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A plea to Newcastle United fans

The toxicity of the internet should not seep into our footballing culture.

Newcastle United v Chelsea - Premier League Photo by Ian Horrocks/Getty Images

If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it

And, which is more, you’ll be a man, my son!

Twitter is a challenging minefield to negotiate at the best of times. The anonymity offered by a username and an avatar removes any need for normal social decency. Of course, some people maintain that need, bound by their moral standards and beliefs. Others, however, exploit the inability of the recipient of their indecency to stick the nut on them.

A few months after my nephew killed himself, someone saw the post about it on my profile for suicide awareness and responded to a different post of mine with, ‘that’s why your nephew’s dead.’ I’m 6 ft 7 and 19 stone and from the West End of Newcastle. That is simply not said to me in ‘real life’ or if it is that individual isn’t speaking for a while afterwards.

Many of you will have seen the abuse Ian Wright has shared over the last couple of days, after being sent message after message of racial insults and threats by an individual who evolution clearly skipped. Again, would this lad have spoken to Wrighty in that way face-to-face? Not likely. The keyboard brings out the worst in some, as they feel immune from the potential damage they’re doing on the other end of the internet. Their actions appear without consequence as they can type, send, and delete as they please.

These are two extreme messages of abuse I’ve chosen to highlight a point but unfortunately, I’m seeing (usually milder) examples of this behaviour from our own fans across Twitter. I’m very conscious of mental wellbeing and so I’m quick to mute or block anyone like that and therefore thankfully I’m not exposed to 100% of the comments but I’ve seen enough to know that us Toon fans clearly aren’t immune from lacking decency online. I won’t share any examples as it gives them a platform they don’t deserve, but I’m sure you’ve all seen enough to know what I’m referring to.

This takeover, combined with lockdown, seems to have made some people lose their heads. They’re clearly tired of waiting and have lost their virtue when talking with crowds. I don’t think Kipling was a Geordie, but his message should apply to all. With no sport, no match days, no pubs, and no gym, perhaps testosterone has gotten the better of temperance. I’m proud to be a Geordie and I’m proud to be a Newcastle United fan. It means something to me and being able to talk with others from outside the region and those with different views to us without insulting them, and with a level of intelligence and reason, is important as we grow as a city and a club. There are enough people who think we’re thick and ignorant without giving them a reason to think so.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the siege mentality and tribalism of football and if the takeover goes ahead and we become rich and successful, I’ll enjoy everyone hating us for footballing reasons and jealousy. But I’m not ok with everyone hating us because we’ve given way to hating and become abusive to others outside of acceptable football limits. ‘No-one likes us, we don’t care!’ shouldn’t apply to all aspects of your life. We represent our football club and with the bad press our new owners are already receiving, we shouldn’t be adding to it. Geordies have a great reputation, as do Newcastle United fans, let’s not spoil that just as things are looking up for our city and our club. We could be about to have the (footballing) Earth, and everything that’s in it. So be a man, my son!