I couldn’t let the anniversary of Eddie Howe taking over the manager’s role at Newcastle go by without dedicating this blog to the man himself. And to Jason, of course. Whom he couldn’t be without.

There is a more serious note to this blog don’t worry. I know regular readers come along to read something sensible and meaningful, and don’t worry this won’t disappoint. I wanted to compare and contrast the matchday experience I now have going to football. With not drinking anymore, football matches and days have taken a different route. One that I am embracing . I got my season ticket at Newcastle back in 2018. Rafa’s second season in the premier league with us. I started going with a few mates I had made and suddenly ‘going to the match’ became going out early getting a few pints down my neck before the game, having a couple more during and then going out after for, you guessed it. Even more pints. I couldn’t wait for match days because I knew it was an excuse to go on a bit of a mad one. I looked upon it as, well everyone else is going out and getting wrecked why don’t i? I can recall (ironically) having many days and nights out following matches and not being able to remember much from the day before. It is quite sad really looking back at it like that as I wasn’t fully present at these moments. I wasn’t enjoying the football and experience of the day to its full potential which considering how much going to games cost, is a massive waste. Christ, it got even worse when Bruce took over as the football was dire.

One bad night was over the festive period (I hate Christmas) which I seldom enjoy usually because I make a mess of a situation and get into some sort of shenanigans through boozing. We played Brighton the day before New Years Eve and quite a few of us had gone to the game. I ended up walking off from the group too drunk and not remembering where I was. Thankfully one of the lads and his partner found me and returned me home but it was incredibly embarrassing the next day when I saw them again. It’s moments like this I wonder why I never packed the drinking in there and then? Surely, I could see it was not wise for me to be doing it. Evidently not, or more than likely I chose to ignore it and plough on. I mentioned this today in my therapy session, I think I felt a sense of invincibility and arrogance that nothing bad was ever going to happen. After heavy nights I would utter the immortal words promising to not drink again but days would pass and I would think to myself, nothing bad has occurred so just carry-on mate. If you are drinking to excess and blacking out, then seriously talk to someone about it. I was very lucky, nothing too awful ever went down, but I came very close a few times.   

Match days are now very different. And for the better. I will meet friends before the game and not drink. I generally get into town around the same time as I would have done in the past for pre-match drinks. Now I go for a coffee or something to eat. I get into the ground fairly early to watch the players warm up. I never did this previously. It would be drinks until five minutes before kick-off. No half-time boozy beverages are consumed, and I stick to a coke zero or something similar. I appreciate this is really ground-breaking stuff…. But I wanted to describe it in detail to show the difference to myself. I love going to the matches, even more this season. I am present. I remember every game and small moments that I otherwise would have missed. I don’t crave the booze on game days which I am slightly surprised at. I have learned that this is the best way for me to still enjoy something I am passionate about and not let it be ruined by alcohol. There are no longer the pit stops on the way home cramming in as many pints as possible. I leave the games and go home. Unless meeting friends afterwards. To some, this will seem like I am no longer enjoying the day as much, but I can say with honesty that I am. Yes, it’s different but that doesn’t mean it isn’t good if not better.

Next week I am going to write a full piece on Foodcycle. The organisation I volunteer for in Newcastle. Thanks again for reading.

Up the mags.

Nick Denton

Sobering Thoughts