Mag owner’s commonsense breakdown

Doesn’t the dress code in football directors’ boxes err on the side of restraint? Pete Sixmsith offers evenly balanced thoughts on a threatened breach of etiquette at this weekend’s Wear-Tyne derby

On the grapevine, I heard that Niall Quinn had written to the Newcastle United owner Mike Ashley asking him not to wear his legendary black and white shirt in the directors’ box when we play the Mags on Saturday.

Ashley, who has made a fortune with his sportswear, refused and said he intended to wear it to show solidarity with the fans.

Questioning the fact that to do that he would have to turn up with bare torso, covered in Toon Tattoos while waving his shoes around his head, I thought that once again it shows that whatever the Mags have got, it ain’t class.

Now I have been following football for over 40 years and in much of that time the Mags have shown that they are as common as muck.

In the 60s and 70s they had decent, principled people like the McKeags and Lord Westwood running the club. These men understood what the club was about and treated it as the family silver, realising that to allow the barbarian hordes who follow the Toon anywhere near the boardroom would be similar to Attila the Hun and his mates sitting outside the gates of Rome desperately looking for the keys so they can destroy Western civilisation.

It all changed when the arriviste John Hall became involved. A rugby man who used to have a box at Roker Park, he personified the Thatcher years with his get rich quick schemes.

Pulling down a perfectly pleasant and charming coke works, he built that mecca of consumerism, the Metro Centre.

Realising that he could outshine such legendary Toon fans as T Dan Smith and Alderman Andrew Cunningham as Mr North East, he put pressure on the sweet natured McKeags and ended up buying them out, installing as manager permed serial whinger who went on to offer Alex Ferguson the biggest football wind up of all time.

They fluked their way up and then we saw their true colours. All of a sudden they acquired 25,000 extra loyal supporters who had always gone to the match and swore that they had been in the crowds of 11 and 12,000 a couple of years before.

Hall wanted to build the Geordie Nation so he wiped out perfectly good rugby union, ice hockey and basketball teams to turn them into a Newcastle Sporting Club so that the North East could revel in their success. We didn’t.

Like all good entrepreneurs (surely an oxymoron) he sold out when the profits were at their maximum. He had lost interest in the football club and had passed it on to his son which seemed to be the dumbest appointment since Caligula made his horse a Consul.

Actually, the horse was brighter than Douglas and certainly better looking than his sidekick Freddie Shepherd.

If anything sums up the Mags, consider this. The Beatles said Money can’t buy you love and nor can it buy you class. Fat Freddie showed what he was about when he roped off an exclusive area for him and his chums at the club Christmas Party a couple of years ago.

And now they have a football shirt wearing multi-millionaire. He may say “I made my money from selling football shirts” but I don’t recollect Stan Seymour turning up in a black and white creation in the 60s and 70s and nor did William McKeag turn up wearing his solicitor’s wing collars and black tie. Actually, I’m wrong on that one – he did.

In this time our club has been run by nice people like Keith Collings, Sir Tom Cowie (a philanthropist of the highest level) and Bob Murray and John Fickling who knew the best gold plated taps when they saw them. Now we have Niall Quinn and John Hays who must be so looking forward to meeting Ashley and his straight man Chris Mort – the Larry Sanders and Hank Kingsley of the Premier League. Let’s put them in their place on Saturday – please.

Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

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