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Newcastle United John Preston

 

My first memories of St James' Park are not of a particular game or player or of walking up to the stadium to attend my first game with my dad. My father managed a newsagents on Fenham Hall Drive and worked every Saturday and had no interest in football. To my father, football meant stress as he waited anxiously for the Football Pinks to be delivered in time for the waiting customers on the pavement outside his shop. No, my memories are those of a young boy lying in bed in Ancrum Street, Spittal Tongues, listening to the murmur of the crowd as it assembled for an evening kick off in 1955. I had never been inside SJP but my mother had taken me down to the ground to welcome back Jackie Milburn and the FA Cup in 1955. I can still remember the man next to me in the crowd opening a pigeon basket and releasing two magpies that flew over the coach as it entered the gates on Barrack Road.

As I lay there on that winter's night, I knew that SJP was the home of my team but what I could not know was that the noise I was listening to was the signature tune that would become the accompaniment to the rest of my life. I have no idea which teams were playing that night but the cold, still, frosty air carried the roar and growl of the crowd into my bedroom, the noise rising and falling as the drama on the pitch was played out and I eventually fell asleep.

It was not long before I had scraped together the shilling (5p) I needed to attend my first game and my life-long attachment to my club was complete. And in quiet moments, I can still hear the distant sound that I marvelled at while snuggling down beneath the weight of blankets and my father's overcoat all those years ago.

 

John Preston

 

 

Newcastle United Foundation have a heritage project for fans of all ages called Toon Times.

Toon Times will culminate with a major Newcastle United exhibition at the Discovery Museum, Newcastle, although in the lead up to this event Toon Times wishes to reach out to all Newcastle United fans across the North East and further afield to get involved and share their memories, experiences, photos and memorabilia what people have collected over the years.

We are supporting the project by helping to collect NUFC memories online - fans can share their memories on the Replay Football website, simply select the Toon Times tag when submitting yours.

For more info contact the Toon Times Heritage Project Coordinator, Newcastle United Foundation, gavin.ferry@nufc.co.uk

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