Newcastle United under Mike Ashley’s ownership has long been a metaphorical dumpster fire. Now the club’s being slammed for what it’s literally put in a dumpster.
Fans haven’t had too much to be proud of in the past couple of decades, but the talented team put together by Sir Bobby Robson in the early 2000s was one of the high points.
And Robson himself was a Tyneside icon as much for his dignity, decency and love of the club and the area as for his managerial record.
Robson, who died in 2009, once wrote this:
What is a club in any case? Not the buildings or the directors or the people who are paid to represent it. It’s not the television contracts, get-out clauses, marketing departments or executive boxes. It’s the noise, the passion, the feeling of belonging, the pride in your city. It’s a small boy clambering up stadium steps for the very first time, gripping his father’s hand, gawping at that hallowed stretch of turf beneath him and, without being able to do a thing about it, falling in love.
So it’s not surprising that some fans feel the club acted disrespectfully when they chucked framed photos of the 2001-02 squad in a dumpster outside St James’ Park as part of a renovation of corporate boxes.
Not only does that seem like a waste, given that some memorabilia collector somewhere would have wanted them; it feels like a symbol of the Ashley regime. Supporters have accused the billionaire cheap sneakers tycoon of being classless and indifferent to the club’s heritage and the will of the fanbase.
The club has lost its past five games and sank to 13th in the Premier League table, leading to suggestions of a mass boycott of Sunday’s game against Tottenham. It’s a far cry from the days depicted in the dumped photos: the team finished fourth in 2001-02 and qualified for the Champions League.