When did you start following Newcastle United?
In my early years I was in thrall to Don Revie’s Leeds, with their dual promise of both success and needless violence. Around 1976 I ditched my sole fellow Leeds supporter at Blaydon St Joseph’s and fell in line with the majority, leaving him to his lonely fate.
Why Newcastle United?
Elland Rd is a long way when your Dad doesn’t knock off from work until lunchtime on a Saturday. A family trip to the East Stand Paddock to watch Burns, Barrowclough et al take on West Ham (or possibly Villa) convinced me where my allegiances lay. The excitement of the League Cup run no doubt helped, but my support helped us get relegated soon after and my record as a Jonah continues to this day.
High points of following Newcastle United?
Getting chucked around like a rag doll in Osborne’s after Bellamy’s winner at Feyenoord. Listening to the 5-0 win at Antwerp on crackly Dutch or Flemish language Belgian radio from my digs on the Suffolk Coast when 5-Live decided not to bother. “Bler-de-Bler Fox. Funfle Rumple Cole. Duffle Closh LEE!!!!!”
Low point of following Newcastle United?
Charity Shield 1996. Shearer’s first competitive game for us, so much anticipation for the season ahead and it all fell flat. Don’t even mention the 12 hour bus journey home with the Killingworth Peanut Bladder Association.
Whereabouts in SJP do you watch the match from? (i.e. Leazes, Gallowgate Corner etc)
East Stand Upper
In what position will we finish this coming season?
Who is Newcastle United’s most important player?
An in-form Tiote puts NUFC on the front foot straight away in any game.
What is your opinion of (a) Alan Pardew (b) Mike Ashley?
(a) Less cautious tactically than his predecessor, he has found ways to get his best players on the pitch together and keep them all happy at the same time. Seems to fit in well with the scouting, coaching, and executive structure so that they all seem to be working to the same plan. Our best manager since Robson (though that’s not saying much), he has the chance to make his mark here and he appears to be revelling in it.
(b) Having got it as wrong as it’s possible to in his early days here, he’s made a series of appointments which have brought on-pitch success. His insistence on treating the club as a business rather than either a vanity project or cash cow means whatever success that’s achieved is both sustainable and able to be built upon, which is a major plus point. He’s neither doing us a favour nor ripping us off.
How well will we do in the Europa League and the Cup competitions?
Our fringe players will get far more of a workout this season, more so the longer we stay in the cups. It’s a catch-22, the further we get, the worse our team is likely to become. I’d be surprised if we won something but not as surprised as I would have been at pretty much any other point in the last 10 years or so.
Who is the player you think might surprise a few people this season?
Shane Ferguson is virtually unknown to non-NUFC supporters, but is direct, dynamic and exciting. He could scare a few full-backs when he gets on.
What do you make of United’s pre-season preparation so far?
Even with the imminent arrival of a versatile full-back/midfielder we are short of the centre-back and striker we also need to add to cover the greater number of games this season. Perhaps I still need to get used to the search for value taking precedence over on-field necessity.
Who will finish in the top four (in order)?
Man City, Arsenal, Man Utd, Chelsea
Who will be relegated?
Stoke, Wigan, Norwich
Other than Sunderland, which club do you hope has a really bad season? And why?
Nothing against Liverpool really, but they seem the most likely candidate to take our traditional Shambles title from us. Is it too much to hope Lambert doesn’t turn Villa around as well?
Which other PL club do you not mind really?
There’s very little to dislike about Norwich and I hope they have another season like the last one. They look like they’re standing still to me though, which could mean trouble for them.
What do you think of the new first team kit?
I don’t care too much, I won’t be buying it, but it looks ok.
Who is the best player in the Premier League?
Other than SJP which is the best stadium in the PL?
No idea, I don’t go away much.
Favourite away trip?
I know Sheffield pretty well and like it as a city, and had a great weekend at Palace some years ago. Neither look like popping up again any time soon unfortunately.
Hopes and Fears for 2012/13?
Hope – We have an opportunity to consolidate and build on last season. I hope we can take it because it wouldn’t take much to attach ourselves to the 6 or so at the top semi-permanently.
Fear – Sales, madness & meltdown. It would take a real effort for us to manage to knack this up. That’s not to say that we couldn’t….