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My first match reader recollections V

A further compilation of first footing - NUFC style:

Kirk Leech:

August 21st 1968, Newcastle 3 Chelsea 2

We lived south of Newcastle in Marske, a village on the coast closer to Teesside than Tyneside.

Dad was a lifelong Newcastle fan, my mam flirted with the Mackems, but was won over from the dark side by my dad. Most of my school friends supported Boro or Leeds. I had been to Ayresome Park with my uncle, and I was ready to support Boro.

My dad, who was then a travelling salesman got free tickets for a night match, Newcastle at home to Chelsea. I think it was Tommy Gibbs debut, anyway he belted one in from what seemed at the time to a bairn, from an impossibly long way out. I jumped into my dads’ arms in utter joy.

The love affair with Newcastle United, now near 50 years long that has brought tears, frustrations and bewilderment, but also moments of delirious joy, friendships I cherish, and pride, was born. It may be unrequited love, but in grim moments like today, I miss it.

Julian Osborne:

April 11th 1999 Newcastle 2 Spurs 0

I am from Scotland, growing up in East Lothian but my Uncle is from Corbridge and together with Kevin Keegan, somehow managed in the mid 90s to turn my head to the South and develop a lifelong passion/ affliction.

I didn’t get to go to a game until the late 90s but it was worth the wait…. I remember almost nothing about the game itself but the noise, the endless singing and extra time were something else.

There were (a few) gaps in the Spurs end and in the brief lulls in full on Toon support ‘Tottenham stayed at home, to watch it on the telly…’ rang out. The contrast between the two sets of fans was extraordinary and I still vividly remember the high as I boarded the train North at Newcastle that evening.

Andrew Harrison:

January 11th 1975 Newcastle 2 Spurs 5

I was 7 years old and football mad. But I had no idea I was going to the match until the Saturday morning. My Dad must have arranged it with a neighbour and then me, my older brother and the neighbour’s Dad and boys all came. I remember my home knitted black and white scarf; almost nobody had club ‘merchandise’ then. MA would have had a fit!!

We got to the front of the old Centre Paddock. Then I remember the silence as Alfie Conn kept scoring goal after goal for Spurs. They wore all yellow, easy to pick out against the backdrop of the crowd while the Newcastle players were lost, blurring images seemingly unconnected.

I recall mini-fires, surges and chants in the adjacent Leazes end; it looked like absolute mayhem but was probably an average Saturday.

Older diehards were cursing and muttering at the heavy defeat. But I was too busy, lost in absorbing the colour, the scene the smells and the noise.

On the way home I remember people saying ‘that was terrible, what a disgrace etc.’ but I had loved every second. Almost 50 years on, I’m still hooked despite weekly attempts at ‘uncoupling!’

Dave Hillcox:

August 17th 1974 Newcastle 3 Coventry City 2

This was the first match my dad took me and my younger brother to at St James’ Park. Sadly my dad passed away in May 2010 but I will always remember this match in his memory.

We went to the turnstiles at the East corner of Gallowgate End & queued at the boys only turnstiles (50p to get in!) not realising that this area was separate to the main area once you got inside & was for unaccompanied boys only.

My dad was on one side of a huge metal fence & we were on the other. Once the police (I think it was police because I don’t think they had stewards back then!) realised we were with me dad they let us through the gate.

I will never forget that first time walking up the steps passed the open air toilets to the back of the Gallowgate End seeing the crowd, the noise, the atmosphere & watching my first match & a victory.

Many ups & downs have followed since, in the last 46 years watching & supporting the Toon but I wouldn’t have it any other way. Well maybe a few cups & a new owner, we live in HOPE!!

Ian Mackay:

December 21st 1957 Newcastle 3 West Bromwich Albion 0

For some reason I considered myself a West Brom fan at the outset and my uncle took me to my first-ever football match at SJP. Went home thoroughly gutted.

My uncle was one of the old fans who supported both Newcastle and the mackems and accordingly took me to Joker park in March 1958 to see my team (WBA) lose 0-2.

A change of allegiance was needed; the season ended with Newcastle, Portsmouth and the mackems on the same 32 points.

Newcastle and Portsmouth stayed up and the mackems went down. That made my mind up: black and white forever.

Andy Coyne:

December 12th 1987 Newcastle 1 Portsmouth 1

An early 7th birthday present from my dad. Several local lads in the team - Bogie, MacDonald and Wharton. A future manager - Roeder, radio summariser - Ando, and the one I'd come to see, Mirandinha.

Don't remember a lot about the game to be honest other than the result and that Mira scored our goal. But the matchday experience was something else. I loved the atmosphere sitting on a crash barrier in A Paddock with my dad ready to grab me when there were any moments of excitement (!!!). the steam and smoke rising from the terraces on a cold December afternoon, the second half played underneath floodlights and the atmosphere.

When I got home my mam had made me Spaghetti Bolognese with large bits of onion visible to my 6 year old eye. Initially refusing to eat it, I was told if I didn't I'd never go to the match again.

I ate the lot!


Lewis Marriott:

March 6th 1993 Newcastle 5 Brentford 1

At the time I was an armchair Liverpool supporter! I'd just met my soon-to-be wife Jill in Oxford and I was meeting her Geordie family for the first time

I had the offer of a ticket to watch NUFC and thought as I had nothing better to do I would go. The first treat was the two hour drinking session at the Labour Club near the ground which included a pie and the most orderly queue I had ever seen in a bar!

Apart from a few Oxford United games I had not been to many big stadiums so I was amazed at the size of SJP and then there was the game itself: 51 with a young Robert Lee having a goal scored from close to the half way line disallowed for offside. 6 months later I moved to Whitley Bay and began my love affair with NUFC.

Kevin McMahon:

January 19th 1974 Newcastle 1 West Ham 1

lthough I had followed the Mags from afar since the fairs Cup run I wasn't allowed to go to the match until a school friend knocked on our door one Saturday and asked if I wanted to go to today's game.

Surprisingly my Mam said yes and within about 20 minutes, Peter Swinbanks and I and Peter Swinbanks were in my Dad's VW camper van chugging along Gosforth High Street, past the Town Moor and eventually along Strawberry Place where we were both dropped off.

I can still vividly remember crossing the road with Peter and looking up to what seemed as an 11 year old a giant hill of steps beyond the turnstiles into the Gallowgate End.

Clad in my green parka (with regulation fake fur around the hood) I paid 30p - under instruction from my Dad to go into the Gallowgate End as it was 35p not 30p to get into the Leazes End (assuming because of the luxury of a roof) and two as my Dad said the Leazes was "full of nutters", a statement that later I found to be true but in a good way as anyone of a certain age group would agree.

Climbing the steps up to the Gallowgate took me past the the toilets and the distinctive smell in the air of high strength disinfectant, urine and stewed onions from the hot dog sellers.

The match itself went quickly, one abiding memory being Malcolm Macdonald rising at the back post to head Newcastle into a lead and run past me arms aloft (my first goal....and my first NUFC hero).

Newcastle would not hold on to the lead with West Ham getting an equaliser and an old guy behind me saying to his mate "that's it they will shut up shop for a draw now" and he was right.

At full time the almost obligatory attempt to charge onto the pitch was thwarted by the size 14 regulation issue boot of one of Her Majesty's finest and both myself and Peter were deposited back into the Gallowgate.

A walk home over the Town Moor with a packet of Tudor crisps (Cheese & Onion) brought on the feeling inside that I liked this way of spending a Saturday. I was hooked, and 46 years later I still am.

PS: For years after this game I couldn't get my head around that my memories included leaving the match in daylight. It later dawned on me that this was during the miners strike, three day week and power cuts.

The government banned the use of floodlights so games kicked off early (2.15pm) and finished while it was still lightish. A national crisis is nothing new..!!!

Steven Holmberg:

March 8th 1995 Newcastle 2 West Ham 0

Born in Ashington but a Canadian resident for all but my first six weeks, my grandfather had long lived in Newbiggin-by-the-Sea and was a NUFC supporter, so I took up the colours.

I was 20 and on my first visit back to England, and I ditched my entire family to attend this Wednesday evening game. As a bonus, I was staying in Durham and went to the nearby training ground, astonished at my proximity to the team training. I ambled inside the centre lobby after the session, to suddenly have Kevin Keegan walk past in nothing but a towel! 

Andy Hall:

October 14th 1989 Newcastle 1 Bradford City 0

I'd been wanting to go to the match for ages - 3 years exactly, since I caught the bug at the 1986 World Cup. The folks weren't bothered about football, there were all the stories about hooliganism in the papers and on TV and there was no-one else in the family to take me.

There were posters on the bedroom wall, I read the papers, listened to the radio and watched the goals on the news - but was nowhere near getting to St James Park. Until one frosty Saturday morning.

It was cold, Going Live was on and my Mam wanted me out from under my feet. I went outside and had a kick-around. Nobody else's mam had kicked them out in to the cold.

Just then, my older next door neighbour appeared. I don't know if he had seen me and felt sorry - but he joined in with my kick-around.

David and his Dad went to the match every fortnight. They loved it and they knew I was pretty obsessed too. He casually asked if I wanted to go later that day and my response was instant! It was a yes. But I would need to get the ok from the folks first.

We went back  and I asked my Dad if I could go. David and his Dad came round to speak to my Dad and explain what would happen. He took some convincing, but relented and gave me permission.

He also insisted I wore my Mirandinha half Brasil/half Nufc bobble hat and wouldn't be convinced otherwise that it wasn't cool and it did matter that Mirandinha wasn't at Newcastle any more.

A few hours later off we went, confusing a car full of Bradford City supporters just off the Redheugh Bridge (who were clearly following us) by going to David's grandma's in Fenham.

We parked the car and got the bus down to St James Park, heading in to the Gallowgate End. The rest of the match is a blur (did Quinn miss a penalty or open goal). I was called a jinx for ruining the good run they had been on and of course I didn't see McGhee's wonder goal at the Leazes 'cos it was too far away.

We went back to David's grandmas on the bus, had some tea and went home with a copy of The Pink in hand. I was hooked!

Then Mike Ashley came along...


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Page last updated 25 March, 2020