As a football supporter (love the game, not the business) I can only look on in envy at other parts of the country that have produced some great teams over the years.
The West Country has never been able to produce a decent football club, and that’s probably down to the fact that it’s never had football in its blood the same way as other regions have.
As far as trophy winners are concerned Manchester United and Liverpool have the most, with Newcastle United 9th on the list, with 4 League Titles, 6 FA Cups, and 1 UEFA Cup to its name.
The Magpies (Newcastle Utd’s nickname) haven’t had any silverware to stash away in their cupboard for a while, but it doesn’t seem to dampen their enthusiasm. Their fans passion for the game is well known and the ground’s attendance figures are consistently amongst the highest in the land with nigh on full capacity at most home games.
The team plays at St. James’ Park near the city centre which has a current capacity of 52,354, and although I haven’t been to see a game here I took advantage of one of the stadium tours that are on offer.
I love going on football stadium tours because it gives me the opportunity to see behind the scenes including the dressing rooms, corporate boxes and dugouts.
The tour around St. James’ Park includes all of these and more, and takes around an hour and a half. It starts from the Milburn Stand and it’s best to book in advance, although not essential as I found out.
The club has produced some great players such as Jackie Milburn, Jimmy Scoular, and Malcolm Macdonald. Add locals such as Chris Waddle, Peter Beardsley, Alan Shearer, and Paul Gascoigne into the mix and you’ll begin to understand why the club has such a great following.
With so many legendary names associated with the club you would think that it would be difficult to pick one out for special mention, but I reckon if you were to ask one of the ‘Toon Army’ who was the man they revere the most it would have to be (Sir) Bobby Robson.
Player, manager and a man of quotes, the great man once said “If we invite any player up to the Quayside to see the girls and then up to our magnificent stadium, we will be able to persuade any player to sign”.
It was probably Bobby Robson’s charisma that would entice players to sign and the stadium is certainly magnificent, but the girls on the Quayside I’m not so sure about.
I’ve done tours around other football grounds, but what I like about this one is that there seems to be a human touch about the place.
As a football fan who has followed a team for countless years without anything much to celebrate I realise that the game is not just about trophies. It’s about the fans, the atmosphere, the legends and the memories – and St. James’ Park has had it all.