Starved of success but forever loyal

Posted by Marc Duffy

Michael Regan/Getty ImagesNewcastle average 50,015 fans at St James' Park this season

Newcastle United have a long, proud history. Many of the Magpies' more recently successful Premier League rivals love to talk about history (I'm looking at you Liverpool) but Newcastle United had won six FA Cups before Liverpool had any.

Between 1905 and 1955 Newcastle won ten major domestic honours:

League: 1904/05, 1906/07, 1908/09, 1926/27

FA Cup: 1910, 1924, 1932, 1951, 1952, 1955

However, since then the North East club have not managed to deliver a single piece of domestic silverware to their fans.

Aston Villa, Bolton Wanderers, Nottingham Forest, Wolverhampton Wanderers, Tottenham Hotspur, Manchester United, West Ham United, Liverpool, Everton, West Bromwich Albion, Manchester City, Chelsea, Arsenal, Leeds United, Sunderland, Southampton, Ipswich Town, Coventry City, Wimbledon, Burnley, Derby County, Blackburn Rovers, Norwich City, Birmingham City, Leicester City, Queens Park Rangers, Stoke City, Swindon Town, Oxford United, Luton Town, Sheffield Wednesday, Middlesbrough, Portsmouth and Swansea have all won at least one League, FA Cup or League Cup since Newcastle United's last domestic triumph.

That's 34 different clubs!

At the risk of sounding like my three-year-old daughter when I refuse her sweets, that's just not fair.

I'm 34-years-old so I haven't seen the club I support win anything in my lifetime. The last trophy of any kind, the 1969 Fairs Cup, was won nine years before I was born but Newcastle have had their chances - I've seen the club lose two FA Cup finals (1998 to Arsenal and 1999 to Manchester United) and I still have nightmares about the 1996 Premier League title chase.

Despite Newcastle's trophy famine of multiple decades, the club's managers still choose to field weakened sides in cup competitions. This is not just an Alan Pardew-era phenomenon - this has happened for years. How dare a club who haven't tasted domestic success in a ridiculous 58 years choose not to take cup competitions seriously? It's preposterous.

Poor old Arsenal. Eight years without a trophy? A close friend of mine is an Arsenal season ticket holder and when we discussed this last week - "Yeah, but it's all relative," he said. All relative? Even the most deluded Arsenal fan could not truly believe that 58 years for Newcastle versus eight years for Arsenal is comparable.

Newcastle United are a club who SHOULD have delivered a trophy in that time. Why? In 2006 the Magpies earned the 12th highest revenue in all of European football. They were consistently within the top 20 European clubs over that period.

Why no trophies then? In my view it's down to mismanagement. The Shepherd and Hall families didn't really deliver and when they made way, in came the current owner, Mike Ashley, who actually managed to relegate the club! Relegating Newcastle in the 1980's was one thing, but in the modern game, with the big money and scale of the club this is an absolutely phenomenal occurrence.

But then no club has a divine right to win trophies (not even you, Arsenal) and the fans understand that.

And so, despite going 58 years without a trophy and not having been in the top half of the Premier League all season, Newcastle still average 50,015 at St James' Park this term - the third highest average attendance in the league. When they played Championship football in 2009/10 their average league attendance of 43,388 was the fourth highest in England and higher than 36 of the 40 La Liga and Serie A clubs. Phenomenal.

Newcastle supporters go along to St James' Park every single home game knowing that the club probably won't win anything in their lifetime. They still go. They go because they love the club. They love the city. They are proud.

My brother once tried to tell me that if we won something "it just wouldn't be the same". I don't think he really believes that, but he will carry on going regardless.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy

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