To begin the day, I met with Richard, Dave, Richard’s wife Claire and her two son’s Ryan and the witty Ben. We had lunch at a Turkish restaurant. Hummus and a vegetarian moussaka was had by me. Heinz tomato sauce, was specifically requested by Ryan. Ben made several jokes at Richard’s expense. We all laughed.
Newcastle United 0 Norwich City 0
I’ve never been to a Newcastle United game. St James Park is a football stadium of legendary proportions. My trip to Newcastle was planned around their home game against Norwich. We were hopeful that with Norwich being at the foot of the table, that Newcastle would be in line for a good win and 3 points. One of the things that I like about the stadium is that is in right in the centre of Newcastle. It feels like the heartbeat of the city. At this point Newcastle were doing quite well in the league. A mid table finish looks achievable.
St James Park jumps out at you as if from nowhere. From the outside the stadium is magnificent. On the inside the views across the ground from our pitch side seats were stunning. Sadly, the facilities at the stadium are ye olde. No WiFi, no way of getting 4G, One big screen which only the away fans can see. A limited selection of food and drink at high prices. In many ways, football is stubborn and refuses to innovate. Because the experience is so poor, many people get there just before a game, and leave straight after. If the overall experience was better then fans would stay for longer and from a clubs perspective spend more money during a match day. Football refuses to innovate a lot of the time, because a football club will have fans that are dedicated to the team, in almost all circumstances. You have to treat football fans extremely badly to stop them turning up to a game. The relationship is almost religious.
Talking about the match itself is something that I will keep to a minimum, due to the fact that the game itself was dull. Saying that there were highlights would be a misuse of the word highlight. On the plus side Newcastle did not lose and the constant chirping of the fans was amusing “howay man.” Football often attracts angry men, who use football as a release for the frustrations in their normal life. In a Geordie accent, this is highly entertaining. Both Newcastle and Norwich came close to scoring an own goal. Nobody scored. Everybody went home slightly miserable.
We go from the passionately dull world of Newcastle United to the absurdly joyous world of Professional Wrestling. Watching Professional Wrestling is one of my main hobbies. It is a niche subculture with a dedicated fan base. To those that don’t understand it, it is a nonsense, but to those that do appreciate it, Pro Wrestling is an art form. I’ve been to Germany, Ireland and all over England to watch various promotions.
There is a Newcastle based wrestling promotion named North Wrestling. I’d not known much about them, but Richard Tubb goes to their shows on a regular basis. Richard, Claire, myself and a man named Chris, who had never watched Pro Wrestling before went to the North show after I had chips cheese and gravy. Eating gravy and chips was my honour and helped me feel a bit more northern.
North Wrestling sold out the show, 250 fans piled into the Riverside venue. I’d heard of a few of the Wrestlers on the card like TK Cooper and Spike Trivet, but many were complete unknowns like Screwface Ahmed. Most of the action was fun and got strong reactions from the crowd. Wrestling can be described as violent poetic ballet, or silly panto, depending on your view point. In the main event Spike Trivet was able to cheat his way to retaining the main title of the company and we all left the venue to go to the pub. Chris admitted that he had fun watching the show. He may not actively seek wrestling again, but would consider going again if told to.
The Back Page
The next morning I headed to a football memorabilia shop known as The Back Page. A whole world of football merchandise is available here, from old programmes to wooden replica signs of football street names. I spent over 45 minutes in the shop and spoke with the shop owner about the plodding performance of United the day before. Much to my surprise I found a book on football and climate change, which I will read on the train home. It is amazing that in amongst all of the usual chains in Newcastle Centre, that quirky independent shops like this one and the retro gaming shop can survive. The Back Page is highly recommended by me.
The search for Alan Shearer ends
Disappointingly the closest that I got to Alan Shearer was seeing a poster of him in the window of the Black Bull pub. Who knows where he was? Do you? As I failed to find Alan, I had to settle for appreciating a vibrant and varied city. Geordies are a friendly bunch with an impenetrable accent. The city has beautiful, ye olde walls, woven into the heart of a city and a football team that has a wonderful yet outdated stadium. I’d highly recommend Newcastle, though you’d have to remortgage your nan to be able to afford getting a train there.