Is Newcastle United a big club?

Posted on July 7th, 2009 | 59 Comments |

So, are we a big club?
So, are we a big club?
It’s hard to judge what’s big and what isn’t because the word ‘big’ is relative and subjective. An elephant is big compared to a mouse but small compared to a whale. When it comes to football clubs it can be a particular point of contention to define what constitutes a ‘big club’.

Is Newcastle United a ‘big club’?

It’s a question that plagues me because when I’m in discussion with rival supporters they often set me up via a logical fallacy known as ‘poisoning the well’. They will say things like: “Newcastle supporters are deluded because they think it’s still a big club. By the way, do you think it’s a big club?” Of course if I say it is a big club I’m labelled as deluded because they’ve ‘poisoned the well’ with their loaded question. Their argument wouldn’t stand up in a formal debating society but it works well enough down the pub.

If it was legal I’d simply shoot them but what I usually do, sensitive to the unflattering stereotypes, is mutter things about how being a ‘big club’ is irrelevant or how it’s a relative concept anyway. But not any more – I’m taking a stance now and sticking by it.

Some of the people who say that Newcastle isn’t a ‘big club’ claim the reason for this is because we haven’t won a trophy since 1969. Well I don’t buy the idea that a ‘big club’ is so named because of its recent additions to the trophy cabinet. Any team can have a good year and win an FA Cup or a Carling Cup but I don’t believe that makes them a ‘big club’. Trophies are in any case only one measure of on-pitch success. I would suggest that a team finishing second in the Premiership is more successful than a team who wins the FA cup yet finishes mid-table, but there are no trophies for finishing second in the Premiership. In fact, a team could have regular top 4 finishes for many seasons without ever lifting a trophy but I don’t think anyone would deny they’ve been a ‘successful’ team during that period.

But does being a successful on-pitch team make them a ‘big club’? Well I think it depends. If they’re successful on the pitch for long enough then they certainly become ‘big club’ contenders. It is easy to get caught up in the minutiae of semantics and spend hours differentiating between words like ‘big’, ‘successful’ and ‘popular’, so I’m just going to come out and state the things I think make a ‘big club’:

  1. They have had periods in their history when they regularly challenged for and/or won trophies, with at least one such period being recent enough to stop them dropping completely out of contention for the ‘big club’ label.
  2. They have a fairly large, devout fan following, possibly internationally as well as nationally.
  3. They have spent the greater proportion of their history in the top flight.

I would suggest that if a team matches any 2 of the above then they’re a ‘big club’. There are things that usually go hand-in-hand with the above but I see them as enablers rather than measures. I’m thinking of things like finances – in general, big clubs are relatively well-financed but this alone is not enough. Money might enable them to achieve the 3 measures I mention above but having money alone is not a valid measure in itself.

So there we have it. I declare Newcastle United a ‘big club’ and, to be fair, I don’t think anyone but wind-up merchants and bitter rival fans would deny it. That’s important actually because if ‘big’ is a subjective term then the only way to establish the truth is to ask people and see what they think and I’m of the opinion that most people would still consider Newcastle United to be a ‘big club’.

I’ll go a step further too. I think we would have to spend considerable time in the lower leagues to lose that ‘big club’ label too. For example, Leeds United is still, in my opinion, a ‘big club’ despite their recent woes. They might lose that label one day of course but not for a while yet.

The thing is though, being a ‘big club’ is often quite irrelevant. It doesn’t prevent relegation and it endows no ‘right’ to success or respect. Our club is in the mire at the moment and few Newcastle supporters would deny that. I may think that we’re a ‘big club’ but I’m certainly not deluded about our current predicament. I know our on-pitch performances have been woeful; I know we’ve had some crazy goings-on at the owner level; I know we’re now a lower league club; I know we’re a laughing stock … I’m not deluded about any of this but I still think we’re a ‘big club’.

So there.

NUFCBlog Author: Hugh de Payen I'm a baby-boomer of the punk rock persuasion, currently exiled in Somerset for crimes committed in a previous life where locals keep trying to poison me with something called 'scrumpy'. Hates sprouts, coat-hangers, Cilla Black, ornaments, Steven Seagull movies and 50 Cent (he's not worth 10). Hugh de Payen has written 634 articles on this blog.

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59 Responses

  1. All I know for certain is that Newcastle United football club are the 8th most successful club in England based on major trophies won, and are the sixth best supported club of all-time.

    All the rest is mere flotsam and his errant twin jetsam…let those that wish to pick the bones out of that.

    Well written article, too.

  2. great article hugh imho i think that after reading some the articles that are regularely posted on here that from a journalist point of view this site is better written more informative truthful and definately more interesting than any of the papers at the minute and the bloggers who post the articles i truly believe could be TOP journalists

    hugh bowburn g deb worky you do the club proud and nip any stereotype of thick geordies that cant spell in the bud

    also hugh i agree with the article 100%

  3. smt actually we are the 7th most succesful club of all time and how do you know we are 6th best supported club ?

  4. Magic stuff Hugh.

    I agree we’re ‘big’ and that’s partly due to our larger-than-average-fan-base.
    Which ultimately just means there are a lot of miserable barstewards around at the moment.

  5. also worky perhaps you could put up a you tube link in the general (non nufc) links

  6. the reason being that if we are linked with a player who we have never heard of aswell as finding info on im scouting we can also see what a player is lie from you tube

  7. Sadly, beyethegreat, we’re only 8th – Man Utd, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs, Aston Villa, Everton and Chelsea have all won more major trophies than we have.

    The attendance stat is from I believe we’re also placed 6th in the average post-war attendances too, for those dubious about the accuracy or otherwise of the early years.

  8. “They have a fairly large, devout fan following, possibly internationally as well as nationally.”

    No “possibly” about it Hugh. I’ve been to places like India, Cambodia and Vietnam. I met an very poor Indian fellow in Dabolim airport who saved up for many months just to buy a proper Toon shirt by Adidas. We are now a Championship club, and yet our sale is still being avidly reported in places like Laos and Cambodia.

    We are football’s favourite underdog worldwide, and we are also one of the world’s favourite soap operas. I have no doubts whatsoever about this because I’ve seen it and I’ve heard it too many times in too many places. Other “big club” candidates outside the top four of the Premiership, like ‘Spurs or Aston Villa barely get a mention in comparison.

    Every time I hear those idiots going on about how “only Geordies understand” I think about that Indian chap who must have spent weeks worth of wages on that shirt. He wouldn’t stop blathering on about Newcastle, Alan Shearer and the rest.

  9. beyethegreat says:
    July 7, 2009 at 10:28 pm
    Every time I hear those idiots going on about how “only Geordies understand” I think about that Indian chap who must have spent weeks worth of wages on that shirt. He wouldn’t stop blathering on about Newcastle, Alan Shearer and the rest

    what a fan imagine if he could actually get the chance to go to st james’

  10. workyticket says:
    July 7, 2009 at 10:21 pm (Edit)

    No “possibly” about it Hugh. I’ve been to places like India …


    Yeah, I’ve travelled to India a fair bit too and found that Newcastle United is fairly well known there.

    Off topic Workey, but if you’ve been to Dabolim airport I’m presuming you’ve holidayed in Goa and I just wondered if you’d tried Kerala? I went there the last two times I’ve been to India and think I actually prefer it to Goa now.

  11. “Off topic Workey, but if you’ve been to Dabolim airport I’m presuming you’ve holidayed in Goa and I just wondered if you’d tried Kerala? I went there the last two times I’ve been to India and think I actually prefer it to Goa now.”

    No I haven’t, Hugh. I’ve heard it gets a bit too hot there! I haven’t been to India for quite a while now. Cambodia and Vietnam have been my destinations more recently. Thailand too, but I hated it there and didn’t stay for long.

  12. Great article for once. In my opinion in England the big clubs are Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal, Aston Villa, Everton, Tottenham, Newcasle, Chelsea, Nottingham Forest and Leeds United. Out of the hundereds of English football teams I find it rather strange how only 4 teams are considered as big clubs.

  13. The original inhabitants of India were blonde anyway though. Then they moved to the areas around modern day Iran and Germany.

  14. 52times says:
    July 8, 2009 at 12:56 am

    “The original inhabitants of India were blonde anyway though. Then they moved to the areas around modern day Iran and Germany.”

    Freddie Mercury was an Indo-Aryan Parsee, though he wasn’t blonde. There are a few hundred thousand of them around Mumbai.

  15. Parsee are alright, Gurkhas are the best race on the Indian subcontinent though. Gurkhas are awesome.

  16. Newcastle Utd are a joke club! When they was a regular 2nd division club their gates where 15.000 before Kegan took ’em up Leeds United have had a far greater impact on the… ‘european stage’ and their name is know all around europe. Everybody knows how the ‘mighty whites’ were cheated! Out of the 1973 Cup winners cup by a ‘corupt’ ref! and in the 1975 European cup final in Paris they where cheated out of a goal as moral then droped, they went on to loose. Leeds have won the top flight 3 times…And finished runners up 8 times! They also have a larger fan base than what those deluded ‘monkey hangers’ may say!! Leeds United get gates of 38.000 in League 1. The ‘largest clubs’ in England are Liverpool, Man Utd, Arsenal, Leeds, Aston Villa, Everton, Chelsea, Spurs, Nottingham Forest, Derby County, Wolves. Newcastle are not a big club 1969 is a long time waiting! Deluded fans!!

  17. When was the last time Newcastle Utd was in a European cup final, or a Champions league semi final? Just because you have a big stadium at Sports Direct@ St James Park don’t constitute a ‘big club’.

  18. For a start  grenade pony express , if you are going to post some abuse on a blog , at least look at the date of the post and do a recent one not blxxdy JULY , ye Div …
    Secondly when ye decide to hang ya colours out , give us a call and i’ll come and punch ya diickin heed in outside elland road anyday , yu and ya 38,hundred fans ….anytime ….

  19. Renegade Express why y bringing monkey hangers into it whats up have hartlepool beat u this season or sumit u dipsxxx

  20. It is 38 thousand ya dipxxxx xxxxxx! Leeds Utd are a bigger club than ‘Newcraple’ just face the facts…ya thick ‘monkey hanger’ and anytime any place idiot, just like them Toon bare chested wankers at games! Newcastle bigger than Leeds don’t make me laugh! Leeds is the biggest city one team club, ya fool! Thick geordie!

  21. Newcastle are a joke club full of dole dossers and fat pigs! Just because you have a big stadium you can’t class your self as a ‘big club’. Leeds United and their fans are better in many ways…Including ‘history ‘ stature around Europe and on global fanbase! You lot aint won ‘sweet FA’ since 1969. Nearest thing you can call ‘success’ is the Inter toto Cup… …Also what gives your ‘deluded’ fans the right, to say: “that your among the elite clubs”? When quite frankly you aint. Chelsea, Leeds United, Spurs, Nottingham Forest, Everton, Aston Villa, Man Utd, Arsenal, Liverpool are all bigger clubs! And what have they all got in common? They all won trophies after 1969! So keep dreaming Toon fans you aint big, cos i’m sick of hearing it! Leeds is a bigger city than Newcastle in the U.k, thus they are the largest one club city not you lot!!

  22. Renegade – So a few years back, you know when you were in the 2nd tier (championship), what was your average attendance? We’ll i shall tell you.

    Championship 05/06 Season average – 24,565
    Championship 06/07 Season average – 21,613
    League 1 (haha) 07/08 Season average – 26,952
    League 1 still 08/09 Season average – 24,197
    League 1 still 09/10 Season average – 25,148.

    It seems that your one city fans from the bigger city dont want to go and support the team. We may not be as successful as other teams, but our attendances speak for themselves and is the one thing we can’t be beaten on!

    Our average of nearly 43,000 in a league where you could have got that number in 05/06 and 06/07 quite frankly dwarfs your fans’ attempts. That means most of your fans are fair weather fans then doesn’t it? Times get hard so they go elsewhere, unlike ours!

    Then you mention us living in the past whilst in the very next sentance you drag up your 1973 and 1975 cup finals. Kind of ironic, dont you think?

    If your gonna winge about how great your fans are and how sh1te ours are, then at least look at the numbers that prove otherwise dip-sh1t.

    Now, get back to your smack or crack or whatever ot is youve been on!

  23. Renegade Express fckin hell are they all as slow as u in leeds y thick c@nt 3 weeks lata or have y just got ur laptop back from cash converters dipsxxx

  24. batty says:
    January 1, 2010 at 11:21 am

    “or have y just got ur laptop back from cash converters dipsxxx”

    Batty, you’re a potty mouth! :-)

    Down here in London it’s usually called either “Smack Converters” or “Crack Converters”.

  25. Late 80’s newcastle average attendance was 8000 to 12.000 people at the gates Fact! Did it ever occur to you Toon fools? That Leeds Utd fans pay Premiership prices in League 1? And that we have a’ very successful’ Leeds Rhinos too, who win everthing in Rugby League! You idiots who think that Newcastle is a bigger city than, Leeds need your ‘head tested’ cos your wrong thick ‘monkey hangers’!! Leeds Utd have a far ‘bigger impact’ on the English game than you could ever dream of! They where the best Footballing side of the 1970’s under the guide of Don Revie reaching every European final a feat Newcraple aint done! Leeds where last top flight champions in 1992 and reached the Champions League Semi Finals in 2001. You could only dream of this wonderful legacy stupid Toon fans!! Only trophy you’ve been near of late is…the Inter Toto Cup Lmfao!! Even Sunderland FC are bigger than Newcastle! Lufc fan for life!

  26. But we aint in the late 80’s anymore, or the 70’s, 60’s, 90’s, 00’s. It is now 2010.

    You still pay premiership prices? Haha, Ken Bates is mugging you off and you saps just lap it up! All 20,000 of you!

  27. Renegade, you must be big on dragging things up from the past. You dragged this article up after 7 months. Get with the times smackhead!

  28. “Leeds is not a suburb of Manchester” as you proclaim you thick Geordie twat!! Leeds is the second financial city, outside London! And has a larger ‘population’ and ‘city ‘ than Newcastle… Leeds United and Leeds Rhinos have brought more to the city of Leeds than you gasbags could only dream of having in your slum!! So go hang some more monkeys ya thick clowns!! No wonder everbody laughs at you! Your not a big club at all!

  29. I’ve been to both grounds as a home fan, have to say the atmosphere at Elland was poor in comparison for a game which ended 3-3 (with Spurs) and I was right behind the goal, when we beat you 1-0 at St.James I was way up in the stands and the noise, chants, everything about the ground was in favour of St. James, try it, you might like it. P.S. we’ll be paying premier league prices next year but for premier league games, lol!

  30. Well quite clearly you don’t know what the hell your talking about because Leeds Utd are among the ‘most vocal’ fans in the country!! And they will prove this at Old Trafford on Sunday in F.A Cup…also i was at the Carling Cup game against Liverpool and the atmosphere was fantastic!! And how many times has the ‘mighty ‘ Leeds beat your nostalgic trophyless team?? Elland Road by the way is getting upgraded for world Cup 2018 to over 50.000 and that’s the only reason your loud is because of your stadium size!

  31. renagade dipshit so that makes pompy and blackburn bigger than u they have both won things after u leeds thick c@nts

  32. Renegade – You can expand your stadium and make it bigger than Wembley if you wish. The fact is that your just not filling what you have right now so it would be pointless, and it is a fact as i’ve proven it with numbers. I can also give you the links to the sites if you disbelieve me?

    Leeds is still a suburb of Manchester! Even Bradford is more desirable!

    I tell you what, i’ll meet you in Holbeck you dirty smackhead. I work there on nights and i’ll gladly tell you face to face about the facts!

  33. I don’t live their you xxxxer! Your the scratter who gets shafted balls deep by your idol Alan Shearer! I live in Kirkstall and Leeds is in Yorkshire and Manchester is in lancashire! Don’t you understand the ‘ war of the roses’ you stupid ‘monkey hanger’! Leeds Utd and Nottingham Forest are miles bigger clubs!! Just face it your out of your depth!

  34. Been a Liverpool fan i would say that Leeds are a bigger club than Newcastle I’ve got some great memories of the legendary games we had in the 70’s the fan banter and being rivals for the title. I say Leeds because of all they achieved and in popular culture their fanbase is imense i was at Elland Road in cup and we was lucky to win Ngog scored the winner.

  35. Where has this bigger club nonsense come from? I onlt hear 1 Leeds fan, 1 Liverpool fan and the press that ever use the term big club about Newcastle?

    I honestly have never heard a Geordie call our club big!

  36. I’m a Fc Utrecht fan but i only know that Leeds are bigger in Holland doei doei newcastle are da small team. Ajax is da big club in Amsterdam!

  37. Well i don’t care for either been Man Utd fan but we regard leeds as our rivals. I’d say leeds is the bigger club over newcastle. The fans go hetic when we play ’em. The biggest clubs in England in order are 1 Man Utd 2 Liverpool 3 Arsenal 4 Leeds Utd 5 Nottingham Forest 6 Everton 7 Tottenham Hotspur 8 Aston Villa 9 Chelsea 10 Man City 11 Wolves 12 Sunderland 13 West Brom 14 Newcastle United.

  38. toonsy – like worky says, don’t feed the troll(s) and consider the ‘plural’ aspect of it. An old article not in the pages of a current aggregator…and yet we suddenly have several representatives from different clubs out of nowhere backing up an argument.

    My, my, the convenience of it all… 8O

  39. bowburnmag says:
    January 1, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    “An old article not in the pages of a current aggregator…and yet we suddenly have several representatives from different clubs out of nowhere backing up an argument.

    My, my, the convenience of it all… ”

    You’re definitely catching on with all this web lark, Bowburn! ;-)

    Of course, it’s all the same person on the same IP number.

  40. worky, bowburn – That thought has crossed my mind but as im not proficient (yet) in how it all works i couldn’t be sure.

  41. Aye, I’d noticed that too… :)

    Fair play though. Canny creative with the usernames and clubs. He knew the Spurs and Manc ones might get under the Geordie’s skin!

  42. Nee bother toonsy, I’ll give you some tips as and when, just not sure how much you can see in the background!

    Powder dry on this one though. Keep it for when the proper lunatics visit. Just hope this fella doesn’t take offence when we nick Beckford off them. If he’s even a Leeds a fan… 8O

  43. Get a grip the artical is about Newcastle being or not being a big club. You ram it down our throats so much, that you are! Your not my club is bigger. All us fans congrigate here to laugh at you foolish Toon fans! Do you realize how many sets of fans out there laugh at your quotes about being a big club! Come back when you won back to back titles. You dumb toon fans! Lets all laugh at Newcastle! Haha XD. ROLMFA!!

  44. RE: NocturnalOverlord, How are leeds Bigger then Everton??? and im a Arsenal, you need to do some football research, 1 MAN UTD 2 LIVERPOOL 3 ARSENAL 4 EVERTON/VILLA