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Newcastle United Harry Kemp

 

Harry first became interested in Newcastle United Football Club at around the age of six or seven, and started going to United games when he was nine years old. Harry used to walk along Elswick Road with a few of his mates to get to St James’ Park, once they were there they went along to the Leazes End and used the Boy’s Entrance where it was 6p to get in. (Comparatively, Harry thinks that it was around a shilling for adults to gain entry at that time).

Once inside the ground Harry and his friends would stand behind the goal, to the right hand side, and soon became familiar with the regular fans who liked to stand in that area too. Harry and his friends used to sit on the wall that ran around the pitch, and often got knocked off if players came in too quickly or couldn’t stop in time! (Talk about being close to the action!)

In this era of standing terraces, Harry used to try and stand in front of the rail so the crowd couldn’t push him forward. At this time the Leazes End was one of the only standing areas which was covered, so there was at least some protection from the weather. However, it didn’t really cover the front of the stand that well, so Harry and his friends still tended to get wet! But they didn’t really mind.

Harry also used to go to a lot of reserve matches, and remembers that there was almost always a band on at half time, usually a brass band from a local colliery.

Harry can also remember there being a flag in Newcastle United colours which was erected at the corner of the pitch (perhaps the north east corner), and when there was ten minutes of the game left, the flag would be lowered to signal this to the crowd. (Now we have a proper digital clock so you know what time it is all the time!).

He remembers one match; he thinks it was against Coventry. Harry was in the East Stand but couldn’t see anything over the heads and shoulders of the crowd in front. So they picked him up and passed him over the crowd and down to the front, all the way to the touchline so that he would be able to see! Harry thinks he was about 13 or 14 at the time, and remembers the same thing happening to a lot of other youngsters.

Harry recalls one unsavoury memory from his time watching Newcastle United from the terraces, and that was that blokes would relieve themselves where they stood! People couldn’t be bothered to shoulder their way out to the toilet, they didn’t want to lose their spot and then have to shoulder their way back again. Harry said that you had to watch your feet as streams of urine flowed down the terraces!

Harry remembers there being mostly day matches during the years he attended (late 40s, early 50s), most simply because you needed to play in daylight hours. In the winter there were early kick offs because it would get dark so quickly. Therefore for Harry floodlit matches were quite special.

Harry also remembers a lot of wartime games quite well, with a few friendly games played by teams visiting St James’ Park.

It was when Harry married that he stopped attending matches regularly (although he still followed them avidly of course! And still does). He went only occasionally after this with his son, to the matches they both particularly fancied.

Harry’s favourite players were Jackie Milburn (enough said), Frank Brennan (who played for NUFC 318 times between 1946-56, and was an FA Cup winner in 1951 and 1952), and Jimmy Scoular (who played for NUFC 247 times between 1953-60 and captained United to FA Cup glory in 1955).

Harry Kemp

 

 

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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