The last time we were relegated to this division, I was really just starting to watch regularly and for those old enough to reminisce prior to the ’90s, the parrallels between then and now will not be lost on you. The 88/89 season saw lose us our top flight status while discord was rife on the terracing and a Newcastle board struggled incompetently to run our beloved football club.
However, a summer and some inspired Jim Smith signings later, the sun was out, Mick Quinn and Mark McGhee led the division a merry dance and before you know it we’re sitting in a healthy league position behind the top two and the future was looking slightly rosier. Of course, that season ended in painful play-off defeat at the hands of the North-East undesirables, sticking in the craw of the black and white collective and putting the focus firmly back on the fan’s disenchantment with the powers-that-be.
Another summer later and with little left in the coffers, we began a steady decline both in terms of the quality of football and the numbers prepared to pay to watch it. The era in which our detractors like to recall, with startingly inaccurate attendance figures to back up their theory of our fickle behaviour, was neverthless a dark one before Hall and Keegan dragged us kicking and screaming from obscurity as we slid towards the old Third Division.
So fans with good memories have every reason to be worried about the nature of this particular beast, when you consider that much of what happened then is apparent now. A board to fan relationship that was realistically severed roughly twelve months ago, an owner without money or the inclination to spend it. The squads are quite different but where the overall quality is arguably better now than it was then, the squad of 89/90 had the guile required and the division itself was probably also poorer overall.
It would be difficult to find any Newcastle fan who wasn’t aware of the charge we made on the old First Division championship under Keegan’s lead. But even the most optimistic is aware that that particular season was a fairly unique instance when money was freely available and Keegan struck gold with a cavalier approach that proved irresistible to not just us but even rival suppporters. It’s probably unlikely to be witnessed again here in the near future.
Despite that, promotion itself is not beyond us if these first set of games are anything to go by. We may not marvel at the natural ability and attacking flair of this current squad but surely that won’t taint the exhiliration of an immediate return to the Premiership or at least a good go at it? I took a pasting after I wrote an article about Ashley the other day, despite the fact I believe little of the theory myself but it’s getting to the point where I’m bored of the off-field crap.
I want the man gone from the club to be honest because I just think it’s in everyone’s best interests, regardless of what you think of him and in my case that’s not very highly to say the least. And arguably a promotion push could be a double-edged sword that sees Ashley keep hold of the club, with a view to making more back on his money if we were to get back into the top flight. But we can worry about that when he comes out with his favourite saying about sticking around and taking the club forward together. In the meantime we could just enjoy the good fortune on the pitch for what it is.
I’ve said before, I share the view that this squad may not be capable of a sustained assault on automatic promotion and there is a long way to go before we can really start to get excited. But surely, the main thing we’re here to do is watch the lads and support them and if we’re winning then we can allow ourselves some down-time from all the gloom and just enjoy the fact we’re doing alright at the minute? There’s really not a great deal any of us can about what’s going on away from the green stuff but if in the meantime we stay in the promotion race, then I’ll be affording myself some time to indulge.