Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Flying the Flags for a Vibrant St James' Park; HOW THE NEW GALLOWGATE FLAGS CAMPAIGN CAN HELP BRING THE NOISE BACK TO TOON

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Flying the Flags for a Vibrant St James' Park; HOW THE NEW GALLOWGATE FLAGS CAMPAIGN CAN HELP BRING THE NOISE BACK TO TOON

Article excerpt

Byline: NOSTALGIA DAVE MORTON recalls the people and places of the North East @

LET'S face it, Newcastle United has long been one of English football's bestsupported clubs.

From the title-laden golden Edwardian era, to the post-World War II boom and the record average 56,298 attendance of 1947-48, to the citadel that is St James' Park in 2016, United have always pulled in the punters.

But what has undoubtedly suffered in the last couple of decades, in common with the dawn of all-seater football stadia across the land, is the once white-hot atmosphere at St James'.

In recent weeks we've reported on the exciting plans of the fan-funded Gallowgate Flags campaign. Spearhead by long-time United supporter Alex Hurst, the group has a clear objective.

Their website and crowd-funding page declares: "We are a group of season ticket holders from the Strawberry Corner looking to build on the positivity from the appointment of Rafa Benitez as Newcastle United manager.

"Our sole aim is to improve the atmosphere at St James' Park through positive support and visual displays to aid the team."

The group is raising money to design specially-made flags to be flown, at first, in the Gallowgate End corner, to help inspire the return of the stadium's legendary atmosphere.

Looking back, for Alex, 27, who has been a regular since around 1996-97, the most memorable match in terms of sheer passion was, he says, the 4-4 against Arsenal in February 2011, when United famously roared back from being 4-0 down.

Across the decades, of course, there have been a host of notable high-octane fixtures at St James' where the atmosphere has gone off the scale.

Sunderland in 2011 was special, Barcelona in 1997, and the Manchester United "howay 5-0" a year earlier will linger long in the memory for those who were there.

For older fans, the 3-1 New Year's Day win over Sunderland in 1985 was a humdinger, while the raucous atmosphere of St James' Park in the 1970s has rarely been repeated. …

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