By George Stoker 24/04/17
The first game I went to was v Notts Forest, FA Cup quarter final 1974, standing in The Leazes End-and was instantly hooked.
The noise, the passion, the visceral excitement, the local identity, the fierce tribalism. This was the time of Skins, Gangs, Boot Boys, overt violence, mass fights unsafe stands and many other horrors. But on that day we learned that the crowd could influence the outcome of the game.
Over he next forty plus years, I've stood in The Gallowgate, The East Corner, The Leazes and had seats all over the ground. Been to Wembley five times and over thirty away grounds. Supporting NUFC became a very important part of me.
Move forward to Saturday 11th March 2017, I did what I only done once in the intervening years-left early. Sitting in the middle of The Gallowgate we went 3-0 down. I didn't leave because we were getting beaten, but because of my fellow fans, when not looking at phones or sitting in total silence they got on the players backs , complained, winged and offered no positives to our team. Any attempts to get a positive response was looked at with dead eyed contempt and open hostility.
Now, society has changed in many positive ways during the above periods and I am no way suggesting a return to the mid 70s.
Something very important has been lost along the way-with he advent of all seater Stadia, scrutiny by cameras, heavy handed stewarding/ policing, splitting up of noisy fans we have been coerced into near silence and the new norm is a complete lack of support and atmosphere.
First became aware of them on twitter. I replied to request on website and almost immediately got a return phone call from Ed Renwick. Knocked out by his positive attitude and ideas as to how things should change. Loved the ethos, and for the first time in my life didn't vomit when I read ‘ The Mission Statement’.
I was involved with recording of ‘Blaydon Races’ which is being belted out before home games and feel like I've been included all the way with initiatives. We really are a bunch of decent folk, trying to do the right thing. Even if we have a mission statement.
A group of like minded individuals does exist, attempting to create a fan lead group to Bring Back The Noise. We want St James Park to be loud and intimidating, to make teams fear coming here, to raise the roof at every game, win ,lose or draw. To sing our hearts out for the lads.
To do this a dedicated area needs to be set aside for people willing to do this. For it to succeed we need to create a groundswell of opinion that the club can't ignore.
Rafa has made it clear on many occasions how important he and the players think passionate, supportive, noisy crowds make.
Howay everyone get onboard , join this just and righteous cause.
Get involved. Get motivated. Get Gannin.
Cheers George Stoker