You look like a man who knows about football

“Home Newcastle” Ronnie Lambert

Ronnie Lambert was 18 when he returned to Newcastle after spending a year in London working as a brick layer. Ronnie said he never forgot the emotion he felt when he came home and he tried to capture it in this song. I think he did a brilliant job, it’s a bit cliched in parts but for a Geordie it says all it needs to say. This song is regularly played on match days at St James’ Park, the home of Newcastle United.

This poem and the quote that is used as a title came after I was watching an England match at a bar in the South West of France. A few of the English locals had gathered to watch the game and a woman sat next to me and said “You look like a man who knows about football”.

Afterwards I thought about what she said, I wasn’t wearing an England shirt and didn’t look any different to anyone else there that day. The only thing I had that was different to the other people in the bar was a Northern accent.
I have been a football supporter all my life. At times, a very halfhearted one and at other times a season ticket holder. Being a Newcastle United supporter requires a lot of blind faith and a certain level of stubbornness but if you are a Geordie it’s in your blood and there is nothing you can do about it.

To celebrate the start of the football season here is a footy poem.

“You look like a man who knows about football”

Football courses through our city like the Tyne in flood
It is tattooed in black and white on our hearts and knuckles
We hold memories of sepia tinged glory days
As a child on the cramped terraces of St James’s Park
I crowd surfed to the touch line
When in 1968 we won the Fairs Cup
I danced in the Leazes End to the sound of “The Blaydon Races”
At school I was the runt kid with bottle glass spectacles
Whose lack of coordination and spatial dyslexia
Led to our ten nil defeat to our protestant rivals
I was not picked again
Newcastle United is owned by a bully with too much money
Our players are overpaid egos in a football strip
Our stadium prostituted for corporate advertising
Littered with over priced bars and indigestible snacks
But every victory is a lump in the throat
Every defeat a stone in the shoe
I loved the comradery of the terraces
The shared identity and common purpose
The power of the crowd on match day as we surge through the city
Buses,cars and lorries grind to a halt as we stream past
It reminds us that we the people have power
If we choose to exercise it

© Jeff Price July 2018

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