He was a writer on this site from it’s inception in 2009, writing a total of 234 articles for us in our first year. It is probably thorough his writing, and of course numerous comments on several different blogs and forums that most will know him. As well as being a genuinely nice person, he was also a natural writer who had the capacity to communicate his real humanity in words and genuinely connect with the reader, which is a rare talent. It was this which inspired me to ask him to write some pieces here when the ‘blog was about to start. Even though all I had to go on at the time were his comments on other blogs, his talent still shone through. Being a keen footballer himself, he also had a very good understanding of the game, and with both of these qualities I genuinely felt that he could have been one of the best sports writers around if his life had taken another path. Sadly that life is over now so we will never know, but he still left some great pieces of writing which encapsulated perfectly his passion for football in general, and Newcastle United in particular.
With the above in mind, I thought that the best way to pay tribute to Steve on here would be through his own words, so I have selected ten of the best pieces he wrote here. I would have liked to have posted them a little sooner, however as you might imagine, reading through 234 pieces is a fairly lengthy process! Perhaps if I had chosen at another time, I may have come up with ten different selections as it was a very difficult decision to choose so few out of so many great blogs. However, it is what it is and I did the best that I could. I have arranged the stories in chronological order, with the earliest first. Incidentally, the first story linked to below, “Standing Room Only” was the first piece he ever wrote for NUFC Blog.
Rest in peace Steve, we’ll miss you, and your writing about NUFC.
1) “Standing Room Only” (June 4th, 2009) – After Newcastle United’s relegation to the Championship, where some teams still didn’t have all seater stadiums, Bowburn takes a look back at his earlier days of supporting the Magpies, the days of ugly football, dodging the urine as it spilled down the terraces and “Standing room only”.
2) “When owning Newcastle United, what’s love got to do with it?” (June 30th, 2009) – Bowburn’s reflections on the perception of Newcastle United in the media and amongst other fans as Mike Ashley put the club on the market for a second time, and Freddy Shepherd, was rumoured to be one of the interested parties.
3) “Newcastle: United by faith, hope and stories?” (July 6th, 2009) – Returns to similar themes as those of the last piece, however I decided to include both, as they are both excellent pieces which work together and complement each other.
4) “Whatever happened to the East Stand Kenny Everett?” (September 8th, 2009) – Bowburn reminisces about the Kenny Everett lookalike who inhabited the corner of the East Stand on matchdays, and always had a song for the lads. Another great story about his earlier days supporting the club, and as usual written in his own inimitable style. If you scroll down to the bottom of the comments for this piece, you will notice that someone actually claimed to know the identity of the “Kenny” referred to in the piece. According to a poster called “Walker Dan” his real name is Ray, though he was often known as “Imre” after ex Toon player Imre Varadi. He also revealed that he once worked for the Dole, won £20,000 on a scratchcard a few years ago, could mostly be seen around the Felling area and even posted a recent picture of the alleged “Kenny”. A really beautiful little story which sums up perfectly what supporting the Magpies, or any team for that matter, is really all about, a sense of community and belonging.
5) “Blackpool and Newcastle fans shared the genius of two outstanding footballers” (September 16th, 2009) – As Newcastle took on Blackpool away in the Championship, Bowburn looked back at the careers of two great players who shone for both clubs, Tony Green and Alan Suddick.
6) “It’s over!” (September 23rd, 2009) – A personal account of Bowburn’s trials and tribulations whilst taking part in the 2009 “Great North Run”, which he ran more than once to raise funds for various charities. He published several such pieces in the ‘blog, and I had to post at least one of them in this remembrance as they give such a wonderful insight into the man behind the stories.
7) “Who goes? You decide…” (November 9th, 2009) – To boycoutt, or not to boycoutt? That is the question as Bowburn once again reflects on Ashley, Llambias and the fans’ anger at their administration at the club. A very personal, soul searching reflection which once again revealed Bowburn’s genuine passion for his club.
8 ) “End of the ‘naughties’ for Newcastle?” (December 31st, 2009) – On the eve of 2010, Steve took us on a whistlestop tour of the last decade in Newcastle United’s history. Starting in the first season of Bobby Robson’s management at the club, he goes through the days of Souness, Roeder, Allardyce, “Keegangate”, and finally how the Magpies’ last manager, Chris Hughton, seemed at last to be bringing back some semblance of dignity to the club.
9) “I can see clearly now the smog has gone!” (March 14th, 2010) – Bowburn’s impressionistic tale of his trip to the land of smog to see United’s 2-2 draw with Middlesbrough during our season in the Championship. Ex contributor “Toonsy” had already written a more standard account of the goings on in the match itself. In true Hunter S.Thompson style, in Bowburn’s account the game itself is little more than footnote. Instead, he spins a highly engaging and lovable yarn about a football supporter travelling to see his favourite team. However, long after most of the details of what was a fairly dull game have been forgotten, this tale of greasy spoons, excessive pre match alcohol consumption and shennigans on the terraces is still a wonderful and engaging read which I’m sure fans of any teams can relate to. As I mentioned above, Steve was a very natural writer who had the rare abilty to convey his real humanity on the page, and this piece is such a fine example of that. A great piece of writing which transcends football.
10) “High hopes and aspirations! Newcastle v Blackpool match reflections” (April 11th, 2010) – Much of what I wrote about Bowburn’s account of the Middlesbrough game above is also true of this one of a game against Blackpool at St James’ Park, when our promotion to the Premiership had already been secured. In his own inimitable style, he began by defending his love for Chesney Hawkes’ cheeesy 1991 hit “The One and Only”, as well as meandering on to the subject of his mates 30th birthday. Eventually however, he does get around to mentioning a little about the euphoria fans were feeling on the terraces that day after securing promotion at our first attempt. He even managed to squeeze in a bit at the bottom about the match! Once again, another great piece of writing which transcended the game itself and is still a wonderful read.