It was February 28, 1993, my 26th birthday, and the boys and I set off for Birkenhead in our van at around 6 a.m. with thousands of other Newcastle United fans.
The toons shot up and Tranmere Rovers would be next in line for a Kevin Keegan / Newcastle United championship.
A couple of the guys looked tense from the gargle the night before, but the mood was high, not least because the very personable Simon Jones was our driver for the day and he was as enthusiastic as ever and fresh as a daisy.
As we were leaving North Shields, one of the boys – Vern – tiredly bit into a pie trying to get some food for the upcoming drinking session. Incredible, he was still half eating it when we turned from the A69 onto the M6 over an hour later. At this point, Wor Neale broke into the songs and sang Limahl’s hit – ‘The Never Ending …. Pasty’ – a title change, but very funny at the time.
When we reached Merseyside, we made our way to The Dock Pub on the Merseyside waterfront. I knew the area and knew this bar was an “early cave” much like The Dolphin and Mariners Arms in North Shields. After a casual knock on the side door, the manager came out and I explained that I used to visit the place a lot, we were down for the game … and it was my birthday. Straight in and happy days.
It wasn’t until around 9am but there were a few locals there and the banter was great, it felt like Yem for all of us. The match itself was supposed to kick off at lunchtime, so there was plenty of time to chat. Locals said it was a solemn week for all of them after the tragic events surrounding the murder of little Jamie Bulger. It had also captured the hearts and the attention of the whole country.
We had played Bristol Rovers at St James Park four days earlier and it had been announced before the game that the great Bobby Moore had also died.
Well the drink flowed and the songs followed and the whole place seemed to be in peaceful harmony. I said to Simon and Wor Graeme that this was going to be the best birthday I can remember. When we finally left to travel to Prenton Park there was ample handshake and we thanked the manager and his wife for their hospitality.
We were safe on the ground about twenty minutes before kick-off and it was “chocka”, but obviously there were still many to arrive. When the players came out, it was announced that there would be a two-minute silence for Jamie Bulger and Bobby Moore. At that point, just minutes before kick-off, at least hundreds of Newcastle United fans were waiting outside the turnstiles to step on the ground.
It was then that the big media lie began that has haunted and disgusted me over the years, giving false ammunition to supporters of other clubs and especially the Mackems to tarnish the Geordies.
During the silence of remembrance, a pin could be heard dropping in the ground as it was being perfectly observed. Unfortunately, fans outside didn’t pick up anything but were still audible while waiting to gain entry so there were a few boos after the end but nothing scary.
Newcastle hosted another master class for the cameras and the traveling hordes were full of voices during a lovely 3-0 away win.
The journey home was a happy one, a great day and all the boys were safely dropped off by Simon.
Imagine my horror the next day when a picture appeared in one of the national rags of me and my pals in a happy mood at the game, with the caption, “Newcastle fans sing through the two minutes of silence. “
This outright lie and fiction has gained myth and significance over the years and is an example of how toxic and unfair the media can be to potentially categorizing decent people forever.
A few months ago a Mackem supporter brought up this wicked fairy tale again in an attempt to scourge our fans as scum and I suppose the bitterest Mackems and everyone else out there fighting Newcastle United and their loyal ones Fans who want to sharpen an ax would like to believe it just to justify their own hatred.
We got in touch with the tabloid at the time and expressed our disbelief and displeasure and explained that the picture of us was taken during the game and that the two-minute silence had not been disturbed. It was in vain and we have received no apology.
As the media goes into full swing over the next several months to discredit Amanda Staveley and the PIF in order to meet the requirements of the EPL, just think about who they really are and what they are capable of.
Bad work and fake journalists saying and producing almost anything for their own needs to keep Newcastle “in their position”. You all know who the current protagonists are, I’m sure of that.
Fight the good brothers and sisters as Newcastle United fans.
Strength and honor as always, for our time will come!