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true faith - the special no. 147 Brentford v Newcastle United, 14th  January 2017, 3:00pm K.O.
illustration of Brentford's Griffin Park

And fade in .... 

Welcome to another issue of The Special, match-day Newsletter from your mates at true faith. 

So, off we go to Griffin Park for a hastily arranged Championship fixture with the Bees of Brentford and one which has more or less ignored the needs of away supporters intending to travel from the North East to the capital. Why are we even surprised by this lark any more as it has become pretty standard. 

This is a game we need to win to get ourselves back on track and calm the nerves. 

Screengrab of @WatfordFC tweet: Full story as Tom Cleverley completes his loan return to Watford FC (pic of Cleverley holding up Watford shirt)

We had a sobering reminder of our status in football at the moment when Tom Cleverley elected to go to Watford from Everton rather than come to Rafa, United and 52,000 attendances and all of that. I don't doubt there were personal reasons dragging Cleverley south but it does demonstrate that for footballers, the Premier League is the be all and end all. I can't say I blame them. At any level of football you always want to play at the highest level unless you are purely chasing the dough and I think we've had enough of those players. I suppose what Rafa is attempting to do is to sell a long term vision of the future at United to persuade players to come to us and realise the next 6-months are a temporary blip in an upward trajectory at the club. Rafa couldn't do that with Townsend in the summer but he did do it with Gayle, Hayden, Ritchie etc. That is the trick he has to pull off this window and that is going to be difficult despite the PL wages we'll be paying and the stash to use in transfer fees we have to bring in players. 

I do think now is the time for certain players, in the absence of Jonjo to step up to the mark. Mitro is out of the picture so the moronic chanting of his name when he's not even on the bench shouldn't be coming from the away end and its likely Darlow will return to the nets after a match when he was rested and his replacement was serenaded with our usual No.1's name. 

Birmingham away FA Cup, M<urphy shoots in front of the away end to make it 1-0 to us

There has been some gnashing of teeth about our support this season - not the quantity as that is phenomenal but rather the quality with SJP mostly seeing matches played out in a funereal atmosphere or booing or mass-sighing at  a mistake or leaving the games early and the nailing of players at games but especially so on social media. No-one has said no-one can't criticise but some find it difficult to distinguish between abuse and criticism. 

It isn't just us as Jose Mourinho hinted at last week. I have good mates who follow Sunderland, Man Utd, Liverpool and Celtic home and away and they all bemoan the modern "crazy" football culture we have saw creep into the game. Its like SOCCER AM meets GREEN STREET and its awful. Most of the placca hools I see at away games following us and the opposition quite frankly couldn't knock the light out. NME, Bender Squad, Gremlins they definitely are not. And I say that as a fully paid up member of the Softy Walter Fan Club. 

Anyway, let's hope we get a win today and get a good run of wins to get us back to normal and head into the final part of the season with our eye on the prize and successfully complete part one of the Rafalution. 

Please check out Alex's match preview here.

Keep On, Keepin' On...

Follow Michael Martin true faith editor on twitter @tfeditor1892
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Brentford (a)

SWOT analysis - Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats

Can I just say at the outset that the fact that this game is back on for this afternoon is a bloody disgrace and a prime example of how football regards its paying customers. It’s bad enough that it was rescheduled for a Monday night making it virtually impossible to travel by pubic transport from the North East to see the game but then to rearrange it at 10 days notice because surprise, surprise we drew at Birmingham in the FA Cup means all that time and money spent arranging to travel and probably stay over is completely wasted. Which moron didn’t anticipate the possibility of either ourselves or Brentford being involved in a replay? Unfortunately, the most likely scenario is that they actually did realise the possibility of yet another re-arrangement and just didn’t care what effect it would have on traveling supporters. We’re just the soundtrack to these goons.

In the absence of Diame I’d expect Perez to play if he’s fit but it will be interesting to see Rafa’s selection if he isn’t. Will he play Gouffran behind Gayle and maybe Lazaar on the left or go 442 with Murphy up front? For all our domination of possession we don’t create a large number of clear chances and we don’t convert a large percentage of those we do create. However, given that Brentford play a 352, I can’t see him selecting a team which will leave him outnumbered in midfield.

Brentford currently lie in 14th place and have fallen away after their bright start. At the beginning of the season they looked good defensively but after we put three past them at SJP they have conceded goals - 0-5 at Norwich was a low point. However, they have also beaten Brighton and Reading so they are no mugs. Their lack of consistency makes it difficult to predict how the game will pan out. They’ve actually done quite well since that Norwich defeat winning at Bristol City and Birmingham and beating Burton at Griffin Park. Throw in a couple of draws at home against Cardiff and Norwich and a solitary defeat one goal by Leeds at Elland Road means that they shouldn’t be lacking in confidence.

Additionally they come into the game on the back of a morale boosting 5-1 win against Eastleigh in the FA Cup.

As I said above, the Bees currently play a 352 formation and I would imagine Rafa will have made his plans to exploit the space that such a system can afford. The team Dean Smith sent out last Saturday was:

Brentford team in FA Cup last weekend 3-5-2: GK Bentley, CD Barbet, CD Egan, CD dean, LW Field, CM Woods, CM Yennaris, CM McEachran, RW Colin, CF Sawyers, CF Vibe

Like Rafa, however, Smith made a number of changes for the Cup and the team he selected for the game at Birmingham is probably a better indicator of the side we will face this afternoon. That team was:

Brentford last Championship match 3-5-2: GK Bentley, CD Yelland, CD Dean, CD Egan, Lw Sawyers, CM Barbet, Cm McEachran, CM Woods, RW Colin, CF Hogan, CF, Vibe

Barbet took up a defensive role in midfield while Sawyers dropped backed to make way for Hogan.

Brentford have played 12 games at home, winning five, drawing four and losing three. The games they lost were 0-2 v Barnsley, 0-2 v Fulham and 1-2 v Birmingham. However, back in September they did beat Reading 4-1and achieved their most notable away win, 2-0 at Brighton, so they are not to be taken lightly. The last home game they lost was 1-2 v Birmingham on 26 November.  Since then they’ve won two and drawn two. They’ve scored 18 and conceded 11 in their 12 home games to date.

Scott Hogan has been garnering all the attention with 14 goals in the Championship. At the time of writing it isn’t possible to say whether he will be available for selection. If he plays, he is very quick and likes to play on the shoulder of the last defender so it will be a different challenge for Clark and Lascelles. However, he does depend on the service of others.

Brentford players celebrate after David Davis deflected a Ryan Woods free-kick past his own goalkeeper to make it 2-1 to Brentford

Brentford are known for playing hard ball in the transfer market so my guess is he will leave nearer the end of the window as potential buyers become more desperate and are prepared to pay the £15m asking price. He has dominated their goals for column and will obviously will be a miss if/when he goes. After him you have Lasse Vibe and former mackem John Egan with 3. The latter definitely offers a threat from set-pieces so hopefully no stupid fouls around the box. That being said, they scored 5 goals without Hogan in the first half against Eastleigh so they are not to be taken lightly.

By the way, there’s no alcohol on sale in the away end inside the ground so if you want a beer you need to sort yourself out beforehand. Griffin Park has a number of pubs adjacent to it. Away fans tend to congregate in The Griffin.

So another tough away game. No doubt Dean Smith will have been watching our game at Blackburn with interest and learned that by playing a low risk, solid game waiting for a break or a set piece is probably their best hope of taking something from this game. The worry is that Brentford are better equipped than Blackburn to play this way, with Hogan’s pace a threat on the break. I expect a cautious game with Newcastle dominating possession once again but both sides wary of being caught out. Probably a decent bet for a 0-0 draw!

Author credit -  Wallace Wilson follow on twitter @wallacehwilson
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Brighton & HA v Newcastle 16th January 1991, Division 2

As it was when it was

Brighton Away, 16th January 1991

In mid-January 199, Jim Smith’s Newcastle United were unbeaten since the turn of the year and had knocked top flight Derby out of the FA Cup 2-0.

However, the league victory over Blackburn 4 days before a mid-week game at Brighton and Hove Albion was only the 4th win in 20 league games as an underperforming ageing team sat 14th in Division 2.

With John Hall’s ‘Magpie Group’ trying to force change on the board and attendances falling below 14000, bleak times continued on Tyneside as the lack of funds meant David Mitchell, who made a goal scoring debut in that Blackburn win, was the latest striker to come in on loan. 

Inconsistent Brighton had won 3 and lost 3 of their previous 6 games and sat in 10th place 4 points ahead of the visitors. 

For The Record:

A clearly unfit Mitchell was substituted in the game and wouldn’t be seen in United colours again.  

This was United’s only defeat in a 9 game spell that returned 5 wins and a move up to 11th.

2 and a half weeks after the FA Cup 4th Round tie was originally meant to be played, Newcastle threw away a 2-0 lead at home to high flying Nottingham Forest before crashing out in a replay 5 days later, 0-3.

With little chance of reaching the play offs, Smith resigned following a win at Portsmouth and Ossie Ardiles would be in charge to oversee an April Fool’s Day defeat at home to Bristol Rovers.

Also losing the following game, Ardiles would instantly turn to youth and, backed by the Gallowgate faithful, 5 draws and 2 wins in the final 9 games saw a rise up the table to finish 11th.

As Ardiles ‘Class of 91’ raised optimism for the following season, Mick Quinn finished the season with 20 goals to make it 56 in 104 games for the club.

Despite winning only 2 of the 18 games against other teams in the top 10, Brighton would finish 5th, reach the Play Off Final, but lose 2-0 to Notts County.

A touch of quality at Number 1 as Enigma's 'Sadeness Part I' topped the charts for a single week.

Enigma 'Sadeness Part I' video
Marc Corby - true faith writer follow him on twitter @nufc_1980_1994
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Illustration of Rafa against a football tactics board background

What Would Rafa Do?

Rafa would take us further in the FA Cup than in the last 4 years without winning a game!
In seriousness, where most of us would have described the Birmingham result and subsequent Replay as a bad thing, Rafa would not necessarily see it that way. It was another game where we should have been out of sight by half time. Unfortunately, we didn’t capitalise and let the opposition back into it, again. This is something we need to improve on but Rafa has spoken recently of how we need to learn to draw.
Yes we should be winning these games, but Rafa’s point is that we need to be more professional and sometimes accept that we haven’t done enough to win the game, without throwing a point away; especially in some of the scruffy ways we have done in recent weeks.

Screengrab of BBC showing players at full time and score Birmingham 1 - 1 Newcastle

Back to league action today and it’s another tricky away fixture, moved back to 3pm. We’ve had a week off but our squad is actually now looking quite thin thanks to the AFCON. Shelvey’s last game on the sidelines can’t ccome soon enough, even if it stops the attention seekers from their growing social media meltdown.
We can afford to draw or lose this game; we’re still 6 points clear of Reading. I hope some of the ‘worried’ lot amongst our fan base watched them on Thursday. Reading are miles away from us as a side. They will be nowhere near us come May. Today is more about maintaining the performance levels, no matter who is available.

Group of players hug and celebrate Murphy's goal in front of the away end at Birmingham
By the end of the month we will have a more intact squad and can press on and finish the job that we have start, and started very well! REMINDER – we are 6 points clear of third and performing very similarly to the 2009/10 season when we ran away with the league. Brighton are irrelevant. Rafa will of course want to win the league but promotion is what is important. No risks or rash decisions will be taken to deliver a over b.
What Would Rafa Do?
Rafa has a plan and vision wider than this game or any collection of games. He’s thinking about the rest of the season and beyond. He is not panicking or overreacting to any results or circumstances in any given week.
Message to all: Be more like Rafa!
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. 

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Graham Taylor Celebrates with Watford players

The Man Behind the Vegetable

The death of Graham Taylor has put in the public domain a lot of very flattering memories from people who knew him. People tend not to speak ill of the dead of course, but I think there's a genuine feeling that he was a genuine, honest, pleasant man who was widely well-liked. He had an excellent club management career, performing wonders at Watford and coming close to winning the league at Villa in the late 80s. He had a terrible time as England manager between 1990 and 1994, and unfortunately it's that he'll be remembered for. He was on the end of taunts and abuse no-one should have to put up with during that time, the most famous being the turnip-head epithet dreamed up by the Sun and their editor of the time Kelvin McKenzie.

Unfortunately his treatment is all too common in football. It makes me think of all the people vilified here in Newcastle by us, by me, mainly because of being unsuccessful in their professional dealings with the club. I'm going to try to remember some of these people are human beings in future and I hope you will too.

The sun's Hillsborough "the truth" front page

Long Time Coming

Speaking of McKenzie, his defining moment came in the publication of the Sun's "The Truth" front page on the Hillsborough disaster. Never was a headline less accurate. Now the Crown Prosecution Service have 23 files on both individuals and organisations regarding possible prosecutions. 15 of them relate to the events of the disaster itself, 8 the cover-up which followed. None are Liverpool supporters. 170 policemen are also under investigation of misconduct.

It's an ongoing scandal that no-one has ever been held to account for the events of that day. Maybe the day that happens just got a little closer.


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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. 

hereford players and supporters celebrate on the pitch after 2-1 vicotry knocked us out of the FA Cup in 1972

Missing in Action

There's been a lot of talk about how Jonjo Shelvey gets a better player with every game he misses. His absence has coincided with a slump in form and it's been attributed to the dearth of creativity when he's not there. It's not quite that simple though. In the same time period we've also seen our wide players have their own creative crisis. Both Yoann Gouffran and Matt Ritchie have struggled recently. For all we've missed Shelvey, I'm pretty sure that if our wide players had been providing the creativity recently that they were at the start of the season we'd have been fine. At Blackburn we had chance after chance without taking them too so our goalscorers weren't up to the mark there either. I like Shelvey but our trials aren't all down to him not being there, it's been a bit of a perfect storm as regards our providers. The sad corollary to this is that neither will his return solve all our problems. Perhaps when he pulls on the shirt again it'll be enough to tip us back to winning ways but maybe not. Let's hope it gets us back on the right track at least anyway.

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.

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It’s been a relatively quiet week on Tyneside for a change, which may be for the best after our recent run of results. Brentford await this weekend, as the Magpies try to get back on track. Here is what the papers have been saying over the past seven days.

Last week saw the lads only able to earn a replay at St. James’ Park when facing Birmingham, meaning Rafa’s men have another fixture next week before a crucial game with Brighton and Hove Albion. One of the negatives from the Birmingham clash was the injury to striker Aleksandar Mitrovic in the early stages. The Serb has been waiting for his chance but suffered a nasty gash to his leg, which won’t help him earn his place back.

Screengrab of @ReadNewcastle tweet showing Mirovic's knee injury: Aleksandar mitrovic's deep cut on his knee. [@BlicSport]

Admittedly, I thought Newcastle would have strengthened their squad further by now, but no deals even seem close to being finalised. Chelsea’s Ruben Loftus-Cheek will not be joining and now it looks like Tom Cleverly has chosen Watford over a move further up North. However, Benitez still seems confident that he can get the players he needs before the window is over.

Under 18's score penalty to go 1-0 up against Swansea in the FA Youth Cup

Finally, credit to Newcastle’s under-18 side this week, who by beating Swansea City in the FA Youth Cup, have set up an unexpected Tyne/Wear Derby in the coming weeks. The game will be played at the Stadium of Light meaning fans who weren’t expecting to see any local clashes this season, can have the chance to experience a Sunderland away-day, although it may be a little different than usual...

Safe standing rail seating
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Safe standing campaign - another reason to join the FSF

Longest running FSF campaign continues to make progress 

We’d bet the safe standing campaign is the reason a good number of you heard about us in the first place. It has a simple aim: to persuade the Government to change existing laws, and to convince football authorities and clubs to accept the case for introducing limited sections of standing areas at grounds in the Premier League and Championship. The campaign continues to move forward, so if you want to stand at the match, or even if you don’t but believe fans should be given the choice to do so, in safety – then join the FSF. If you're already signed up, then spread the word!

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tf weekly podcast radio tower logo over Brentford and Newcastle United badges

Podcast: Cup review and Brentford fan preview

Ben Wade and Alex Hurst are joined by Brentford fan Jake to discuss United's game at Brentford this weekend. Before that Ben quizes Alex on the terrible game at Birmingham. 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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tf Gallowgate Corner Original t-shirt

New 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.

Brighton badge

Testing Spell

There's a tough run of fixtures coming up, but not for Newcastle United. 

After Brentford today we face Rotherham and QPR at home before Steve McClaren returns to SJP with Derby. 

In the same period Brighton have a tricky game at Preston, welcome promotion chasing Sheff Wed and then travel to high flying Huddersfield. 

I'm backing United to be be back on top by the time we travel to Wolves on the 10th of February.

Scott Hogan celebrates scoring a goal


Scott Hogan is (hopefully) set to complete his move from todays opponents to West Ham by the time you're reading this. The agreed fee is believed to be £15 million. 

Hogan looks a solid player. He's scored 14 goals in 25 games this season. 

With this in mind we can truly appreciate what an amazing deal United did getting Dwight Gayle (19 goals in 21 games) for £5 million less than Hogan is going for. 

What a player and what a deal. 

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