Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Gateshead Boys Are Real People

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Gateshead Boys Are Real People

Article excerpt

HAVE never bought into the theory that any game played at a lower level is in some way "real football."

And I've never thought that fans who follow sides in the bottom two divisions, and non-league for that matter, have more worth than those who support a Premier League club.

For one thing, it costs a hell of a lot more to watch a top-tier side than it does someone in the Conference.

And while fans of the so-called little clubs feel the elation of wins and pain of defeats as keenly as anyone else, it's not quite as life and death as it can seem at, say, Newcastle United.

Supporting your local non-league club is for the most part a bit of fun. Nobody is expecting cup finals or glorious runs in Europe because these things are impossible at this level.

But there is something about that level that is simply, well, better.

The Premier League is great and all that, but it's an awfully pretentious place.

Very average players get paid fortunes and wander around as if they have invented the cure for cancer, but are keeping it themselves for the moment.

You don't get that with, say, Gateshead.

The hard-working club's PR guru Jeff Bowron organised an open press day on Monday at the Angel of the North. The sun came out, all the players were there and we in the press were free to wander up to any one of them and ask them for a chat.

Everyone approached said yes and they all had a tale to tell.

You never get that in the Premier League. Apart from after games, Newcastle next to never put players up for interview.

It's good every now and then to deal with football people who are not wrapped up entirely in their own self-importance.

Although the best open press day I was ever at came before Euro 96.

We were invited to speak to all the Dutch players who were each sitting at their own desk with, get this, their name placed in front of them. …

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