Newcastle United fans will soon reach a crossroads in our history, that will answer the question above. ‘If Rafa Goes We Go’ could be well and truly tested if the great man leaves. Some think the campaign should change to ‘When Rafa goes we go’. That’s how close we are to disaster for the club.
Before I speculate, I should put my head on the block and give my history and subsequent views.
I don’t think that any football loving Geordie has a last straw and Mike Ashley knows this, that’s why he bought us. Football will always be part of our lives and Newcastle United FC will always be in the forefront of this, regardless of any lingering discontent.
I went to my first match in the early 60s, a 4-0 home defeat to Cardiff City. Not knowing any other I said to my older brother afterwards, ‘that was good wasn’t it, can we go again’? He just growled at me. I just loved the atmosphere.
My second game was Bury at home and we lost 3-2 due to the referee allowing lots of overtime as he forgot to blow the final whistle, they scored in that added time. Hilariously though, the thing I remember it for was; we had a free kick and the wall wouldn’t retreat, so Alan Suddick crept round the back and pulled a players shorts down. Never to be forgotten but another defeat.
I soon found that the odd win made it a much happier experience. The joy of winning promotion in ’65 and winning the Fairs Cup in ’69 blew my mind and put my school work in jeopardy. Soon I was to travel the country watching my beloved team and become a season ticket holder.
I have many a happy memory but more about the supporters and events, rather than the actual football. I have seen many a disaster (2-7 at Man Utd0 and finding a half brick bouncing off my head on the Kippax at Man City. I stayed loyal as a fanatic until 2008. You know who became the turning point (but not the last straw).
After seeing Mike Ashley mess Kevin Keegan about, I listened to Keegan’s advice and decided to stay away. I’ve never been back since, as Ashley’s spite and asset stripping, money grabbing tactics reached new levels, I think I made the right decision and have no regrets. His blatant two fingers to the fans and Rafa seems to make my decision to stop going, a good if hard one.
I’ve had the chance of free tickets and turned them down. I rarely watch Sky, as I think that their prize money and PR platform is what keeps Ashley here. I don’t think it’s right to tell others to give it up, they will when they are ready.
The thing is though, I still love them as I did way back in the 60s and always will. I may not go but I’m just as passionate. Even if the worst happens, I like many others will still care. It is NUFC, whoever owns or manages it. That is engrained in my blood.
If Rafa walks, some will stop going to the match, a few might say that’s the finish, others will take to their keyboards to complain but they will remain interested if disillusioned.
The fans who go will never forget nights like Manchester City and comebacks like Everton. That’s what hooks you, whether it leads to a trophy or not. Even the followers like myself, although maybe making a protest, still care.
I would argue that anyone who can switch off forever, no matter what the disillusionment level is, cannot be regarded as a true fan. We’ve all said ‘that will be the last straw’ before but it won’t be. Will losing Rafa be any different?
Any views on how you will react please?