I grew up a baseball fan — go Orioles! I played hockey until I was sixteen, and remain a huge hockey fan to this day — go LA Kings! I played soccer (as it is called in America) for maybe a year or two before I left it for hockey. It was at that moment that soccer basically left my life completely. It’s not big here in the United States, and while it’s making a huge surge, it wasn’t like that for me growing up.
My mother kept in contact with friends from England. They lived in a place called Newcastle upon Tyne, and they were the biggest Newcastle United fans you would meet. For me, it was still very foreign. They always sent me Newcastle United gear. A scarf (which I still use to this day), a little backpack, a hat, and a pin. I owe them a great deal of gratitude for bringing me into not just a group of fans, but a culture.
Sadly, it wasn’t until around 2009-2010 that I began watching football (as I now call it) with enthusiasm and love for the game. I never grew up around the sport, so the passion didn’t just envelop me, it took time. By 2012 I was watching every single match I possibly could. But I still hadn’t developed the massive love for Newcastle United I have today. The clubs everyone talked about were Manchester United, Chelsea, Arsenal, Real Madrid, and others. Newcastle United was never in that discussion. But when I remembered just how much those friends of my mother loved the club, it made me want to love a club just as much as they did. I picked up that hat and wore it with pride.
I always tell people that I’ve been a fan of Newcastle United since I was a young child. I just didn’t know it yet. I didn’t choose to be a fan of the club either, I grew into the fanbase without trying. So I began following everything about the club, from recent relegation, and learning about the glory days of Sir Bobby Robson. I can’t even tell you when I started learning about the club. I guess, once again, I grew into it.
When I started watching football, I felt something that I didn’t feel while watching hockey, American football, and other sports. I felt like nothing else mattered other than what was happening on the pitch at that moment. Forgetting my troubles, and feeling the passion of the world’s game made me happier than ever. That I became a fan of Newcastle United is no coincidence.
The culture of Newcastle United for me is the culture of football itself. I learned more from this fanbase than anything about three important principles:
Passion: To love the club is to love the game. To the love the game is to love the club. The game is nothing without the culture that the clubs have built around it. The glory of Manchester United, and the rise of Manchester City to the Premier League title. The history is made by clubs, and we always live our lives knowing that our club has made an impact.
Loyalty: In football, to bandwagon is sin. There may be other clubs that I watch and cheer for, but no club will have the same amount of love as Newcastle United. I believe that a true fan will never leave a club in its age of darkness. And Newcastle United has certainly proven that time and again with its fantastic fans.
Respect: Every match is a holiday for me. And every club that Newcastle United plays is a worthy opponent who deserves our respect. Their fans deserve the same level of respect as we give the players. In the United States, sports is more than just competition, it can become a shouting match between two fans. Just look at Philadelphia sports. As a Los Angeles Kings fan, I don’t think I’d step foot in the ice rink wearing my Kings jersey for fear of being murdered. I’ve learned to never take an opponent for granted, and I’d never shout down another fan.
I got my start writing about the Los Angeles Kings at FanSided. But since February of 2015 I’ve been writing about Newcastle United. I’ve never been so passionate about a team. If it were any other team, I would have found myself jumping from site to site writing about different teams and sports.
Newcastle United is the one club that made me love the sport of football, and made me really want to share my passion with the world. It’s that love that has put me where I am now. And it’s that love that will bring me to fantastic places in the future.