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Newcastle United Joe Writeson

Black and Blue Moon

Man City away, one win one loss one big mooth Geordie Lass and several howkins…
Early January 1975 and drawn at home in the FA Cup against Manchester City, which was good as it meant we avoided the ‘giant killing’ feats of h*r*f*rd which were trotted out every time the cup draws came around and First Division superstars were matched against rosy-cheeked underdogs. Man City away, not an easy game by any means but if they beat us it wouldn’t be all over the headlines the next day or repeated endlessly.
We were drawn as the ‘home’ team but due to our ‘handbags’ with Nottingham Forest the previous season, we were being punished by being ordered to play all of our FA Cup games ‘away’

As always the FA Cup does something to the people of Tyneside and word was going around that there were over fifty coaches booked, plus Footy Special Trains and hordes of private vehicles heading towards Lancashire, an estimated ten thousand traveling supporters, a good turnout by any standards.
The day was bitterly cold and it got worse as we crossed the Pennines, we picked up Police Escorts just outside of Scotch Corner, more for making sure that the busses, cars and vans maintained sensible speeds on the icy roads than keeping hooligans in check.
Arriving in Manchester and the local plod had it all organised, the Geordie contingent were to be strictly controlled. All busses and other means of transport were directed to a huge derelict area that looked for all intents and purposes like building site that had just been bulldozed and was getting ready for construction work to begin. In other words, loads and loads of half bricks and lumps of concrete lying around ready for use as missiles … yes very well organised.

We were traveling on a non-official supporters bus, there was a great deal of confusion back then as to what exactly constituted ‘official’ and ‘non-official’ as neither was recognized nor organised by the club, but one of the directors definitely had his trotters in the trough, see nothing ever changes does it? Anyway the ‘official’ supporter’s busses banned hanging scarves flags and banners across the bus windows, ignoring the ban could mean withdrawal of your membership and being barred from transport to away matches. So the alternate ‘official’ coaches began to appear, fairly well organised and less rules. Got to be said, the ‘rules’ were sensible because as education standards improved and more and more inbreds grasped the basics of reading and geography, it didn’t take much to work out that if Newcastle were playing away they only had a certain amount of routes South or East to follow. Therefore terrific fun was to be had standing on flyovers and footbridges dropping bricks on vehicles passing underneath. With this and dire warnings firmly in mind, ...our bus was fully decked out in Black & White.
One o’clock and we arrived in Manchester, the Police directed us to where they wanted us corralled and no sooner were we into the back streets than it kicked off. As we drove through what looked like the Coronation Street TV set, a gang ran out from one of the back lanes and started bricking the bus. The Police reacted and the mob ran off all except one bloke who stayed behind on his own yelling and screaming.
He looked about eighteen, skinny as a pool cue and about the same IQ, he had a mop of unruly curly ginger hair and was dressed extremely inappropriately considering the freezing temperatures. Half mast denim flares, stack heeled boots, no shirt and a light brown leather bomber jacket that despite his scrawny frame looked three sizes too small for him. In later years I would have said the height of ‘Pikey Chic’ but back then we just called them Gypos or Showmen. And that’s exactly what he looked like, a typical teenager seen hanging around or working the rides on the ‘Shows’ at the Hoppings and traveling fairs around the UK. Scruffy , unkempt and for all intents and purposes, looking like their clothing supply had recently been liberated from an unguarded washing line.
As the Police approached him he gave us a last double vee sign, and amazingly, managed to run away, despite the huge heels and soles on his boots.
We had been crowded at the doors and windows trying to get the bus driver to stop so we could chat to the Manc lads, but he, quite sanely of course, refused, and so

we had to do with gestures, verbals and witty conjecture.
‘Who the fuck was that…?’
‘... a Ginger Noddy Holder?’
‘… a carroty Marc Bolan?’
‘ nahhh … its Jimi’s Irish Cousin … Paddy Hendrix’

Once parked up where the Police wanted us to be, we piled off the busses and set off in search of a pub, as you do, only to be informed by the Police that we were confined to the immediate area and were barred from entering licensed premises. We obeyed implicitly, found alternate exits and set off through the back streets to find a Tea Shoppe…that served beer. Instead we found ‘Paddy’ and his mates again, they were outnumbered and turned to run, not so ‘Paddy’ …he charged at us in his own. We were so surprised that he got a few good thumps in before being overwhelmed. Thirty blokes beating one was never our ‘modus operandi’ and after a few taps to dampen his enthusiasm, we left him alone assuming he would leg it, no, he followed us up the street yelling the usual invitation to have a meaningful exchange of views.
‘Come an ‘ave a go if you think you’re ‘ard enough’
We ignored him, tucked our scarves and anything else Black & White inside our jackets, and piled into a likely looking pub. The manager didn’t care who we were or where we were from as long as we paid in British coins of the Realm. Soon were all sipping cups of Earl Grey and passing the time of day when ‘Paddy’ burst in the doors…alone and once again began throwing punches. We couldn’t believe it, he was either harder than coffin nails, off his head on drugs or totally brain damaged … perhaps all three. Yet again he was subdued, but refused to back down or leave, so we did what any self respecting Geordie would do and bought him a pint. Incredibly he stopped ranting long enough to drink it, then started up again…so we bought him another…then another…an hour later we ended up heading for Maine Road with ‘Paddy’ staggering along behind us …still screaming abuse.
Maine Road Manchester City’s old stadium was mostly still pre-war buildings, stands and sheds, and all the nutters congregated in The Kippax Stand. For some reason only known to the Police top brass they decided to herd the Geordie Faithfull into an area right next to the baying light blue hordes with a fence and four lines of big burly Coppers in between…and worse, they were allowing us to enter the ground through turnstiles in the Kippax side and then leading us through the Man City supporters into the area designated for the Newcastle Fans. Needless to say the City boys did not think much of this…and neither did we as we ran the gauntlet of punches, boots and spit only stopping to ask the time of day and dish out a little retribution…something the Police heartily disapproved of. As expected by now, there right at the front of the City mob was ‘Paddy’ although it has to be said, he now didn’t look so much ‘dangerous’ as very ‘confused’.
We made it into the heart of the Black & White throng mostly intact and set about making as much noise as possible to encourage our heroes, they responded admirably and we won two nil. After the first goal we celebrated long and loud with most of our songs and chants directed at the seething City masses. The Police were doing their best to keep the opposing mobs apart and there was a constant stream of would-be combatants being ejected from the stands, and there, sure enough, was our bestest drinking buddy ‘Paddy’ being carried out by four of Lancashire’s Finest. He was wriggling and fighting every inch of the way and received quite a few reminders from the law enforcement officers that he was no longer free to do as he pleased.
Newcastle’s second goal went in and I found myself near the front of the surging crowd within gobbing distance of the City fans…and unfortunately well within range of missiles, because there once again like the proverbial bad penny was ‘Paddy’… how the fuck had he got back in? Once again he was leading the City rabble and now wearing a toilet seat around his neck…but not for long as he took it off and slung it at us like a lavatorial Frisbee…he may have been pissed, and his aim like his attitude, unbalanced, but he still managed to hit me square on the forehead.
I went down like a sack of spanners and was in danger of getting trampled by me own mates when the Police pushed their way through and hauled me out with blood streaming from my head.

I was half carried half frog-marched down the steps and handed over to the Saint John’s Ambulance Brigade for treatment. Those unsung heroes who give their time for nowt and are often the targets of verbal abuse. I salute you lasses and lads, every Black & White uniformed one of you. Meanwhile, somewhere behind me, the offending missile was still being passed back and forth between the sets of rivals supporters.
The game was nearly over on the pitch and it was totally over for me as a spectator, the first aiders tried to stem the bleeding but said I needed stitches and would have to go to the mobile clinic behind the stands, which is where I was sat being attended to when ‘Paddy’ was dragged past kicking and screaming...again!
Head stitched and I was directed back into the stadium where the Newcastle Fans were being held back, there were hundreds of irate City followers gathered outside the ground and a full blown riot was in the offing. However it was dark, it was freezing and as temperatures dropped even further, the City enthusiasts lost their enthusiasm.
Finally the Police relented and escorted the jubilant Geordies back to their coaches. Despite several attempts by groups to peel off into pubs the Police were quite robust in their insistence that we ‘get the fuck out of Manchester’
…ok we’d stop somewhere up the road.
The buses full of celebrating Geordies began pulling out in convoy…and as each coach exited the parking area a solitary, unkempt ginger haired figure ran out from the shadows and banged on the side of every vehicle as it passed… ’Come back and fight yer GEORDIE BASTARDS’

Two weeks later and the scenario was repeated, same venue, same teams only this time in the old League Division One, again it was cold and frosty.
The first thing we noticed on our way across the country was that there did not seem to be nearly as many traveling fans. Considering we had beaten them two nil on their home ground only two weeks previously, I would have expected a much stronger away support. But the League is not the FA Cup, and a Division One match did not seem to inspire nearly so many casual followers or encourage them to make the trip to Lancashire.
The Newcastle Fans were crammed into a corner of the Kippax and heavily outnumbered, and when a load of City madmen forced their way into the rear of the stand, to put it bluntly, we were fucked!
They pushed forward and we tried to retaliate but the steps were steep and we were fighting upover, not a good tactic at all, they continued surging forward and we were forced out of the stand and onto the cinder track running around the pitch. The Police began pushing us back into the packed stand and when it became obvious that this was not possible they ushered us along the side of the pitch and began shoving us direct into the Kippax Stand, on the side where the majority City fans were housed.
Only those who have ever been in a severe terrace ruck know how it feels, vastly outnumbered there is only only one way to go and that is forward hoping that by attacking, the opposition backs off long enough for the law to intervene. It didn’t happen, the next ten minutes were a blur of avoiding boots and fists. I tried to stay on my feet but went down, the City rabble piled in and luckily they were getting in each other’s way and no one managed to get in any really good digs, all I could do was curl up and try and protect my kidneys, finally the Police realised they had screwed up and waded in.
Once again we were marched around the pitch side and this time directed into the seated stands. I was just happy to be out of it all, I was still walking, but battered and I had some lovely bruises already blooming. I was definitely thinking in terms of leaving early and finding some ‘medication’ in a pub…in the meantime it was a case of just sit down, shut up and don’t attract attention.
That’s exactly how it was going and Newcastle were doing us all a favour by losing. There were a group of City fans milling around in the standing areas in front of the seats and checking out the stands obviously trying to identify the traveling Newcastle supporters. As I said, I was just waiting for the final whistle and keeping me somewhat battered head low.
Then loud and clear almost in my ear ‘Come and have a go if you think yer hard enough’
‘WHAT..who the fuck?’
‘Geordies here Geordies there Geordies every fuckin where.. la la lala la lala lala!’
The City mob zeroed in, a Lass two seats behind me with a gob like the Tyne Tunnel was on her feet, Black & White scarves tied around each wrist another held aloft and openly baiting the locals.
‘HOWAY the Lads…..’
Unfortunately I didn’t carry duct tape with me everywhere in those days and her tirade was allowed to continue even as the light blue clad rabble poured over the seats, directly towards ME, not HER.
Once again the Police came to my rescue and I didn’t protest in the least when they offered to escort me from the stand and out of the ground…I was first back to the bus aching, battered and bruised …

I did however manage to stop off at a ‘Doctor’s’ on the way back to the parking area and picked up a bottle of Famous Grouse medication…and we lost five one.

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