An unfortunate trend in modern football is the seemingly endless protests from one fan base or another. Usually aimed at the ownership of the club, these protests scale the whole of the English football pyramid.
The tireless protesting from Coventry and Blackpool fans are a sad sight to see, considering the great history and pride these clubs have. However, one club where protests have occurred recently, yet have been shunned and not given any credible coverage, is the protest at St James Park on Wednesday night.
This protest was not your traditional football fans protest. There was no marching through the streets. No mass boycotting of the game. No inflatables thrown onto the pitch and thus disrupting the game. This protest simply involved a huge banner made up of 280m of fabric with 20 people all giving up their weekend to help the cause.
We are incredibly happy everyone loves our display! Our fans are the very core of our club, we have to stay behind our team and Rafa, very proud of our fans. Newcastle United will never be defeated! WE ARE THE MAGS! #NUFC pic.twitter.com/QKwAgEkzXX
— Wor Flags 🏴🏳 (@worflags) January 31, 2018
Set up by a group of volunteers, this protest banner sent a clear message to owner Mike Ashley. Quoting Kevin Keegan, the banner reads: “Don’t ever give up on your club. Keep supporting it. It’s your club and trust me one day you will get your club back and it will be everything you wanted it to be. Newcastle United is bigger than anyone. It hurts I know but just keep going. He is only one man. We are a City. A whole population. Trust me”.
This banner, unfurled before kick-off, was the biggest sign of discontent at Mike Ashley this season and considering the effort required to produce this banner, it is clear this is something that the Newcastle fans are passionate about.
And yet, this protest (a non-violent and non-disruptive protest) has seemingly not been well received by some mainstream media. By that, there has been a lack of discussion about it and even been made a mockery of by one radio broadcaster.
This protest was a clear sign and one that had a very simple message, one of hope and passion that maybe Newcastle could get back to the heights and achievements they enjoyed before the Ashley-era.
Our fan base feels totally detached from you. If the day comes when you show us some respect like @CaulkinTheTimes @ChronicleNUFC and many more do you'll get more respect from us. pic.twitter.com/HN65PMrNiV
— Wor Hyem 1892 (@WorHyem1892) February 1, 2018
This tweet, albeit a seemingly harmless Twitter poll, completely shuns all the efforts in the Gallowgate to engage in protest against an owner who spent nothing in the January transfer window, despite it being abundantly clear where Newcastle had to strengthen.
Why is this protest a laughing matter then? I simply cannot put my finger on it. This tweet was clearly a gross mistake but the feeling in and amongst the Newcastle fan base is that we are slowly becoming a laughing stock, despite almost unanimously supporting a manager who has come up against huge criticism from people outside of the club.
Right now it could be suggested that the Newcastle fan base are as close as it has been during the whole Ashley-era and despite the protesting, St James’ Park manages to hit a sell-out in most games. Therefore, by completely ignoring the point of the banner, it is clear there is a huge misunderstanding of the Toon Army.
This is not a whole mainstream media problem, however. One tweet which encapsulated the feeling at Newcastle was a tweet from BT Sports Presenter Jake Humphrey:
— Jake Humphrey (@mrjakehumphrey) February 1, 2018
This makes the Twitter Poll seem even more ludicrous as some people outside of Newcastle “get it” whilst others clearly find the protests a “joke”. Baffling. That seems the only word that can sum this problem up.