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true faith - the special no. 153 Norwich City v Newcastle United, 14th February 2017, 7:45pm K.O.
Illustration of Norwich's Carrow Road stadium

And fade in .... 

The win down at Wolves on Saturday night wasn’t pretty but like the Derby Co game at SJP it gave us the right result and at this point of the season, that is all that matters. I’ve waited all of my life to watch United grind out away wins like that and its something Rafa has done really well with since he took over and now is close to besting KK’s record for away wins in one season. I really hope he and the players achieve it. 

The Wolves game appears to have left a bit of a sour after-taste for some. Wolves boss Paul Lambert appears to have some kind of beef with Rafa’s staff and has done a bit of whingeing to the media which is all a bit lame. This comes on the back of the allegations of racism made against Jonjo which the club took on the chin but seems not to have satisfied some. The media appear disappointed their Geordies In Crisis stories have had to be filed away for another day and Rafa is handling everything really well – as we’d all expect of him. 

Mitrovic celebrates his goal against Wolves

So, off we go to Norwich, a team many considered would be doing a bit better this season. Since that dramatic game earlier this season when we came back from what looked like a certain defeat, we seem to have kicked on whilst they have gone a little backwards. They and Aston Villa are probably good examples for Mike Ashley to scrutinise as he assesses Rafa’s work at United. 

Speaking of Rafa, it was interesting to hear his name linked to Arsenal over the weekend – even though there is no vacancy and Wenger has made no comment about wanting to vacate a role he has fulfilled with distinction for coming up to twenty years. I’m dubious about what we consume in the media right now. There is a certain degree of funny-business going on and I detect the hands of a few people using the media for their own purposes. 

Shelvey goes to shake hands with Wolves no.16 Coady at full time

I also fully endorse his comments regarding Mitro and Jonjo. I’m not particularly a fan of Mitro as regular readers might have guessed (though I shamelessly punched the air in joy when he got the only goal of Saturday’s game) but Benitez is doing the right thing by defending him and drawing some attention to the fact that those two lads as well as the whole team on occasion has been targeted for some rough treatment. We can’t be knocked out of our stride by rivals with the hump about United for whatever reason, we have to stick together and get this promotion won. I do really worry about the standard of refereeing in this division. 

Ahead of tonight’s match, Alex Hurst has done the honours with another great preview of the game. To get at it just click here.  

Not only that we have another Podcast recorded which was a good review of the Wolves game and a good look at the game tonight. To get at it, just click here. 

Do I need to mention a brand new issue of true faith available to download? Free. For nowt. All yours. 

Support NUFC foodbanks in association with NUFC, NUST< NUFC Fans United and Newcastle West End Foodbank. Donate matchday opposite NINE bar, Strawberry Place from 1:00pm newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk

It was great to hear the NUFC Food-banks organising the second collection of food for hard-pressed people living in our Geordie communities. That collection will take place on the 25/Feb/17 from 1pm just ahead of the Bristol City game. The donations can be made at the Foodbank gazebo set up opposite NINE Bar (Gallowgate End) at Strawberry Place. An amazing three tonnes of food was donated before the Derby game and it would be wonderful if between us we can beat that target. There are some top-notch people we share the stands with at St James’ Park but please make a donation if you are coming to the game and spread the word amongst your pals as well. 

Before the Bristol City game however, we’ll welcome Steve Bruce’s Aston Villa team to SJP next Monday night. The game will see the first jumbo Gallowgate Flags surfer unfurled on the Gallowgate End and along with the rest of the display it is looking to be a real spectacle before the game. Please try and get to the game 20 mins  before KO and bring a B&W scarf to wave around your nut and go full pelt. There was a definite improvement in atmosphere before the Derby game and its our responsibility to try and better that for the visit of Aston Villa – a club with  fans we don’t really care for that much. Put the word out and make this a real B&W Night and another demonstration of support for Rafa and his team. 

Keep On, Keepin'  On...

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Follow Michael Martin true faith editor on twitter @tfeditor1892
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New issue - tf 129 out now

This is issue 129 of true faith, Newcastle United's longest running and most widely read fanzine and a must read for the clued-up Black & Whiters.
 
Read it free here
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Support NUFC foodbanks in association with NUFC and Newcastle West End Foodbank. Donate matchday opposite NINE bar, Strawberry Place from 1:00pm newcastlewestend.foodbank.org.uk

NUFC Supporters foodbank

Next Foodbank collection opposite NINE BAR on Strawberry Place behind the Gallowgate End will be before the Bristol City game - SATURDAY 25th FEBRUARY 2017 from 1:00pm. 

Please give generously. 

These are some of the things the Foodbank could really use: 

Tinned meat products, Tinned fish, Tea bags, Coffee, Long-life milk, Long-life fruit juice, Sugar, Rice, Tinned tomatoes.

There is more information here.

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Wolves (a)

SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

The Canaries come into this game buoyed by a 5-1 win over Nottingham Forest on Saturday which took them up to the fringes of the promotion race in 7th place with 50 points from their 31 games. That’s fifteen behind us having played a game more. Villa are in 16th place, nineteen points behind us. Does anyone really still think that getting out of this division is a walk in the park? Rafa has achieved a minor miracle getting us to top spot while also re-engineering the club. The man is a football genius.

The team Alex Neal sent out on Saturday was:

Norwich last match 4-5-1: GK Ruddy, LB Dijks, CD Klose, CD Martin, RB Pinto, LW Hoolahan, CM Pritchard, CM Murphy, CM Mulumbu, RW Howson, CF Oliveira

Norwich were 3-0 up in eighteen minutes with goals from Howson, Josh Murphy and Hoolahan while Pritchard added goals in the second half with only a solitary reply from Ross McCormack for Forest. At least the poor lad managed to get out the house…

Norwich strengthened their squad with the signings of Yanic Wildschut from Wigan and Mitchell Dijks on loan from Ajax. You may remember that Wildschut caused us a few problems at the DW stadium earlier this season and he came on for his debut as a sub on Saturday. He’s a useful lad to have as a sub along with Cameron Jerome who didn’t make it from the bench.

Before we turned them over 4-3 on 28 September, Norwich were probably the most impressive team in the division. A lot of people thought that we would finish the top two. That result was obviously a knock for them but the 0-5 defeat at Brighton on 29 October seemed like a psychological hammer blow as they lost the next three. A 5-0 defeat of Brentford looked as if they had turned the corner but then they lost to Barnsley, Reading and Huddersfield. The 1-2 defeat at Rotherham looked like it might herald last orders for the manager but they have won four of their last five since and seem to have recovered their confidence.

Their record at home is better than ours with eleven wins, one draw and three defeats in their fourteen games. They have actually scored one more than us at home (34) and conceded two less (13) so this is going to be a real test. Only Brighton and Huddersfield have gained more points at home. Be interesting to see what happens if they go a goal down though.

Howson scores first Norwich goal in 5-1 win over Forest

I imagine that Neil will be using their defeat at SJP in September to try to persuade his team that they owe us one. If our last game is anything to go by we know that they will try to frustrate us by fair means and foul. I cannot remember when a team wasted so much time (which made our late victory all the sweeter of course). Nelson Oliveira seems to have replaced Cameron Jerome as their target man while we know that Russell Martin and Timm Klose will offer a threat at set pieces. Klose in particular is a giant and scored against us from a set piece at Carrow Road last season. Jerome is still their leading scorer with nine goals while Oliveira has eight and Jacob Murphy has seven. They actually share the goals around their team as Jonny Howson and Steven Naismith each have six, Graham Dorrans five, Alex Pritchard four and Wes Hoolahan three. This is as a result of their basic tactic of trying to push midfielders past the target man. Oliveira has a better touch on the ball than Jerome but he is a willing worker. and brings others into the game. In other words they offer a threat throughout the team and they probably have more midfield options available than anyone else at this level. The loss of an increasingly disenchanted Robbie Brady to Burnley has been more than balanced by the arrival of Wildschut. It will be interesting to see if the new lad starts - he’s been used as an impact sub so far.

Alex Neil’s teams usually work hard and this team is no exception. They also have a decent bench who Neil can call upon if he needs to change things. I think we will need to keep them quiet for the first twenty minutes or so as we wait for the early storm to blow itself out. If they score early on then it will be a difficult night. Even if they don’t this will probably be one of our most difficult games of the season.

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Author credit -  Wallace Wilson follow on twitter @wallacehwilson
Stay Free Records Newcastle. Vinyl records of all types bought and sold. Unit 1 2nd Floor (The Antiques Centre) 142 Northumberland St, Newcastle, NE1 7DQ. Mon-Sat 10am - 4pm
Visit the Stay Free Records facebook page here.
Gallowgate Flags Quiz Night, NINE Bar, St James' Park, Friday 24th March 2017 - 7pm. Tickets £10. Great prizes, good crack and all proceeds go to Gallowgate flags displays. ticket only get yours here.
West Brom Away, 16th February 1974

As it was when it was

West Brom Away, 16th February 1974

Having previously defeated non-league Hendon and 4th tier Scunthorpe in away replays, Newcastle United were drawn away to Second Division West Bromwich Albion in the 5th Round of the FA Cup almost 43 years ago.

The Mags had hammered Coventry 5-1 at home in their previous match thanks to the rarity of 2 own goals while Malcolm Macdonald scored his 18th in all competitions.

Knocking out Notts County and Everton in the previous rounds continued the host’s great form.  10 wins in their previous 17 games in all competitions ensured a move up from 12th to 6th place. 

United would be backed by an estimated 15000 supporters in a 42,699 crowd.

For The Record:

Netting his 4th FA Cup goal of the season, Supermac would notch another 3 meaning he scored in every round as United made it to the Final.  

Macdonald would leave United 2 years later having scored 14 FA Cup goals in his 5 seasons on Tyneside.

The Cup run clearly affected league form as Newcastle managed only 2 wins in the final 19 games of the season to drop from 7th to a 15th place finish.

An inconsistent end of season that included 5 defeats saw West Brom drop to an eventual 8th place finish, 5 points off the 3rd promotion place.

‘Tiger Feet’ by Mud was Top of the charts for the 3rd of an eventual 4 weeks and would be the best selling single of the year.  They’d have another 2 Number 1’s. 

‘Tiger Feet’ by Mud
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Marc Corby - true faith writer follow him on twitter @nufc_1980_1994
Support Gallowgate Flags. Paid for by fan donations to create a better match day atmosphere www.gofundme.com/gallowgateflags
Illustration of Rafa against a football tactics board background

What Would Rafa Do?

Rafa finally got his hands dirty in the past week and grinded out a couple of scrappy 1-0 victories. Whilst some would say the performances were underwhelming (to be fair we were perfectly good against Derby), come the end of the season it will the six points that matters.
 
This time last year, Leicester City went on a similar run winning five games out of six, all 1-0. I don’t think any of their fans bemoaned the performances in these games as it was these points that saw them run away with the league. That can and will be us. This is a dirty old league and we have to let go of the idea that winning 1-0 isn’t good enough. Rafa certainly doesn’t think that!

Shot taken form away end, Newcastle in their own half attacking up the left

Another thing Rafa would do is haul off his international striker at half time having scored. This is because the striker in question is an idiot and posed more of a risk to our result on the pitch. That said, we could all see it so this was just Rafa applying some common sense. Still, he must find it so frustrating having to make unplanned changes due to the stupidity of one player.
 
Moving on, we have another hard away game tonight against another in form team. Norwich have turned around their horrible form over Christmas and won 4, drawn 1 in their last 5 games. Alas, Rafa will of course have a plan as he did for the equally in form Derby and Wolves. These ARE NOT easy games and Rafa’s tactical superiority is what makes the difference.

Newcastle attack Wolves on halfway line

Tonight there will be inevitable changes as we have just played on Saturday night. I feel like Hayden was rested for this one and his impact can be huge tonight. We have Christian Atsu raring to go I’m sure and 4 very good centre halves, none of whom would look out of place tonight. Rafa will select the most appropriate 11 for yet another tight one here. A point will do but Rafa will always be looking for 3.
 
What would Rafa do?
Same thing he’s done all season, make use of his squad to deliver important points when it matters. Cue Alex Neil bemoaning the size of our squad as to why we he couldn’t handle 2 games in 3 days.

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Simon Campbell - true faith podcaster, follow him on twitter @simoncampbell11

Club and county - We are the Mags. 

Get into these absolutely top notch true faith t-shirts which celebrate the identity of Mags from England's two finest counties, Northumberland and Durham. 

Only £17 plus P+P. 

Northumberland Mags t-shirt - get them here
Durham Mags t-shirt - get them here
Bottom of the Premier League Table showing Leicester 17th, Hull 18th, Palace 19th and mackems bottom

Second Album Syndrome

Leicester City continue turning their dream into a nightmare as they sink ever closer to the bottom 3 in the Premier League. Defending a title is commonly held to be far more difficult than winning one in the first place for all kinds of reasons. There's the difficulty in keeping together your successful group of players, maintaining their level of desire to achieve something when they've just done it, the increased efforts of others to defeat you due to your status, and other teams coming up with ways to combat your style of play. Leicester's title win was one of the biggest upsets in football in a long time of course, and the season before that they had a miraculous late escape from relegation. Maybe this season is a return to normality rather than an aberration. Their main goalscorer last season, Jamie Vardy, has suffered a catastrophic loss of form and has scored only 5 goals this term, 3 of them in a single game. He was the subject of a large offer from Arsenal in the summer and chose not to accept it, which is to his credit. I wonder how he feels about that now though, as he's unlikely to get the opportunity again. The flood in the tide of his affairs, and of Leicester's, may have passed forever.

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Montage of Pardew and Allardyce pulling daft faces pitchside

Perfect Storm

The one thing that may save Leicester are the atrocious 3 teams currently beneath them. The only team in the division with worse form than Leicester over the last 10 games is Crystal Palace. 8 of those games were under Sam Allardyce. It is plain the new manager bounce has not helped Palace. What is in their favour is that they have more potential to score goals than their rivals at the bottom but for that to come into play they have to play well enough and in a manner that means they create chances. Allardyce has never seemed the man to preside over throwing caution to the wind and going for wins but we shall see how the season pans out.

One point which has occurred to me is that Newcastle fans were roundly criticised after each of our recent relegations for hounding out managers who would have kept us up, Allardyce in 2008/09 and Pardew last season. Now we have the situation that should Palace go down, they would have been managed for that season by Alan Pardew roughly for the first half and Sam Allardyce for the second. one way or another one of them has to be responsible. I'd like to hear the "be careful what you wish for" merchants try to produce the mental gymnastics that would leave neither with the stain on their record. Assuming they'd be unable to do that, it follows that their logic in criticising us crumbles too. These people were no more likely to have kept us up than the people who eventually failed to do so, and come May I'm hoping no-one will be able to deny it any more.

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true faith - pin badges

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tf Durham - We are the Mags badge

We are delighted to announce we have a new batch of pin badges on sale. 

Our Leazes and Gallowgate SOUL pin badges are now available and you can get them here - 

Leazes Soul, and Gallowgate Soul,

Our hugely popular Durham and Northumberland - We Are The Mags pin badges are also back in stock 

Durham, and Northumberland.

Each badge is only £5 Plus P+P. They will be delivered the day after they ordered. 

Norwich no.31 Murphy celebrates scoring 2nd goal in the 5-1 win over Forest

Tough Gig

Tonight's opponents Norwich have quietly made their way up the table after a difficult middle third of the season during which they fell from 2nd to 12th in the table. They've won 4 out of their last 5, most recently a 5-1 thumping of Forest, and now sit within striking distance of the playoff positions. You will recall us coming from behind in the home fixture in unlikely fashion, something that wouldn't have been necessary if they hadn't blazed several goals ahead of us initially. It's fair to say this is going to be a difficult game. Of our rivals at the top, Leeds, Brighton, Sheff Wed and Reading all play at home tonight and Huddersfield play bottom club Rotherham. So the pressure is on this evening, it's so important we maintain the gap to 3rd place. A result tonight would be a real stride towards promotion.

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Author credit - Mark Brophy tf writer & blogger, follow on twitter @mark_brophy
Read Mark's blog here link
Fortiter Defendit Triumphans Newcastle City Crest t-shirt

Fortiter Defendit Triumphans & St James' t-shirts

We developed this popular interpretation of the city crest some years ago for a cover of the fanzine. Now we've incorporated it into this fantastic t-shirt which we expect will be a must for anyone who loves the city that plays host to our beloved football club. And also true faith's St Paulli inspired t-shirt but obviously given a very Geordie twist. Both t-shirts come to you for a very reasonable £15 plus P+P.

To order Fortiter Defendit Triumphans just click here.

To order St James' Skull and Crossbones click here.

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What the papers say - montage of  newspaper mastheads

What the papers say

Another away win had to be grounded out on Saturday, as Newcastle held Wolves to a 1-0 win. Now comes Norwich, who have had a mini revival after a poor end to 2016. Here is what the papers have been saying over the last few days. 

One of the positives from Saturday’s clash was the performance of the defenders, in particular Jamaal Lascelles, who has been out of form in recent weeks. The skipper lead by example and will  hopefully carry on delivering performances of that ability. The win on Saturday made it 11 wins on the road this season, meaning Newcastle are closing in on their record of 13 away wins in a season but 23-year-old Lascelles insists his team-mates want more than just to break that record.

Lascelles interviewed on sky after wolves game with "Man of the match" caption onscreen

Last time Newcastle faced Wolves, Jonjo Shelvey was controversially sent off late on. However, this time around it is Shelvey who is the victim, after reportedly suffering abuse from sections of the Wolves support. Rafa Benitez has urged the FA to act after his player was subjected to chant from the home end.

Finally, as the Magpies returned back to the summit, they have been boosted by the news that Dwight Gayle is back from injury and will be involved in tonight’s fixture. The forward has been in scintillating form throughout the campaign and his timely return is just what’s needed as a tough run in lies ahead.

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Aaron Stokes, true faith writer, follow him on twitter @aaronstokes96
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Football Supporters Federation - Fan Mail newsletter, read and subscribe here

MPs back fans' push for FA reform 

Governing body has till April to deliver adequate change

MPs yesterday passed a motion of no confidence in the FA’s ability to reform itself. Backing recommendations to increase supporter representation on football’s governing body, FSF chairman Malcolm Clarke said: "Supporters are integral to the health of our national sport yet are still shockingly under-represented in the FA hierarchy." 

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tf history prints, poster graphics of famous games - get yours here £10.00 each
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tf weekly podcast radio tower logo over Norwich and Newcastle United  badges

Podcast: Wolves win and a looking to Norwich

The lads are here to talk you through a great win at Wolves and look ahead to Norwich. There's big debate on Mitrovic, as usual, listen here.

Follow and talk to us @tfweeklypod

We're on Radio Tyneside every Friday 6:30-7:00pm and pre-match every Saturday match at 13:30 listen on 1575 MW or online here.

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Gallowgate Flags t-shirt, The pride and the passion
tf Gallowgate Corner Original t-shirt

Gallowgate flags t-shirt & Gallowgate Corner - t-shirt

This t-shirt has been launched as a fundraiser for the Gallowgate Flags group. The target is to raise a further £1000 from the sales of this t-shirt in order to provide additional funds for the purchase of jumbo flags on the Gallowgate. The plan is to have them all ready for the end of the season. 100% of the funds raised from sales of this t-shirt will be donated to Gallowgate Flags, get yours here.

The Gallowgate Corner of St James' Park has always been one of the most vociferous and passionate areas of our grand old home. From the days of the terraces to the modern era, The Corner stands out as home to some of Newcastle United's most passionate fans get it here.

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Norwich badge

Irrelevance 

It was probably November when I stopped caring about Norwich's results. Before winter they were very much part of the Huddersfield and Brighton group of sides you'd follow in the hope they'd slip up. Besides Tuesday I couldn't have cared less about their results, apart from the odd smile at their misfortune. That's what happens in this division. You're either relevant or your not. It would be great to move 18 points clear of them on Tuesday. 

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Norwich players celebrate goal against Newcastle last season

Karma

I spoke to someone within NUFC who let me know that Newcastle United are not keen on Norwich City. The beef goes back to last season when the media team at Norwich let the people on the black and white side know that we were to 'enjoy the Championship next season', after they defeated us 3 2. 

I wonder how those people are enjoying life outside of the divisions top 6. 

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Map showing 4+ hour journey from Newcastle to Norwich

No one cares 

Brighton, Reading and Norwich all mid-week. The Brighton game was moved, yes but the other two planned. Which other sport or industry treats its customers with such contempt?

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Alex Hurst - tf podcaster & writer, follow on twitter @tfalex1892
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