Plymouth, nice place shame about the podium

By Lee Ryder on Apr 18, 10 06:21 PM

Well who would have thought that the gruelling 818 round mile trip to Plymouth's Home Park would be the away day in which Newcastle United clinched the title?

The trip that Toon critic Mick Dennis said we all should be so grateful for!

Before Newcastle were relegated I went on record to say that Toon fans didn't want to be going to places like Blackpool, Plymouth and Barnsley because the level of support that the Magpies attracted deserved to see their team on the big stage.

There is a theory that Toon fans have enjoyed their away trips to some of the smaller grounds in the country.

But don't Newcastle fans make the most of their away trips no matter where they go?

From Milan to Millwall, down the years Newcastle's support has been nothing short of sensational - regardless of the knockers.

Serial Toon critic Dennis - who regulary pontificates about how Newcastle fans should behave - said that United fans, including me, should be more humble about life in the Championship.

Here's what Mick said back then.'/Honesty-is-only-way-at-St-James-Honesty-is-only-way-at-St-James-Honesty-is-only-way-at-St-James-

Well, having experienced it, and being able to be light hearted about it, I have not encountered anything I didn't expect because the simple fact is that a lot of us have all been here before.

The standard of football has been poorer than it has ever been and there have not been too many warm welcomes (stories of Toon fans being rejected from pubs in Bristol because their accents were too much like Welsh accents and could cause trouble are just one example of the medieval approach from SOME of the places Geordie fans have visited.)

My humble opinion is that Newcastle should, given the resources at the club and the support, be challenging at the business end of the Premier League.

I'm not saying that's going to happen, it is merely my opinion.

Next season I'd probably be pleased to see Newcastle avoid last season's experience and what the future holds?

I don't know. Who does?

All I know is that this set of fans don't deserve to be playing in the Championship and I stick to it, just like I did 12 months ago.

For me I crave trips to Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea and the chance to see my hometown team take on the best teams in the best division.

European football wouldn't go a miss again either but I'm not getting too above my station.

And a trophy?

It's still beyond our wildest dreams but as Sir Bobby once said: "We can still have wild dreams."

Quite how painful those experiences will be next season is another matter (the relegation season last term resulted in draws at Chelsea and Man U.)

Therefore as we say goodbye to the Championship it's worth considering that while many predicted we'd do a Leeds, we didn't.

And that Toon fans would not turn up in their droves, they did.

Top players would leave and while some did, some stayed.

You have to say the doubters including Norwich fan Mick Dennis got it all wrong.

Back then Dennis, reflecting on relegation, said: "It could spark a spiral of decline.

"Look at the bottom of the Championship and see how easy it is to keep on falling.

"Someone in the North- east assured me last night that there will be plenty of bare-chested fans following the club, however low they plummet.

"If so, it still will not make them "special" because Leeds, Manchester City and Nottingham Forest all took a massive followings on their journey down the divisions.

"But it would prove that the self-styled Geordie Nation are more than the preposterously self-regarding narcissists their constant boasts make them appear."

Newcastle won't pick up the trophy in Plymouth, yet the former basement division club is perhaps the true goodbye to the Football League given that QPR's Loftus Road is a ground in which Toon fans have memories of beating the Londoners in the Premier League in the 1990s.

Roll on the Premier League days again.


Trev Day said:

And you wonder why Newcastle fans are not particularly well like in some quarters? Yes, you may well clinch the CCC title at Home Park but a little humility would go a long way.

"Well who would have thought that the gruelling 818 round mile trip to Plymouth's Home Park would be the away day in which Newcastle United clinched the title?"

We may not have the following that Newcastle can muster, we certainly don't have the parachute payments that have enabled you to pay your way back out of the CCC, but we do have passionate support that will follow our team wherever the trip takes us. That, by the way, is usually a gruelling few miles every other week-end, not just the ' long old poke to Newcastle'

Spotlight Kid said:

Trev, your point is well made about parachute payments, there is no flat playing field. The Fizzy is essentially being used as a sin bin for bigger yo-yo clubs like WBA, Boro and Sunderland to recuperate and re-finance, or to enable other Prem cash clubs, like NUFC, who make the odd faux-pas to rebound quickly.

NUFC did get stuck in the old 2nd Division for a long time in the late 70s, 80s and early 90s, and we were utter rubbish for most of that period. 15 seasons in all, of which 10 were in the second tier. I remember seeing Brighton win promotion to the old 1st Division at St James' Park in front of a poor crowd (typically 16.000 to 19,000 of hardcore support that season) in a derelict stadium, and that day it really brought it home just how far we had fallen. Indeed, we almost slipped into the 3rd Division in 1992 before KK arrived and John Hall poured money in. Glory days indeed, eh?

So our self delusion remains, as this article proves, and I'm sure many fans believe we will be up at the top end of the Prem, so-much-so when reality hits and we are in the bottom half by November they'll be calling for our manager's head (again). And let's not also forget without Mike Ashley's millions getting us out of trouble in the January transfer window we could easily have slipped up as we frittered away a 12 point lead. Not that many Toon fans will admit it!

I'm pleased we have been promoted quickly, mainly thanks to Chris Hughton, but I can't help feeling on reading this article it's been too damned quick and we haven't learned the lesson that got us into the relegation pickle to start with.

Good luck in the future, mate, and I'm sorry for the arrogant crap spouted in this article. There are still those among us who don't take our passports to away games.

Trev Day said:

Spotlight, you have restored my faith in the 'Toon Army' :-) Good Luck next season.

Scoobytoon said:

I agree spotlight kid what a load of arrogrant dross I will be pleased just to see us survive next season never mind top half finishes or europe .I thought the hurt of the toon going down last season would make us fans a bit more humble but it's obvious there are still some fans with their heads stuck up in the clouds. I'm affraid some of them will all come back down to earth with a massive thud once we start getting our custom hammerings at Anfeild,Emirates,Old Trafford etc. The glory days of europe are gone and this is the real world where teams will beat us badly if we play poorly home or away.

Ginola said:

Well said Spotlight Kid.
Well said.

Relton said:

"Well who would have thought that the gruelling 818 round mile trip to Plymouth's Home Park would be the away day in which Newcastle United clinched the title?"

Hold on - havent we still got to win or even (heaven forbid) draw this game ????? Did I mess something ????? Are Plymouth not turning up tonight? Their team bicycle got a puncture preventing them from cycling in to the ground?

Lets hope the tea and prawn sarnies meet the standards you crave of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea !!!!! Lets also hope (after reading this article) we dont lose - giving Dennis further ammo for firing at us narcisists.

Relton said:

"Well who would have thought that the gruelling 818 round mile trip to Plymouth's Home Park would be the away day in which Newcastle United clinched the title?"

Hold on - havent we still got to win or even (heaven forbid) draw this game ????? Did I miss something ????? Are Plymouth not turning up tonight? Their team bicycle got a puncture preventing them from cycling in to the ground?

Lets hope the tea and prawn sarnies meet the standards you crave of Arsenal, Manchester United and Chelsea !!!!! Lets also hope (after reading this article) we dont lose - giving Dennis further ammo for firing at us narcisists.

Eldorado Argentina said:

Humility: CH, BR, JM beacons of hope in a troubled world.

djc said:

Why does Lee Ryder constantly reminisce about "The good Old Days " We could all do that, I could tell you about the night as a 7 year old I saw the toon win the texaco cup after extra time against Burnley in 1974, or even going to Tranmere and losing 4-3 when Ossie was manager . Let's treat the other teams in the league with the respect they deserve . Under KK when we behaved with dignity and humility we were everybody's second team . If we have journalists associated with the toon spouting this sort of article then we are always going to be the target of ridicule at every opportunity . Lee you need to learn that we can win with dignity and good grace in the same way we should accept defeat . We might be bubbling inside or distraught depending on the result , but do we need to behave like your article would suggest . Have respect and behave with good grace . Treat the other's with decency because if we do suffer next season you're teeing us up to get another pasting from all and sundry . If you genuinely can't write a decent article with some constructive comment and foresight then please leave it to those who clearly understand the game far better . I would be interested to hear what your previous playing experience is.

Ryder's reply: Sorry you don't like the article but it's just my opinion from my viewpoint and it just happens you don't agree.
Re your comment of the Tranmere game, I think you'll find we lost 3-2 that day.

Tad Caster said:

Graceful in defeat; humble in victory. Give it a shot, Lee. Save the boasts for the pub.

Bill Lumley said:

Too right. Excellent response by Plymouth.

Let's look forward to the Prem now.

djc said:

Lee you could be right about the result at Prenton Park , with my father being a scouser I had to endure the afternoon in the Tranmere end , but anyhow , the more important point I and a number of others were trying to make was , We're going up, let's conduct ourselves with a bit of class , as Sir Bobby would have done. He was everything that was right about football and we should behave in the manner he would have wanted his club to . Let's show how much we loved him by taking on his spirit. I thought the Argyle gesture before the match was fantastic and showed the type of true football people there are in the game . Don't forget when we go up , there will be a few teams who really don't know about humility and dignity .

Relton said:

Well Done Plymouth - see you next year (maybe).
It saddens me to think that I cannot imagine a similar banner been unfurled at the Gallowgate End before a match that sealed our own relegation hosting prospective champions?
PS Did you try the Chinese that Dennis recomended ?

Ryder's reply: Yes you make a good point Relton.
I didn't get round to the Chinese but as I say Plymouth is a really nice place and the people could not have made us more welcome.
Started at the gate at the car park and went on until we left the stadium.

Chris Gray said:

Dignity and humility are great words, and by and large the days when those virtues will bring rewards haven’t quite gone. Bobby Robson and Roy Hodgson are two excellent examples. Good men who worked in a number of countries and learned how to take the rough with the smooth without resorting to blaming referees when they lost. I remember Hodgson when he pulled off the amazing escape the season before last being interviewed within minutes of the final whistle – his first words were of sympathy for the clubs who had been relegated. Remember Bobby Robson when England lost on penalties to Germany – clicking his fingers in an old-fashioned gesture of disappointment, but nevertheless with a rueful smile on his face, and very gracious to the Germans. These are the people who will be successful in the long term, over many seasons, with several clubs and in a number of countries. Tough when they need to be – Bobby Robson was much tougher, and at times nastier than most people realise and would ever allow now that he has been canonised, and I’m sure Hodgson doesn’t suffer fools gladly - but gracious and dignified with it. Qualities which the game is losing. Instead of the Robsons and Hodgsons we are now faced with Ferguson, Wenger and Benitez. Need I say more? Sadly they have lost all credibility – can’t they see how ridiculous they are when every ref’s decision that goes in their favour is fine but every decision that goes against them is a disgrace? Hopefully the next generation of younger managers will be a little better, but I have my doubts.

Hughton is in the right mould in some ways – although having only lost once as permanent manager he hasn’t had too many opportunities to lose graciously. I say we’re better off with him than some big-time, short-term, glory-hunting prima donna.

I wasn’t at Plymouth but what they did sounds excellent. Not many clubs would have done that. Let’s hope they do what Mariner is aiming at – Premiership within the next few years.

Newcastle supporters need now to be gracious and humble. That’s what Sir Bobby would have wanted (did I really just write that?). We’ll have plenty to be humble about next season, I suspect.

I too was at the Burnley Texaco Cup game in 1974. Moncur scored the winner – he (virtually) only ever scored in cup finals. I was also at the Brighton game mentioned above – I will never forget Alan Mullery cavorting all over the pitch like David Pleat when Brighton won. I wasn’t, however, at Tranmere. Thankfully.

Lee – I think you made it very plain that your article was your opinion – why are they all having a go at you?

Ryder's reply: Some good points there about the gaffers and well put.
I don't think they all are having a go.
Some are and some aren't and the web allows people to say what they wouldn't say to people in a traditional social scenario.
I think football is such a passionate part of life that it provokes a lot of strong discussion and at times some vicious discussion.
Writing this blog and writing about NUFC is a pleasure Chris, especially nights like last night.
It's certainly not the time for having petty squabbles, time to enjoy the moment.

Stonesy said:

Lee, I believe I was at a 3-2 home defeat by Tranmere but I think you will find it is a bit rich trying to score points over the exact score of a game 18 years ago when you couldn't even be bothered to check the present day league table before claiming Blackpool were in a play-off place prior to the recent match at St James's.

Stonesy said:

Anyway, you're right - let's enjoy the moment. And, along with evryone else, I think the reception from Plymouth was top class. Cheers.


Lee Ryder

Lee Ryder - Proudly born and bred on Tyneside, the Chronicle's chief sports writer has followed the fortunes of the club over the last three decades as a Toon fan and football writer.

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