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My first match
NUFC.com reader recollections V
August 21st 1968, Newcastle 3 Chelsea 2
We lived south of Newcastle in Marske, a
village on the coast closer to Teesside than Tyneside.
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
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
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!’
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
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.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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 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!