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true faith - the special no. 160, Birmingham City away, 18th March 2017, 3:00pm K.O.
Illustration of Birmingham's St Andrews stadium

And fade in .... 

Welcome to another issue of The Special as we make our way to the West Midlands and a vital game against Birmingham City. There has been plenty discussion this week after the chasing we got at home to Fulham last Saturday. It wasn't good and coming on the back of three sound results at Brighton, Huddersfield and Reading I think many of us were more shocked by how hopelessly off the pace we were. Personally I felt we carried too many players across the midfield with Atsu and Ritchie completely peripheral and Shelvey and Colback over-run and Gayle completely cut off and isolated. 

We can't afford to dwell on this though and a trip to Zola's Blues gives us an ideal opportunity to get another three points on the board and a step closer back to the Premier League. We've been top two virtually all season and with only nine games remaining we have to press on and clinch the prize. That means everyone sticking together and realising under Rafa there are more good things than bad to take into account with him and his team. Nothing in football is perfect and although Benitez himself hardly claims to be infallible the change he has delivered at United is transformational. Long may it continue. 

Pic of Rafa with club badge and Tyne Bridge in a montage background

What is obvious however are the players not being used by Rafa - both Mitro and Mbemba - if they can't games now then they must surely to be surplus to be requirements come the summer and create space for some players the manager actually fancies. Rafa must have a good 4-5 transfer windows to build the squad he wants in the PL (but I'm getting ahead of myself). 

Anyway, off the park we Mags have something to be proud of - the continued superb donations to the NUFC Foodbank over three home Saturday games has put almost 10 tonnes of valuable food the way of some very distressed and needy people in our communities. Everyone who has donated food and money represent the best of our support. I'm proud to share the stands at SJP with you wonderful people. 

NUFC Foodbank matchday collection point opposite NINE bar

But also another great example of the collective spirit amongst our support is the Gallowgate Flags initiative. Great pre-match displays are now becoming regular at our home games and the footage of the flags is being boomed all around the world and saying something about what our support is all about. 

Gallowgate Flags are now engaged in organsiing a Quiz Night which will take place at NINE Bar next Friday night (24/Mar/17). There are some fantastic prizes up for grabs, its a great night and you'll definitely love being there hearing some real brain bending questions about our beloved Newcastle United. There will be some fantastic appearances on the night as well. 

The next target for Gallowgate Flags is the purchase of at least one surfer flag for the west Corner of the Gallowgate which will act as a counter-point for the "big lad" in the Gallowgate middle tier and the other variety of flags in the Strawberry Corner and lower tier.

Gallowgate Flags pre-match display in the Gallowgate end

I can't say enough what a great night it was when Gallowgate Flags had their first quiz night before Christmas but this time there will be better prizes and its a Friday night so more people can get more peeve down them. 

There are still tickets available but they are going fast so get a wriggle on and support this brilliant initiative. Get yours here.

But back to the here and now, please have a look at Simon Campbell's match preview on the main site where there is also an excellent pre-match Podcast available. If you want more I don't believe you've read everything in the latest issue of true faith (TF129). 

That's it from me. 

Let's stick together. Howay United.

Keep On, Keepin' On...

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
Support NUFC foodbanks in association with NUFC and Newcastle West End Foodbank. Donate matchday opposite NINE bar, Strawberry Place from 1:00pm

NUFC Supporters foodbank

Next Foodbank collection opposite NINE BAR on Strawberry Place behind the Gallowgate End will be before the Wigan match 1st April from 1:00pm. 

Please give generously. 

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

breakfast cereal, tinned meat/fish, pasta/cooking sauces and tinned tomatoes.

There is more information here.

screengrab of the facebook post below

"I think we all remember when Liverpool fans walked out on their team when they were 3-0 down to AC Milan in the Champions League final, which was their right to do so because they paid good money to be there.

Of the fans who stayed to watch the rest of the game, we all know how vital the criticism and abuse from their own fans was in motivating the team on to victory. Benitez and his crap tactics eh. Thank God that we've got fans who care so passionately about our club that they constantly pressure the players into perfecting their performance, who know the best formation to guarantee winning every game 6-0 and who have already won the league in Football Manager with NUFC this season back in February. In fact, instead of any singing or standing section, I'd like the fans who are clearly more qualified than the manager who won a few trophies to be given a director's box, each with their own Playstation controller wired up to the team's arses. Jack Colback will be found walking himself back to the mackems after every kick off, whilst Mitro scores a hatful of glitched goals that have rebounded in off his fistpumps.

Clearly if our players cannot handle the expectations of fans and the physical demand of a long, hard and fast Championship season, then it proves that despite being a few games from the Premier League, that they're all just utter shite and we'd be better off staying for next season or until we can win every game with the same players in a formation that will be decided by Twitter poll.

After all, what is a club in any case? It’s not the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it taking out his phone and writing on social media "pua shite this team man sick of negative tactics, a know we r top but we'll get administrated if Rafa doesn't start paying attention to me suggested team selection".

ANDREW EMMERSON - From the true faith Facebook Page. 

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.
Arsenal v Newcastle, 19th March 1988, First Division

As it was when it was

Arsenal v Newcastle, 19th March 1988

Following an odd occurrence of fixtures that saw 7 of 8 league and cup games staged at St James Park, Newcastle United would be on the road for a 3rd successive match.

Paul Gascoigne had found excellent form since the turn of the year scoring 7 goals in 7 games in all competitions that alerted interest from 2 of the Divisions big spenders, Tottenham and Manchester United.

In an aim to reduce Division 1 from 22 to 20 teams over 2 seasons, United sat 11th out of 21 sides where they'd have no game in 2 rounds of fixtures over the campaign.

Having won 7 consecutive games in all competitions that saw Arsenal reach the League Cup Final and sit in 5th place, The Gunners were knocked out of the FA Cup at home to Nottingham Forest in their previous game and were 21 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool.

For The Record:

This result was the 3rd successive season that Newcastle avoided defeat at Highbury and the 2nd season in a row that Paul Goddard would score there.

Including this game, teenager Michael O'Neill had scored 3 goals in his first 12 games for United.  He would go on to score 5 in the following 2 home games and an overall 10 in the final 10 matches.

Having lost 4 of their opening 6 home games, Willie McFaul guided The Mags to an impressive return of 8 wins and only 1 defeat in the following 14 games staged on Tyneside that ensured a top 8 finish, a highest since 1977.

The first of 4 consecutive league draws, Arsenal would lose the League Cup Final 2-3 to Luton and win only 3 of their last 11 games to finish 6th, 10 points ahead of The Mags.

Australian actress Kylie Minogue would have her first UK number 1 with her debut single 'I Should be So Lucky.'

Kylie Minogue - I Should Be So Lucky
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
Illustration of Rafa against a football tactics board background

What Would Rafa Do?

Every time we’ve lost at home this season, Rafa has taken the lads away and given them a good shake. We’ve had three league games that have followed a home defeat this season and we won all three, scoring 9 goals in the process.

In seasons gone by, we’ve had a losing culture in the dressing room. Losing games led to losing more games and you could visibly see the confidence being sucked out of the team as the likes of Carver and McClaren had no answers. Not with Rafa. When we lose a game, he knows exactly why it has happened and will start working on the same day to make sure it doesn’t happen. Rafa knows the damage a run of bad results can bring, especially this season where those around us just won’t go away.

Reading miss penalty against us

Remember, we’ve won more games of football than anyone else in the country. In a normal season we’d be promoted by now. Brighton and Huddersfield are breaking records to keep things interesting, and with a lesser manager we might have crumbled under the pressure. Rafa thrives on this though. Every single time Rafa’s united have had questions asked of them, they’ve answered them convincingly. Today will bring us another big win and hopefully some dropped points around us to remind us once again there was never anything to worry about”

What Would Rafa Do?
Win another away game. Rafa is a winner. He’s done more winning than any other manager in the country this season.

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
Samir Nasri "headbutts" Jamie Vardy

Pot and Kettle Colour Charts

Samir Nasri made himself look foolish the other night, not for the first time it has to be said, with one of his by-now-characteristic meltdown tantrums. The ex-Man City man got himself involved in some macho antler-tangle posturing with Jamie Vardy during Sevilla's Champions League 2nd leg against Leicester, and ended up sent off and thus handing the tie to Leicester when Vardy made the most of things and fell to the floor. Nasri's been accusing Vardy of cheating since then, and he may well be right, as well as making chest-thumping noise about wishing to get some time alone with him. The usual "Hold me back" stuff.

The point here isn't that Vardy should have behaved better, of course he should. It's that Nasri isn't some kind of paragon of virtue either. The justification for his outrage is diluted somewhat by all the times we saw him fall to the floor unnecessarily to gain an advantage. Today it's him, tomorrow it'll be someone else. The lack of self-awareness of some footballers can be breathtaking.

Depressed looking Guardiola being interviewed after going out of Champions League away at Monaco

Not Convinced

Pep Guardiola gave the unusual explanation for his Man City side going out of the Champions League after scoring 5 in the first leg that he'd been unable to convince his players to attack their opponents. It's not as crazy as it sounds, he was referring to their trying to sit on their lead unsuccessfully in the first half of the 2nd leg. It's interesting nevertheless to hear a manager talk about his players in that way. Normally you assume managers give their instructions to their players with regards to tactics, style of play, formation and all the rest, and the players do their best to carry them out or suffer the consequences. Here though, Guardiola talks about needing to convince his players to act in a certain way. It's not just about player power removing the fear of what their manager could do to their career. I think what he was talking about is the inbuilt instincts of players to act in certain ways in particular circumstances. Maybe the art of the manager can sometimes be in getting players to react in ways that don't come natural to them, and maybe persuasion plays more of a part than orders a lot more often than we might ever suspect.


true faith - pin badges

tf Leazes end badge
tf Gallowgate end badge
tf Northumberland - We are the Mags badge
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. 

Photo from behind the Gallowgate end goal as Newcastle attack the Fulham goal

Fat Ladies Still Silent

I was talking to a friend this morning about watching coverage on YouTube of the game we played following our famous cup defeat at Hereford in 1972. In a classic example of the Newcastle United way, we won 2-0 at Old Trafford. The last week has been yet another instance of that, our never-ending ability to grab at catastrophe when triumph is within our grasp. Following 7 points from the 9 available in 3 away games against some of our closest rivals and apparently pulling clear of them decisively, we lost comprehensively at home to Fulham and were reeled in once more by our pursuers. Obviously losing a single game having that effect means we were never that comfortably clear anyway, but as if you were in any doubt, this one is going to run and run. We are up against talented, committed rivals who won't be giving up the chase. We should aim merely to keep ourselves in the top two right now, to keep our fate in our own hands and run down the number of games remaining. Our rivals of course will drop points too. We have to play well enough to take advantage when they do, and if they don't then they deserve to go up anyway.

I'm no great proponent of stats in football, particularly disagreeing with those who believe winning the possession count is an aim in itself, but the 70-30 split in favour of Fulham at the weekend was very worrying. We were successful in some of our previous games by getting in front early on and allowing the other side to have the ball after that, resulting in low possession stats for us. Against Fulham though it was the other way round. We were behind at home for most of the game and yet Fulham still dominated the ball. We were unable to grab the game and change it when we needed to and that's very disappointing. Hopefully whatever lesson there is to be learned from it has been well and truly noted for the vital games ahead, starting today.

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.

Blackpool supporters protest
Football Supporters Federation - Fan Mail newsletter, read and subscribe here

Fans unite for clubs in crisis

FSF & Blackpool fans organise day of action against unpopular owners

On Saturday 6th May fans from across the country will be descending on the seaside town to offer their solidarity to supporters of Blackpool, Leyton Orient and many other clubs with problematic owners. FSF Malcolm Clarke said: "Owners are the temporary guardians of a football club’s heritage – we are still, unfortunately, in the position where a handful of club owners are not fit to be guardians of that heritage."


What the papers say

After another below-par performance at home, the pressure is on Newcastle to continue their solid away form this weekend when they take on Birmingham City, who have plummeted down the table since the departure of Gary Rowett. Here’s what the papers have been saying over the past seven days.

As United look to get back to winning ways, they’ll need an attacker who can put the ball in the back of the net. Someone who has found that difficult in recent months is Aleksandar Mitrovic. The Serb has struggled this year but reports this week suggest he will not be sold this summer. However, the Magpies are looking to bring in another attacker before next season.

At the start of the week, Newcastle received some positive news from Mo Diame. The midfielder has announced his retirement from international duty, so he can focus on his performances on Tyneside. The Senegalese international insists focusing solely on Newcastle will mean he is “fresh” for when he is needed for the Magpies.

Finally, in similar fashion to Mitrovic and Diame, Tim Krul may also be focusing solely on Newcastle next season as he is set to return to the club. The Dutchman has been linked with a move away after two below-par loan spells in Holland but the shot-stopper insists he will move back to Tyneside when his spell abroad comes to an end. However, Rafa Benitez is unlikely to want more than three goalkeepers in his squad, meaning we may not see Krul in a black and white shirt ever again.

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

Podcast: birmingham preview

Alex is joined by Tom from @worhyem1892 to look ahead to a big game for both clubs at St Andrew's this weekend. Ben and Micky make up the podcast set as we talk what needs to change from the weekend and how we think it will go. Listen here.

We now have a Facebook page if you want to speak to us and tell us we're wrong.

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.

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.

Screengrab of the Evening Chronicle promotion simulator

There to be broken

I had to raise a smile this week when my I asked my colleagues on the tf podcast to complete the Chronicle’s promotion simulator.  It’s a good piece of kit.  I like to think we’re all fairly pro-United and optimistic but the three of them had Huddersfield finishing on at least 95 points and not going up.    Two of them had Brighton on 100 points and not winning the league.  If Brighton get 100 points and don’t win the league, and Huddersfield get 95 points and aren’t promoted automatically then I’m more than willing to organise a march to the Premier League HQ and demand that all three of us are taken up.  Bollocks to the play offs and bollocks to Sunderland in 4th last in the Premier League (only joking, they’re doomed.  Moyes reckons they can win 6 of their 11 remaining games despite winning five of 27 so far.  Even if they managed that miracle, it’d see them to a massive 37 points).

No team in ‘The Championship’ has amassed 90 points and not gone up automatically. In fact only two sides have gotten to 89 and not gone up (Brighton last season and Watford under our managerial opponent this weekend).  Since 1990 I can only find Sunderland in 1997/1998 who got 90 points and finished third (anyone know what happened in the play offs that year).  That doesn’t mean it won’t happen this season, but you have to back the history books.  I see mags in tears at Huddersfield’s ‘easy fixtures’. I’m going to stick by early analysis that Huddersfield cannot go on winning games by only one goal and not become unstuck.  There are days when the ball won’t go on and you get bad decisions against you.  Last week at Brentford Huddersfield were enormously lucky to have a penalty not given against them in the 90th minute.  Sometimes you get them, sometimes you don’t.  When Huddersfield don’t get them, or have an off day they could find themselves three, six or nine points off the pace again.  Then they have to raise themselves once more.  I’m back 90 points to be enough and I expect us to get closer to 100.  It will be enough either way, even if Huddersfield do become the first side since Sunderland all those years ago to get to 90 and have to contest the play offs. 

Away end at Leeds earlier on in the season

Please don’t take my back 

United’s away support is the best in the land. 3k at Brighton.  On a Tuesday night.  Live on sky. In the second tier. That’ll not be topped.  There have been loads of games this season where the players have been lost for words when describing our support.  My own favourites were Derby, Leeds, Rotherham, Hull and Brighton. I wasn’t at Huddersfield or QPR but I’ve heard good things from those there.  Unfortunately our cup ties in Birmingham this year was SJP at its worst transported to St Andrews. Songs about Karl Darlow when Sels struggled.  Abuse for Colback as he has the temerity to try and retain possession (something his colleagues failed to do that day).  ‘Attack, attack, attack’ – the worst ‘chant’ in our repertoire. General booing and abuse for the team.  Entitled fans (of all ages – this isn’t a generation thing as some like to make out) demanding success on the field.  I’m hoping for much better this weekend at St Andrews.  Time to pull together and get promoted.  If we go one nil down or don’t score in twenty minutes keep your ‘expert analysis’ that you plan to scream at players at home, as in St James’. 

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