I once travelled back home to my native north-east of England and hoped to be able to jag a ticket to watch my beloved Newcastle United at St James’ Park as they took on Leeds United.
On a freezing cold Wednesday night before Christmas, when all usual avenues of finding a match ticket had evaporated, I was reduced to watching with my hands cupped to the outside broadcast van window. The packed stadium roared on just metres away as my heroes Peter Beardsley and Andy Cole eked out a 1-1 draw.
Prior to the stadium revamp, there were 36,000 fans at the game every week as the Toon took the Premier League by storm and they hit the top flight with a bang.
I had never experienced such optimism.
As a fan who had only a few years before endured crowds in excess of 10,000 and had followed the team home and away through the darkest Ossie Ardiles days, this newfound fever on Tyneside was like walking into a different city. Everyone wanted to be at the game, the world loved the swashbuckling football, Kevin Keegan was back as the local hero, the team had local star players and emerging superstars. This was a lovely place to be.
That all changed in 2007 when a certain Spurs fan and sportswear magnate took over at the club.
What followed was a businessman who came across as someone trying to run a football club like a bargain basement store.
We can only speculate about his impact on high-profile manager resignations such as Kevin Keegan and questionable replacements but he was at the wheel and the Newcastle fans needed someone to blame and take their frustrations out on after being relegated twice. The truth is he oversaw a tumultuous period in the club’s history and fans had every right to be angry.
Today, with Twitter having throbbed with Geordie hope for a huge chunk of the morning before Newcastle finally went to sleep, the good times could well be back.
The issues of having a Saudi-backed owner of my beloved Newcastle United have been well documented, but this could be the turning point that a generation of Geordies have been craving since the Sir John Hall era.
If this goes through, the over-arching feeling will not be dreaming of top-four finishes, Champions League football or Haland and Mbappe. It will be a feeling of utter relief. The media has portrayed Newcastle United fans as deluded, as expecting too much, as unrealistic.
It baffles me that the current owner has many supporters in journalism and punditry who obviously have not seen the last 14 years of pain for the club and its immense fan-base. It is only recently that the tune has changed and there has been sympathy and concern for the plight of the proud Geordie nation.
Please take a moment today to remember how happy everyone was in the mid-90s in Newcastle, how proud the people were to be part of something special. It was infectious. The whole world loved Newcastle. Please let us have this moment, if and when it does come about. Once the dust settles though, we do expect to be on the top of everyone’s hated list, and the sooner the better.