As an expat geordie living in NYC for the last 9 months ‘soccer’ and supporting NUFC from the ‘States has taken a whole new meaning for me. After becoming a member of the Toon Army NYC fan club when I arrived, I have met a lot of different Newcastle fans from around the world and I’m very impressed with the knowledge and passion of the boys out here.
So with the Toon coming to the ‘States it was a perfect chance to get a summer fix of seeing Newcastle United live. Some made the trip for all 3 games; others like me could only do 1 so I met up with the gang in Columbus.
I am a big fan of NUFC being in the US as ‘Soccer’ is taking off big time over here with the MLS and the national team getting a lot of exposure, plus with teams like Man.U and Barcelona touring here, its vital the club is promoted outside of the UK and can develop its fan base.
The media seemed be concentrating on the negatives ie the visa situation, injuries, Enrique’s ‘Tweetgate’ saga plus the strange loss to the third division Orlando FC! The tour to the outsider was fast becoming a nightmare but from the feedback I had been getting from the lads who were actually there though, it was a lot different.
After a 10 hour drive from NYC We booked into the same hotel as the team and I thought that the players might have been kept out of the way and the team would just go through the motions of the game and head back home as quick and injury free as possible. But as we checked in, we straight away bumped into Pardew casually walking in the lobby and with Alan Smith and the coaches playing pool in the bar the mood was seemed relaxed and friendly. Apparently this was the norm throughout the tour as our lads met up with all the dedicated followers of the club who were arriving in Columbus. It was quite refreshing to see all the players happily interacting with fans in the hotel and during training, stopping for photos and autographs. Pardew also had a lot of insightful ideas about what do with the Carroll money and that we need to sign players, especially a striker, and he acknowledged the fans and came across as a decent guy.
We got the chance to meet all the squad before there pre match briefing and the guys with us that speak Spanish had formed a real friendship with Enrique, Jonas and Collo over the whole tour so we had a good talk with them which was unreal. I found Enrique to be a top man and it is fair to say that Newcastle fans have made a real impact on him and he will be very sad to leave. We then hit the main Columbus Crew bars and they made us feel very welcome. Newcastle fans from around the world began to arrive from LA, Toronto, Miami and even Yorkshire so it was a fantastic atmosphere!
As soon as the game kicked off I was impressed with Newcastle from start to finish, with crisp passing high tempo football, even before the sending off, we were on top. After a very solid performance, Gosling and Vuckic were the star players for me, with Collo and Tiote looking sharp too. Also worth a mention was Abeid, he was the name everyone was talking about as he has looked very good this tour although I have only seen him play the final 5-6mins in Columbus. Back at the hotel and we got to speak with Vuckic and he was really chuffed with his goal. Enrique and Collo made a point of saying thank you for the support as we left and we got match day shirts from them at half time which all added to the positive experience.
So all in all the feedback I got from the whole tour as well as my own experience was that it was a success and apart from the injuries (which could happen anywhere) and the tweet saga it looked like the players have progressed and are at the correct fitness levels for pre season which must have been the aim of the tour. I feel a lot more confident going into the season now and with *Barton and Cabaye ready to come back into the squad and hopefully 1-2 more additions we should be alright. One thing is for sure I can’t wait for the season to start.
Come on you Mags!
*This ‘blog was written before Joey was banished into solitary confinement.