Main Page


My first match reader recollections II

A further selection of responses from you lot - with others en route...

Jean Jackson:

March 11th 1961 Newcastle 1 Manchester United 1

I was 10 and football daft, which was strange in a lass at that time. My Dad, who had no interest in football, said he was going to the Toon to see about a decorating job hed been asked to do and asked me to go with him.

We went on the train from Whitley Bay and ran into one of his work mates in the Haymarket. I just assumed he was going to help with the job. We set off towards Percy Street and it was a while before I realised where we were going.

Stood on the Leazes terrace right down at the front where you were actually below the level of the pitch. My one memory of the game is Bobby Charlton having a great chance right in front of me and stumbling before he could get his shot away. It was 1966 before I would accept he was anything other than a donkey!

Richard Woods:

October 23rd 1976 Newcastle 3 Birmingham City 2

SuperMac had been sold to Arsenal, but his replacement Micky Burns put us one up in the first minute in my first Toon match.

There was a great atmosphere, over 31,000 in SJP, but Blues were soon 2-1 up. A second half rally and another Micky Burns goal took Newcastle to sixth in Division One with a 3-2 victory.

Mind you, didnt take me long to hate Man U, as  four days later they beat us 7-2!

John-David Laux:

October 23rd 2002 Newcastle 1 Juventus 0

I was 12. Back from school. Dad phones home from work and speaks to mum - I just get told to get myself ready to go out and to wrap up warm.

Dad arrives - someone has offered him two free tickets to that night's match. In the platinum club. At home to Juventus...

We drive into town and we talk about their players - Buffon, Thuram, Davids, Nedved, Del Piero - and to not be too disappointed when they win. We walk to the ground through the amassing crowds.

Dad buys me a programme, I cling to it for dear life.Then we get in there. The tremendous, deafening roar of the crowd; the hairs on my neck as the players emerge. Them in their famous black and white, us in our funny grey.

And then we play. Every time Del Piero gets the ball I wince. But we hang on. And we attack. And we threaten. And we get to half time. Then, that Andy Griffin goal. Bedlam. Jubilation. Utter joy.

And then back to it. Agony. Minutes seem like hours - hanging on. Shivering nervously in the cold, but desperate not to conceal my black and white beneath my coat, in case it matters somehow. More time added. And then, finally, somehow, we've done it.

Relief and rapture. Sweet, beautiful, improbable victory. Bobby saluting the crowd. Incredible. As we finally shuffle out, I bump into Peter Beardsley and get to say hello.

All downhill from there of course. But what a night.

Richard Patterson:

November 23rd 1991 Newcastle 0 Blackburn 0

Didn't have any interest in football until this day, the threat of being dragged round Eldon Square was too much to bear.

So when my dad and older brother were talking about going to watch Newcastle play Blackburn, I hedged my bets.

'Just how bad can football be?' I wondered.

On the way up to St James, the smell of hops in the air. The clamour of some bloke named Kevin on the Milburn steps seemed to attract a crowd (Keegan was present to launch a new NUFC history book).'He's a legend' purred my dad. I thought he had a weird perm, me being a product of the grunge era.

Into the paddock, past some giant Czech (RIP Pav), who my brother stood in awe of. 90 minutes later, and all I can remember was Steve Howey getting slated for missing a sitter. I was hooked.

It wasn't the football that hooked me though, it was the crowd. The singing. The humour. Grown men laughing at random comments about David Speedie, which I still don't get. I was hooked. 29 years later, still thirsty for more.

That's why I still go to Newcastle United, to feel part of something.

They say it's the hope that kills you? Maybe. But the joy of singing about New Years Day in August or the moment the Gallowgate net bulged with Tiote actually hitting the target (then being encouraged to shoot every time he came within 45 yards of goal) or sensing that Gillespie and Tino might just click one perfect night is what I come back for.

The rough outweighs the smooth with this club, but I'll always come back for more. All because of 23rd November 1991.

Garry Cosgrove:

September 4th 1965 Newcastle 2 Northampton 0

In 1965 my best school pal was Billy Evans who was a keen Toon fan. All the previous season as we walked to school he would talk about their latest match which, as it was the promotion season, was usually a win.

He kept asking me to go to the game but at that time I was a closet Spurs fan having got a bit hooked on them when I watched them beat Burnley in the FA Cup Final in their 1961 double year.

I had never seen a live football match and I wanted to experience the atmosphere of the kind of game which made my pal Billy so crazy every week. 

Billy's dad took us to and we were in the ground by just after 1pm but even then there were a few thousand people in the ground already, many of whom were in the Leazes End and they were already singing!! This was fun stuff and there was more to come.

Whenever the Leazes Enders had a little rest from their sing-song, the DJ played the latest discs of the day. This was dampened a bit when a marching band came out and spent 30 minutes playing brass band music while marching up and down the pitch.

All the time this was going on the ground was filling up and I was getting more and more excited as the gaps on the terraces slowly disappeared. Then it was five to three and, to what seemed a deafening roar, out came the teams.

By kick off time there were 28,000 people in the ground. I had never been in a situation like this before and it was very exciting

The first half was very even with not much happening but that didn't matter. I was absolutely enthralled by the whole occasion and was fascinated by the feel of the crowd, the singing, the swaying and the pure excitement generated as the game surged back and forth.

By half time I was in love! I loved the atmosphere, I loved the Toon and I had fallen madly in love with Alan Suddick. This young man was a magician! His control of the ball and the sheer cheek he displayed as he played was wonderful to watch. We were in the paddock (West Stand) and right in front of me Suddick nutmegged a Northampton player and that was it. Love at first sight!!

The second half started and Ron McGarry had a long shot which struck a Northampton player and was going out for a corner. Their keeper Bryan Harvey scampered off his line to try to stop the ball from crossing the line which he did with a sliding clearance.

Unfortunately for him he only managed to clear it to Suddick, right in front us on the corner of the penalty area. He collected the ball, looked up at the goal and nonchalantly chipped the ball in a lazy arc into the top right corner of the Northampton net.

I am sure most players would have got the ball under control then headed towards the goal before pushing it into the net. Not Suddick!

As I was to find out over the next year or so, this was the way he played!! It was sheer genius and showed us all what a very confident player he was. Bobby Cummings headed our second goal and that pretty much finished the contest at 2-0 to the Toon.

Newcastle were at home the next Wednesday against Manchester United and there were 58,000 there this time. For the first time I saw Charlton, Law & Best play live and it was amazing, memorable and exhilarating but nothing beat that very first game for being the one that made me into the Toon fan that I still am today.

Howard Smith:

September 12th 1970 Newcastle 0 Liverpool 0

Aged 10, my dad took me in the the old West Stand seats. I loved the atmosphere and can still remember listening to the noise from the Leazes End.

On the way back to Wylam we shared the Guard's Van with Liverpool fans going back via Carlisle (younger readers will need to check out what a Guard's Van was....)

My dad took me to a few games before I started going with my brother. The following season we played Southampton and I can still remember seeing the joy on my dad's face when Tony Green smacked the ball into the net at the Leazes End.

Mark Allison:

September 3rd 1986 Newcastle 0 QPR 2

I'd just turned 15 when my best mate Mark asked me if Id like to go to a midweek match at St. James Park.

He had a family enclosure pass book which you had to present when paying at the gate with an accompanying adult present. I didnt have one of those and neither of us had a grown up with us.

Thankfully, we blagged our way in. At school, I was quite used to telling the teacher that Id forgotten my homework. Telling the person on the turnstile that Id forgotten my family enclosure book wasnt too alien a concept for me.

We made our way onto the terrace and stood far enough back to get a decent view unobstructed by the metal fences. I dont recall the match itself. I do vividly recall a number of other things though.

Firstly, in all of the years I remember watching football growing up, it had never occurred to me that shirt numbers were significant. I realised during that first half against QPR that a right full back wore number 2, a left full back number 3, a left winger 11 and so on.

The next thing that stands out is Sammy Lee being subject to Hes fat, hes round, he bounces on the ground, Sammy Lee, Sammy Lee. My voice hadnt quite broken well enough to join in. In fact it took quite a few subsequent matches to find my singing voice.

One of the strangest things about that match was the sound of what I can only describe as the war cry of a native American Indian from the (East) stand opposite to where we were standing. 

Despite losing, I naively didnt feel the slightest bit disappointed - I was more overwhelmed by being able to watch a live football match for the first time.

I cant imagine a time where I dont ever go to the matches. Even when we get beat, I come away having had a certain amount of enjoyment.

Im sure, like many Newcastle supporters, I have no idea why I feel the way I do about watching the team. Id appreciate an answer to that one day.

Ben Radley:

January 18th 2003 Newcastle 2 Manchester City 0

I was 11 and my Dad had (finally) got tickets to see a Newcastle game. We were in the Milburn stand looking along the Leazes end goal line. I can still hear the roar of those 52,000 voices and see the sheer scale of the crowd clear as day. I was already hooked. 

Kick-off. Man City role it back to Carlo Nash in goal who smashes his clearance straight into Alan Shearer who taps it into the net inside 11 seconds. Cue pandemonium. My Dad tried to tell me it isnt always like this! But, too late; I was, without being able to do a thing about it, in love.

Hearts were in mouths when Shaun Goater has an open goal to aim at but him spinning round and missing the ball completely was, at that age, the funniest thing I had ever seen.

Newcastle went on to win 2-0 thanks to a Bellamy finish from a Robert cross, Robert deciding to show up on this particular day. This is why we keep coming back. At some point it will be as good as it was when I was 11. 

Ian Simpson:

April 4th 1964 Newcastle 0 Bury 4

My Dad took me to see Bury at SJP. We sat in the old wooden main stand for this Second Division game and were beaten 0-4 (a sign of things to come) but I was smitten.

I've lost count of the number of times Ive returned, now with my son who still makes regular trips over from his home in France.


Terry Warr:

October 5th 1968 Newcastle 0 Leeds United 1

We got beat 1-0 with a Gallowgate End header from Big Jack Charlton. I was at school then, a pensioner now from next season with my season ticket in the "corner".

The last decent thing we won was the Fairs Cup and I was at the final first leg. I've been to Barcelona, Lisbon, Majorca, Marseille and Madeira and countless UK grounds.

Any regrets since that first game ? None on my part.

Back to Main Page


Page last updated 24 March, 2020