“It was just so obvious the club would amount to nothing, supporting the club was embarrassing.” A voice of the many supporters that made the incredibly tough decision to walk away from Newcastle United.
I, myself have had a tough decision to make, whether to keep attending or walk away. The man I attended the majority of Newcastle United games with, my father, walked away in 2010. Just like that thirteen years of having him by my side had stopped. The long away days without him were hard to stomach, looking at what was his seat at St James’ Park and not seeing my father there left me broken. I decided to continue but my father was right when he said “This isn’t Newcastle United anymore.”
To me, Newcastle United meant so much more than just a football club. It was family, a welcome distraction from the stresses of daily life. Most importantly it was a chance to spend quality time with my father, a man who worked his fingers to the bone in order to afford his season ticket. In recent years, the club has not had that magical feeling about it, the butterflies in the stomach before a game are still there but very faint.
I remember walking up the steps and seeing that green grass for the first time, utterly stunned, amazed just in awe. Mike Ashley has hammered away at that emotion, hammered away so much that a lot of that emotion that makes football so special, has disappeared. It’s not just the lack of ambition, it’s the complete and utter mistreatment of a fan base that have done nothing but stick by their club.
“The club wasn’t my Newcastle United anymore.” These aren’t just a few voices, there’s thousands that feel the same. “I was tired of watching football that didn’t have a purpose, no ambition and no intention to compete other than to survive.” A football club is a part of you, a part of your identity, walking away from that is incredibly hard. My father said recently that a piece of him is missing. It’s not just about football, for him it’s about bonding with his son, for me it was about bonding with my father, making memories.
Ashley has completely alienated an incredibly loyal fan base. Once he leaves and the dark clouds lift, maybe just maybe the lost voices will return. “I walked away because I couldn’t justify spending a lot of money every month, on a team with zero ambition.”
A football club is about people, it’s about so much more than the teams and the managers. It’s about the emotion it brings, building friendships and making memories along the way. It’s about the pure euphoria of seeing the ball hit the back of the net.
One day soon I hope I can attend St James’ Park again with my father. Ashley has prevented me from sharing more amazing memories with my father, I know I’m not alone in that either.
When those dark clouds lift it will be a special day. Newcastle United will be back.