liquidation .Hope it is the first of many.