New Italian Magpie
Click for bigger imageSome of you will know of Massimo from Italy. Some will have met/seen him and his lovely wife Barbara in Wetherspoons, but probably most of you will have no idea who he is. Well he lives in Bergamo (handy for easyJet flights to home games!), he's been mad about the Toon for a few years now, and he's even got his own web-site that's got some excellent photos on it, especially of the Champions League games at Juve and Inter. Anyway, Barbara gave birth to little Aurora recently, This is what Massimo had to say about things in an email to Tom:
Hi Mate,
How are you ? Hope all you are well.

Last April 25th was born Aurora , my daughter (I attach  some photos). My wife and she are both well.
Nufc season's ended well, Roeder done a very good job and I think that he's a proper manager for the next season because he knows very well the young player and he can promoted some into 1st team. If Souness had been sacked before February we would have gone to Uefa Cup.

I would like to organize a friendly football game next year between your supporters club and mine. It would be fantastic to also involve a club of Newcastle and play a triangular tournament. (Yorkshire Mags vs Italian Mags vs Newcastle Mags). What do you think? Speak about it with your lads and extend to Newcastle Club at Newcastle (if you know one).

Hope to see you and all lads soon.

Bye, takecare


Incidentally, for the benefit of our female readers, you can see a much bigger photo of little Aurora if you click on the pic above.
Bore draw
The draw at St Andrews draw was no use to either ourselves or Birmingham. Three points for us would have put pressure on Blackburn before their game against Blackburn and would have given us a great chance of holding of Bolton for seventh spot, but in all honesty we never looked like winning. Ok, we could easily have scored when Titus surged forward near the end, but that would have been tough on Birmingham who had more than matched us over the 90 minutes.

Brendan's day didn't start very well. He got to the Central at 5 past 7 in plenty of time to catch the 7.24 train only to find that it had been re-timed to 10 to 7! So instead he had to get the 7.40, which just happened to be the train that which the rest of us were catching further down the line. To make matters worse for Bren, the 7.40 then didn't leave the Toon until 5 past 8. The train managed to make up a few minutes by the time it got to Leeds, but then lost it again when it stopped just outside the station for no apparent reason. When it did finally pull onto the platform we wasted no time in finding Brendan's party. But no sooner had we sat ourselves down than Liz the 'Train Manager' turned up with a member of the Transport Police, who she informed that "him with the spikey hair" (Brendano in other words) had been giving her a load of grief on the way down from the Toon. "Right, you two, off!" Mr Plod said, meaning Brendan and Cramlington Paul. Quite why he picked on Paul wasn't clear, other than that he also has spikey hair, because it was generally agreed that he hadn't done anything wrong. And Liz then decided that she actually only wanted Brendan to get a bollocking rather than chucked off. Well not unless he misbehaved again anyway. I'm not sure what was behind all this carry-on. It was something to do with Liz warning the lads that they were sitting in reserved seats (even though the reservation system wasn't working) and would have to move. Brendan then pointed out that he wouldn't have been sat there at all if his train (which he had a reserved seat on!) had left when it was supposed to. I suppose it didn't help his case that:
- there was a mountain of beer bottles on the table in front of him
- they were sitting in the Quiet Coach, which is of course a contradiction in terms where Brendan's concerned
Anyway, there were no further problems with Liz the rest of the way down to New Street, even though the Quiet Coach became very much the Noisy Coach once the cards came out.

Arriving in Birmingham half an hour's drinking time late we headed straight next door to the Newt. Well most of us did anyway. Gordano and Paul preferred the long hike to Wetherspoon's "because it's cheaper". A couple of pints later we jumped in a taxi to the Brighton WMC near the ground, where we'd arranged to meet up with the Birmingham fans we met travelling to and from the home game against them this season. The only problem was that they don't drink there any more! Fortunately they were just over the road in Bordesley Labour Club. A couple of hours' good crack ensued, and then it was time to stroll to the ground in the sunshine.

Once inside the ground it was clear that the Toon fans were really up for it. However, the longer the game went on the more obvious it became that we unlikely to get the win that we needed. And so the Toon fans resorted to winding up the Birmingham fans about going down, especially when news filtered through about Portsmouth's goals at Wigan. Naturally this didn't go down very well with the locals! Apparently things got a bit heated after the game, but I didn't see anything myself and in fact the walk back to New Street was surprisingly hassle-free.

While most of us were stocking up with beer for the train back, Stevie Round had other ideas. I thought he'd given up on Sushi after hearing the horror stories about what eating it can do to your brain, but apparently not. So there he was on the train with a tray of raw fish and some cans of Pymms! He'll be getting football fans in general, and Toon fans in particular, a bad name. The journey back was fairly uneventful - no run-ins with Train Managers, no warnings from Transport Police. We had a few games of Chase the Ace, but they were a quiet few games because Brendan was in the next carriage. And so that's the end of our away trip adventures for another season.

It's a funny old game
Don't anyone that wasn't at the West Brom game get fooled by the scoreline. For the second game in a row we won by three goals despite playing poorly. At the SOS we won through a combination of good fortune and them falling apart after we equalised. Against West Brom it was down to the opposition being very, very poor. You usually find that teams in their position have a real go. But in the first half they showed absolutely no ambition.  Even after they went behind there was no visible change. Bryan Robson obviously wasn't happy though, hence the three half-time substitutions. The Baggies were slightly better in the second half, but still hardly threatened our goal.

I haven't got a clue who "the guests of Collingwood Insurance" were, but they must have known a bit about football. They picked Craig Moore as Man of the Match even though it's virtually unheard of for a defender to get chosen unless he's done something really exceptional. Moore on the other hand just went about his job without any fuss, and he fully deserved the award. Mind, him winning it is probably also a reflection on how bad most of the rest of the team were!

Paul's new top

It's the Sun this week

No comment required
(click on pic for larger image)

"We'll Meet Again...."
We might have been singing this to the Mackems, but I for one hope we never have to play them again. I don't ever look forward to derby games, and I hate having to go over to their place. So it'll suit me down to the ground if they never get promoted again. And preferably they'll drop down to the third division, or whatever contrived name they have for it nowadays, so that there's a safe gap between us.

Having said that I don't like playing them, I'm usually very confident about away games against the Mackems, due largely to the fact that it's so long since we lost over there. But I wasn't at all confident today. I knew that they'd really be up for it, and I fancied that we might not be. And so it turned out. Normally when we play at their place it's us that sets off playing all the football and S********d that look totally at sea. Well this time it was the other way round. Throughout the first half we created nothing going forward, and were pretty much all over the place at the back. At half-time everyone agreed that we could only improve in the second half, but we didn't. Our equaliser came from nowhere, but it's effect was to totally flatten the Mackems. And the rest is history. It goes without saying that Chops and Lucky getting their first goals (well, first Premiership goal in Chopra's case) can only do the pair of them a power of good.

Fighting my way through the S********d fans
hanging around the Toon turnstiles

"You couldn't sell all your tickets"

The "Murray In" campaign gathers momentum

"Sunlun till I die" my @rse - near empty home sections

Blart, not art
Shola's sudden goal spree means that we've still got a chance of finishing seventh, which wouThe win against Wigan keeps us in with a shout of finishing seventh. If this isn't good enough for a UEFA Cup spot, it will certainly get us into the Intertoto. And the way the Intertoto is this year it should then be a formality to progress to the UEFA 2nd qualifying round, where as a seeded team it should again be a formality that we get through that tie and into the first round proper.

Next up is the small matter of a game against our recently relegated friends from down the road. It's a game we can't really afford to lose. And not because we need the points!

Incidentally, Laura Cook's doing the Race for Life on May 17th. If anyone wants to they can sponsor her on-line here. It's for Cancer Research by the way.

Saturday's Chronicle features our very own
Aaarrroooonna on the front page

And so to the heading. Is that the Times Art
supplement that Keith's studying so closely?
Erm no, it's actually the Sport.

Goal-a-game Shola
Shola's sudden goal spree means that we've still got a chance of finishing seventh, which would be something of a miracle considering where we were when Souness left. I haven't got a clue whether it's technically possible to sneak into the UEFA Cup with seventh place, and I'm not going to look into it. I'll worry about it when/if it happens.

I didn't go to Boro, mainly because of the train chaos. It sounds like it wasn't much of a game, but obviously I don't really know, especially because I'm having to write this before I've seen whatever highlights they decide to show on MOTD 2.  If someone who went to the game wants to fill us in on what the day/match was like then they can post something on the message board. In the meantime I'm off to watch some of the golf!

Well I've now seen the highlights. But then so have you. If not you'll have read the reports. If you weren't actually there in person of course. In any case you'll know that we were all over Boro until Roeder in his wisdom decided to replace Solano with Dyer. Why do managers insist on over-complicating things! If we're two-nil up and comfortable, why not leave things as they are? There's a lot of truth in the old saying "If it ain't broke.....".

Conspiracy theory

Most Saturday's when I set off for the match I do a quick mental check to make sure I've got the essentials:
Train ticket - check
Match ticket - check
Money - check
It was slightly different setting off for Villa though - I'd given my ticket application to Brendano and so my match ticket had got posted to him. More about this later!

Most of the Yorkshire Mags caught the 10 past 9 train down. I ended up catching the 10 past 10 because I had a few things to do first. A pleasant surprise was that neither train had the expected squad of burberry clad Leeds fans travelling down to Derby. On arrival at New Street I made a bee-line for the Newt next door (well, sort of) to the station. Once there I discovered that the rest of the lads had decided to go elsewhere, I guessed to the Cap and Gown next to the ground. As I was sinking my first pint I started to wonder whether it was Brendan or Steve-the-away-ticket-manager that actually had my ticket. So I sent Stevie a text to find out. His reply was "You've got it". He was obviously winding me up, so I replied straight back "I think not!". A couple of minutes later my phone rang. It was Stevie saying that he'd given me the ticket in Wetherspoons before the Portsmouth game. I told him that he hadn't. All of a sudden Steve didn't seem very sure whether he had or not, but then he did a process of elimination, working out what he'd done with each of the tickets Brendan had given him, and he concluded that he must have given me one. He even knew which seat it must be for - row H seat 146. Well if he had given me a ticket then I had absolutely no recollection of it. Anyway, the bottom line was that I didn't have a ticket for the match. I told Steve that I'd go to the ticket office and tell them I'd left my ticket in the house and see if they'd give me a replacement. But not before I'd had a couple more pints obviously. About 10 minutes later my phone went again. It was Round Boy again, to tell me that he'd managed to procure another ticket from somewhere. What a star! This of course meant having to fork out another 28 quid, but that seemed a better option than having to deal with some jobsworth at the ticket office.

While all this had been going on I'd been joined in the pub by Paul Kemp and Dave McConnell. They'd travelled down via Manchester and had got to New Street around the same time as me. It had taken them much longer to get to the pub though! We agreed that we'd stay in the Newt and get the last train to the ground, expecting to be able to watch the Wigan-Liverpool game. Despite having more big screens than any other pub in the world they obviously hadn't forked out their Premiership Plus though, cos there was no match on. I can't say I was that bothered about Wigan-Liverpool anyway. Speaking of Liverpool, while we were in the Newt I heard the news that Big Issue had been told by his doctor to keep off the drink for a month to give his liver a break. This didn't come as a big surprise. What was a shock though was hearing that he was actually taking the doc's advice and was on soft drinks.

Twenty past two arrived before we knew it and off we went to catch the train to Witton. And before much later we were passing the Cap and Gown, just as the rest of the lads were coming out and so I was able to get my ticket from Steve.

The Toon fans were on good form inside the ground. Apart from people being buoyed by last week's win, it helps that everyone's pulling together now. And it wasn't long before Shola stuck the first goal in and we were going mental. One of our lot managed to fall over the seat in front and smashed the back of it. I'm not saying who it was though cos he's a canny lad and sorted out my ticket. Villa's equaliser was totally against the run of play, but it didn't knock us out of our stride. We totally dominated the rest of the first half and looked dangerous every time we went forward. Nobby was back to his best, and Shola was playing like a footballer and causing Villa's defence all sorts of problems. Our second goal was no more than we deserved. Cue more wild celebrations , and more broken seat backs.

The second half was a bit of a contrast. My initial reaction when Baros went down for the penalty was that he'd dived. Having seen it again I'm convinced he did. The penalty was saved of course, but Baba's sending-off meant that the rest of the game was backs-to-the-wall stuff. Not what you want when you've got centre backs like Boumsong and Bramble. They both had their moments but on this occasion got away with them. At the other end of the pitch Emre had a blinder and ran himself into the ground. The end of the game seemed like it would never arrive, but it did and triggered yet more wild celebrations on and off the pitch.

The journey back was fairly jolly, but also fairly uneventful. The train was busy and so we couldn't get seats together, hence no cards. A few iffy looking Leeds fans got on at Derby, but we didn't have any problems with them.

As soon as I got in the house I started hunting for the elusive match ticket. I thought that what had probably happened was that when Steve gave me it I'd put it inside my season ticket and forgotten to take it out when I got home. But no, there wasn't a Villa ticket inside my season ticket. The only other place I could think to look was in bin in my bedroom. Not the place you'd expect to find a match ticket, but that's exactly what I did find at the bottom. Now it's clearly inconceivable that I'd shoved the ticket in my pocket, and then chucked it in the bin when I emptied my pockets of used train tickets and other junk when I got home. Therefore the only logical explanation is that it must have been planted there by the CIA. Well that's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Something you don't
see very often!



A team effort

Sorry BBC

The Beeb were absolutely desperate for us to give them another Hereford, but it didn't happen. As it says on, about the best that you could say about the win against Cheltenham was that it was "efficient". It was though a more convincing performance than against Mansfield in the previous round. In fact, I'd go so far as to say it would have been a pretty comfortable afternoon if it hadn't have been for Boumsong having yet another nightmare. Les Ferdinand said at the end that Cheltenham were unfortunate and that "Newcastle were second best to Cheltenham for most of the game". Les should stick to playing football and not talking about it because this is quite frankly bollocks. Other than the first 15 minutes or so of each half we controlled the game. Ok, we weren't playing that well or creating very much, but we dominated the possession and Cheltenham didn't look capable of scoring, even with the best efforts of Mike Riley to assist them (awarding them corners and fouls that weren't, and turning a blind eye to the blatant foul in the area on Ramage).

For various reasons I didn't actually go down to Cheltenham myself. As I write I've got no idea how the trip went for the many Yorkshire Mags who did go. I'm sure I'll hear a few stories next Saturday in Spoons though! One benefit of spending Saturday at home is that I've managed to catch up on quite a few things - there's now a table for the new Predictions competition on the site, plus there's Travel info for Villa.

Changing the subject completely, Dave Bailey informs me that he's got a load of tokens from the Chronicle that can be used to get returns from York to the Toon for a tenner with GNER. If you're interested and haven't got contact details for him then let me know and I'll give you his mobile number or email address.

Fulham 1  Toon 0

'Anon' of the message board isn't going to like this report one bit, but it's simply impossible to write about the Fulham trip without mentioning trains.

There were seven Yorkshire Mags (the Wilson boys, Paul McK, Steady, Round Boy, big Ian Max, plus myself), not to mention two potential members (Ian and Mark, two Geordie teachers from Holmfirth) booked on the 8.15 from Leeds to Kings Cross. The Huddersfield/Holmfirth lot though had decided to join the train at Wakefield, seeing as how it's nearer to where they live than Leeds. Sounds reasonable. Except that the train doesn't actually stop at Wakefield. We spotted this while we were waiting in Leeds. We immediately phoned Stevie Round to tell him that they'd have to jump on the 8.05 from Leeds to Kings Cross, which does stop at Wakey, and meet up with us at Doncaster. Then someone spotted that the 8.05 doesn't stop at Donny! This is where they had a bit of a break though. Ian had driven the four of them to the station and his car was parked outside. So they jumped in the car and Ian put his foot to the floor (by all accounts he might just have exceeded the speed limit once or twice) and they just managed to make it to Doncaster and get parked up and into the station by the time our train pulled into the platform. I'm not sure they would have made it if we hadn't been running a few minutes late mind.

We were about 15 minutes late when we eventually got to Kings Cross, so we wasted no time heading down to the tube. Our normal route for getting to Chelsea or Fulham is Piccadilly Line to Earls Court, then District Line. However I'd heard that the service was better if you got the Victoria Line to Victoria and changed to the District Line there, so I decided to conduct a scientific experiment. While everyone else piled down the escalator to the Piccadilly Line, I headed down to the Victoria Line. Forty minutes later I walked into the Eight Bells at Putney Bridge wondering if the rest of the lads were already there. But no, I was first. Half a pint later there was still no sign of them and I started to wonder if I'd got the wrong pub. A quick phone call to Brendan told me that they were still on the tube! There were engineering works on the Piccadilly Line so they'd had to get off somewhere and catch another tube to Victoria, losing loads of time in the process. So much for my scientific research then!

If I've been in the Eight Bells before it was at least 20 years ago and I can't remember anything about it. It's the natural place to head for anyone arriving by tube, and I was expecting it to be absolutely heaving and not very pleasant towards kick-off. It did get busy, but not seriously so (probably cos loads of people spilled out onto the street), and you never had a problem getting served. All in all a canny little pre-match pub and very friendly.

This was my first visit to the revamped Craven Cottage and it's definitely a lot better for away fans, even if the new stand has a bit (ok a lot) of a temporary feel to it. The atmosphere in our end was better than you often get at London games, with the Toon fans in good voice and spirit considering what was happening out on the pitch. I sent a text to someone after half an hour saying "Without doubt one of the worst games I've seen in my life". It was that bad. We were garbage, Fulham were little or no better. I'm not sure what our formation was. When I'd seen the team I assumed that Luque would be playing up front with Shearer. But it looked like he was playing wide left, part of a 5 man midfield, with Shearer on his own up front and getting nowhere. You thought that things surely couldn't get any worse in the second half, and to be fair we did come out showing a lot more urgency and looking like we wanted to win the game. It doesn't help though when you can't take a decent corner. Luque took a couple right in front of the Toon fans and failed miserably to get the ball into the right area. Nobby took over and did no better. We looked loads brighter when Chopra came on - pace and movement up front, now that's an idea! We improved again when O'Brien replaced a very disappointing N'Zogbia. But by then it was too late because Fulham had already sneaked a goal against the run of play, and of course when we go behind away from home we can't score. Our last chance was a free-kick just outside the box that was the ideal spot for a left-footer. But we didn't have any left on the pitch by this time so Nobby took it and put it over the bar.

For a change we didn't have any travel problems on the way back. The East Coast main line was shut between Stevenage and Peterborough because of engineering work and there was a replacement bus service. We'd therefore booked to come back with Midland Mainline on the 18.25 from St Pancras. We all made it back from the match in plenty of time and stocked up with food and beer (or wine in a couple of cases). Midland Mainline trains take for ever to get to Leeds which meant lots of cards on the journey, and as is traditional Steady managed to lose quite a bit of money in the last few hands between Wakey and Leeds when trying desperately to recoup his earlier losses.

Irons 2  Toon 4

A good result on my first trip down to the smoke this season. A draw would probably have been fairer, but since when was life fair!

Apologies in advance by the way to anyone who hates me writing detailed accounts of train journeys, but I'm afraid it's simply unavoidable on this occasion.

There was a big group of us booked on the 5 past 8 train from Leeds. I kept an eye out for Leeds Burberry types headed for Wolves on my way through the station, but fortunately they didn't seem to be in evidence. Once on the train I met up with Tom, Jude and Nicky who were not only going to the game but making a full weekend of it - Foo Fighters on Saturday night, other activities on Sunday, then coming back on Monday. As we were waiting for the train to leave Tom spotted Laura Cook walking along the platform, bizarrely looking like she'd just got off the train. A quick text to Laura and Tom had an explanation. Laura and a pal were catching the 8.15 to London to go shopping. They'd briefly got on our train before realising it was the wrong one. "What you get when you put two blondes together" as Laura put it.

The train was very quiet as we pulled out of Leeds. But that was because the rest of our lot weren't getting on until Wakefield. Things soon changed once the Doc, Paul McK, Ian Maxted, Round Boy, and Round Boy's West Ham supporting brother-in-law joined us. It only took us a few seconds to work out that Stevie had been celebrating the end of term in a big way. He was clearly still half-p*ssed from Friday night, and he was soon topping up on 7.5% cider. Chase the Ace naturally ensued. Stevie insisted on demonstrating his famous "Birtley shuffle" to us and anyone else within half a carriage at every opportunity. Yes Steve, we have seen it before. Once he was out of the game he started chatting up Penny the hippy who had the misfortune to be sitting opposite him. For some reason she found it hard to believe that he was not only a teacher but head of department. Eventually his pestering got to her and she snapped. "Will you please stop spitting in my face and respect my space!" was the gist of her outburst. Stevie went very quiet and apologetic. In an effort to get back in her good books he said to her as nicely and as quietly as he could "I'm not trying to chat you up or anything, but would you like a Satsuma?". This bought the house down.

Arriving at a freezing cold Kings Cross at quarter past 10 we headed over the road for a couple of pints in the Dolphin, before setting off over to the Duke of Edinburgh by the ground, picking up Maggie off her train en-route. I was surprised to find JT in the Duke of Edinburgh before us as I didn't know he was down for the game. I wasn't surprised though to find out that he was on a corporate freebie. He therefore soon left us. About an hour later he phoned to tell me that the kick-off had been put back to half 3. I told the rest of our lot, but they all thought it was wind-up. Eventually though it was obviously right because everyone in the pub knew about it. While this gave us a bit more drinking time, we were a bit concerned about making it back in time for our trains - Maggie was on the 18.25 to Sheffield, and the rest of us were on the half 6. Our Paul had no chance of making the 6 o'clock to the Toon unless he left just after half-time. There were of course plenty of later trains, but the problem we had was that our cheap tickets weren't valid on any of them!

When we finally made to to the ground the police strangely decided that Stevie wasn't in a fit state to be allowed in. However, after someone had taken him for a walk round the block they relented. It didn't make much difference really though as he apparently slept through most of the game.

Myself and Maggie had agreed that we'd leave just before the end of the game so that we could get to to the tube station ahead of most of the rush. I thought that going bang on 90 minutes was as late as we dared leave it. I couldn't believe it when they announced 4 minutes added time though - the only delays had been three substitutions. Getting to the station at about half 5 gave us loads of time to get back to Kings Cross. We joined what should have been a fast-moving queue to find that it wasn't in fact moving at all. I've no idea what the problem was, but we didn't move for 15 minutes. Then just as we'd given up on making our trains we did finally start to move forward. As we were going down the stairs to the platform a train pulled out. No! But there was another one right behind it. How long will it be before it fill up and sets off though? The answer was about 2 minutes because they'd again for some reason stopped people from entering the station and our train pulled out 75% empty. It was now about 5 to 6. Maggie's train wasn't looking good, but the half 6 was still possible if we got a good connection at Aldgate East. We didn't though - we had to wait best part of 10 minutes. Not good. We still had 13 minutes though and it was just about possible. But then the train stopped straight after we left Aldgate East and it was 3 minutes before it set off again. So that was it. It was exactly half 6 when we finally pulled into Kings Cross. We raced upstairs to the station just in case the train hadn't left on time, but of course it had. We then checked Maggie's at St Pancras, but that had also gone.

We checked out the options. Maggie's next train was 25 past 7 and she decided to go for that rather than catching a train to Doncaster and changing there. The next (and last) Leeds train wasn't until 8 o'clock. There were a few Newcastle trains before that, but they were checking tickets for those trains before you got on and I somehow couldn't see them letting me on with a Leeds ticket. So the 8 o'clock it would have to be! I'd surely be in good company though because I knew that the rest of our lot had been behind me and Maggie at the tube station and so would have missed the half 6 train by miles. But then I found out that when they'd seen the queue for the tube they'd kept on walking to the next station down the line and had in fact only just missed the half 6. They'd then noticed that there was a train to Hull at 18.40 and had jumped on that. And they even managed to blag their way through a ticket inspection on the train even though they had tickets for a completely different train company. But then their train broke down, and that's the last I heard from them.

I had a couple in the station bar in Kings Cross while I waited for the train. While there I received a text from Paul McK informing me that he was also catching the 8 o'clock, but that he was killing time in the much more salubrious Flying Scotsman. JT staggered into the bar totally wrecked as I was on my second pint. As usual he'd taken full advantage of the free drinks at the ground and there'd never been any danger of him leaving early to catch the half 6. I left him in the bar as I went off in search of food and beer for the train. Once stocked up I headed for the train, but then as I started walking down the platform I saw to my amazement that there was a line of ticket checkers across the platform. It was impossible to get on the train without going through them, so I thought I'd try bluffing my way past. If they noticed that my ticket was for the half 6 I'd explain about the fatal accident that caused the kick-off to be put back, about leaving the match early to supposedly make sure I caught the half 6, and about the problems with the tubes. Sure enough, I got pulled up and was referred to the woman who was obviously running the show. She informed me that it I would have to pay an extra 77 quid on the train, but if I went to the ticket office and sorted it out before getting on it would be a bit less. I tried to explain about the sequence of events that had resulted in me having to catch the wrong train, but she didn't want to know. In fact, I'm absolutely convinced that they were carrying out the ticket check precisely because they knew the kick-off had been late and that people might have missed the trains they were booked on. As I dejectedly turned around to head for the ticket office I bumped into Paul coming the other way. He was just on his way from the ticket office having forked out an extra 70 quid. I wasn't at all happy about having to pay that much, even though technically it was right. So what I did instead was to just buy a single to Peterborough (£21.60). I thought if I could just get on the train with that I might be able to avoid any ticket checks after Peterborough. I zipped up my fleece and put my hat on so that they might not recognise me at the ticket check and managed to sneak though without the woman in charge spotting me. So far so good! What I hadn't reckoned on though was the same woman being the guard on the train. Half-way to Peterborough she came through the train doing a head count, although she didn't spot me. Once we got past Peterborough I needed to keep an eye out for her doing a ticket check - if I saw her coming I was going to hide in the bog! Not long after Peterborough I stuck my head out to take a look down the train. Unfortunately I did it just as she was walking past my seat doing another head count. She cottoned on to me straight away and asked me if I'd bought another ticket. "Yes, but I'm going to need another one now as I only bought one to Peterborough". She informed me that I'd been "very naughty" as she walked off. I assumed that as soon as she finished her counting she'd be straight back for my money. However, Grantham came, then Newark, then Retford, and she didn't reappear. Eventually we reached Doncaster and I decided that it was time to be naughty again. I told Paul that if she came looking to tell her that I'd got off at Doncaster, then I walked a couple of carriages down and locked myself in the bog. Half an hour later we pulled into Leeds. Mission accomplished! Walking down the platform I actually passed her going the other way, but she obviously wasn't on the look-out for me.

All in all a good day. But as I said on the way back, I would have been well and truly p*ssed off if I'd have had all the hassle and extra expense of getting back AND we'd lost the match.

Oh yeah, Michael Owen scored a hat-trick. His first goal came after about 5 minutes. My recollection is that it was a good build-up. I got the impression that it wasn't the greatest finish ever, but I was a hundred yards away and I was near the front so I didn't have a great view. He got another one just before half-time from a Nobby free-kick. No-one realised at the time that it came off his shoulder because we were a hundred yards away and etc. Big Al scored the third right in front of the away end. I didn't know for definite it was in until the Toon fans started celebrating because I was to the side of the goal and low down and there were heads in the way. Just before the end Owen completed his hat-trick. Apparently it was a tap-in after we broke away when West Ham had a corner, but by this time I was half-way back to the tube station (see above).

Toon 1  Gooners 0

It wasn't pretty, but this was a result that we needed badly. As much as anything because it will have hopefully have gone way to  convincing the team and supporters that games against the 'big four' aren't a foregone conclusion. Realistically this isn't the Arsenal of a couple of years ago, but you wouldn't have known it the way people were talking beforehand. In the first half we showed them too much respect, but that all changed after the break when we basically didn't let them play. Obviously I preferred the way that we approached these games in the early Keegan days ("We don't care who you are or how good you're supposed to be, we're just going to out-football you"), but we simply haven't got the quality of player to do that now, even with everyone fit. So instead we have to adopt a more pragmatic approach .

These funny kick-off times really screw up your body clock. All day long I was having to check the time and then convert to "three o'clock equivalent" time. I picked a train that would get me to the Toon my normal three and half hours before kick-off, but it just didn't seem right to be setting off so late. I wondered I at one point if everyone else had gone up at the normal time and was making a full day of it (as we would have done if it had been an away game) and that I would be the last one there. The reality was almost the opposite. Gordano normally gets to the Toon at eleven, but on this occasion he didn't get there until two. And so when I wandered into a busy Spoons at quarter to two I found that there were no other Yorkshire Mags in the place. That soon changed though when Gary 2K and Norman turned up, and before long there was a decent group of us.

There were only two trains back south after the game. The last one at quarter to nine wouldn't get me home until about quarter past eleven, so I was really keen to catch the 19.40. I knew that there would be absolutely loads of people wanting to get the same train so I fairly raced down to the station from the ground. I did find time though to pick up a few essentials on the way - sarnies from me Mam, beer from the Mr Q's offie, and a Pink (my last chance ever to buy one). I arrived at the station at the same time as Alan and Tom and we joined the queue to get on the platform. Just as we got through the barrier a bloke that was counting heads said "That's it" and the barrier was closed. Perfect timing! As we waited on the platform Tom got a text from JT (who hadn't got through) saying something like "Do you think my reserved seat will be ok?". Tom had to break the news to him gently that he wasn't going to be getting on the train. The train came in, we squeezed on, people were stood all the way down the train, then we got to Durham and Darlo and most of them got off. It's ironic that JT missed out on getting our train. If it hadn't have been for his beloved Maggie we might still have a nationalised railway, in which case there would have been special trains after the game to Durham and Darlington, leaving the other trains for people travelling further afield.

Everton 1  Toon 0

I'm beginning to wonder why we ('we' meaning the team, not the supporters) bother to turn up for the games against the 'physical' teams like Bolton and Everton. It seems like we just haven't got the players to make a game of it. After Everton took the lead it was 25 minutes before we got anywhere near their goal, which just isn't good enough. A few other thoughts on the game:
- yes we should have had a pen, but overall the scoreline was a fair reflection
- Yobo leant on Ramage when he scored, but it probably wasn't enough to warrant a free kick; I'm more concerned about what Emre was doing on the post; it was nearly as pathetic as the Dyer tea-pot impression
- Luque had his best game so far after he came on; he was still shocking though; but I'll still give him a bit more time

A quick bit about George Best now. As I said on the message board, I thought it was wrong to have a minute's silence at all games for him. I can only ever recall it happening for a player once before, and that was Bobby Moore. And he was one player that did deserve it. There's no doubt that Best was a fantastic player, but when deciding if a someone's death merits a nationwide show of respect you have to consider things like:
- what he achieved in football
- what he did for football
- how he conducted himself in life
Best under-achieved in the first two and failed miserably in the latter. I'm sure that George himself had no regrets, but I bet that there are people around him that feel he wasted his football talent and his life. Not to mention someone else's life after he somehow managed to get a liver transplant when there must have been more deserving cases. Well that's what I think anyway!

Ferries' diary (part 1)

Yorkshire Mag and marathon runner Brian Ferries recently started a year's studying in Dortmund. Here are a few extracts from his diary. There's a distinct lack of mentions of beer considering that he's in the brewing capital of Germany. I suppose he must still be keeping in shape ready for his next marathon.

I've been in Germany for 5 days now and I'm still properly confused and disorientated. I've just registered at Uni but have no idea which modules I'm doing or anything. Once I'm registered and have signed my tenancy agreement I can then register my presence with the local authorities. Only then can I get a bank account. Besides that, Dortmund seems like a canny place. For the last couple of days there has been a proper German market selling snail soup, but I think that was only for the bank holiday. My room is ok. It was horrible when I first arrived but my parents helped me to clean and paint it and bought me a bed to go with my mattress. At the moment my number of friends and acquaintances in Dortmund stands at: 0. I hope when I start my lectures I can get it up to around 3 or 4. The Westfalenstadion is (sort of) on my way to Uni (which is about a 3.5 mile walk). It's well impressive. At the moment they're doing loads of construction work around it in prep for the world cup. Dortmund played Stuttgart on the weekend and the city centre was full of yellow and black shirt, scarves and flags. It was just like Newcastle on a matchday (which is canny incredible when you think that the stadium is a couple of miles away). Can't be bothered to type any more. I have too much to sort out.

I'm at Uni now. My first seminar was cancelled so don't start properly till tomorrow. I think I only do seminars and don't have any lectures which I think is definitely a better way to do it. I'm struggling to keep up with the Toon. I couldn't find the Wigan game (probably just as well) and watched Dortmund draw 3-3 with Kaiserslautern. I'm worried that I won't be able to find the Mackem game, but at worst I can listen to it in an internet cafe. At the minute I may have 1.4 friends: 0.2 friends = someone who I would briefly stop and talk to occasionally; I have 2 of these in the flats and I have just met a lass off my course in Leeds. She's an assistant at a school but I met her at the Uni where she comes for fun! She has made a circle of friends (or "crew") and said that I am welcome to join them in merriment.

Been to the cinema loads. Saw "Wallace und Gromit auf der Jagd nach dem Riesekaninchen" which, like all the others, is dubbed into German. Sometimes they're easy to understand and other times they're not. I bought a set of juggling balls determined that all the time I spend alone would help me to become a champion juggler (if you can get a champion juggler). However I can't even juggle one without dropping it, so we'll put that one down to experience. The building I'm in is pretty wierd. All the departments are spread out across campus with their own buildings and I'm based in one called "Others". In the name of sexual equality there is a women's toilet on every floor and a men's on the ground floor (which is fun since I'm on the third floor and I've just drank loads of Fanta)! I'm eating loads of pastries (not at the moment but in general).

There are 6 World Cup games in Dortmund and there will be some more in nearby Gelsenkirchen, should be well good. I think that I'll be finished Uni before the end of the World Cup. I know it sounds late but I get a two month break between February and April. I've been looking at pre-draw fixtures for World Cup and the group games in the area (Dortmund, Gelsenkirchen and Cologne) and 19 (inc. Germany) of the 32 teams are covered by the group games here. There is therefore a decent chance that England will be playing in the area. If anyone from the Yorkshire Mags plans to come to Germany for any of the games let me know if you need any help or advice with travel arrangements and hotels etc.

25/10 - Heja BVB!
This weekend I struggling unsuccessfully to find the Mackem game televised.  I therefore decided to listen to it on the BBC website. It cut out after 1 min saying that due to contractual reasons I couldn't listen to the broadcast. I therefore had to make do with Skysports videprinter telling me "78:09 Carr defensive throw-in. 78:23 Carr defensive throw-in. 79:03 Given goal kick". Although I felt better at knowing exactly what was happening it wasn't too enjoyable. Coincidentally though the Skysports website had - for that day only - a video of Albert's lob against Man U, which was enjoyable. I would have been distraught about missing the Mackem game if I didn't have the distraction of going to another game an hour afterwards. I went to the Westfalenstadion (a 20 min walk from my flat) to see Dortmund draw 1-1 with Hamburger SV. I've never been to a European away game so the biggest (ground capacity wise) I've seen is Man U v Newcastle. Although the Newcastle away fans are always a good laugh you can't help but feel that Old Trafford's impressive capacity is wasted on Man U fans. Anyway the home fans at Dortmund were a lot better and although there were 7,000 empty seats, there was still an attendance of 75,100. I was too late to get a ticket for the famous Südtribüne (the largest standing terrace in Europe) and was instead in the Südwestecke. I was overlooking the Südtribüne and it is well impressive! The fans (all standing) are squashed together all wearing yellow and black and there are dozens of huge flags and thousands of scarfs being waved before the game starts. It costs only €11 for a ticket in this section so I'm going to go the next chance I get. I tried to take some photos and a video with my phone but couldn't at all do it justice. Strangely they played "You'll Never Walk Alone", which I'm told has been adopted by just about every German club. It's such a shame that Dortmund aren't in Europe. They got knocked out of the Intertoto Cup the round before us. Therefore my hopes of seeing an English team play Dortmund or Newcastle playing in Germany, Holland or France (borders close by) were long gone before I departed England. At the end of November Schalke play host to PSV Eindhoven, which would be canny if Gelsenkirchen is easy to get to.

Besides football, Uni is going well. It's a bit slow but it's only the second week. I've only met 3 English people (the lass from Leeds and her 2 mates) but there are loads of Americans. The Exchange Student department is having a five-a-side tournament this weekend but no-one plays "soccer". "Can you body-check in soccer?" Most of the Americans are really sound and intelligent but some of them come out with daft things. There are loads of Russians, Poles and Czechs on my course and one American asked if I'd ever been to "Czechoslavania". "Is that near that country we invaded?"

It's been raining for about a week now. It's depressing. We play Grimsby tomorrow so I'm going with my (mini) English crew to Boomerang, the Australian bar to watch it. They have Broon on tap! On Thursday Goal! comes out here. The nearest cinema dubs films rather than subtitling which was just wrong when I saw Wallace and Gromit.

I haven't shaved my head or my face since I've been in Germany. Everytime I go for longer than a week without shaving I'm tempted to let it grow but I don't. I thought that for the first 2 months (since I won't be seeing any of my friends or family) I would let it grow so I can get it out of my system. I've just past the half way point and really want to shave as it's look awful and gets in the way of eating and drinking but I have nightmares of waking up clean-shaven. I don't want to give up now as it will make the last month of hairiness pointless. I'm planning on shaving a few days before I get back to England so that friends and family don't disown me.

The German exchange teacher in the League of Gentlemen comes from Duisberg which is in the region and the stereotype upon which that character is based is well-founded. There are loads of middle age blokes who act just like him. I hope you're all keeping well and looking forward to Halloween (which is a 2 day national holiday here!)

Yesterday I went to the Westfalenstadion to see Julio Cesar's farewell game.  It was well enjoyable! It was the Dortmund 1997 Champions League team against Julio Cesar and friends. As you'd expect from such a game there wasn't much passion shown by the players but there was some nice football and it finished 5-2 to JC and friends. Throughout the game they played faux Latino music and cheesy disco to keep everyone upbeat. There were only 35,000 there (in an 82,000 capacity) but most people were squashed into the Südtribüne where I was stood so it felt pretty lively. It didn't kick off until 6.15pm which meant most people were lashed. At one point, as an equivalent to "Stand up if you love the toon", everyone sat down on the floor as part of a chant. It was canny funny and a bit weird. It was the first time I've been in the famous Südtribüne and it was class. For the next home game I'm in a seat in the corner but for the game after that I'm in the Südtr. After that it's Bayern München when Steph's here so I'm going to do my best to get some standing places for that. It's so much better standing and it's half the price! It only cost me €7.50 for the game last night.

The Christmas market is (sort of) here. Different markets across the city centre keep appearing and disappearing but at the moment about 300 stalls run through the city making one long continuous market. I imagine this will probably stay put (or maybe even get bigger). There are hundreds of stalls selling souvenirs, food, confectionary. There are animals, tractors, rides. 20ft Christmas trees line main street but are overshadowed by the world's biggest Christmas tree which they have almost finished decorating. All we need now is snow. I hope everything's going well in Blighty. Good luck to anyone who's going to the game on the weekend.


(Ta to Everton Bob and Mike H for the pic)

Joe Jobsworth

The Birmingham match was so boring that I spent most of it mentally composing my letter to Virgin Trains complaining about the behaviour of Joe, the lunatic Scottish Train Manager ('guard' in old money) who we had the misfortune to encounter on the way up to the game. Apologies to those of you that have already heard the story by the way.

Myself, Stevie Round and Ian Maxted caught the 5 past 10 train from Leeds. There were quite a few Birmingham fans on it, and it was only four carriages long, so it was quite busy as it pulled out of Leeds. There were loads of people stood in the vestibules and down the aisles. But so many got off at York that most people that wanted a seat could find one after that. It filled up a bit at Darlo, then the usual hordes piled on at Durham. But even so it wasn't particularly busy. We were therefore amazed a couple of minutes later when the guard made an announcement saying that the train was 'dangerously crowded' and wouldn't be leaving Durham until the passengers that had got on there 'de-trained' (a new addition to the English language?). As you'd expect, this got nil response. A few minutes later he made another announcement basically saying the same thing. By now you knew that he was serious, and so a few people got off. A few minutes later he tried again, but no-one else de-trained. We'd now been sat in Durham for best part of quarter of an hour and tempers were starting to fray. Some passengers (including Round Boy) got off to confront Joe. Pointing out to him that the train had been more crowded between Leeds and York just washed off him. As did suggestions that he check people's tickets and throw off anyone that had got on at Durham. "That'll take too long." Ok, so let's just sit here all day instead then? There was a member of the station staff on the platform and he obviously wanted the train out the way, but he was ultimately powerless to do anything about it. He did though inform us that Joe's latest explanation was that "It's against rules to travel with passengers standing in the vestibules". Well excuse me but if that's the case:
- how come he didn't ask people to move into the carriages?
- how come it was ok between Leeds and Durham?
- I've been on literally hundreds of trains that were apparently breaking the rules

After another 10 minutes of nothing whatsoever happening someone somewhere decided that it was after all safe for us to complete our journey. But not before a whole trainload of people were delayed by 25 minutes, the train behind was held up, and no doubt loads of people missed connections at the Toon and Edinburgh. What a complete tosser.

It goes without saying of course that the 17.40 back after the game was absolutely chocka (so presumably the guard will be disciplined for breaking rules?). It was so full that one group of Birmingham fans couldn't physically get on it and had to wait for the 18.40. That's the train that me and Stevie Round caught, and we had great crack with that particular bunch of Brummies. There were a couple of them in their 40s who've been following their team for donkeys years, plus assorted kids. Adults and bairns all reckon that Newcastle is their top away game and couldn't say enough good things about us! And they made us promise to meet up with them when we go down to their place. I probably wasn't going to go myself due to the rip-off ticket price, but a promise is a promise......

The other highlight of the day was Big Issue's latest brush with the law. He'd broken his journey into loads of legs, taking advantage of Trainline's generous £5 off offer so that it would cost him next to nowt to get to the Toon, and so had a mountain of tickets. Unfortunately for him though the train he planned to get was cancelled, and the next one went a different route for which he didn't have the right tickets! As far as I can work out he had a disagreement with the guard, the police were called, and next thing you know he was marched off the train. I don't think he was actually charged with anything in the end, but at 12 o'clock he was still in custody and not looking like he was going to make the game. He did though, although I'm not sure how much of it he actually saw. He must have made up for lost pub time by drinking all the beer they had on board his train because he was looking very unsteady when I saw him inside the ground just before kick-off. And 10 minutes into the game he was still wandering round the front of the stand trying but failing miserably to find his seat.

Nice way to get to the game...

The anniversary of us getting knocked out of the UEFA Cup by Bastia back in 1977 occurred recently. So it seems like a good time to expand a bit on my non-attendance of the first leg over at their place, which I touched on a few weeks ago when I reminisced about my trip to Bohemians in the previous round.

Looking back now I find it hard to believe I considered for a second going to the away leg. I'd got back from Bohemians with less than a quid to my name, being on the dole after finishing Uni at the time. I started my first job a couple of weeks before the Bastia away game, but wasn't due to get paid until a month after it. Nevertheless, I was really tempted by take up the offer of a place in a car that a mate of mine Bob Henson was driving over. Now for anyone that doesn't know, even though the team plays in the French league, Bastia is actually in Corsica. Which is an island off the coast of Italy. No-one in their right mind would think of going to a game in Corsica by car of course, but Bob was a bit of lad, and I was a bit young and daft and thought it would be a laugh. But in the end I decided to give it a miss, mainly because I didn't dare ask for the time off work having only just started.

So come the night of the game I was sat in the house tuned into some obscure French radio station trying to work out how the game was going from the occasional short reports they had. About as much as I can remember is that we scored first, they scored two late on, and the reporter had big problems with his pronunciation of 'Barrowclough'!

The Bastia game was followed on the Saturday by a home game against Chelsea. I caught the train up to me Mam's on the Friday night after work. As I was making my way through Leeds station I happened to bump into another Toon fan who to live somewhere in Leeds at the time. "Hey, have you seen in the Mirror today about those Newcastle fans that drove to Bastia?", he asked me. I hadn't, so he proceeded to tell me the story. Apparently this car load of fans had got all to the way to the South of France but then didn't have enough money left to pay for the ferry over to Corsica, and so they'd pooled what they had left and one of them had put on his smartest gear and gone into a casino to try and win some money. He'd ended up winning enough for them to be able to hire a plane to get to the game!

I listened to this thinking surely it had to be Bob Henson's lot that he was telling me about. So next day I made my way to the Magpie for a few pre-match pints, and not long after I got there in walks Bob. "So was that you that was in the Mirror yesterday?" was not surprisingly how I greeted him. Sure enough it was, and he proceeded to furnish me with the full story. They'd had a few adventures on their way down through France, but had eventually ended up at Nice. Their real problem it turned out hadn't been lack of funds, but lack of time. They couldn't get a ferry that would get them to Corsica in time for the game. So Bob had gone to the casino specifically to try to win enough to hire a plane. And he had!

For the next week or so Bob was a bit of a national celebrity. As well as the newspaper stories he also made an appearance on Nationwide, which was more or less an institution in those days. I was fairly devastated at having missed out on the Bastia adventure and sorted out a seat in Bob's car if he was driving to the next round. Apparently Bastia hadn't looked that good in the first leg, and of course we'd scored "the vital away goal", and so we were confident of getting through. But Johnny Rep had other ideas. Me and Bob drifted apart over the years and I can't remember the last time I saw him, but it was an awful long time ago.

If you think this yarn's a bit far-fetched and/or my memory's playing tricks on me (and it wouldn't be the first time, let's face it), you can read for yourself a story I cut from one of the papers at the time. Or you could just ask our very own Gary 2K because he just happens to have been one of the people in Bob's car!!!


I really hate derby matches. They're ok afterwards when we've won mind. Obviously Shola must have read what I wrote about him after the Wigan game. Because not only did he score two goals* against the Mackems, but he also had far and away his best game in months and months. Perhaps I need to pen a few comments about Boumsong next... Everyone reading this will have seen the S********d game and will have their own view on events, but here's a few thoughts of mine anyway for what they're worth:
- the first half performance was for me the best we've played this season; I put this down to Emre and Solano, both quality players; there's no substitute for class Mr Robson
- S********d were a lot better than I expected them to be; in the past when we've played them they've had stronger squads on paper but have been pathetic, so you've got to give Mick McCarthy some credit (ok, you don't have to if you don't want to)
- Boumsong is getting embarrassing; hopefully it won't be too long before players are fit and we can 'rest' him
- ditto Shearer; except that he'll never get left out the team no matter what
- Ramage had a canny game; he did as well as anyone's done at left back all season
- Souness should get loads of flak for his substitutions; bringing on Faye for Emre says to S********d that we're just going to try to hang on to what we've got, which gives them an immediate lift; if they'd have equalised (and they were f**king close) I would have blamed GS entirely**

* Correction - I've just seen on that the second goal was apparently an own goal; but Shola was heavily involved
** Apparently Emre asked to be taken off; in that case we should have played out with ten men

Back to Bohs

These days Portsmouth is comfortably the furthest away trip that we have. It takes long enough to get there and back by car, Wednesday 28th September was 28 years to the day since we beat Bohemians 4-0 at St James' in the UEFA Cup. The same day, totally coincidentally, I paid a visit to Bohemians' ground. I was over in Dublin for work and had a bit of time to kill and thought I would have a walk up to Dalymount Park to see how it had changed since I was there in 1977. Well, I've got to say that it was nothing at all like I remembered it. Not because the ground's changed much (quite the opposite in fact), but because my memory of it is completely screwed up. In fact it's quite scary just how far out the way I remember it is. The outside of the ground and the surroundings were exactly as they would have been when I was there previously. Inside is a bit different - mainly a few seats bolted onto the terraces - but not much. If anything the ground's even more of a dump now than it was then.

There was great excitement when we qualified for Europe for the first time in about six years by beating Villa 3-2 in the last game of the previous season. I myself had never been to an away game in Europe and was looking forward to a nice trip to Germany or Holland. So it was a bit of an anti-climax being drawn against Bohemians. I wasn't even sure whether it really counted as abroad or not. In those days they even had the same money as us! The enthusiasm for our UEFA campaign was dampened generally by the start we had in the league that season. After beating Leeds at home on the opening day we went on the longest losing streak in the league in the club's history. It eventually stretched to ten games, and was five by the time we played the first leg in Dublin. Largely as a result of our league form there weren't that many Toon fans made the trip. Most that did go went with the club and caught the ferry from Liverpool to Dublin. I had a student railcard in those days and so jumped on the train to Holyhead and then took the ferry over to Dun Laoghaire. It was my 21st two days before the game and I'd asked everyone to give me money to pay for my trip.

My mother had warned me to be careful (as mothers always do!) because I was going to Ireland. I told her not to worry as I was going to Southern Ireland, not Northern Ireland which was where there were big problems at the time. Being young and naive I had absolutely no understanding of what was actually behind the problems in Northern Ireland, and therefore didn't realise that there were a lot of people in the South that aren't too keen on the British. I soon learnt. To be fair though, most people over there were great, but we did get the odd bit of abuse shouted at us from passing cars.

Ireland was a real culture shock. We arrived in Dublin itself at about half 7 in the morning and were amazed to find that there were pubs open. Of course, we had to dive straight in one. But it wasn't that long before the novelty wore off and we headed off to get some breakfast and find digs for the night. Once a hotel was sorted we still had a load of time to kill before the game. A trip to the Guinness brewery was the natural thing to do, and we hoped that we might get some free beer out of it. Not surprisingly we weren't the only Toon fans with the same idea. We had to sit through a pretty boring slide show about the brewery, but eventually we were indeed taken to a bar for a couple of free halves.

Next on the agenda was a trip to Dublin Zoo, conveniently not far from the ground. A couple of hours later and we rolled up at the ground. I haven't got a clue what time this was, but it was early. I can safely say that we were the first fans, ours or theirs, to get there. We had a bit of a walk around the outside of the ground. It was pretty much totally dead, but we eventually bumped into some sort of club official. We asked him which end of the ground the away fans went in. He replied that, depending on which way the teams were kicking, the home fans went in one end, the away fans went in the other, then they swapped at half-time. We thought that this sounded very civilised and wandered off in search of refreshment. I spent quite a bit of time last Wednesday trying to work out where the pub was that we went to, but I think I found it in the end. Wherever it was though the barman was an absolute star. Even though he was rushed off his feet he always knew who was next. A bit different to most bar staff today.

After several Guinnesses it was finally time to go to the game. We left the pub to find that things had totally transformed while we'd been sinking our pints. Now there were people all over the place, and the crowd was obviously going to be a lot higher than the thousand or so they got for league games. When we got to the ground we were told to go in the terrace along the front of the main stand. So much for swapping ends at half-time then. Inside the ground the atmosphere was anything but friendly. I can't actually remember much about the first half, but the second half was when it all happened. In fact it all started before their team came out after half-time. We'd come out first and the players had naturally gone down to the end we would be defending. There were fans sitting on the top of the stand at that end (how football's changed!) and some of them decided to start lobbing missiles at Mick Mahoney, our keeper. Before long something landed right on his head and knocked him out! The Toon fans were going mental and would have quite happily got stuck into the Irish lot, but we were fenced in so couldn't. Still, eventually "Super Goalie" recovered, their team came out, and the second half kicked-off. Next thing you know though their fans behind one of the goals decided to invade the pitch, a lot of them running over to where we were. At this point I was very glad we were fenced in! One of their fans slipped up though. He came right up to the fence to hurl abuse at us, but he had a scarf fastened around his neck and a Toon fan reached through the fence and grabbed it and pulled his head right up against the fence, and he got a good punching from our lot. The pitch invasion lasted for ages. There'd only been six Garda (police) in the ground for an attendance of 25,000, so there wasn't much they could do about it. After a while though reinforcements arrived and they cleared the pitch and the game was finished. The final score was 0-0 for the record. We had planned to have a few pints after the game, but we bottled it and got a taxi straight back to the hotel and never went out.

Next morning we called in for a pint before catching the train back to Dun Laoghaire for the ferry. It was the same pub we'd been in 24 hours earlier when we first arrived in Dublin. The barman had actually been to the game and was really embarrassed about what had happened and couldn't apologise enough. Imagine our amazement then when shortly after we saw the papers. Both their papers and ours were making out that it was our fans that had caused the trouble. To make matters worse, Russell Cushing did his best to confirm their interpretation of events by apologising for our behaviour. Strange that Bohemians were banned by UEFA from playing at home for two years then!

Click on the photos for larger images.

Main entrance

Missile end

Invasion end

Same end, the view I had

After seeing off Bohemians back at the Toon we were drawn against Bastia in the next round. I fancied going over there for the first leg, but decided against it. I'd only started my first job a couple of weeks earlier and thought it might go down well taking a few days off. Plus I was really short of cash. I decided I'd save up for the next round instead. Big mistake. It would be 17 years before our next away game in Europe - Antwerp. And that's another story.
The longest day

These days Portsmouth is comfortably the furthest away trip that we have. It takes long enough to get there and back by car, but it really is a long haul on the train. I myself left the house just after half 6, but some people had been on the road for ages by then - Cramlington Paul had sent me a text at 10 to 5 saying "On way to pick Brendan up for the start of another adventure to watch the lads. Come on the Toon!". The pair of them were catching the six o'clock train down to Kings Cross, with the Tad lads joining up with them at York. I almost felt guilty about our relatively late start. Almost. It was dark, chilly, and raining steadily as I walked top the bus stop. Quite a contrast to the warm sunshine that would greet us in Portsmouth.

Stevie Round and The Stead were already at the station when I got there. Steady looked like he's come straight from an all-night drinking session. It turned out he was in fact in bed by half ten. In that case he must have been in a hell of a state when he turned in. We'd only just pulled out of Leeds station when Stevie cracked open his first bottle of Sainsburys cider, and Steady wasn't far behind him. We passed the time playing what Stevie calls "Sevens". It's about as easy a card game to understand you can get, but it still took Steady a few games to catch on such was his condition. Even once he'd got the hang of it Stevie still won just about every game, something like eight out of twelve.

After a fairly uneventful journey we pulled into Kings Cross right on time, which gave us plenty of time to get across to Waterloo for our next train. The other lot's train on the other hand had been 45 minutes late getting there and so they were now only half an hour ahead of us. There were loads of Toon fans on the train from Waterloo to Fratton (where you get off for Fratton Park), and most of them had had the odd drink, so it was quite lively.

As soon as we got to Fratton we headed straight for the nearby Wetherspoons where the advance party had set up HQ. There were a few other familiar faces in there as well - Derby Tommo and his brother, and Dennis amongst them. Beer and food prices were surprisingly the same as Wetherspoons in the Toon. Usually when you go anywhere down south, not just London, prices are much higher. It's a pity that the service wasn't also the same as Wetherspoons in the Toon. It was ok early on, but it took for ever to get served after about 2 o'clock. In fact I gave up and went next door to the Magpie for a final pint.

After the game we raced back to Fratton station to make sure that we got on the first train back to Waterloo. Miss that one and there was a serious danger of us missing our train out of Kings Cross, which didn't bear thinking about. But we caught it no bother and it was surprisingly quiet, at least it was once most people had got after the first couple of stops. We ended up sat with a group of females who we soon found out were related to the darts player Cliff Lazarenko. One was his sister, another his niece. The youngest one was also supposedly a niece, but she was also supposedly only eleven. Anyway, apart from being lovely to talk to, they gave us sweets and packets of cheese snacks. Canny lasses!

We pulled into Waterloo bang on time, which meant we had loads of time to get over to Kings Cross. We didn't hang about though because we wanted to be able to stock up with food and beer when we got there. In fact we reached Kings Cross just as a battle between Leeds and Man U fans (as we found out later) was ending. Actually, massacre is probably a better word than battle. The Leeds fans told us that they'd been ambushed in the Flying Scotsman by about 150 Man U fans and had got a good kicking. And these Leeds fans were big lads in their thirties and forties who I'm pretty sure could handle themselves. One of them quite casually told us how he'd taken out a Man U fan in the middle of the road and was hoping it wasn't on CCTV. We found all this out on the train, where the Leeds fans spent most of the journey back trying to track down any Man U fans who were on board. I don't like to think what they would have done to them if they'd have found any, which I don't think they did. We just kept our heads down, Stevie telling them how much we hate Man U and how much we like Leeds!

Anyway, in between trying not to upset the Leeds fans we played Sevens all the way back. This time we played for money, not like the way down, and this time Round Boy couldn't win a game to save his life. Whereas I'd had a string of really crap hands coming down, I now had stacks of fantastic hands and so was showing a very healthy profit by the time we got back. Thanks lads.

We were actually a few minutes early pulling into Leeds. This was really good news for Stevie. He had intended getting off at Wakey and paying 15 quid for a taxi to his place. But we were 95% sure that we'd get to Leeds early and so he took a chance and stayed on. And sure enough, we were in time for him to catch the last train to Huddersfield. Well I assume he caught it, the three of us heading off in different directions on the last legs of our long journey home.

Worse for wear


The luxurious away end
Pontoon school

These youngsters haven't got any stamina

Two of the Lazarenko clan

Marathon effort

As most of you will know, Yorkshire Mag member Brian Ferries has been raising money for Tiny Lives again. Last year it was the London Marathon, this year it's been the turn of Paris and Edinburgh. He raised over £700 in sponsorship by completing the two events. Well done to Brian (again!) and to those of you that supported him. We've received a letter from Tiny Lives thanking us. Click on the image on the right to see what it says.

Brian's sponsorship will shortly be added to. Paul McKenna has something like 200 quid that he's collected over the last three Predictions competitions, plus JT raised around 130 quid at his work recently. Canny lads!

On a totally different subject, didn't that Aaron Hughes look a canny player against England. Pity he doesn't play for us.

A new beginning?

There was a pathetic turn-out for the recent AGM. Only eight people could be bothered to drag themselves down to the Grove for what was always going to be an important meeting for the future of our club. No doubt some people had genuine reasons for not being there, but it's likely that some stayed away to make sure they couldn't end up on the committee, knowing that Tom, Alan and Darren had all announced their intention of standing down. This is very disappointing as it's unfair to expect the same people to keep putting the work in year after year, plus it can surely only be good for the club to have an infusion of new blood and fresh ideas occasionally.

Anyway, for the benefit of those that weren't at the Grove, some key decisions were reached after much discussion. I'll do my best to summarise them here, although you'll need to wait for the full minutes for the official version of events.
- the club will be run on a less formal and more flexible basis from now on
- there'll be no more monthly meetings with agendas and minutes; instead informal get-togethers will be arranged every 2 or 3 months, and these will be held at locations throughout the area; the first will almost certainly be in Huddersfield in October, but this has still to be confirmed
- the role of Secretary should be effectively redundant in the new set-up, so no-one will take over from Alan
- Maggie volunteered to take over as Treasurer, to be assisted by Stevie Round
- we'll continue to have a Chairman, as a figurehead and to provide co-ordination; Steve argued passionately that we desperately needed someone from the previous committee to stay on to give continuity, and Tom in the end agreed to remain Chairman for another year; to be honest, he didn't take much persuading now that the role doesn't involve having to provided Chairman's opening remarks at monthly meetings
- subs will remain at the current level for another year; there was some talk of getting rid of them, but it was felt that paying a fiver gives people a sense of "belonging"
- subs are now due!; you can of course hand your money to Maggie or Steve at a game; I'm not sure what postal alternative there will be, but I'll put something on the site when I find out
- anyone paying their subs in time will be included in a free Christmas draw with cash prizes

Toon 1  Chelski 1

Not a bad end to the season. I can't not mention though how crap the Chelsea support was. Ok, the fans you bumped into in the pubs were decent enough, and they made a bit of noise in the ground, but imagine if it had have been the other way around. If the Toon had just won the title for the first time in 50 years you wouldn't have been able to get a ticket for love nor money, and the away section would have been absolutely jumping from start to finish. As it was there were loads of empty seats in their bit and the people that did bother to turn up only got excited when they sang that incredibly tedious "One man went to mow" thing. It seems that they're already blasé about success.

There was a big group of us gathered on the platform at Leeds station to catch the 10.12 train up. Even Tom, Alan and Mike had dragged themselves out of bed to catch the earlier train with it being the last game of the season. Also there amongst others were Steady and his lass Adele, and the Kemps. Big Issue and the Huddersfield brigade were already on the train. Stevie Round had his cards with him again, so Chase the Ace was the order of the day as usual. We've been spoilt in recent years by the fast Virgin services up to the Toon. The Transpennine train seemed to take for ever in comparison! Still, it got us up there, and just in time for first orders.

There was a full turn-out in Spoonies, which meant I was able to get in the last of Brian Ferries' sponsor money. Altogether I've collected £127. Added to that is the 12 quid I raised from sales of the Sochaux trip DVD, so that's 139 quid altogether for Tiny Lives. Thanks to everyone that contributed, and well done again to Brian.

Also collected in the pub were votes for the Yorkshire Mags Player of the Season. Big Al will no doubt be devastated to learn that he's going to have to hand back the trophy. In fact he only got one vote! The final result is in fact:

Leeds season ticket holder Adele looking at home
in a Toon top


Some strange voting as ever! Congratulations to Stevie Taylor though. Hopefully it won't be the only trophy he wins with the Toon.

Just about everyone showed up in Wetherspoons after the game. A couple of pints later and we headed off for the 25 past 6 train loaded up with beer. Not Aaarrroooonnna though! He'd bought a couple of bottles of cider sure enough, but he'd forgot to mention that they were to take out, and so the tops hadn't been left on. And it was more the bouncers' jobs were worth to let him take them out the pub and he had to leave them behind. So it's fair to say that he wasn't too happy as he boarded the train. I think I might even have heard him swear.

As is usual on the last day of the season, the train journey back was fairly boisterous. Missing this year though was Big Issue's traditional rendition of Bohemian Rhapsody. No doubt he would have treated us to it had he been there, but he wasn't. I assume he'd caught an earlier train. Well either that or he'd been arrested again. Instead we had to make do with more Chase the Ace. It was an interesting logistical problem - nine of us in the game and scattered up and down the carriage. We moved on to Pontoon for the last bit of the journey. Steady was true to form - he put the maximum stake on every single hand and had just about paid for Stevie's train ticket and beer by the time we pulled in to Leeds. Naughty boys

For anyone that's seen the message board and wondered what the "How many YMs?" is all about, I'll do my best to fill you in. However, I didn't actually witness any of the goings on myself. The bottom line though is that no less than three of our party (but I think only one of them a YM member, and him not a resident of Yorkshire) ended up in the cells on Saturday. It seems that two of the arrests (and possibly even all three) were the result of an incident in the Arkles before the game. The place was, as ever, pretty lively as kick-off neared. Derby Thommo got a bit carried away and stood on his chair at one point. Grabbing hold of a light fitting for balance probably seemed like a good idea until the chair toppled over. Thommo ended up on the floor, along with bits of broken chandelier. A little while later Thommo and Big Issue were walking through Stanley Park towards Goodison and got ambushed by a squad of police. For some reason Big Ish was blamed for what happened in Arkles (perhaps the plod are still trying to get him back for the 10 grand damages he got out of them) and has been hit with four charges, including criminal damage and approaching a football ground when p*ssed. One of the many Toon fans that managed to get into the ground despite being p*ssed was Paul Blacklock. Paul wasn't so lucky after the game though cos he got arrested just after leaving the ground. I've no idea why, but it could be that the police reckoned he was a co-conspirator. Whatever the reason, by the team he was let out he'd missed the last train back to the Toon and so had to crash out at Big Issue's.

Most of the YMs who went to the game set off from Leeds on the 9.08 train. Paul B and Brendan were already on it, having left the Toon about half 7. Paul was clearly up for a good drink as he was on his fourth can of Stella by the time we left Leeds. Steve Round, the Doc and a few others got on at Huddersfield. Stevie had a pack of cards with him, so as usual we had a few games of Chase the Ace on the way over. After arriving at Lime Street we headed round the corner to the bar in the Adelphi, getting there bang on opening time. The beer was dirt cheap, but otherwise the bar didn't have much going for it. It was almost as cold as the pub at Palace, and the lights above the pool table didn't work. That didn't stop us having a few games of killer pool though. Before long we were joined by Alan and Mike, and Everton Bob. By now we had almost a full complement. About the only people missing were Big Issue (got up VERY late and so went straight to Arkles), top ten fan (well, it is an hour from where she lives I suppose) and incredibly Gordon, who had been ordered to go up to Scotland on a family bash for his Dad's 60th.

Just as I was starting to lose all feeling in my hands, we jumped in taxis to Arkles. After a couple of pints in there, I was talked into heading off to an Everton pub with Alan, Mike and Bob. Bob reckoned it was a 20 minute walk. It would actually have been less than that if he'd have known the way. Instead we went in a big loop to get there. After 10 minutes Bob informed us that we were "nearly there". In fact it was another 15 minutes' walk. Alan was almost in need of medical attention by the time we finally got there!

After the game we gave the traditional pint in the Springfield a miss and headed straight for buses back to Lime Street while the bulk of the Everton fans were still in the ground. One or two people caught the 17.22 train, but most of us paid another masochistic visit to the Adelphi bar and went for the 18.22 back, stocking up with cans at the new Spar up the side of Lime Street.

Briefly touching on the game, I might be in minority of one but I honestly can't see what Shola did to merit a red card. He didn't elbow or punch anyone. He didn't do anything that could have caused injury to Cahill. All he did was push him in the back of his head. And not without some justification.
Self inflicted

Big Issue? before the gameWe've only got ourselves to blame for being out of Europe. We wasted chance after chance at key moments against Sporting. We were lucky with the one goal that we did score, but for long periods after that we were controlling the tie but didn't kill it off. Bowyer, Milner, Dyer and Kluivert were all guilty of wasting great opportunities. Every time it happened I worried that it might cost us eventually. All the way through I was hoping that the game would just die, but Sporting wouldn't let it happen. They scored their goals at key moments though. I'm pretty sure that if we'd got to half-time at 1-0 their heads would have gone down. Likewise, if we'd have held out for another few minutes at 1-1 I think that we'd have won the tie quite comfortably. Equally I feel we were quite unlucky with injuries. Dyer going off was a big blow, then as soon as O'Brien came on we looked much shakier at the back.

I'm really p*ssed off for myself as I really wanted to go to Lisbon for this game but couldn't because of work, and was therefore desperate that we'd get though to the semi when I could go. But I also blame myself for the defeat because I (briefly) allowed myself to think about going back to Lisbon for the final. Sorry folks. So now we're just going to have to beat Man Ure on Sunday with a scratch team. It's "Stand up and be counted" time.

Oh, I nearly forgot to mention the Robert "situation". I'm not totally sure what's happened, but I'd like to know what part the press had to play in all this. How come the story broke when it did on the morning of a key game? Did the press ask leading questions then twist the answers to make it look like Robert was trying to undermine Souness? I'm pretty sure that there are a lot of people in the media that don't want us to be successful. Personally I think Souness has over-reacted and done exactly what sections of the media expected/wanted him to do.

Spurs 1  Toon 0

To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from this game. And I certainly didn't get much! After about an hour I was thinking that with the number of players that we had missing it wasn't unreasonable for us to be struggling against virtually a full strength Spurs team. And then I realised that we're going to have basically the same players to pick from next Sunday!! It's quite scary really.

I've been saying for years that the reason I think Stevie Harper is a better all-round keeper than Shay is his kicking. And then look at what he goes and does today! His wasn't the only howler mind. Butt (again) and O'Brien were both lucky to get away with not costing us a goal. Meanwhile at the other end Robinson and King contrived to give Milner as easy a chance as he can ever expect to get. But he completely cocked it up. What's really incredible though is that when you see a replay of it it looks like the ball went exactly where he aimed it. To be fair though, Milner was far from the worst player on the pitch for us. The only real plus for me though was Charlie N'Zogbia when he came on. As well as being about the only player to cause their defence problems, he made sure that he did the simple things right. It's so much easier when players aren't giving the ball away when under no pressure.

It seems like the lads who travelled down to White Hart Lane had some fun and games getting there. The train from the Toon with Paul Blacky and Gordano on board got held up outside Donny. Some kids had put a bag of cement on the tracks. When they ran over it there was what appeared to be smoke inside the train, so the train naturally had to stop. Meanwhile Big Issue's train didn't even turn up, and then the one that he eventually did get was diverted. When they did finally get to London, Paul and Gordano got sunburnt while drinking their own beer in the pub beer garden. Nothing new there then Gordon. Then on the way back Paul stuffed himself with a large mixed kebab (pictured).

Slightly earlier in the day Brian Ferries successfully completed the Paris Marathon. He reckons that he was "elated just to finish". His time was 4hrs 16mins, but he was probably saving himself for the Edinburgh Marathon in June. For some reason Brian had booked himself onto a flight back that meant he couldn't see the Spurs game on the box. Or perhaps he knew what it was going to be like.

A word for anyone reading this that cheered Lee B****r onto the pitch on Thursday. His actions away from football should ensure that he was already held in contempt by everyone. But his brainless assault on Dyer means that we're now missing two of our most influential players in Cardiff in one of our most important games in years. He might be thick as sh!t but he's still got enough about him to know that if he gets kicked out of Newcastle he might have nowhere else to go in football. So what does he do? He says he's sorry and that he wants to spend the rest of his career playing for the Toon. And people buy it for fcuks sake! Personally I hope he rots in hell.

Back on track

What a difference a week makes. It's just a pity that all the doom merchants at the Man U game weren't at Palace to see that we aren't in fact relegation material after all. Plus those same so-called fans would have witnessed what supporting the team is all about - 90 minutes of non-stop racket.

The stand at Selhurst Park that the away section's in might not be the most modern and luxurious in the country (quite the opposite in fact), but the fact that it's old-fashioned and has a low roof means that it's a reminiscent of how most grounds were not so long ago. And the Toon fans at the game turned the clock back a few years by giving the sort of support that we hardly see now. Of course it helps that we played well and won, but even before we scored there was no let-up in the level of noise.

Palace aren't the best team around of course, but they'd had a really good run leading up to this game. Their confidence was bound to be high, so it was reasonable to expect a tough game. It's therefore a credit to our players that it looked right from the kick-off like we were the team in form. It helped a lot that we reverted to playing the way that we play best, with width and pace good movement, and with midfield players taking turns to burst forward. It's possibly (or even probably!) significant that the improved performance coincided with Shearer and Butt not playing. As it happens Kluivert didn't have a great game, and his goal only made up for an earlier chance where he blasted well over from 15 yards when he should probably have scored.

Steady's preparation for the day involved staying up drinking with an alleged murderer until 4 am. I think he was helping her with her defence strategy. Or something. Anyway, he wasn't a pretty sight at 8 o'clock on the train. Having Steady with us of course meant that we had to play pontoon all the way down to Kings Cross. And he might have been the worse for wear, but that didn't stop him taking us to the cleaners once he'd got the bank. I think I can safely say that we paid for his train ticket. Speaking of tickets, Sean from Bradford had a big scare on the way down. He couldn't find his outward ticket anywhere. the ticket inspector turned up as we were taking the carriage to bits looking for it. Then Steady couldn't find his outward bit either! Eventually though it transpired that Stevie Round (TMG to be?) had cocked up and given each of them two return portions. Panic over.

London was grey and freezing and so even more depressing than normal. We had a couple of pints in the Wetherspoons opposite Thornton Heath station, but then someone had the bright idea of going to another pub that had the Rangers-Celtic game on. So we left a nice warm pub selling a good range of cheap beer and with food available to set off on a 10 minute trek in the cold and rain in the opposite direction to the ground to end up in a freezing cold pub with a crap range of overpriced and overchilled beer and no food whatsoever. Remember the name (the Parchmore) and avoid the place like the plague. You might think I'm exaggerating, but Bradford Chris was wearing his gloves inside the pub. I was drinking John Smiths Smooth (the only beer beer they had) and my hand was going numb the beer was so cold.

It was still raining when we set off for the ground, so we got a bit of a soaking on the way. But at least it was pretty warm inside thanks to the previously mentioned low roof. And all the singing and pogoing soon had us dried out. It might have been cold and raining walking to the station after the game, but I can't say I noticed.

We were back at Kings Cross in plenty of time to get stocked up and beer and food before getting on the train. But Steve and big Ian decided to get straight on board (like because the train might leave early??), and so paid three times as much per can as the rest of us did. Naturally the cards were straight out again. This time though I think we all more or less broke even. Ian was finding it had to concentrate fully mind as he chatted up (only joking Emma, make that 'chatted to') the three women he was sat next to.

There were actually only four out of the six of us playing cards. Chris and Sean aren't away trip hardened yet and so slept virtually all the way back. You need to work at it lads! Just over 2 hours after leaving Kings Cross and we were back in Leeds. Steve and Ian were getting picked up by Emma and going for a curry. I wandered off to catch my bus, looking forward to watching Match of the Day later on.

Trotters 2  Toon 1

Well our unbeaten run had to end sometime, and I had a feeling it would be against Bolton, but it was very disappointing to lose the way that we did. The bizarre team selection had me worried. I've no idea what the reasons for leaving JJ and Ollie Bernard out were, but the end result was that we were totally disjointed for most of the match. Apparently Souness said after wasn't the game that he thought we'd defended well throughout. Apart from the obvious that we conceded two sloppy goals, what's the use in defending well if you're doing nothing at the other end? Surely we shouldn't be looking to not get beat against a team like Bolton. Ok, they're fourth in the table, but they must be about the worst team ever to get so high in the league, and they won't be there at the end of the season.

Apart from the fact that you have to got to work the next day, the biggest problem with Sunday games is that the train service can be all over the place. On this occasion it was the trains between Leeds and Piccadilly that was affected by engineering work. Instead of the usual hour, they were taking an hour and a half, and the trains back after the game weren't stopping at Huddersfield which was a pain in the @rse for Stevie Round. In my case it worked out that I was best off getting a train from Bradford to Victoria. Now it's not very often I venture into Bradford, and I wasn't sure how much the bus fare would be (I know from bitter experience that Day Riders run out a long way before there), so when I got on the bus I said "Bradford please". "One ten" came the reply, pretty much what I expected. As I was handing over my pennies in exchange for the ticket the driver threw me by suddenly saying "Did you say 'One ten'?". "No, actually it was you that said 'One ten', I said 'Bradford please'" was what I thought, but what I actually said was "Err, yeah". Move on half an hour to when we arrived in Bradford. As I was getting off the bus the driver shouted "Excuse me!" Taken by surprise, I turned round to see what he wanted. "If you check your ticket you'll find it ran out in Guiseley". Thrown by this, but thinking he'd got me confused with someone else (I mean, there were dozens of Toon tops on the bus) I replied "Sorry, I got on at Yeadon and paid one ten". "And that only gets you as far as the White Cross at Guiseley". There followed a bizarre discussion/argument, which ended when he told me to forget the 10 pence I apparently was trying to fiddle the bus company out of. I walked away still confused and actually quite annoyed.

That wasn't the end of my travel-related incidents for the day. The train from Bradford arrived at Victoria a few minutes late, but that still left me plenty of time to get down to Deansgate where I was picking up the train from Piccadilly to Horwich (the station by the ground). But just as I arrived at Deansgate I realised that my outward ticket was still on the table on the other train. Doh! I hoped that I'd be able to sweet talk the guard (I still had my return ticket which would help), but at the end of the day I'd cough up the couple of quid for a single if I had to. As it happens there weren't any ticket checks. Surprisingly, there were no other YMs on the train. Steve and Brendano had intended catching it, but in the end they'd decided to go by car, driven by Brendan's lass Lindsey. Also surprisingly missing was Gordano. For some reason known only to himself (or perhaps not known to himself!), he'd agreed to to take Andria up on an offer of a lift from Piccadilly to the pub. Bear in mind here that the train takes 30 minutes to get to Horwich, then it's 15 minutes walk to the pub. Also bear in mind that Andria hasn't passed her test yet and so can't go on motorways, and that the only route she knew was from Piccadilly to her house then to Bolton. So whereas myself and Round Boy's mate Whitey (who I'd arranged to meet up with on the train cos he didn't know how to get to the pub ) had a leisurely train journey and stroll to the pub and were knocking back pints by 20 past 12, Gordon and Big Issue had an extremely frustrating mystery tour lasting an hour and 20 minutes and didn't get to the pub until about 2. Ah well, you learn from your mistakes.

After the game it was straight back to station for the 18 minutes past 6. The good news was that there was an earlier special service that only stopped at a couple of stations en route to Piccadilly. We then had nearly 20 minutes to get over to Victoria for a fast service to Leeds. Gordon (obviously preferring the train by this time) and myself set off at a brisk walk with the odd bit of gentle jog thrown in, and easily made it to Victoria in time. Or at least I did. Gordon was wheezing and gasping and dripping with sweat. The bad news was that everything was shut at Victoria (why??), plus there was no trolley service on the train, so it was dry journey back to Leeds.

We didn't have a ticket check on the way back, and Gordon's hadn't been checked on the way out, so, instead of rushing off to the Angel for a couple of pints before his bus as he'd intended, he sneaked through the barrier without handing his ticket in and made a bee-line for the ticket office to get a few quid refund. I suppose he needs the money.

Gordano queues for his refund

Here we go....

Things are looking up. It certainly wasn't a great performance against the Baggies, but it was always likely to be a tough game. At least the crowd were reasonably patient when we weren't a hatful up by half time. It didn't help that the formation didn't really work. Kluivert playing behind Shearer and Bellars meant that we had no width, and that doesn't make any sense as long as Shearer's in the team. It was significant that we looked much more dangerous after Robert came on. The fact that they were down to ten men might have had something to do with it of course....

It was, of course, good to see JJ playing a big part in the build-up to two of the goals. However, that still leaves him a long way short of making up for the last year and a bit!!

The argie-bargie on the 17.40 train leaves a nasty taste in the mouth. I was on the 18.40 myself so didn't see it at first hand, but I've seen enough of these sort of things in the past to know that it will have been very scary, especially for the 'normal' passengers. It's really sad that some people can't show more tolerance/intelligence. Or perhaps they just want to knock Leeds off the top of that railways violence league table.

Rovers Carved up

Well we got the win, but ironically it was probably our worst performance of the season. Fortunately Blackburn were abysmal and hardly looked like scoring. Some people were suggesting after the game that we'll end up like Blackburn with Souness in charge. That logic doesn't hold much water. In any case, Blackburn won a trophy under Souness. I'd certainly settle for the same!

John Carver made a lot of the fact that it was his team that took the pitch on Saturday. I'm sure it was, but it may as well have been SBR's. Shearer was predictably back in for Kluivert, and Dyer and Jenas both kept their places and contributed little. I had to check in the second half that Dyer was still on the pitch! At least Robert looked like he was trying to impress the incoming manager. The substitutions were also straight out of the Bobby Robson manual of football management. Can someone please explain to me the point of bring a player on for his debut in the last minute of stoppage time?

Much more interesting than the match on Saturday was the journey back. Foxy Debs the Virgin bird had got in touch to say that she was working the 18.26 train back south. Before the match everyone agreed that we'd get that train back and jump off at York to get a Leeds train. However, when it came to the crunch most people rushed off to get the 17.40, leaving only me, Aaarrrrroooonna, Pigeon and Frank on Debs' train. It actually didn't look like a good move to begin with as the train looked like one of those Tokyo underground trains when it set off from the Central. We'd only just managed to squeeze on, and there was no way we could even think about trying to get to the buffet (oops sorry, make that 'the on board shop'). But once a load of people had got off at Chester-le-Street and Durham there was plenty of room. Debs was (naturally!) pleased to see us, but disappointed that Stevie Round had got the earlier train. Aaarrroooonna was on top form having apparently had one or two too many. Half the time none of us could work out what he was saying, then when we pulled in to York he decided he wanted a kiss on the cheek from Debs. She said that he could kiss her hand, but then when she held it out he grabbed it and starting pulling her over the counter so that he could slap a big wet kiss on her face. Fortunately for the poor lass the rest of us managed to pull him off in the nick of time. But no doubt that'll be the last time that Debs invites is to join her on the train!

Finally, I'm sure everyone's wondering what's happening with my PC. Well I got it back on Friday! It works, but at the moment it's missing just about everything I need to do web site updates. Hopefully I'll be up and running in a couple of days.

Smogs 2  Toon 2

I'm sure that most people would have settled for this result before the kick-off, particularly with the number number of players we had missing, but it ended up as being a bitterly disappointing two points lost. For the first hour it was looking really good - we were comfortably in control, with the new players slotting in well. I'm not sure what happened after that. Either we sat back too much, or Boro stepped up the pace, but the end result was that we were under a lot of pressure for most of the rest of the game. Ultimately the draw was a fair result, although obviously their equaliser left a bad taste in the mouth because it should have been disallowed on two counts. On the other hand (no pun intended!), they should have had a pen in the first couple of minutes.

Some of our lot caught the 11.05 train from Leeds so that they could be in Darlo in time to see the Spurs-Liverpool game. I'm not sure why as they don't have Sky in the Cricketers. The rest of us were on the 12.05 (only just in my case - the road works at Kirkstall meant my bus was 20 minutes late getting into Leeds, but fortunately the train was 10 minutes late), and we caught up with the rest of them in the pub.

Gordano's idea of 'pub food' usually means scoffing his home made sarnies when the staff aren't looking. He must have known something though as he didn't have any with him. Instead he took advantage of the 'eat as much as you want for £4.95 buffet' that was on offer at the Cricketers. He had a starter, a couple of main courses (plates piled high), and followed up with a couple of sweets. "Well I've paid for it!", he was heard to say. Next up was a mega game of Chase the Ace with at least a dozen players.  I was upset at going out quite early on when I stuck on a five when there were still about 10 people left. The odds of no-one having lower than a five are about 250/1! The game was apparently Round Boy's idea, and sure enough he ended up winning. This follows his winning 8 games in a row in Glasgow. Some dodgy goings on somewhere methinks.

We got talking to an Aussie in the Cricketers. He's supposedly 'doing' Britain. He arrived in London on Tuesday and headed straight for the train to Edinburgh. Someone told him that Darlo's a canny place (!), so he got off there and has been there ever since. You can just imagine when he gets home in 6 months time. "So where did you get to then?" "The Cricketers in Darlington". Mind, he must be a bit slow as he had trouble with the rules of Chase the Ace!

Pigeon didn't make it to the Cricketers. Presumably he got on the wrong train or bus somewhere. He's actually just got back from his holidays. Unfortunately his luggage didn't come back on the same plane (again), so he's had to get a new phone (again).

At the end of the match we had to race to get back in time for the train to Darlo. It was nothing like as busy as normal - presumably loads of people didn't make it - and we even managed to grab seats. Once at Darlo we found that all mainline trains north and south were running late. This meant that we all missed bus/train connections out of Leeds. It didn't make much difference to Tom though as Jude came and picked him up at the station. It must be love.

Bricking it..."

I'm sure that you're all sick of the front page not changing from one day (or week even!) to the next, so Tom's revelation that he's signed up for an abseil in a couple of weeks' time means a long overdue update.

As someone that's not very good with heights, I've got to say that I admire his nerve. At the same time, I know someone that's absolutely crap with heights and she's managed one. Anyway, this is what Tom had to say about it on the message board:

"In a moment of extreme foolishness, me and wor lass decided that we'd take part in a sponsored abseil down the side of Bamburgh Castle on 11 July. It's in aid of the RNLI as they need to raise £150,000 to modernise the Grace Darling museum in Bamburgh. So I'm after sponsors - please.

I won't be offended if people decide this is not as worthy cause as Tiny Lives, Cancer Research or whatever, but I used to go to Bamburgh a lot as a kid and have been to the Grace Darling museum a few times and love Bamburgh Castle. We've got to raise a minimum of £100 each so any sponsorship would be very welcome.

By the way, I'm bricking it just at the thought of doing an abseil."

So the question is, are his keks going to end up looking like this?

By the way, I've done absolutely nowt about organising the curry night. If half a dozen people text or email me to say that they're up for it I'll pick a date, otherwise I can't be arsed. Alternatively, if anyone would like to organise it instead........

Cancel the skiing holiday....

It looks like I won't be skiing next winter for the third year in a row!

I'd said that the late, late equaliser against Southampton could prove critical. On the face of it that's the way it's worked out. I'm not so sure though actually. It looked to me that we sat back in the second half at Anfield knowing that a draw would almost certainly be enough to clinch 5th place. This invited pressure and, sure enough, Liverpool scored and could easily have gone on to win. On the other hand, if we'd have lost at Southampton then a draw would have been no good, and I suspect that we would have beaten the Scousers.

A word about the Toon support at Anfield - it was top class. We had less than half the number that was there in the cup, but made a lot more noise. The decibel level dropped a bit in the second half, but that was hardly surprising considering the temperature and tension. The Liverpool fans on the other hand were even quieter than we are at home games. The 'famous Kop' was literally like a library until they scored.

Most of the Yorkshire/York Mags had decided to catch the 9.08 train from Leeds. This would conveniently get us to Liverpool just before opening time. The anticipated squad of Leeds burberry thugs catching the 5 past 9 Kings Cross train happily failed to materialise. The bad news was that the train was running 20 minutes late. So much for the early arrival! Most of us jumped on the first train to Manchester, partly because it was quiet, but partly in case the Liverpool train conked out! As it happened it didn't and got to Piccadilly just after ours. We met up with Tom and Jude (they'd been in Manchester overnight for a concert) and Maggie on the platform. Sure enough the train was chocka when it pulled in, so it was standing room only the rest of the way.

Once in Liverpool people went their separate ways. Some had to check into hotels, others wanted to start with a few pints in the city centre, while the rest of us jumped into cabs and headed straight for the Flat Iron. Getting there at about quarter to 12, we were surprised at how quiet it was. It wasn't until about half one that it got really busy. Until then it was dead easy getting served, while we stuffed our faces with free sarnies. It was scorching hot outside by this time, and eventually a few of us spilled out onto the pavement. There we joined Gordano, Big Issue and a few others. They were, not for the first time, drinking beer they'd brought with them. It was a close run thing, but I wouldn't be surprised if they possessed more beer than the pub. In the end they had to give loads away.

After the game it was straight back to the Flat Iron and more beer in the sun. We got talking to a lad from Sydney. He'd turned up on spec and managed to get a ticket in our end. He reckoned that everyone in Australia supports Man U or Liverpool, so he decided to be different and pick the Toon. Of course, it means he'll never see 'his' team win anything, but he had a great time on Saturday and is going to arrange his next trip to Europe around a visit to St James'. We've warned him that the atmosphere might not be quite as good.

A couple of pints later and it was time to head for Lime Street. We wandered along to the main road to flag down some cabs. Usually in Liverpool you can expect an empty one to come past within a few minutes at most. For once it didn't happen. After about 10 minutes a bus came and we jumped on that. There must have been about 30 Toon fans on it and it literally bounced all the way back into the city centre, what with "Pogo if you love the Toon", "Oh Shola Ameobi" and numerous others.

We just missed the train by a couple of minutes. We could have got a local train to Manchester, but it was agreed that we'd all get Maggie's Sheffield train and get off at Piccadilly. As most of us headed to the nearest pub for a quick one, Maggie and a few others for some reason boarded the Manchester train after all! Not to worry. We had a few pints in Ma Egerton's (or Ma's Bar as some of have know it for years), then caught the next Leeds train at 20 past 7. More beer on the train meant that it was a lively journey. Tom and Jude remembered to get off at Manchester to retrieve their overnight bags, while the rest of us partied all the way to Leeds.

Ah well, that's it for another season. At least we finished on a high note.

PS. Those of you that were at the Flat Iron after the game will remember the Aussie lad that we met up. Well here's a couple of a photos that he took on the day that he's sent us (click for larger version):



... as Bobby and Kat put it. Just in case anyone still believed that we've got 'great fans', the myth was blasted to smithereens by Sunday's disgraceful performance.

I'm not sure if it was the season as a whole or the failure to beat Wolves that triggered the 'protests' (I'm being kind here). I suspect that a lot of people will say it's the former, but I bet that if we'd have scraped home 2-1 then a good chunk of them would have still been in the ground when the team did their lap of the pitch. Let's get one thing straight. Anyone that thought a win against Wolves was a formality knows nothing about football. I shouldn't need to explain why that is, but just in case...
- they'd had a string of decent performances and results recently
- they'd been relegated, and teams that are already down are playing without pressure and often do well
- they hadn't won away all season; that was bound to be a big motivating factor
- they've got some good professionals in their team that were never going to roll over
- this is football!!

Next for the 'lap of honour'. If anyone had thought about this beforehand they would have realised that the team couldn't not do it. It's been the tradition for quite a few years now, and even happened in the dark days of Dalglish/Gullit when we only avoided relegation (with a worse team playing worse football if you remember) in the last few games. It was always going to be an uncomfortable event, but why not accept it and make the most of it? Instead we're now the laughing stock of the entire football world.

Loyalest supporters my ar*e.

There were, fortunately, one or two lighter moments on Sunday.
Story 1
Gordon went for an early couple of pints in a bar in the Station Hotel with one of his Stone Island mates. As he was coming out at 12 to go to Wetherspoons he was collared by the bouncer. "You can't come in here wearing that sort of gear." "Why not?", replied Gordon innocently. "Stone Island, burberry, that's what all the thugs wear. We don't want people like that in here." "But I'm soft as sh*te." (True!) "I don't care, you're not coming in here again dressed like that." Tremendous! Only wish I'd been there to see it.

Story 2
As some of you will know, Stevie Round was a little bit the worse for wear after the game. He caught the (very quiet) 19.06 train back with me. Such was his condition that he had to close one eye to read his text messages. In the end even that was too much of an effort and he gave up. Next thing I know, just as we're coming into York, I hear this great big thump. I look over to Steve next to me, but he's not there. Instead he's lying in a heap in the middle of the aisle with a totally confused look on his face! At least now I know what those arm rests are for.

Story 3
Brendan's new lass Lindsey (sorry if I've spelt it wrong pet) was at the game. So Brendan, who always always always wears his Toon shirt to the match, was sporting a top that made it look like he was off to Iraq. It gets worse. At the match, where Lindsey joined in the ritual half-time family sandwich munching, Bren turned up at his seat with a poncy shoulder bag thing! Tart!!

Massive Club 1  Toon 0

As anyone that was there will know, this performance was a shambles. But if the team had shown the same effort and commitment as the fans... we would have been dead and buried by half-time. I don't know if it was the heat or what, but the Toon fans just weren't up for this game. A lot of them seemed more interested in gazing round the ground, taking photos on their phones, or getting in half-time pints. It's actually been noticeable this season that whenever we've had a decent ticket allocation for an away game the support has been quite frankly sh**e. Southampton and Liverpool in the cup, Villa, and now Man City are a few that spring to mind. It's as if the hard-core is getting smaller and smaller and gets too diluted if we have a following of more than about 2000.

Anyway, back to the game. The first half performance was actually quite good, and we probably deserved to be ahead at half-time. We played some decent stuff and created a few chances and half-chances. After the break however we reverted to the flavour of the month - long balls punted up the middle. It doesn't help that Titus and O'Brien were totally incapable of finding one of our players. In Titus' case he was virtually incapable of keeping the ball in play. I know I've said this before, but Bramble keeps on demonstrating that he's just not good enough. In this game he made five absolute howlers. On this occasion he got away with them. Against a better team....

Thoughts on the ground? Actually, I was quite impressed. It's easily the best of the new grounds. The atmosphere was (grudgingly) also very good, although that hasn't been the same at most of their games by all accounts. I think their fans realised what an important match this was. Speaking of their fans, they were an absolute pain in the arse after the game. You'd think that the result would have been the main thing on their mind. But no, apart from the ones looking for a punch-up, most (but not all, to be fair) of them seemed more interested in taking the piss out of us than savouring the win. "Cartoon army", "You're gonna win fcuk all", "Where were you when you were s**t", "Champions League, you're having a laugh", they all came out. Just what is their problem with us? Or perhaps it's not just us. I put a posting on their message board asking if we'd done something in a previous life to upset them. Someone replied that it's not just us, some of their thugs were trying to get stuck into Fulham fans earlier in the season. Fulham!!??

As for the day out in general, it went pretty well. Most of us ended up in (or rather outside of) Sinclairs Oyster Bar near Victoria Station. Despite the name it's actually a Sam Smiths pub and therefore really cheap. It was lovely sat in the little square outside the pub soaking up the sun. The downside of that was that we had to put up with plastic glasses. Mind, in may case it was a good thing - I dropped my glass when it still had about quarter of a pint in it for no apparent reason. That wasn't the only piece of numbness on the day. Tom forgot his specs. He had his specs case mind..... Some of had some fun and games getting back from Piccadilly. We were sat on the late-running 17.29 waiting for it to leave. Eventually there was an announcement that there was a problem with the doors. Second away game in a row!! By twenty to 6 things weren't looking good, so we jumped off and got onto the 17.45 train. Sure enough, they then suddenly sorted the doors and the other train pulled out ahead of ours. Back at Leeds just before 7, there was a heavy police presence in and around the station. Very strange considering that Leeds weren't playing at all.

Next stop Marseille....


I sent a complaint to Wetherspoons after we got chucked out their pub in Birmingham before the game at St Andrews. I didn't really expect any response, so I was pleasantly surprised to get this letter from them a couple of days ago. However, not surprisingly it falls a long way short of the full apology we would have liked.

Those that were there will remember that the manager's excuse for kicking us out was that he'd received a phone call from the police saying that there was fighting down at the station. None of believed that for a second, and I stated an my email that this alleged fighting hadn't happened. Lo and behold he's now changed his mind about what the phone call said! Hands up those of you that believe there ever was a phone call.

Also, when the Round Boy went to see the manager he refused to give Steve his surname, claiming that he wasn't allowed to "under the terms of the Data Protection Act". Well I had a quick look at the Act and couldn't find anything vaguely relating to that sort of thing, and I pointed this out in my email. Interestingly, Wetherspoon's letter contains no reference to the subject.


Dear Mr Clark

Thank you for your email dated 2 February 04 and for taking the time to write to us.

I am concerned to hear that you were not satisfied with the levels of service you received recently from our staff at the Square Peg in Corporation Street, Birmingham. On match days, there is a local policy in force which states that no football colours may be worn in the pub after a certain time. This policy is subject to change, as you are aware, owing to local influences and, occasionally, advice from the police. I have been assured by the Pub Manager that he received information from the Police pertaining to a warning of possible trouble in the vicinity. At times such as this, he must take appropriate action. However, I have passed your comments on to the Area Manager of the pub, in order that he may address the issue with the Pub Manager to ensure that the correct procedures were in place and the best course of action was taken.

Please accept our apologies for any inconvenience this matter may have caused you and thank you for taking the time to bring this matter to our attention.

Yours sincerely,

Paula Spencer
Customer Services Co-ordinator

Sunlun till they die?
I switched on for S*******d's tie against Birmingham seriously expecting to see a half -decent crowd inside their meccano ground for a change. How I p*ssed myself  when I saw the rows and rows of empty seats. Biggest club in the north-east my @rse! Less than 20,000 of the peg-sellers could be bothered to turn out for a fifth round FA Cup match. I suppose we've got to feel sorry for them though. The 'caring club' were asking them to pay an extortionate £17 (that's right, 17 quid!!) for tickets.

The SOS at kick-off against the Brummies

Dingle numbness

It's been ages since we had a demonstration of total stupidity by one of our lot, but Gordano put that right at the Blackburn match. Here's an eye-witness account.

"Many of the Yorkshiremags who attended yesterday's match took the club's advice and arrived in Blackburn well before the game. The Dingles for instance were propping up the bar in the Golden Cup at 2.45, some five and a quarter hours before kick off! Joined shortly afterwards by Dave 'Monkey's Heed' Stead, they started demolishing drinks with great enthusiasm until the landlord noticed that the pub didn't actually sell the booze that the Dingles were sinking (they'd forgot to pour it into glasses) so they were thrown out and forced to continue their session in the car park. At around 7.00pm, after a mere four and a quarter hours on the p!$$, one of the few recorded incidents of a pedestrian running into a car occurred. Gordono, still clutching a bottle of Stella, suddenly lurched forward three or four yards and collided with a deceptively stationary car. Minor injuries resulted. However, in the total absence of any animosity from the home fans, he decided to finish the job off after entering the ground (God knows how he got in) and fell down the stairs smashing his face in, resulting in blood all over the place. He then spent the entire match alternating between telling anyone who'd listen that he was wrecked and asking Andria and Big Issue for their ticket money despite the fact that they'd already paid him. By the way, if you're reading this Gord, the result was 1-1".

Gordon sneaks a couple of cans into the Golden Cup

Nice one Gordon!

35 quid, you're taking the p*ss

We might have nearly won this match, but we didn't deserve to. And in a way it could be a good thing that we didn't. If we had have won, Bobby might have claimed it was evidence that we don't need Nobby. In fact the opposite was the case, the performance proved that we usually don't play as well without him. In 90 minutes we only had two shots on target, which just isn't good enough against a team whose game is based totally on commitment.

You can't write about this game without mentioning the ref. What a shocker he had! He booked Bernard for an innocuous foul, despite the fact that they'd previously committed half a dozen worse fouls (including 3 or 4 on Bernard himself) without a yellow card being shown. That set the tone for the rest of the game. Clueless.

Apart from their equaliser, the other low point of the day was getting hoyed out of Wetherspoons in Birmingham city centre. I arrived there at 10 to 12, but the advance party (Gordano, Steve, Andia and others) had been in since 5 to 11. There was a notice on the door that said football colours, baseball caps, plus various other things, weren't allowed after 3 o'clock. Not an issue for us then. Or so we thought. Around half 12, when some of us were halfway though a meal, the bouncers told us that they'd changed the notices to say no football colours after 12, but we were ok because we were already in. Ten minutes later they came back to ask us to cover up our colours as people outside could see them and that was causing problems because of the notice on the door. Fair enough, so we covered up. Then shortly after that they came back again saying that the manager wanted us to leave. When we asked why we were told that it was because "it's kicking off down at the station". This was a total lie and we knew it. Steve asked to see the manager, who repeated the lie and refused to give his surname (his first name was Brendan though!!). We were told that we could finish our drinks, but we insisted on leaving straight away. So off we went! We were quite p*ssed off, but it has to go on record that the bouncers were very apologetic, and that the locals were embarrassed and were arguing our case. It was only the w***er in charge that was at fault. Anyway, we jumped into taxis and (eventually!) ended up at a pub that was an out-and-out home pub, but which was nevertheless very friendly. When I got to the ground I found that there's a big enclosure by the away turnstiles where they park the buses, and the away fans have to show their tickets to get into this fenced off area. I was amazed to find that there were dozens of police (at least 100) inside the enclosure. It wasn't until afterwards that I found out what they were all there for - they were performing the very important job of arresting people getting off the buses if they thought they'd had too much to drink. Just what is it with West Midlands police?

Most people wanted to get the first train back after the match, but not everyone was in such a hurry. I'd arranged to meet Pigeon and a few others in the Newt next to the station for a couple of pints. I got there at about 25 past 5. Sometime after that I got a text from Pigeon saying he was in some pub called the Toad (so he was sort of quite close) and would see me on the half 6 train. No-one else turned up in the Newt. When I got to the station I found that the 1830 train was expected at 1840. "Not too bad" I thought, until I realised that the displays were actually saying 1940. My brain had taken in the '40', but not the '19' initially. Apparently there'd been a landslip somewhere near Bristol and so the trains were all over the place. Fortunately though there was a train to the Toon (but not through Leeds) at 5 past 7 that was on time. And things got better after I got a text from Foxy Debs the Virgin Bird saying that she would be passing through New Street at about 10 to 7 on her way to a wild night out in Aston. We just had time to say hello and goodbye before we went our separate ways. The train was pretty busy as it was the first direct train back to the Toon. Once again the Toon fans showed that they are a cut above the rest. Ok, they were a bit boisterous, but they were also amusing and charming. Ask the two young Ipswich fans who had a great time.

I got off the train at Sheffield to catch a slow connection to Leeds. Just as I got to the platform the display changed to "Delayed". Fantastic!! Fortunately the train turned up only about 10 minutes late, and I got back to Leeds 'only' an hour later than planned.

Oh, and I never saw Pigeon yet after the match. He could still be down there for all I know.

All over for another year

I didn't really think we'd beat Liverpool, but I would have settled for a draw. In the end the better team overall shaded it, although Big Al nearly sneaked us an unlikely replay at the death. I don't like to criticise Bobby too much after what he's done for the Toon, but what a ridiculous substitution he made. Has he forgotten that he's allowed to take off other players other than Nobby?? Any real hope that we had disappeared at that point. And as for JJ with their winner.....

All the Yorkshire Mags (but not York Mag Alan J) caught the 10.08 train from Leeds. Brendan (aka Tubs) and his mates had got at the Toon. They'd been on the beer all the way down, but that still doesn't excuse the obscene singing/shouting that one of them engaged in at one point. Fortunately for the rest of the carriage, and himself, he shut up when told to do so. A big game of Chase the Ace lasted all the way from Huddersfield to Liverpool. The Round Boy could have won just after Manchester, but he elected to make it a doubler to increase the excitement. Andria, who'd just got on at Piccadilly,  joined in and sure enough ended up winning the pot of 22 quid.

Once at Lime Street we headed for the Vines for cheap beer and to watch the Scarborough-Chelsea match. Once the telly game was finished we jumped into taxis and headed for the Flat Iron, with some people stopping off at an off-licence on the way so that they didn't have to pay pub prices for their beer. Any suggestions as to who that might have been? When we first got to the Flat Iron it was relatively quiet, but it soon filled up with Toon fans who couldn't get into the Arkles. Pretty soon the place was jumping. The handful of Liverpool fans took it well, and the bar staff did a fantastic job.

Inside the ground the Toon fans were in good voice. I can't comment on most of our end, but the bit that I was really up for it. There was loads of pogoing, and shoes off, and basically just lots of singing and noise. Yet again though, at least at an away game, the team weren't as good as the fans.

A lot of people, including all Brendan's lot, were staying down Saturday night. The rest of us raced back for the 20 past 8 train. The Doc had a good reason for heading straight back to Huddersfield - he'd arranged to meet up with 12 nurses on a night out! For once Arriva had showed some common sense and had some extra carriages on, and so the train wasn't as chocka  as it might have been. We played Pontoon all the way back, but it worked out well as no-one ended up seriously up or down.

A belting day out, but spoilt by the result. It looks like we'll just have to concentrate on the league. And UEFA Cup.

Oh aye, just remembered. I read today that Freddy Shepherd thought it would be better to finish fourth in the league than to win the cup. Like in twenty years time people will say "Newcastle got the fourth Champions League spot that season". Bollocks. Football's about winning things, not about money. If you can't win the league then a cup's the next best thing. No argument.

Nice one Freddy!

When he was interviewed at the end of the game Big Al said "We didn't need to be told that we hadn't played well enough the last two games." Well I'm pretty sure he personally didn't, but I'm equally sure that one or two others did need to be. It certainly produced the desired effect. I'm not sure how we can make sure that the level of effort and commitment is the same for every match though. Perhaps a policy of "No play, no pay"......?

It was just fantastic after so many years of poor performances and late goals (especially by Le Tiss) to finally get a result at this place. Hopefully we can follow it up with a win against Man Ure on Sunday. Spookily it's also 1972 that we last won there....


A piece of history

It was a bit of a strange atmosphere in the away end. My theory is that only a minority of the normal away following were there due to the crap kick-off time and it being on the telly. The rest of our fans must have been people that have never been to an away game in their life. For the last 3 years or so the Toon fans have basically stood up at every away game. At Charlton and Leicester we were asked over the tannoy to sit down, and people on the whole took not a blind bit of notice. So imagine my amazement on Saturday when, as soon as the ref blew the whistle for the kick-off, the entire stand behind me sat down. It was just like being at a home game! But then I noticed that everyone in the corner was still stood up. So naturally I relocated over there, which as it happens is where most/all of the Yorkshire Mags were, where I could get behind the team properly without upsetting people that were trying to sleep.

Thanks to Alan and Mike for driving, and to Gordano's lot for sussing out the parking. I was back home just after midnight. I'd intended going straight to bed, but instead I watched my recording of the game in its entirety, together with a glass of wine or two. Not a good idea. Getting up at half 6, totally knackered and hungover, to go swimming was not a lot of fun.

Foxes 1  Toon 1

We came very close to losing against a team we should have beaten, but in the end it was probably a fair result overall. We had most of the possession and decent attempts at goal, but the performance was littered with sloppiness. The wind could no doubt be blamed for some of the wayward passing, but certainly not all of it. I never thought I'd see the day when I wrote this, but Robert was probably our hungriest player! He had two attempts from free-kicks from outrageous distances. The first was tipped over by Walker, the second looked like it might be going in before it deflected off their player for a corner. He also got on the end of our best move of the match but his shot was well blocked by Walker. In between he worked hard all over the pitch. The only blot on his copy book occurred near the finish. He got upset with one of their players after they'd had a bit of a tussle. Shortly afterwards he tried to blast the ball into their player's face, but he only succeeded in knocking out poor Ollie Bernard! If he'd have hit the player it was meant for and if the ref had realised what was going on then he could have been in trouble.

I'm still not quite sure how Leicester scored. We appeared to have a hopeful boot upfield by Walker well covered, but then all of a sudden the ball was at the feet of Dickov (who'd been really irritating all afternoon trying to con free-kicks out of the ref) who finished clinically. We never really got going after that, and I thought the substitutions with about 5 minutes of normal time left were far too late. But then up popped Ambrose, cue chaos in the Toon end. It was especially sweet after the p*ss-taking and Mexican waves that their fans had indulged in after their goal.
Shay - didn't have much to do, but did well on crosses
Hughes - best game for a while, possibly because Nobby was playing, possibly because Leicester are poor
Bernard - steady
O'Brien - steady
Bramble - solid
Nobby - not his best game, but the class was still evident
Speed - too much Christmas dinner
Jenas - absolute shocker, needs 'resting' Bobby
Shearer - hardly a sniff, but wound their fans up
Lua Lua - tried to be too clever early on, but then had two good shots
Robert - keep it up!
fans - excellent up to their goal, then went very quiet

Wolves 1  Toon 1

Don't you just hate these lunchtime kick-offs! They really screw up your body clock, plus there's nothing like enough time between opening time and kick-off. My day started badly when I realised my Toon top was still in the wash after Basel. I thought about wearing last season's top instead, but dug my shirt out the wash and found that it wasn't actually that smelly or creased from Thursday and was wearable.

Seven of us (Alan and Mike, me, Gordon, Bren, Pidge and Steady) set off from Leeds on the 7.52 to Piccadilly. The first cans and bottles were opened before we'd even left the station. Pretty soon a game of Chase the Ace started. Round Boy and the Doc got on at Huddersfield, by which time the card game was just into a 'rollover'. We let them to pay in, so there were now eight of us in the game. The game lasted most of the way to Piccadilly, with Richard eventually taking the £9.60 that was in the pot. It would have been mine if I hadn't gambled on sticking on a 6 in the final eliminator!

Our party increased to ten when Andria met up with us at Piccadilly. The cards progressed to Pontoon on the train down to Wolverhampton. Everyone was licking their lips when Andria got the bank, but she had the last laugh when she ended up about a dozen quid up. At one point myself and Pidge had a stroll down to see Carmen in the buffet. Our pal Debbie had tried to work the train when she heard we'd be on it, but she wasn't able to wangle it. As it turns out Debs was instead at home nursing a giant sized hangover. No sympathy!

We arrived in Wolves bang on time, so got to the pub (the excellent Great Western) 15 minutes before opening time. The good news was that it had opened early. The bad news was that they had signs up saying 'NO AWAY FANS'. Most of us got in very easily though, and once inside they weren't bothered about us showing colours. Big Issue didn't have such an easy time getting in though - he had to turn his shirt inside out in a phone box before he could get past the doorman! It turns out that the away fans thing was to do with when they played Watford last season. The police brought the 80 strong Watford squad to the pub and closed the roads outside. The landlord wasn't at all happy about it and now puts the notices up to hopefully stop the police trying it again.

We had time for two or three pints and a sandwich, then it was off to the match. The draw was probably a fair result, but we could easily have lost it. A bit like Thursday, another ref would have given them a penalty and possibly sent off Bramble. As it turns out, the slight tug happened just outside the box, then Blake dived to try to con the ref. We controlled most of the second half, but hardly threatened the goal.

After the game I headed back to the pub for a quick one, as did Richard apparently, although I didn't see him in there. Then it was time to catch the train back. More cards were played and more beer was drunk on the way to Manchester, likewise from there to Leeds. We arrived back in Leeds bang on time (four trains all on time - can't be bad!). Now this is what screws you up. It felt like it must have been at least eight o'clock, yet it was only 10 to 6. Gordano and Steady headed off to the Angel for more beer, but I decided I really should go straight home seeing as how I'd somehow been talked into doing the Abbey Dash (10k road race for anyone that doesn't know) on Sunday. Of course, when I got home it was still early, so I just had to open a bottle of wine. But apparently it was absolutely the right thing to do as I ran really well next morning.

Gig success

We all had a great night at Tom's band's gig at the Jug and Barrel in Stanningley. There was a really good turn-out of Yorkshire Mags and family/friends. Some had come impressive distances and were going to have long and/or expensive journeys home by public transport and/ or taxi. This of the complete list of who was there based on my somewhat hazy memory of the night*: Jude (naturally), Paul D + missus, Pigeon, Alan J, Geoff, Arran, Steady, Steve and Sally, Brendan, Martin, Alan H and Kath, Alex and Chris, Mike and Rachel, and Everton Bob and friends. And not forgetting myself of course. Apparently over 600 quid was raised for Children in Need, which Tom was "chuffed to bits" about.

I wasn't sure what the locals would make of having so many Geordies there. It's not exactly the smartest part of Leeds after all. But I though it would be ok as long as we just like mingled in and didn't make it too obvious. That plan went out the window at the end of the first number when Tom said "I'd like to thank all my Geordie mates for coming. That's them at the back there." But no-one seemed bothered, and we certainly more than paid our way when it came to the charity bit. We paid large amounts of money to sponsor House of the Rising Sun and Substitute. We tried to get the band to do Daydream Believer, but sensibly they wouldn't. We also sponsored an encore of House of the Rising Sun. All in all a cracking night. It's the first time I've seen the band play and I can honestly say that they're canny good, especially if you're into 60s, 70s and 80s rock.

* Apologies if I've missed anyone off.


PS  In the main photo at the top, Tom's not reading to read the words to one of the songs off a crib sheet. He's just reading out some of the dedications.

PPS  Sorry about the crap photos of the band, I think Aarrrroooonna over-estimated the capability of his flash.

PPPS  Not the greatest performance in the world against Man City yesterday, but a comfortable win in the end.

Milan remembered....

If you're one of the dozens of Yorkshire Mags that were in Milan in March (and anyone else for that matter!) then you've now got an opportunity to obtain a reminder of the trip. Just launched is the 'official' commemorative DVD. It might only last 15 minutes, but I always say that quality's more important than quantity. A few people already have copies and it's gone down really well - "F*****g class man" was Pigeon's verdict. The price is £3.75. Two quid of this goes to Tiny Lives, the rest is for the raw materials. It's an extra 50p for p&p if you can't pick up your copy in person. Click on the picture to see a large image of the front cover, or here for the back cover, including 'cast'.

You can get an idea of the content by by clicking on the links below. Note though that the actual DVD is full screen, and digital quality. (It's best to right click on the link and 'Save target as...'. Download time is about 30 secs for Broadband, otherwise 3 minutes.)

In case you're still living in the last century and haven't got a DVD player (ie me until very recently), you can also get it on video. The picture quality isn't as good, but it's not bad! And you can use the other two and three quarter hours of tape for something else. The cost of a copy on video is £2.75. Again, two quid of that goes to Tiny Lives, and p&p is an extra 50p. You can order your copy by email to, or by sending a text to 07789 554408, or by phoning me on 0113 2504680 in the evening.

Anyone for Sushi?

Some of you will know that the Round Boy recently got into Sushi. Well he might be having second thoughts after hearing the story of the Japanese bloke Mr Shota Fujiwara, sent to me by Debbie the lovely Virgin girl. Well apparently Mr Fujiwara loves (or should that be "loved"!) his sashimi and sushi very much to the extent of trying to get them as "alive and fresh" as possible. After a while he started to complain incessantly about a persistent headache. For three years he put it down to migraine and stress from work. It was only when he started losing his psycho-motor skills that he sought medical help. A brain scan and x-ray revealed little however. But upon closer inspection, a specialist noticed small movements beneath the skin of his scalp. It was then that the doc did a local anaesthetic to his scalp and discovered the cause. Tiny tapeworms crawled out! Major surgery was thus immediately called for and the extent of the infestation was horrific! Remember Steve: tapeworms, roundworms and their eggs which abound in all fish, fresh or saltwater, can only be killed by thorough cooking and/or freezing the fish to between -4 to -0 degs C. Click on the link below if you want to see for yourself the full extent of Mr Fujiwara's problem.
Not for the faint hearted
So next time you see Steve, don't forget to watch out for wriggling under the skin. And if he's having trouble walking straight it could be that he's just p*ssed. But it could be loss of psycho-motor skills.......
(Thanks for this Debs!)

Toon 1  Villains 1

This was a strange day for various reasons. To start with there was hardly anyone going up by train on the morning of the match as many of the regulars were either already up there or were in Cyprus (Tom). Myself and Miguel were the only Yorkshire Mags on the 9.42 out of Leeds. Mike was knocking back cans of Miller like there was going to be no beer on sale in Wetherspoons, whereas I was a good boy and stuck to my Coke. Once we arrived in the Toon we headed straight for Spoons to find that Gordano was as usual there before us. Si wasn't much behind us, looking very much the worse for wear. An overdose of alcohol on Friday combined with not much sleep had taken its toll. In fact he was feeling so rough that an hour and a half later he still hadn't finished his first pint and had switched to orange juice.

The place livened up no end when Steady arrived. For anyone that doesn't know the story, Gordon had sent in applications for 6 tickets for the match in Basel. He only got 4 tickets in the post on Friday, the 'missing' two being Steady's and his 'mate'. It's a bit of a long story, but it was ultimately all down to the fact that our club apparently owed 300 quid to NUFC due to cheques bouncing. They wouldn't release the Basel tickets until the debt was paid. Texts and phone calls had been flying about since Friday, but Steady still had no tickets. He came into Spoons shouting "Where's Darren? Where's Alan? Where's Michael?". As if it had anything to do with Mike!! More texts and phone calls followed. I found out that Darren had sent a cheque from his own account, but that wasn't going to get there and be cleared in time for the Basel tickets. In the end Big Issue and Martin Bare stumped up 150 quid each. Off went Steady to the ground, back he came half an hour later with his tickets and looking just a little bit happier.

After the game I decided to get the early train back with Alan, Mike and Martin Miller. It was an uneventful journey back until we got to Leeds. As we pulled into the station we noticed a load of police on the platform apparently to greet our train. We realised that the natives might be a bit restless after their latest (but not unexpected) defeat, but that didn't explain why the police should be waiting for our train. As soon as we got off they came up to us and gave us a grilling. My conversation went something like "Let's see your ticket." (It didn't help then that I inadvertantly showed him my outbound ticket!) "What are you doing getting off here?" "I live here." "Whereabouts?" "Yeadon." "Whereabouts in Yeadon?" "Off Henshaw Lane." "Name another couple of streets off Henshaw Lane." (I was starting to get pissed off by now) "Well there's Harper Lane and..." "That's not off Henshaw Lane!" "Ok, it's at the top of Henshaw Lane. But Parkland View's OFF Henshaw Lane, and that's where I live." "Ok then, I suppose you can go." Apparently when Alan was asked where he lived and he said "Cookridge", the copper said "You can't argue with that", and that was the end of it! It turns out that the police were on the platform because they'd been tipped off that there might be a load of Villa and Wolves fans on the train and they might get off at Leeds to cause bother. Fair enough. Except that there weren't loads of Villa and Wolves fans on the train - why weren't they aware of that? And four blokes in Toon tops didn't look anything like Villa or Wolves fans. Or did they seriously think that we'd come all the way down from Newcastle just to cause bother. I think if we had of done we might have been wearing Stone Island jumpers and burberry caps instead of Toon tops. The explanation was of course that the police had cocked up big style and felt that by hassling us they could make it look like they were justified in being there. This was reinforced as we left the station. There were loads of police in the station itself, and loads of vans outside. And no sign of trouble whatsoever. Not even a hint of the threatening atmosphere that we've often come across in the station in the last year or two. As I've said, the Leeds fans would have been expecting to lose against Arsenal. There was no reason for there to be such a big police presence around the station, other than because they fancied the overtime.

Mike had arranged to meet Everton Bob in Wetherspoons on Park Row. Alan and me decided to join him. It's actually the first time I've been in the place. Needless to say we were well covered up. As it happens it was a very relaxed atmosphere and we would have probably been ok with our tops showing. I only stayed for a pint anyway. Alan was having another one while he waited for his train, the youngsters were up for a heavy night. No doubt I'll find out at the meeting on Tuesday what they got up to.

PS  Oh, by the way, you can blame me for Al not scoring the penalty. While he was waiting to take it I was mentally composing the text that I was going to send to Debs (the Virgin 'bird', who's a Villa fan) after he buried it. You'd think I would know better at my age.

PPS  I cocked up on the Travel page when I said that the ground in Basel was close to the centre and station. It's not. There's updated info on there now.

Top Toon fan scandal - exclusive!

Information has reached us that Andria Harris of the North West Mags, voted one of Newcastle's top ten fans at the end of last season, wasn't at the Everton match. She was spotted at the La Manga club in Spain by BBC football pundit Alan Hansen. Alan contacted us to say "I was lying by the pool enjoying a cold beer when I spotted Andria a few yards away. I phoned Lawro (his buddy Mark Lawrensen) back in the UK and he confirmed that Newcastle were playing at Everton. I couldn't believe that Andria would be over here when Newcastle had a game in her backyard. I can only assume that she'll now do the decent thing and hand back her award. Perhaps they'll give it to that tea lady instead as she didn't get one of her own." Hansen went on to say that he went over to ask Andria - self-proclaimed 'Top Toon fan in Manchester' - for her shirt, but she just looked at him as if he was mad.

For those of us actually at the game, it was obviously an improvement on recent matches. It was disappointing to concede the late equaliser, but it was probably a fair result. What was annoying though was that their second came about as a result of a failed attempt at time-wasting by us down near the corner flag at the other end. We were looking comfortable and shouldn't have been doing it. It was Big Al that instigated it, then a certain Mr Bowyer (who was otherwise anonymous yet again) gave the ball away, next thing you know it's a penalty at the other end. At the time I thought it was a definite penalty, unlike our second where Bernard had seemed to take a dive. But having just watched the highlights it looks like theirs involved more of a dive than ours! Anyway, it's history.

Most of had caught the 9.08 train from Leeds. Dave Selby got through four cans of Stella on the way over. He claimed it was purely medicinal, helping him recover from the previous night's mega-session. Once in Liverpool most people headed off to meet Big Issue in the Vine. But it didn't open until 12 so they ended up in the bar of the Adelphi Hotel instead, before later moving on to Arkles. A few of us though had caught a taxi straight up to Arkles. We were there by 5 past 11, but we still weren't the first Toon fans in. Dave Selby carried on where he'd left off on the train, knocking back a pint of Stella every 25 minutes or so. When the Adelphi lot piled out of their taxis it was obvious that Pigeon was pretty much the worse for wear. He bought a pint of Boddies, but was wobbling so much that he was spilling more than he was drinking. At quarter past two I went to the bar to get a quick half. It was hard work getting served so you had to be patient, but the lad next to me had his patience tested to the limit. The barmaid at one point actually asked him what he wanted, but then realised that someone else had been waiting longer and served him instead. "Good barmaid" I thought. Wrong!!! She then served someone else instead of the lad next to me. He just stood there with a bemused look on his face. She then served the person that was the most recent arrival at the bar, who just happened to be the biggest and loudest person waiting, while people told her that she should be serving this other poor lad. When she was ready for the next person he quietly asked again for "Two Carling and a Smirnoff Ice". She totally ignored him and looked for someone else to serve. Everyone stood at that part of the bar was telling her "This lad's next, serve him", but she lost it and shouted back "Don't tell me whose next!". "But you were going to serve him ages ago, it's his turn." "Don't tell me whose turn it is". She served yet another new arrival at the bar and then finally went to this lad and asked him what he wanted. If it had been me I would have told her to fcuk off. In fact I walked away from the bar at this point because I couldn't face being served by such an ignorant cow. I could understand she could get p*ssed off if there was a load of people stood at the bar all shouting "I'm next", but when everyone's in agreement as to whose turn it is??? The mind boggles. Her name's Betty by the way for the next time you're in Arkles.

After the match one or two headed straight back to Lime Street. Most of us though went to the Springfield on Walton Road for a pint. Some of us found it easier to find than others. Aaaarrrooooonnna had to catch a taxi, even though it was only a few hundred yards. About half the Springfield brigade jumped in taxis after a pint so that they could catch the 18.22 train. The hardcore that were left had some good crack with the Scousers before heading off for the 19.22. It turned out to be quite a noisy journey back to Leeds. I'm not sure whether we were entertaining or annoying the other passengers. A bit of both probably!

When will it end?

When was the last time we lost three home games in a week? And played so badly in all of them? Anyway, at least we can't lose another match for a fortnight.

I caught the 9.41 train out of Leeds. As I feared, there were quite a few of the Leeds burberry brigade on board bound for Smogland. Surprisingly, there was no sign of any Birmingham fans, even though the train had come through there. I was looking forward to getting to Darlo where the Leeds lot would get off. Unfortunately we were delayed by about half an hour in the Northallerton area because there were reports that someone was sitting in the middle of the track. "Flatten him" was the sympathetic response. Once in the Toon it was straight to Wetherspoons to find that 'our' table had been hijacked by a load of Birmingham fans. To be fair, they were good lads who'd come up the night before and had nothing but good things to say about the Toon. Then when we got back to 'Spoons  after the game they were there again! Apparently some of them hadn't been to the game, whether because they didn't have tickets or just wanted to stay on the p*ss. We decided to hang back and catch the 8 minutes past 7 train to allow all those nice Leeds fans to get out of the way. As we do, we went to buy a Bottle of Broon each to take on the train. But this (very p*ssed) Brummie insisted on paying for them. In fact, he insisted on buying us two each. Canny lad! When we got to the platform we found there were loads of Birmingham fans catching the same train. We'd assumed they'd be on the earlier train, but they'd hung back because they were having such a good time in the Toon! We had some good crack with some of their lads (although it briefly got a bit heated when they complained about Big Al saying that he didn't want to play for England and we said that we basically couldn't care as the Toon comes first every time), and we were made to promise that we'd go to their pre-match pub (the Hen and Chickens) when we play at their place. All in all, another day out ruined by the 90 minutes in the middle.

Incidentally, our Player of the Year presentation to Big Al took place before the kick-off. Dave Selby was chuffed to bits to be pulled out of the hat to present the trophy to Big Al. Here's some of his photos (click on picture for larger version).


Milan reminiscences...

I was doing some obscure Google search a few days ago and stumbled across an Inter fan's account of his trip to the San Siro when we played there. Apologies for the quality of English, but I'm sure you'll get the gist.

"It was a beautiful afternoon of sun in Milan. Around four 'o clock I come down in road in order to take a break to me for a cappuccino and the roads of the center in Milan were crowded of people dressed in "bianconero" (white and black colour).

I asked myself: What makes many supporters of Juventus here in Milan, today? (the colours of Juve are white and black). Then I remembered to me that this evening was the day of the Champions League's game between Inter and Newcastle.

Therefore those persons were English, were the supporters of Newcastle. The famous "hooligans". But I realised that the terrible 'hooligans' in truth are very likeable and kind persons. They have offered the cappuccino to me. And also one beer. Even if in many bars of Milan the superalcoholic were prohibits to the people.

English people everywhere: in road, in the stores of the center, in piazza del Duomo, in front of the display windows of famous stylist: Valentino, Armani, Ferr. English people on the bus and in the subway, with the T-shirt while the people from Milan were dressed with their coats and their winter scarf. And the effect was chromatically beautiful.

During the travel in subway who has carried to me to the stadium of San Siro I think about some aspects and some differences between Italian and English football.

English football recently is changed in the "European style" in the players and in the trainers. See Arsenal for example that has a team with many French players.

I have read on Internet that Bobby Robson has reached 70 years of age and had two dreams in the life: to continue to train Newcastle and to win the Premiere League. The first objective he has, for the second he's working on. Newcastle actually is in third position in Premiere League. Robson in Italy is seen like an optimal trainer, full of wisdom and enthusiasm.

The main difference between English and Italian football is that English invest on the young players and the Italians invests on the old ones.

In England national team play Owen, 23 years, Wayne Rooney, 17, and then there are Milner, Joe Cole and Ashley Cole, all young men. In Italy we only have "stars" close to the 30 years. The young only stay in the shadow. I have read also that in England is announced an inquiry for the launch of a coin against Thierry Henry during a match... In Italy instead we have the story of some hooligans that they enter in field and they stick the players and that they smash in the enclosure.

The transfer of Italian players to England is never difficult to understand. We remember Gianfranco Zola, who at Chelsea has given the best of his career and was elected the best player of Chelsea of all the times, and to Paolo De Canio.

Anyway, I arrived to the stadium practically in the middle of a group of supporters of Newcastle. For a moment I feel like one of them, even though my heart is black and blue...

Inside the full stadium the usual show from Inter's supporters and a side of stadium (that one occupied usually by the tifosi of the AC Milan) full of Newcastle's supporters.

A show, outside and within from the field. The game was fantastic! At the end 2-2 and was been a typically "English match", never a moment of boredom, always high emotions and with both teams with bellicose spirit and never done.

A very beautiful match seen rarely here at the San Siro."

Planes, trains, and automobiles

I've received word of another classic by the non-homing (especially in this latest episode!) Pidgeon. The story (allegedly!) goes something like this. Apparently he moved house last Thursday and set off from his new nest for a day on the piss in York on Friday. However overnight he'd managed to forget the name of his new street (as you do) and went to the end of the street to check the street sign. Having duly noted Arkside Road, off he set on his all day bender. Several gargles later he goes to a taxi rank and asks to go to 28 Arkside Road. The cab had run up £24 on the meter when the driver pulls up outside a house that is completely unrecognisable to the drunken dove.
"Where's this?" asks the non-homing one.
"Your house" comes the reply.
"Nah its not" says the feathered fool.
After a confused discussion the driver establishes that the street he actually wants is Parkside Road and charges him a similar amount to take him back to where he wants to be. Staggering out of the cab forty odd quid lighter than when he got in he walks up the road to check the street sign and discovers that some b**t*rds nicked th "P". Could have happened to anyone................... Incidentally, should Pigeon now be re-named Igeon???

You may be aware of the fun and games that the 'Rothbury Seven' had getting to Milan. If not you can read about it further down the page, but the gist of it is that they had big plane problems, got stuck in Paris overnight, and consequently arrived in Milan a day later than planned. So how are they getting to Fulham? You've guessed it - they're flying down! At least their flight is at the crack of dawn so they've got a few hours contingency.

And where do the trains fit into this? I suppose it could be the very slow train that most of us lot are going to the Fulham match on. It's going to take over 4 hours each way. Unfortunately Steady's not going, otherwise we'd have plenty of time to take at least twenty quid each off him at Pontoon.

''I'll drink anywhere.... as long as the 'No surrender' lot and the lads with caps aren't there."

Good point, well made on the board by webmeister Mal. Here I go again I know, but what is it that makes the small minded match going minority think it's the biz to put on their dear gear and strut their labels to their mates? I just don't get it at all. Why is it a desirable uniform?

There's a semi-interesting link here about the decline and fall of the once desirable Lacoste label. It seems that the company feel its brand is being tarnished by its popularity amongst French fcukwits. Lacoste label

It reminded me of this extract from Cass Pennant's glorification of football hooligan numpties. "We had to change from a mindless yob army to a thinking thug army... where was the fun in just looking hard? We smartened ourselves up and started wearing casual fashions. The Farah strides, Pringles or Gabiccis we wore on a Friday night we now sported to matches on the Saturday. Anything to get as far away as possible from the authorities' stereotyped image of what they thought they had to look out for..."

So the 70s desirable designer wear is now pure golfing grandad gear. By making a relative comparison it's reasonable to assume that crocodile shoes and the checked cheeky mincer caps are destined to be the fashion statement of the next generation of old to$$ers.

The next time you see someone wearing stuff like this take a closer look. With a little imagination you'll quickly transform them into Farah pants and Pringle jumper wearers, and the sadly deluded clothes ar$es really will look like to$$ers. I'm sure it will bring a smile to your face - or fist in your mouth if you laugh too much.

Wetting Steady Junior’s Skull

Much drinking took place in Bradford’s Cock and Bottle on Sunday to celebrate the Christening of Steady’s latest offspring, Daniel. Three Yorkshire Mags were in attendance (well two were and one was, sort of).

Keith and Big Issue gave the church service at 12.00 noon a miss and merely arrived for the beer and pork pies (or in Keith’s case the coke and quiche) at 1.00pm.

Brynn arrived at the Cock and Bottle at 12.00 noon, an hour before kick off (which must be a first for a Yorkshire Mag, although I suppose that technically he was in the pub when the main event kicked off elsewhere which is probably not a first). Finding a deserted pub he left a card and present behind the bar and went home.

Steady finished the celebrations with a drunken version of “Sweet Caroline” by Neil Diamond. This despite efforts by Big Issue to set him up with “Sweet Child of Mine” or the Sex Pistols version of “My Way” which the DJ apparently deemed “inappropriate”. (Steady himself had earlier been heard asking Big Issue what the Sex Pistols version of “My Way” was called. The answer “My Way” appeared to astound the pissed up quarter wit.)

I’m sure that all the Yorkshire Mags would like to take this opportunity to wish young Daniel all the best and every success in life despite his unfortunate genetic inheritance which we are all sure that he will manage to overcome.

(Report courtesy of Big Issue)

Missing (1)

Big Issue made it from Liverpool, Andria from Manchester, dozens from Yorkshire, and a fare smattering of the London mob were there. But apparently transport from Durham to the Toon was impossible. Dave Bailey didn't make the Barca game because of "a torrential downpour". As p*ss poor excuses go for not making it to the match that must rank up with some of JT's finest efforts. Speaking of which....

Missing (2)

An interesting story filtered back from those that were in Wetherspoons before the Barca debacle.

Yorkshire mags were greeted on arrival by a barely compos mentis JT who had been chucking bottles of dog down his neck since 12.00 noon and had definitely achieved an advanced state of relaxation by 5.00pm nearly three hours before kick off. Dressed in a khaki lounge suit with open-necked shirt he only needed an elephant gun and he’d have been a natch for a cameo appearance in Daktari. Tom greeted him with “Hello JT, been on a safari?”

The YMs were most impressed that the ex-chairman had graced them with a rare personal appearance for what was only a friendly, but were most intrigued when the story unfolded as to how he’d ended up in that state in Newcastle city centre.

Apparently it had been his wedding anniversary the day before and being the dyed-in-the-wool romantic that we have all come to know and love over the years he had whisked Sue off for a night of passion at a B and B in Tynemouth.

Both of them started hitting the pop at four o’clock in the afternoon and by midnight were completely cabbaged. Sue having sunk eight Alco pops and a bottle of red wine and JT his usual lake of dog. JT’s memory is a bit hazy about what happened next but it definitely involved Sue thinking she was locked out of the room when she wasn’t and deciding to drive back to Leeds fuelled on a tide of alcohol (it seems something of JT has rubbed off on her).

The next morning our hero awoke alone and carless and after settling the bill for his singly occupied double room stuffed his clothes into a Sainsburys carrier bag and shuffled off to Wetherspoons where he proceeded to get monstrously pissed.

The laugh is that having spent seven and a half hours in Wetherspoons and being stung for a hugely expensive single ticket from Newcastle to Leeds the pissed part-timer caught the half seven train and didn’t even bother going to the match. Married bliss or what?

For those of you scared by the prospect of opening Gaz's link on the message board on a PC at work, here's the picture from Steady's camera. 
Bin, in the Novotel garden, was surprisingly popular with the hotel gardener after volunteering to help solve his fertiliser shortage.
This gradual transition to $hiteing Super Hero is amazing - he's getting so much sympathy that we'll all be copying him soon. 
As a reminder of the original Tad incident, coming soon a copy of the 'Dear Edna' letter of apology.


Tales of the totally fcukin' Expected Bin and Pigeon prepare for a night out in Tadcaster, Sam's lager and infamy.

Click the pic to read more of their weekend antics. It's slightly at odds with Mal's memory of mayhem but it's definitely got a similar flavour to it.


Bradford 8  Yorks Mags 0

After a succession of heavy defeats over the last few years the Bradford lot decided to take this annual challenge seriously for a change. Not only did they turn up with enough players, but some of them had even played before. Plus quite a few were much younger than most of our team. We had one or two notable absentees. Steady ('The Cat') phoned at half nine on the day to say that he was working 6-6 so couldn't make it. he wasn't fooling anyone, we all knew he'd taken his bat home because he'd been told he wouldn't be playing in goal. Pigeon didn't turn up - lost again presumably. Also we missed proper footballer Rich Rogerson.

Pretty much from the kick-off it was obvious we were up against it. Within about 10 minutes we were a goal down. We kept it to one until about the 25 minute mark when yours truly replaced Tom. By half-time it was 5-0. The fifth came from a penalty after keeper Keith brought down one of their players. 'Never a fcuking penalty ref' moaned Keith, while everyone else thought it was blatant. Keith concedes a penalty
for number five

Keith took a bit of a huff at the start of the second half. He reckoned he was injured and couldn't continue in goal, and promptly took over as ref! We managed to keep them down to three in the second half thanks to a combination of wayward shooting, good goalkeeping (with one on their lot in nets for us) and a mean offside trap. I suppose it also helped that they took off a couple of their best players. Right at the death we should have had a penalty when Everton fan Bob was clearly pulled back when clean through. Keith claimed that his view of the incident was blocked by Michael. It mightn't have been if he hadn't been 50 yards behind play.

After the game we adjourned to the nearby Fountain pub for beer, pizza, and very hot chilli.

There's a full set of pics on the Photos page. Click here to see them.

Player of the Year

The Yorkshire Mags Player of the Year awards for the last three seasons were presented before the Charlton game. Don't ask why we had to do three in one go! Anyway, here's a few pics for those of you (ie everyone) that missed it.

Nicky presents Al with his award for 1999/2000. Pity they weren't facing the camera!
Shay gets the trophy for the last two seasons from Mike. So now we know how tall Shay is - precisely half an inch less than Mike.


Arron 'helping the police with their enquiries'. Mind, I doubt they could understand a word he was saying - you know what he's like when he's had a drink.


Probably for the last time, now that 'the committee' don't approve of the main thing that has kept this site ticking over for the last couple of years.

We've taken the pi$$ out of nearly everyone - but especially Arrannoo, Martin Miller, JT, Steady, Si (x2), Wheely, Keith, Tom and the Dingles - who all 'enjoyed' special treatment on here and in the Pud. But when Andria and her pals were subject to some stick it didn't go down too well with our main men, concerned as they now are about hurting the feelings of the NW organiser - and girls.

We've really called everyone everything. It sums up the underlying purpose of the supporters club really - get to the match, have loads to gargle and take the pi$$. Some may feel they have received special treatment - it's true they have - but you may have noticed a common thread. Revenge. Call me anything you want (and I have taken my fair share) but attach 'mackem' to it and I do spit my dummy out. It causes fights where I come from.

Before refreshing your memories with some bits and pieces from past Puds and the site over the last few years, here are a couple of late offerings. A change of tack and no more nastiness may freshen things up. Some one closer to the action may want to continue to rip it out of everyone - but they'll need to get permission first. Good luck.

"Although they restricted themselves to one drink at lunch time, Martin and Scholey still found that they were not at their most productive in the afternoons"
Lookalike No. .... lost count

And from the archives .............


Webmeister & Deputy

Bin and Baby Bro

Foster with locks 

Somebody's ex ?

The Mooth 


Senior Dingle

Nudist Webmeister & 3 legged woman

Tex Tucker


Big Ish's Bird, Linda

Dr Cameron 

Bailey - dummy out?

Big Issue


Thompson & Thompson (nee Tilsley)

Junior Tad Lad (or Foster)

Black and White Kitten...
Anyone reading the message board over the last few days might have wondered what this mystery 'illness' is that meant that Kat couldn't travel to Arsenal at the weekend. Or why she's back in the Toon for good. Well the secret's out - she's pregnant! And she's put her foot down and insisted that the baby's going to be born a Geordie, so she's moved back in with her Mam and Dad. Grant's going to follow at some point. At the moment Kat's apparently throwing up all day every day. Don't know much about this 'morning' (throwing up all day?) sickness myself but it seems her Mam had it for 5 months when she had Kat. No wonder she didn't have any more! I can't see Kat stopping at one though, I'm sure she plans to produce a whole football team of little Toon fans.

Nothing New
Version 2 of the calendar now available - but it only covers 9 months. Feel free to offer other suggestions before we move onto a Viz characters special - featuring Tasha Slappa, The Brown Bottle, The Bacons, Roger Irrelevant and others. Now that will really cause offence. 
Click on Wetherspoons to see Yorkshiremags Springfield.

(Is that JT crossing the road after getting off the tram?)

Porcine Aeronautical Exploits
Let us know if you see one of these tomorrow..... 

On the right - for the latest Rough Guide to Europe - click on the bear's ar$e......

Full SP on Gaz's dad and his 8 Ace exploits still awaited.......

.......and Shakey too


A fine sentiment from the much travelled London based Yorkshire Mag. He expressed his opinion with a few added expletives at half-time on Saturday. Nothing to do with the match - just a plea for the site to start to rip the pi$$ again.

Likewise one of the regular message board contributors commented that the board lacked a certain something now that the ex-driver has had his PC unplugged at work - following a ridiculously high amount of time spent on football related web sites in council tax payers' time.

So until warned-off again here goes ...........................
Firstly the ex. The simple running total of matches missed is far too tame. The Leg was totally incredulous at his no-show for the FA Cup 6th round game... at home.....on a Saturday. "What's he on?" and "He's your mate - what's happened to him?" were the questions put to a current club official. "Don't ask me - he's no mate of mine - he's just some old bloke that used to go to the match with us."
Fairynuff ..... so what-ever happened to him then? Well it seems that he had plastic surgery, dropped an 'h' and took up acting. 

Read on .... (to follow)

Most Wanted? 
This really is a picture from the FBI's web site suggesting how Bin Laden could look if he shaved off his maggoty beard, snotty tash and took the towel off his nappa. Remind you of anyone? No can't say it does - in the meanwhile here's a picture of Hiz.

Two Strokes  What a great load of Manc toon fans those NW mags are ! 
Organise a bus - leaving plenty of room for us lot then drive over to Leeds to pick us up. Great effort Andria pet! No wonder Wheely Bin spoils you by taking you shopping up Northumberland Street. Hope we can pick you lot up some time or share a train trip. Happy now ? 

Coming soon... more of the same including Wheelie the Pooh + a new updated calendar + who chinned Gaz's dad?



Much to the disappointment of all the doubters, Andria's bus was a definite success. This was despite the last minute drop-outs who left the two Supporters Clubs out of pocket on the deal. It picked us up on time (well, early actually!) in Leeds, got us to the Toon by 3 o'clock, then got us home again. Much more reliable than Big Issue it has to be said. He once again left an item of clothing in the pub and is having to depend on the Yorkshire Mags to get it back to him. We'll have to start charging him for the service.

As some of you will know Tom missed the game because he was at a Jewish wedding in London. At least he took one on those mini telly things with him so he could tune in to the game during the reception. I tried to wind him up by sending him a text saying that the Dog was only 79 pence in Wetherspoons. He didn't bite at all. His reply was "The beer's free here, but I wish I was at the match though." Canny lad! After the game we tried to get him to get a sing-song going on the bus by phone. It didn't work. He was more interested in singing Jewish songs at the reception - I'm looking forward to hearing his new repertoire the next time we're on the train.

JT also missed the game,

Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach
Andria's efforts at organising a bus have been well recorded on this front page - and on the message board - over the last couple of weeks. 

It's not that big a deal really - we've never given Tom and Keith's past efforts so much coverage. It's just that - in Big Issue's words - "This is about the 15th bus trip this lot have tried to arrange. None have worked out so rest assured I'll get to the match under my own steam."

So hence the regular updates. The latest is that Gaz and Daz will be disappointed with the beer and filth ban after yesterday's news from the driver : 

  • no drinking 
  • no live sex shows 
Keep checking the message board for availability - there are 2 spare seats at the time of writing. 

Magic bus gets better! 

Heineken refreshes the parts other beers cannot reach

Magic Bus is On!
Those who doubted Andria and the NW Mag's ability to organise even a motor bike and side car for the Man City cup game will need to eat humble pie (veggie?). Alan was right to slag off the doubters last night - he backed her to the hilt and she's come up with the goods.

They've done a deal and for £16 return will pick up in Leeds. Departing Manchester at 12 noon on a Sunday should mean it gets to Leeds in plenty of time for a leisurely trip up to the toon. 

Drinking arrangements have yet to be confirmed but we expect moderation to prevail - you know, only one box of wine each. Big Ish won't need to tuck it under his coat and use a long flexi straw this time! Bernie doesn't need to practise his Eric Morecambe impression to hide his bottles. Champagne alround perhaps? Someone buy the girl a drink for this.

Wanted Coming soon - Yorkshiremags calendar

- mini-bus driver for regular trips to and from the Toon. Applicant must be game for a laugh, be a proven team player, be willing to earn the respect of the lads (but not paranoid about the odd bottle or two on the way there and back) and, most of all, must not think that he or she is doing us all a favour by driving. OK ? 

All we ask is a little bit of chill - and in return you get the lasting gratitude plus the odd pint (but not if you ask) and no fare to pay. Sounds canny eh?

Would probably suit a reformed newly married ex-alcoholic who needs to get out more. Those of a anal retentive nature with irrational fear of the law need not apply.

Trial period - commencing Sunday 17 Feb is proposed for prospective main candidate. (Own bus not necessary.)

WantedComing soon - Yorkshiremags calendar

- deputy webmeister with plenty of time on his hands. Applicant needs to be quick witted and happy to take the pi$$ out of the rest of the crew who go to the match, and can cope with flak from frustrated former vegetable technicians. 

Needs to have the respect of the lads and be keen to take this site onto another level of rib tickling ribaldry. 

Could be the ideal opportunity for an ex-Viz contributor from Wakefield with a streak of evil, who would not then need to rely upon loose grey skinned former top dog to get his work distributed. 

Sounds canny eh? Anyone who likes to pretend to be a nappy wearing German mackem fan could really have some fun, especially if they like to rip it out of Fiat fetishists. (Own hair not necessary.) 

Please send us your email address if you're interested in 

Heavy metal bus driver dudeMalevolent website overlord 

Topless Yorkshiremags Totty

Those of you who made it to the THT before the Leeds away game may have seen the extract from the women's erotica magazine - featuring Mr Phwoar!! - Brendan Duggan - in his campaign to be voted top tart's totty. 

Tom - to spare Brendan's blushes - doctored the article on display in the pub. Bollox to that - if you want to see 'all' of Brendan then the real picture will be revealed if you click the pic - BUT BEWARE - it features male semi nudity.

Closing Time  
BY TONY HARNEY (from Yorkshire Evening Post Friday 7 December 2001)
A TEAM of distinguished lawyers has lost its case to save a time-warped pub.

After Christmas on January 5 the famous Town Hall Tavern, standing in the Headrow just yards from the courts complex, will close.

Three months of refurbishment will transform the favourite watering-hole of the legal eagles, changing the comfortable, quiet bar into a new style bar-restaurant.

Petitions from leading barristers and solicitors have failed to save the pub frequented at lunchtime and evening by the legal fraternity, police, journalists and sporting celebrities, mainly from cricket and rugby.

The intervention of real ale organisation CAMRA has also failed to carry any weight with the owners of the pub.

Librarian Kevin Anderson collected hundreds of objections to the plan to alter the inn, which has hardly changed since it was built more than 70 years ago and has had a succession of character licensees - the latest being sports loving Lawrie Graham.

Mr Anderson said: "I am staggered. The pub should be saved not just for people like me, who love it, but for Leeds. There is very little else like it."

Beer writer and former Leeds city councillor Barrie Pepper said:

"It is a very sad day to lose the THT. There's nothing like it in the city centre and very little like it out-side."

"It was a favourite of fire chief when their headquarters once stood nearby, loved by the old council rate office workers and hugely popular with the legal world and the police."

The pub is one of three in the stable of an old brewery company, Musgrave and Sager, which has refused to discuss its plans for the building.


Dear Yorkshire Mags
I simply cannot let my legal settlement pass without giving you all an opportunity to share in my good fortune. 
Therefore here is a picture of the cheque for you all to look at. 

Remember us? That's right …it's Mary the landlady and Bob the former Battling Barman from the Town Hall Tavern! An awful lot has happened since you last came in to see us.
I don't really know where to start! It just seems like yesterday when you used to stand at the bar with your own special schooner for your brown ale…sorry …your bottle of dog! 
Remember how we started to stock Newcastle Brown Ale for you - and you always had a cold one for the taxi ride home. What a shock me and Lawrie got when you brought the empties back last year….732 !! - and it was carrying them that made poor Hughie slip on the stairs and snap his back. He sees the funny side though …it's his nature to have a laugh.
And how we used to laugh when you told us about your rough times as a lad in Wallsend. Your Tory party shenanigans with Geoffrey Archer and your failed attempt to get into Edwina Curry's pants brought tears to my eyes. Lawrie can't remember though …far too cabbaged with Tetleys. But Gillian remembers .…as she remembers the 142 times in one night that you asked her for a $hag. Your chat up lines were brilliant but despite that you never got your leg over for nearly 2 years did you? Shame. The 'broon' certainly used to make you amorous. Does Sue let you sup? (I think that’s what she's called - sorry if I got it wrong but I only met her twice.)

You really were the centre of attention in here and when you introduced all of the Newcastle lads to the pub they were really great times. We had some really smashing nights … and days…. when Newcastle played locally. We use to open-up specially for you. I hope the buffets improved although you really hurt my feelings a couple of years back by moaning about the bread and dripping …I forgave you in the end.

Bob sends his regards, as do Shaun and the other old regulars who were really sad to hear of your misfortune...…you know….... getting married and disappearing off the face of the earth.

To get back to the point, Lawrie and I are retiring in the New Year and the pub is closing. It's been sold and I imagine it'll be turned into some la-di-dah solicitors' wine bar. (Hughie's hopeful for a job.) Well as tonight was the last ever meeting of the Yorkshire mags before we retire and the pub closes, I'd just like to say that we think you are a total utter toss-pot for not making the effort to come to the last meeting. What's the matter with you …head stuck up your ar$e you miserable old, henpecked ba$tard. 

Lots of love ….Mary xxx

Ah Bisto !
An old graphic we know, but it's necessary to remind everyone of the numbskullery that seems to attach itself to the wearing of designer baseball caps and thug wear. 

A trip to London provides the chance for some boys to put on their best pulling gear. Fair enough Friday night on the hoy - but on a match day it's the uniform to attract attention of like-minded knacker-dans. 

This Saturday will see Wheely Bin emerge from the cellar at Wanstead Wetherpoons, throw off his brown apron and industrial shoes, and prance out of the front door in his brand new Stone Island ganzy - overlaying his brand new Hackett shirt. He's blown the best part of £250 at Selfridges on two new bits of apparel (last season's style).

But he'll be sticking with (to?) his Asda pants - as they cope best with a boil wash and his fizzy Bisto backside. 

He'll be at Kings Cross at 10 am to greet the Tad Lads off the train and then try and keep up with their 10 pint pre-match habit. Needless to say he'll get hammered, fall asleep somewhere, purge his bowels in an imaginative manner - and dribble. Some big get from Durham, who doesn't appreciate the style, is bound to grab hold of him and rip off the the on-sleeve label - an burn it, or hoy in a pi$$ trap in the boozer. That's entertainment .......and £250 wasted.


Here he is - the publicity shunning Yorkshiremags spin doctor - who as expected failed to turn up at Tuesday's meeting with a sack full of club merchandise ready for the Christmas rush (or Winter Solstice celebration for the hippies.) 

So if you want to know about this year's Christmas cards, the player of the year trophy presentation or the curry night - you should hoy a letter up ya chimney and whistle - cos' you'll have more chance of finding our what's gannin' on that way. 

Face at the window (No.5)
Is This You?

No publicity

Why Aye-atollah Man!

By popular request and ready for tomorrow night's monthly meeting - here's the one you've all been waiting for. 

This is where it all started - the churlish comparison of Yorkshiremags with religious fundamentalists, terrorists... and nutters. Now you know why. This is the last for a while - or until Gaz takes some more photos. 

From tomorrow, in the interest of equality and religious intolerance, we change and feature mad Christian blokes red suits.....with white beards. 

"Tomorrow Matthew, someone who only comes once a year is gonna be Santa!"

Face at the stoning (No.4)
Is This You?

Scary ..... 


Keith's pervasive indoctrination of Bryn Llewellyn has seen wor taffy teacher develop strange tastes in veggie scran over the last few years.
Yesterday's over willingness to praise the ex-bus driver's motor skills, and previous shots at Tom on the message board, must mean that the moonies have got a hold of Bryn too. 

I mean take a look at the photos of the pair of them taken at Valley Parade on Wednesday night. Bryn's even wearing the uniform now. Mad as hatters.

Clamin' for it

Si's still walking around like Jake the Peg at the moment - and he's desperate to tempt the lads out for a night on the pull tomorrow. 

He must have got nowhere this week in his attempt to woo back his his long legged ex.

Face in the Crowd (No.3)
Is This You?

He's more clean shaven than normal in this snap. Still a scruffy ba$tard though!


The reserves 2-1 win tonight at Valley Parade was enjoyed by Bryn, Keith and Jim D. There must have been other Yorky Mags there. Although Biffa's site beat us to the final score they didn't have access to Grumpy Awld Bobby. 

We did - Bryn was stood right in front of him (and Frank the Plank Clark).

    Bobby called Distain 'Goma' throughout the match

    McGuffie is, in Bob's opinion, 'a good trainer' and when Stewie Green came on as sub he was encouraged with an inspirational 'Who's that?' 

    Frank Clark nicked off with 10 mins to go and bade Bob farewell with a smiley 'see you later!' Fcukin' hell! 

But best of all was the stunning bit of banter between Bob and our reluctant bus with no booze driver, Keith.
Face in the Tavern (No.2)
Is This You?

Legal Eagle and exponent of the Taliban pleasure free lifestyle. This miserable looking mullah uses the bum fluff to soak up extra Tetleys to drink in the cab on the way home. Canny. 

Never one to miss a chance - he noticed that Bob had a plaster on his thumb. After carefully planning the question and waiting for quiet moment Keith asked 'Er.. what have you done to your .. thumb, Bobby' - from all of 2 feet away.

Bob's reply.... he absolutely blanked him !! Top man Bob - must have heard he's right boring ba$tard. 

Then to a young fan who went looking for an autograph ....but lacked a pen...Bobby said 

'How do you expect to play football without a ball ? Now bugger off.' 

Bryn passed on a Yorkshire Mags card - with the web site address on it. So you never know Bob might get to see this, or even have a go on the message board .

Toffees 1 Toon 3

The day got off to a good start - our train was not calling at Leeds due to all the engineering work. It was going obviously to be one of those days! So we had to catch the first train to Manchester and hope for a good connection to Liverpool. Half an hour later we climbed aboard the two-carriage 10.25, along with half the population of Leeds it seemed. Amazingly we managed to get seats. Just as we settled into them there was an announcement that we all had to get off and board another train. It was DEFINITELY going to be one of those days. We eventually pulled out of Leeds at about 10.40, and then proceeded to crawl towards Manchester. "Hey I wish I was on Keith's bus", moaned Alan..... as he opened his second can. The good thing about all the delays though was that it was looking more and more likely that the Leeds fans on board weren't going to see the kick-off at Old Trafford. It served them right cos: 

- they shouldn't have caught such a late train 
- they were Leeds fans 

Face NOT in the Crowd (No.1)
Is This You?

Maggoty make believe beard, mingy flip flops with a Jimmy's Hospital towel on his nappa, this turkey necked Yorkshire mag from Wallsend should be easy to spot - dressed to kill at last year's christmas curry extravaganza in Bradford.

Things got worse. We got a phone call informing us that the Arkles (where everyone and his dog had arranged to meet up) was closed for refurbishment. You'd think they would have done it during the close season. 

We limped into Piccadilly at 8 minutes to 12. The Leeds fans dashed off in a futile attempt to get to the ground in 8 minutes, while we waited for the next train to Liverpool. We finally arrived there over an hour late just before one o'clock. We headed around the corner from the station to the Vine to meet up with Gordano and Big Issue and watch the second half of the telly game. Then it was time to catch taxis up to the ground. 

After the game we wandered up the road and joined the queue for the special buses. Five minutes later we got to the front to be told that they were for 'Broomhills only'. Where the fcuk's Broomhills!? "The city centre's only a 15 minute walk", the driver informed us. So 40 minutes later we staggered - especially in Alan's case - into Lime Street, just as the 17.52 pulled out with Brendan on board. "Sh!t, we'll have to go for a pint". The journey back was fairly uneventful, other than the Man U fans whose company we had the pleasure of between Piccadilly and Stalybridge. Actually we didn't know they were Mancs until they'd got off. Once on the platform they suddenly got all mouthy. One of them showed his arse (and more!), but then a couple of coppers stepped off they train and next thing you know they're all falling over each other trying to get out the station. Before long we left the train at Huddersfield to catch the replacement bus to Leeds. The bus got there just about as quickly as the train would have done, so it was a good end to another good away trip. Lovely weather, loads of beer, three points, and clean underpants. 

Amazin' eh! Perhaps this will prompt a long overdue match report from wor diplomatic correspondent. (Other stars in their cars can be found by following the link to a bunny boiler Toon fan's web site )
Lualua Arrannua  


The newly recruited young female Yorkie Mag has stopped cluttering up the message board since she moved in with Mick Jagger in Wakey. But last night she was caught in a one-to-one with webmaster Malcolm. 

Malcolm says: Is it good to be back in Gatesheed?

Malcolm says:Better than Wakey?

KATY says: Good thing bout me is i love footy, love the toon, sing me heart out, but i am girly as well, i dont dress like a lad, i am never seen without make-up, and i love wearing mini skirts and ridiculously short dresses with, i quote my father here, 'more material in the label!'

Malcolm says: Looking forward to being back in your bed tonight? Even after 24 years away I still sleep well when I go home. In the top bunk!!

KATY says: aye it's nice 2 b back, i love my mam n dads house, it's a lovely detached 3 bedroom house, with a double garagem 3 front lawns and 1 back lawn with landscaping 2 one side wiv rocks and $hit and a private drive!

Malcolm says: I'm not in favour of "ridiculously short dresses". Not much!

KATY says: meaning?

Malcolm says:I love them!!

KATY says:i love em me! i have about 17 short dresses, 20 odd short skirts, 35 very low tops! and 16 pairs ov shoes, oh and a pair ov leather knee boots!

Malcolm says:I've got no short dresses or skirts! $hit, hope Paul doesn't read this

Yorkshire, Yorkshire, Yawn, Yawn, etc.

It's not normally the place to highlight the transfer dealings of dorty Leeds - or the opinions of their self-publicist chairman. Ridsdale is rapidly becoming a new version Ken Bates. He expresses his opinion on everything - and is always right. Lately the PFA players strike gets his attention. Today, following the signing of Derby's midfielder, Seth Armstrong, the hand knitted Yorkshire hero has indicated that the new £7m signing will result in some selling.
What this tells us is that he's given up on Kieron Dyer because he won't be fit enough when Bowyer goes to jail. That's what their new signing means - Bowyer's going down. 

According to someone we know who heard Ridsdale speak at some fat, smug, Yorky businessmen's self-congratulatory dinner - Bowyer and the smoggie boy will get sacked if they get porridge. Champion. 

Sad Si
Yes it's a very sad business. No, not the fact that he's been binned by Pammy, but his sackless, embarrassing bleating on the message board about how much he loved her. Pam and Si last season
He claims last night's heart felt expressions on the board were Stella induced. Come on Si get a grip and check out Kat on Sunday. She's either desperate or totally cabbaged as she's moving is with a Leeds fan she spotted in the away seats last season. Get that grin ooot and crack open your best lines. Kat's bound to fancy you - but wear your uniform, ok? Pam and Si this season


We already knew that soon-to-be member Kat has a strange taste in men - she's engaged to a Leeds fan. But it gets worse! Read these assorted text messages that she sent me today:
"Who's that youngish lad, dark hair and biggish ears, and I think he sells The Mag at the Toon?"
"I used to live in Hull and saw you lot get on at Leeds and I had a right crush on him when I was 13. I fancied the ar$e off him!"
I then pointed out to Kat, who hates Mackems with a passion, that the object of her affection was in fact brought up in Sunderland.
"Eh! Oh my god! What eh? How come he's Toon. I still think he's lush!"
Later, on being told that her fantasy man has moved down to the smoke:
"London? What on earth for? So he ain't going to Toon games anymore. Shame, he had a nice ar$e, even for a Mackem"
Other interest in Wheely has come from Andria. It turns out she looks nowt the granny on the picture below but her collar and cuffs don't match. She's not so Angry anymore - especially after Ian from Middleton tried a top chat up line and asked her if she used to ride ponies when she was little. (That's only 2nd in line of the year competition.) Andria has also enquired about the whereabouts of our Sporty Spice lookalike. 

Ok, so who's going to fill them in about Wheely's ar$e then!? And it sounds to me like Kat only got engaged to this Leeds fan so that she could move nearer to The Bin. And he's gone and moved down to London. Poor lass!! Never mind, there's plenty of other eligible Yorkshire Mags for her to lust after. 

In Wetherspoons, asks the waitress ....

"What's ya name pet ?"


"Gettaway !! ....ya knaa I aalwez like to get up the crack of Dawn! "


Late news we know but well worth re-telling.
After the Mackem game it seems that Gordon's sparkling cider antics got the better of him. Although he was reminded by a phone call from his mam to get home and not stay late in Tozzie's - he continued 'til last knockings. He then staggered home. As he's not trusted with a door key he spent several minutes in the back garden trying to find the spare in the plant pot. Bending over to retrieve it he collapsed - into a sage bush - and, inevitably, crashed out. 
Sometime later Zack heard noises in the garden through his open bedroom window. It sounded like snoring so he went to investigate. Gordon was totally out of it, spread-eagled over the shrubbery. He was dragged into the kitchen where he collapsed again. His mam got a pillow and and a quilt and left him there to sleep it off.
An hour or so later he came round - bladder pressure woke him up - and made his way up-stairs to the toilet. His mam heard the water splash as he managed to hit the target. So she got up only to find him making his way back down stairs again. 'Where are you going Gordon?' 'Back to bed mam' ( i.e. back to the kitchen floor instead of his bedroom in the next room.) Some of the names have been changed to protect the innocent.

Barclay binned ?

Those of you who are still trying to get the skid marks out of your undergarments (after Keith's wacky race up for the Liverpool home game) should be interested in the potential competition. Likewise if Tom's 'So Bollix' train trips are less than satisfactory then why not consider a couple of alternatives ?
Angry Andria from North West Mags (seen here with her cap - as usual - at a jaunty sexy angle) may be persuaded to arrange a couple of West Yorks pick-ups in their luxury coach. You may be bored sackless on the way up and, knowing her, she'll be having a whip round for the Taliban. But there again you should get to the Toon in one piece. 
Thankfully Andria doesn't get her t;ts ooot for the lads  "North West Mags offer a very civilised way of getting to the match. They have a severe dress code which I'm happy to comply with as they don't rip the pi$$ out of me and call me Didicoy. There's no back seat sexual shenanigans either!"
For away games there's always Paul Clark's Alco-bus - stopping everywhere for beer, tabs and pi$$ breaks. Tuesday night saw Barnsley's finest plods look in amazement at the Tardis like qualities of the van and its ability to transport large numbers of people and massive quantities of alcohol to and from the North East. He can be cajoled into stopping via Leeds for NW and Midlands matches. You may end up in prison. 

Paul Clark gives his fellow travellers the red carpet treatment

Free Pie

Not to be outdone by Biffa and his dodgy pasty promotion, go to Big Issue's page where you'll find a voucher for a free pie at the Stadium of Smog.
So what will Big Issue's sartorial inspiration be tomorrow? Will he have resurrected that WW2 model with the perished head strap, or will he have invested in something new for the season? There are a number of sites specialising in smogwear - but there's none better than the specialist in Bramhope. 
JT's meeting with an architect last season is now becoming clearer - he needed the extra space for his 'stockroom'. Needless to say the link may be a bit awkward to explain if you open it at work. 

Tad Lad ?  Dad and Lad?  Hard lad?

Shirts on your backs

So far Paul Clark and Arran have been the only ones happy enough to take advantage of the Biffa beating busting bargain from Yorkshire Mags. This season's adults home and away tops for only £30 with free world-wide delivery to you, in Wetherspoons front bar, before home games. Sounds dodgy but they are all perfectly legitimate - from a 'local' retailer who will get his wrists slapped if Adidas find out he's selling them at cost to mates of mates. Get in touch if you want to take advantage.

Bin's 100% record from last year is in jeopardy now that he's accepted a job with Wetherspoons in ............Wanstead, London E14.

Dead handy that. He'll sell loads of Mags there won't he. If that's not enough to put him ahead for the Skull this year, he's also asked if the story below is about anyone we know? He knows it's none of his England watching mates as they don't have birds do they?
This is the boozer he'll be living ten to a room in if you're ever passing on the way to ... E17. It's called The George. 

Arran snapped
I bumped into Arran in a pub/snack bar on holiday in Italy last month. He was sat stock still in the corner (see photo) until I approached him. Apparently he's been over there for 6 weeks now, just scraping a living. I asked him what he was doing so far away from Methley and he replied:
"Aah Gaz man! Am I pleased to see ye an' that. Ah've been owa here for aboot 2½ month nuw man. I cannit get hyem to Meffley an 'aall that. I'm completely skint man! I've been gittin' by, by sittin' on me arse in this corner iv'ry neet purtendin' t' be a bin an' that an' waitin' for scraps an' stuff from the lurcals. It's mainly pizza crusts like, but yer cannit complain I s'pose…..Whey I did the other neet when this big Jorman gadge scraped the anchovies off his pizza an' into me gob. Dorty b*stard! I fcukin' hate anchovies."
I asked him how come he was so red and he said; "Ah gaz man, ah've been sleeping oot on the beach, but wi' workin' through the neet an' stuff l sometimes divven't wek up 'til aboot 6.30 the follyin' neet an' ah aalwuz sleep through the horrest part o' the day an' aall that. Just last neet a fcukin' seagull swiped me donkey jacket worra waz usin' as a pillow. Thievin' llttle web-toed, white fcuka!"
He then asked if I could sub him £300 to get home. I laughed and threw him my empty chip wrapper before walking off.