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The Camden Cad
Aug 24, 2004
North London
I suppose it started when I used to look at them in magazines. I'd furtively hide under the covers, terrified that someone would catch me, but not so scared that I'd stop. That was bad enough, but then I'd wait for everyone to go to sleep so I could watch them on the obscure satellite channels as well. I always knew that it was wrong, but what could I do when it felt so right? Society forces you to think a certain way, to behave in a certain manner, but all my instincts were pointing in the opposite direction. I hid it well, I think. When I was with my friends I joined in with their jokes, I grunted in all the right places, but only I knew that we weren't fantasising about the same things. When the lights went out at night and I could roam in the privacy of my own imagination, I never once thought about Manchester United or Arsenal or Liverpool. I thought about Newcastle. Oh God, what are my parents going to say?

The idea of having a second team just seems wrong to me. It's not fair. Football isn't a buffet and you get what you're given. I was given Southend and I've never regretted it, but ever since Kevin Keegan turned up at St James Park, I've been casting envious glances up north. I'm starting to get emotionally involved. It's strange, because it's not as if their players are particularly likeable. For every Michael Owen there's a Mark Viduka. For every Nicky Butt, there's a Joey Barton. But when the scoreline from White Hart Lane started flashing across the bottom of my television screen yesterday, I just couldn't stop grinning.

I think it's the Keegan factor that does it. In the last twenty years, football has been hijacked by big business and run into the ground for reasons no more noble than the pursuit of profit, but when Keegan appears for his post match press conference, his eyes gleam with that rarest of commodities; enthusiasm. He has a way of making people feel good about themselves and it's finally starting to pay dividends. I asked him a question after his 1-1 draw with Middlesbrough and he answered me as if I was the most astute journalist in the room for asking it. It was astonishing. I felt like a million dollars. Imagine what it would be like working for him! His only downfall is his honesty and that's why the media hounds him all the time. They know that his openness is bound to lead to a story sooner or later and turning up at a packed press conference wanting to be 'open' is like swimming in a shark tank with a severed artery. They'll eat you alive.

There was a lot of sneering from the press pack when he arrived at St James Park in January. Keegan's opening gambit about football up north being like, "going to the theatre for people in the south," infuriated a number of southern journalists, but it shouldn't have surprised them. This was the Keegan machine in action. For the club to recover, he had to unite the entire city as one and nothing pleases a Geordie more than a well-aimed barb at 'them down south'. This sport is obsessed with money and we've all forgotten that it's supposed to be fun, it's supposed to be entertainment.

Sam Allardyce had put some heavy foundations down for a future of serious, percentage-based football, but the performance at White Hart Lane suggests that Keegan has finally dug them out. Those who suggested that he could never deviate from 4-4-2 are having to eat their words at the sight of his all-out attacking 4-3-3 with full backs flying up the pitch and all the strikers on display. It's full throttle, worry-about-defending-later, cavalier football and I'm starting to fall in love with it. God knows where it will all lead. It could still all end in tears, but back-to-back wins should secure their Premier League status, there's enough talent in that team to challenge for the top six and, you know what? If Newcastle carry on playing this kind of football, I won't be the only one sneaking out to catch a glimpse of them. You'll all be doing it too.