Tag Archives: Newcastle

We’re not on our way to Newcastle

Newcastle away.

Maybe I am getting old. Maybe I am just fed up of another Sunday game, but rather than being on a train to Newcastle right now, I am at home, wondering whether to spend my morning cleaning or gardening.

Trips to Newcastle and Sunderland used to be some the most anticipated of the season. A load of us heading up to the North-East on an often delayed 3 hour train.

The incredible amount of alcohol consumed on these trips often led them to having the most memorable moments. But today, none of my lot are going.

A 1:30pm on a Sunday afternoon game away to Newcastle would not normally be an issue. We would get a train about 8:30am, getting us into the Toon at about midday. Few beers in the former O’Neills across the road for the station, before the uphill walk to the ground.

We would be back down at sea level at around quarter to 4, so probably get a 4:30pm train back to London. Enough time for a quick pint and to get some cans for the way home. We would be back into Kings Cross about 8pm. Couple of pints in the O’Neills opposite St Pancras, before heading home for some sleep. Then up at 5:30am Monday morning for work.

Maybe it is old age. I am now 33. That the trip did not interest me. I did not fancy an early start on a Sunday (I would have to be up at 7am to catch the train to Kings Cross). I did not fancy the late night Sunday finish. And I did not fancy the hangover on the commute to work on Monday morning.

Back in my 20’s, I would think nothing of getting to Euston for a 6:30am train for Wigan away – beers flowing even at that time of the morning. Or getting back home at 11pm on a Sunday after a 4pm game in the North East. I would suck it up, and deal with the consequences the next day.

Maybe it is age and responsibility. But it is also apathy.

Not apathy towards Arsenal (or not completely).

This season has been tough for away fans. I have probably done the least amount of total games (home and away) for some years. I have left numerous times at half-time to head back to the pub (even when winning). I have stayed in the concourse for entire halves. And sometimes, I just have not bothered going in at all.

Not just the results, but the atmosphere. The knobheads that sit around us. Both home and away. Football has changed massively in just the last 5 years that I have been an away scheme member. Even more since I got my season ticket a decade ago. And it is now a completely different game to when I went to my first game in October 1995 as an 11 year old.

The fact that I am not going is not just because of The Arsenal, however. There are about 10 of us who travel regularly away together. Whether it be Stoke City or Cologne. None of us are going. And a big reason is due to it being yet another Sunday game.

When we qualified for the Europa League, we knew we would see an increase of Sunday games. But the additional scheduling of Sky Sports and BT Sports have made matters worse. We have actually maxed out on the amount of times Sky Sports can show us.

Instead of Sky Sports being smart and thinking “Arsenal have to play on Sunday due to the “Europa League, lets show them” many of our post-Europa League games have not been on TV. They picked other games for TV. This results in even more games played on a Sunday, and even less games played at 3pm on a Saturday.

Now that we have beaten CSKA Moscow, the fixture against Burnley will now be moved to Sunday. as it can not be on Sky, it will probably be on at lunchtime.

This means we have had just three 3pm kick offs this season, and 18 games on a Sunday.

 

Sunday games mean longer train journeys, less trains, and that Monday morning hangover. That is where my apathy sits.

I dream of a return to Saturday games. A return to drinking all day, then battling the hangover on Sunday, with a roast thrown in. This season, I have spent the Saturday fiddling with myself. Not sure what to do. Keeping myself occupied. It has not been fun.

The Europa League has been brilliant. Cologne was brilliant. One of the greatest trips of all time. But with Sky moving so many other games to a Sunday – which did not require moving – I am fed up.

Today, I will watch on TV. Next week I will be at the West Ham game. On a Sunday. Again.

It is all a little bit rubbish.

Keenos

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Ups and Downs – An Arsenal Away Fans Thoughts

As the season is nearing its end, my mind often turns to the bottom of the league table, and top of the Championship. Thoughts and conversations with pals revolve around who we want to go down, who we want to stay up.

As someone who go’s home and away, with an away scheme membership (away season ticket) I travel the length and depth of the country every week with my pals. No agendas. No BS. Just a good group of lads going to the football.

For us, relegation and promotion into and out of the Premier League is important. Who are we losing. We are we getting?

It is always sad to lose a London club. Since the £26 ticket prices, we save a lot of money with easy trips round the capital. Birmingham clubs are similar. Just a little over an hour on the train, cheap train tickets, Birmingham is always a cheap trip up north.

On the other hand, last season the ‘worst case scenario’ came true when Burnley, Middlesbrough and Hull came up. All rank trip to Northern towns. I actually have not made any of them this season.

So who do I want to go up and down?

With regards to relegation, I am happy with it being as is, with the current bottom 3 disappearing.

I am bored of Sunderland now. Their constant battle against relegation year after year. If they were a horse, dog or fish they would be put down by now. Time to put them out of their misery.

The trip has improved recently with a new train from Kings Cross direct to Sunderland. But it is still a 4 hour trip, with no boozers the other end (unless you go via Newcastle). Sunderland station is in a run down part of the city (or perhaps the entire city is run down?). They will not be missed.

Also in the north-east we have Middlesbrough. Another dump. Whilst I will not be making the Monday night trip this season (thanks Sky!) I have done it before. It is another place that is not high on the list of places to visit in the UK.

Making up the north-east trio is Hull City Tigers. One of only 2 current Premier League grounds I have not yet visited (the other is Burnley). I have no plan to visit it. I went for a wedding in Hull 2 years ago. I do not plan to go back.

I would not shed a tear if all 3 went down.

Also in the relegation dog fight is Swansea.

Swansea is a decent away trip, if you are doing the night out. Full of Welsh slags. But if you are not doing a night out, it is a long old trip up their with Sunderland. Around 4 hours, their is usually delays, often engineering works.

In the last 3 years we have been re-rooted vie Gloucester, held just outside Swansea station for over an hour, and had to get a rail replacement bus service from Port Talbot. A good night out, but a tough old journey.

West Ham and above are probably fair enough ahead to not be dragged into it. Whilst the Hammers going down would be hilarious, going to the London Stadium is the easiest trip for me to do.

Leicester fall into the Birmingham category of being a nice easy, cheap train trip.

Sandwiched between are Burnley and Crystal Palace.

Palace have the London thing in their favour, although it would be nice to get rid of their embarrassing ultras. Burnley can also disappear off the face of the earth. A nasty little racist town.

Sunderland, Hull City Tiger, Middlesbrough, Burnley & Swansea. 3 of those 5 gone will make away days a little more enjoyable next season.

As for who comes up, it looks like Newcastle and Brighton are almost certain to have their Premier League status secured for next season.

Despite my hatred of the north-east , I actually do not mind Newcastle.

Whilst in terms of time the train journey is not too much different from Hull and Sunderland, there is a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow, or a pub at the end of the train journey.

Newcastle has some decent boozers near the station. The ground is a short (but hilly) walk from the station. Plenty of options home (trains back to London every 20-30 minutes). It is a decent away trip. Add in that it is a decent night out too.

I am not so enthused about Brighton coming up.

We have done the trip down to the Sussex coast a couple of times in the FA Cup in recent years and both times, I was not too impressed.

The journey is not the issue, but I just do not like Brighton as a town. It just is not set up for football fans to turn up en masse and have a pint. We are looked at by locals as the scum of the earth. They do not want us in their establishments and seem like they can not wait for us to leave.

Add in that horrible little train to Falmer – Brighton are not actually based in Brighton – and a stadium which comes out of the identikit stadiums that sprung up in the late 00s / early 10s and all in all it is a trip I will not overly look forward too.

Everything could change, however, it we get scheduled to play them in August or September. Bit of summer sun and beers down on the beach.

It looks like a 5-way battle for the play-offs.

Huddersfield, Reading, Leeds, Fulham & Sheffield Wednesday.

Right off the bat, I do not want Reading.

Like Brighton, it is one of these grounds not built in the city or town it resides in. Instead it is build on an industrial estate which you have to get a bus too. Been there, done that, got the t-shirt, not bothered about going back.

Sheffield Wednesday is another I would right off. After the League Cup defeat, I do not have great memories of the ground. It is falling apart. And is a pigs-ear to get to. Trains planes and automobiles come to mind as you have to get a combination of trains, trams, cabs and walking to get to the ground.

That leaves Fulham, Leeds and Huddersfield.

Despite having done Fulham plenty of times before, it is always an enjoyable trip.

Another London day out, easy to get too, plenty of decent boozers. I do not think I have ever had a bad away day to Fulham. Even when it was torrential rain. They would be my favourite.

Huddersfield and Leeds are two trips I have never done before so I honestly do not know what either would be like for an away trip.

It would be nice to have Leeds back in the Premier League. A proper club who were ripped apart by improper owners.

A nice easy journey into Leeds, with a bit of a horrid journey to the stadium ,it would be nice to have a proper club with proper fans back in the Premier League.

Huddersfield, whilst one many have not done in recent years, is probably bottom of the 3, purely because of the train journey. You have to get to Manchester Piccadilly then across to Huddersfield.

I think I will stick to my original thoughts and welcome Fulham back to the Premier League with welcome arms.

Despite everything that is going on at the club at the moment, I go to football for the day out. That involves the train, the beers, the mates, as well as the game.

When you travel up and down the country following your team, there is much more important things that make it a great day rather than just the football.

Keenos

Arsenal Form, Chelsea & Newcastle / Sunderland

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Arsenal Form

DWWDWWWWWWWDWW

Since the opening day defeat to Liverpool, Arsenal have now gone 14 games undefeated in all competitions. We are in scintillating form. With some nasty fixtures coming up (Spurs, Man U, PSG) it will be a tough job to keep that run going. But with 2 of those 3 at home, we have a chance of following up an unbeaten September and October with an unbeaten November. Starting tomorrow with a trip to Ludogorets.

Chelsea

For me, this season has been defined so far by misreporting by the media. No more so when The Guardian announced that Liverpool and Tottenham are setting a thrilling Premier League pace – when they were 3rd and 4th. Spurs now sit 5th. Still unbeaten mind!

Another narrative written incorrectly was by those who were quick to write off Chelsea. Reports even surfaced that Antonio Conte was about to get sacked.

Yes, we dicked them, but 10 games in they sit 4th. Just a point off the top.

What has been interesting is that whilst a lot has been written about how Manchester City fans need to give Pep Guardiola time whilst he rebuilds the way they play, the same ideology has not been applied to Chelsea.

Conte has now moved to his 343 (or whatever!) formation that saw him so successful at Juventus and Chelsea have now won 4 on the spin.

With players like Eden Hazard and Diego Costa, Chelsea are in this title race. They should not be written off.

Newcastle / Sunderland

At the back end of last season, I posed a question when Newcastle and Sunderland were fighting for the right to remain in the Premier League.

Would you rather get relegated to the Championship, and run away with the league next year, or remain in the Premier League, and have another year fighting relegation?

My thinking was simple. People love winning. Last season Sunderland saw their side win just 12 games from 38 as they finished 2 points ahead of rivals Newcastle, who won 11 of 38.

Newcastle this season have already won 11 games. Sunderland still without a win.

Whilst Sunderland are now in a relegation battle for the 5th season in a row – the last 4 seasons have seen just 35 wins, Newcastle are having fun in the Championship. On course to come straight back up, as Champions.

I guess the best way to judge it is through attendances.

At 84.1%, Sunderland are bottom of the Premier League attendance table. Meanwhile, Newcastle are on average at 96.4% full to capacity. The Championship high. Proof, perhaps, that as a fan, the short term final day pain of relegation can soon be forgotten about by a successful season in a lower league.