Saturday, 2 May 2009

The best piece I've seen so far on Newcastle United

by David Conn in the Guardian

As I sort of predicted in January 2008, Newcastle's demise is running ever further in parallel with that of New Labour, aptly enough because both were, essentially, the same thing.  Both were projects built on reinventing something which had seemed dead in the 1980s, killed off by Thatcherism and the collapse of British industry.  Both attempted to use American and/or neoliberal techniques - the strategies of marketing generally, the presentation of American football specifically - to regenerate something local, culturally specific and rooted in history which was dying on its feet.  Both were an ingenious hybrid of social and market values, either post-Thatcherite, post-Cold War reformed social democracy for a new era or reheated Thatcherism with a human face depending on how kind you were to the mechanisms which had brought them into being. Both only made sense for as long as the long boom continued.  Both are now being very, very publicly exposed as having been built on a lie, or at least on exceedingly weak foundations.  And both, if they lose power this year or next, might never get it back.


  1. That Blair-Keegan footage does rival Gallagher at Downing St. as symbolising so much.

    I wonder if Keegan's Soccer Circus is still afloat...?

  2. Googling might suggest so, but on the other hand there have been no new video clips on their website since December 2007.

    What about Thatcher and Keegan outside Number 10 when he came back from Hamburg to Southampton (an odd move, even back then) in 1980? *shudders*

    If you had beaten Everton yesterday I'd have said that was it, irreversibly, for both Newcastle and Middlesbrough. As it is, if either beats the other next week the winners could still save themselves. If they draw they're both down. It would certainly be *apt*, on multiple levels, if Newcastle went down, and that is why I think they will go down - at the moment, it simply could not be any other way, just as they could ultimately never, even in 1996, have won the title.

  3. Listening to NUFC's Portsmouth game on the local radio, one could hear the local opera singer employed to try and whip up the local crowd before both halves with full renditions of 'The Blaydon Races'. (he also apparently insulted the Pompey fans)

    So contrived and typical a move - typical of Ashley. Symbolic to have someone brought in to sing a song which a majority of the crowd probably won't know the words to. It would be fitting if even the local hero, Shearer, was not able to make a difference (so far 1 goal in 5 games and 21 players used!). The current situation shows the limits of *'belief'* and 'passion' (and that could certainly be questioned in terms of Newcastle on the field) - if there is nothing else.

    Sunderland - ridiculous Finnish midfielder Tainio was dropped; our best midfielder this season by far - Sbragia is as out of his depth as Shearer at the moment. Having four more points on the board at this stage may just be decisive, though; even if Newcastle's fixtures seem to be easier, they are a shambles of a side, changing line-ups every game.

  4. You also get the feeling - from the more intelligent and thoughtful Newcastle fans on the WSC board - that the club conveys an air of *nastiness* these days (and has, to an extent, for some years: 11 years have passed since the Freddy Shepherd NOTW "expose"), supposed "local" "pride" twisted and curdled into a snide, bitter unpleasantness. This manifests itself on many levels: the continued employment of Joey Barton (who showed yesterday at Anfield precisely why he simply cannot be trusted, anywhere), the previous employment of the likes of Craig Bellamy (less dislikeable now I must concede) and Lee Bowyer (dislikeable not only in his fight with Kieron Dyer but in his entire existence, most especially the way he once insulted someone for being a "foreigner" in McDonald's, which epitomises the double standards of those raised on Murdoch) and indeed the insult to the Pompey fans: most supporters of that club probably do still live in or near the city, and for them to travel practically the length of England on a Monday night is something that should be respected, certainly not mocked in a crude, all-hands-to-the-sinking-ship way. In fact, the combination of 'The Blaydon Races' and the Pompey-mocking moment pretty much sums up the hatefulness of NUFC today - combined desperate appeals to a "locality" that means less and less, and crude taunting of anyone else (judged by criteria of "pride" and "passion", Portsmouth's core fanbase actually probably beats all other Southern clubs outside London, the majority *within* London, and quite a few Northern sides as well).

    You also get comments from Newcastle fans on WSC wondering who the gurning "professional Geordies" who always seem to be reliably present on Sky Sports News actually are, and speculating on whether they may even be people with a grudge *against* the club wanting to make it appear stupid and deluded. Certainly, the days when Newcastle were "everybody's second team" (and from 1994-97 - Blair's actual peak, in terms of sheer momentum - they genuinely were) seem as distant in those terms as they do in all others.

    I notice though that Hull City lost again this evening. If Newcastle stay up - which would be a fool's paradise of an outcome that would do them no good in the long run - it would only be because Hull had collapsed even more spectacularly, over a rather shorter timespan.

  5. Another defeat for Hull, yet, given the dreadful form and lack of ability and appetite of Newcastle, it is still very much in the balance. Boro are under much less pressure than 'The Toon' this Monday, frankly, as most people have written them off all season as relegation-certainties. I cannot see the mercenaries and has-beens of Wise-Jimenez-Keegan-Ashley-Shepherd's Newcastle (with increasingly hapless Shearer-Dowie as capsizing helmsmen) getting a win against a Boro battling for their lives... I really cannot.

    Might it even be possible that Newcastle could finish bottom, below West Brom? The fixtures might say this was unlikely, but they're now both level on points, and the Baggies seem more adept at winning games in recent weeks...

  6. More to the point, Manchester United have two more games before West Brom play Liverpool at home next Sunday. They only need four points from them for the title. Liverpool will, in all likelihood, enter that game with nothing meaningfully to play for.

    I'm not saying West Brom will actually stay up, but having been the victim of their "great escape" four years ago I know what they're capable of.