Thursday, May 12, 2016

Notes on a Relegation

Comrades, fellow travellers, neutrals.  These are grave times for Newcastle United Football Club.  The Rafalution has been crushed under the iron jackboot of Big Fat Sam's square-headed hoofball.  As pundits pontificate, hilarious memes circulate, and gloating WhatsApps elucidate, the Mackems Wanted It More.

Of course they did.  This is a club willing to pay Nazis, child molesters, and Lee Cattermole if it thinks they will help achieve their dream 17th position each year and preserve their tawdry EPL status.  

Such brutish, win-at-all-costs Sweep-the-leg Johnny Foreigner pragmatism is not for us on Tyneside.  We are an altruistic, corinthian outfit that disdains the baubles and trinkets of so-called 'winning' and instead concerns itself with Doing the Right Thing.

A cursory glance around the stadium reveals the words "Sports Direct" at every turn.  The message to young people and disaffected adults in the north-east is clear; don't just sit and watch this shite, get out there, participate in sport.  And buy the equipment and clothing for said sport at low, low prices at the discount retail outlets run by the club's benefactor Mike Ashley.  

The club sponsor is Wonga, the market leader in short term loan solutions.  What better aid to social inclusion and the preservation of the family than by giving a financial helping hand to unfortunate young men and women who have spunked all their money getting cunted on legal highs and vodka?

NUFC also leads the field in its diverse, compassionate employment policies.  

Our chief scout and de facto Football Director, Graham Carr, is the father of camp TV unfunnyman Alan 'Chatty Man' Carr.  What could potentially be a fraught father-son relationship is surely improved no end when Graham returns from a scouting mission having signed a beautiful French boy with gorgeous hair.  One pictures the young Alan, waiting with mum at the airport for his father's return, his little face lighting up in delight as he sees the latest boy-toy.  "Oh daddy!  I love it!" he no doubt squeals, before doing that thing he does with his specs.  

Who cares if the footballer proves to be too lightweight and useless for the English game?  You can't put a price on a lovely family memory.  £12 million.  And you can always send them to play for Marseille.

Who else would employ Steven McClaren in one of the most important, financially lucrative seasons since football began, in 1993?  

This poor, down on his luck chap, who resembles nothing more than a bumbling coach driver played by Paul Whitehouse in an unfunny insurance advert, was given a new lease of life by being placed into a job for which he was clearly unsuitable.  So what if he lost game after game, made poor selections and was unable to inspire any positive reaction from a group of players who seemed to be close to laughing in his face?  

That confused, red-faced man now has an extremely generous pension pot and can spend his remaining days buying and restoring old Routemasters, and experimenting with hair transplant technology.  Heart-warming.

There are similarly charming stories among the players, too.  Jack Colback, a ginger kid from Tyneside who was abducted by Sunderland and forced to turn out in their unflattering red-and-white striped shirts.  The club generously repatriated him in Newcastle and allowed him to potter around in their central midfield, kicking and grabbing at the footballers as they ran by him.  

Yes, he may have been booked in every single game, and have contributed nothing more than nuisance value to the black-and-white cause, but the look in that little lad's eyes, knowing he's away from the dark place, the cheesey chips and incest.  Well, that's a thing you can't buy with money.  Not even the £100m that the club has lost.

Seydou Doumbia is a gentle dignified old man, who was trafficked from Africa to Russia and forced to perform in front of audiences of right-wing, banana-throwing skinheads.  Newcastle rescued him in January this year and provided him with a safe haven.  They even allowed him on the pitch one time.  This sight of that bandy-legged, 70 year-old footballing Morgan Freeman shuffling gamely towards the Stoke City penalty area is possibly the most inspiring thing any football fan could ever hope to see.  

In a transfer window when the Wearside Mean Machine were going about ruthlessly buying players who could 'play in their team' and 'improve their defence' it's good to know that on Tyneside the club could see the bigger picture.

So, relegation then.  Another visit to the Championship.  It's a situation very much analogous with holiday destinations.  When you're too slow, unfit or useless to get your hole in Mallorca or Marbella, then simply lower your ambitions and go to Benidorm.  Even Shola Ameobi and Kevin Nolan could get twenty a season in Benidorm.  

The club moves down a division, to shine its light on ever more deserving, deprived, desolate spots.  Former mill towns, places where rugby league is popular, the footballing backwater of Birmingham; Newcastle will be visiting them all, and giving a quick lesson in football and sportsmanship, before shagging their women, and drinking their beer.  

Let Sunderland enjoy their hollow 'success'.  In Newcastle we cherish the spirit of fair play, community, and decency.  

On Sunday we will no doubt commemorate this in time-honoured fashion as everyone gets mortal drunk, and smashes fuck out of our own city centre.

Mike Ashley, Lee Charnley, Graham Carr, Alan Pardew, Steve McClaren, Fabricio Coloccini, Moussa Sissoko, Daryl Janmaat.  Your boys took a hell of a beating!  Your boys took a hell of a beating!  And you're not even bothered.