Newcastle United vs Manchester City: Lessons from Leazes Stand
Last Saturday, I was one among the 49, 579 fans, who attended Newcastle United‘s home game against Manchester City. What should have been an incredible first match-day experience was ruined by City’s 3-1 win.
If you are a City fan, whose wisdom teeth just started to grow, by now you should have guessed, which club I support. Newcastle United? Wrong, comeback when you’ve won 18.
Rivalries aside, I will take you through what I have learnt from the match. When I said, what I have learnt from the match, I meant anything but an in-depth analysis about why a goal was scored with a player’s foot and not with his head.
Pre-match warm up
With just 15 minutes left before kick-off, I made a wager with my friend that the match was sold out. He looked at the half-empty stadium and accepted the odds. The City players were the first to come out for their warm up drills and there was no sign of Mario Balotelli.
The excitement of buying discounted match tickets drained out of me, because without its sideshow attraction this City Circus is not much of a crowd puller. No surprises, I lost the bet.
The players split into two groups, my guess, based on their height difference, because the shorter players were clubbed together and then there was Dzeko, the Toure brothers, Gareth Barry, Javi Garcia.
I spotted Carlos Tevez among his pint-sized comrades, wearing a navy blue beanie, lazily dragging his two legs though the practice routine and trying his best to do what David Silva was doing.
I am not making this up; this man hates warming up. Instead of stretching his muscles he looked like a reluctant school kid participating in a mock fire drill. All those stories about Tevez refusing to warm up last year against Bayern Munich now make perfect sense.
He is like that Duracell bunny in a match but a tortoise in training. His body language suggested of someone limbering up for a few practice swings on a golf resort than a player preparing for a league match. I don’t think Mancini cares anymore,as long as he gets the job done.
I sat in a lower stand, behind the goal, right below at least a thousand travelling fans. Though the terraces seem like a vantage point for a hitman, it comes highly recommended, if you wish to not watch, but live the game. From where I was seated, the terraces looked like a cool night club that not everyone could get access to: I almost felt like I was standing behind the velvet rope waiting to get in.
The banter on the terraces would have mortified even a seasoned fan. The chants flew thick and fast between the two sets of fans; it was almost like hearing an orchestra playing crude symphonies. The “symphony” rose and fell amid the cacophony of noise, and it reached a crescendo when City scored the first goal of the game.
A flare was dropped from above and it landed a few rows to my left; engulfing a good part of the lower stand with thick wafts of blue smoke. The flare was putout and the chants resumed. City fans chanted: ” Mancini oh, Mancini oh…”. Newcastle fans drowned their chants, but I couldn’t believe what I was hearing, they chanted: “Oh Robin van Persie ohhhhh…”.
My stand probably had the dullest bunch of fans in the stadium. It is difficult to match the passion displayed on the terraces, but how hard is it to join the rest of the stadium in chanting “Toon Army”?
Some bloke sitting two rows behind me tried to encourage us to join in, but he was shot down by others sitting in the front, who gave him puzzled looks. Our stand was probably filled with tourists, counting myself, armed with cellphone cameras trying to zoom 500 yards to get a snap of Sergio Aguero in action. From that distance even a player of Yaya Toure’s build doesn’t stand a chance of being caught on camera without being mistaken for someone else.