Thursday, January 24, 2008


Newcastle are the Persib of English football

With English football dominated by the return of Kevin Keegan I've been having my work cut out explaining just why people are so excited about Newcastle United. In my time here I've only met two people who didn't suppport one of the Big 3 or Chelsea. One supported West Ham, the other Newcastle. The rest are bemused. Who cares about Newcastle they ask?

My response has evolved from just some team oop north to a much clearer, and easier understood answer. Newcastle are just like Persib. Instant recognition.

Both towns are steeped in football heritage. Both clubs are an extension of regional identity. Newcastle represent the hopes of the Geordies, north eastern folk with a penchant for funny accents and going bare chested 'doon the toon' in the most inclement weather.

They brought us Viz and Jimmy Nail!

Traditional songs fill the Gallowgate every weekend from the Blaydon Races to other stuff. Geordie identity as tough hard working folk has been cemented in TV shows like Auf Wiedersehen Pet and When The Boat Comes In. A proud people clinging to their working class roots.

Persib represent the Sunda, the original people of that region of Java. Their unofficial tag if you like is Maung Persib or Persib roars. Like Newcastle the people in the city have no time for any other team. Persib Sampai Mati, Persib till death. They hate outsiders but reserve a special emnity to their bitterest foes, Persija Jakarta

Both sets of fans look back proudly on a long tradition of success though most of the fans have never seen a trophy lifted by their heroes.

With fanatical support home and away both clubs have underachieved over the last several years. The Geordies have won nothing since the 60's. Persib were Liga champions in the mid 90's. Other than that there has been much flattering to deceive, much hype, much terrace angst and little glory.

Management issues have plagued both clubs as owners seek to extert their own influence. Quick fixes are always sought

The prodigal son has returned to Newcastle. Persib still await theirs.


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