Rugby Union: What It’s Like Being A Newcastle Falcons Fan

Our rugby columnist Jeff Ball reveals what’s it like to be a fan of a side facing yet another crucial Aviva Premiership potentially relegation deciding weekend.

Our rugby columnist Jeff Ball reveals what€™s it like to be a fan of a side facing yet another crucial Aviva Premiership potentially relegation deciding weekend. Has your team been in the same situation or are you a Newcastle Falcons fan? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @Ballintouch or in the comments below. Misery, anguish, excitement, hope, quite simply. These are the main emotions I expect to feel this weekend in as yet undetermined quantities. Those that follow my @Ballintouch Twitter (highly recommended if I do say so myself) will have probably realised I am a Newcastle Falcons fans. My attempts of unbiased and fair comment and coverage have so far been successful, particularly on the pages of this fair website, but the occasional instance of Geordie pride has slipped out of late, with a strong correlation to the occurrence of an unexpected result in the Falcons favour. The draw against Harlequins not long ago evoked such biased spoutings, brought about by the sheer emotion of losing two points at the death against the league leaders and also the lengthy wait to exit the car park. Therefore I felt it was time to come clean about the muddle of emotions that have risen tempestuously through the week following the Falcons win at Gloucester last Saturday for the first time in 14 years. Tonight the Falcons take on the impressive and clinical Saracens in what penultimate in a long line of must-win games for the North Easterners. Bath Rugby welcome London Wasps to their neck of the woods tomorrow and by the final whistle there, the relegation battle could be decided if the Falcons lose and Wasps win. Misery and anguish will gush forth. However, if the Falcons win and Wasps lose, then it all comes down to the winner takes all clash on May 5th atAdamsPark and we welcome back hope and expectation. The permutations are numerous and tedious thanks to bonus points and points differences. But basically: If the Falcons win at home against Saracens and Wasps lose away toBaththey will still be behind them, either on points difference (unless we score and they concede over 47 points cumulatively) or if they get a losing bonus point. If the Falcons lose and Wasps win it is all over. If both lose/win with no bonus points the Falcons have to beat them by more than 7 and score 4 tries. If both lose/win with a Falcons bonus point, they just need to win. I think. Basically the Falcons need to win everything and not worry about the ifs and whats, as the headache that causes can be debilitating. That€™s what the fans are for. And lets not even get into the whole administration/promotion side of things as they have the potential to transform the summer into a period of apprehension and wonder in the RFU€™ waiting room. Not a good way to spend the sunny period, I€™m sure you€™ll agree.

All credit must go to the Falcons media and marketing team as the energy around the club and the fans this week has been electric, with self-belief and the will to win pouring from every social media outlet.. The plight of North East rugby in the Premiership has captured the hearts and minds of the locals and there is the possibility of a sell out atKingstonParkon Friday night for the first time in many a year. All the chat from players and coaches has been positive and confident. Saracens are not feared, just respected. The effort will be to win the game as opposed to trying not to lose, which was the mantra for much of the last couple of years. The off-field environment has been improved almost beyond recognition by Chairman Semore Kurdi and everyone seems much happier. The coaching set up of Gary Gold, John Wells and Mike Ford have transformed a side that may lack in raw talent but more than makes up for it in pure graft. Looking outside as I sit here, the clouds are still grey and the rain is threatening. That will benefit the home side over the visitors and force the game back towards the forwards, something the Falcons will be more than happy with. But back to the title of this peice, what€™s it like being a Falcons fan. Well with kick off mere hours away, nervousness and excitement spring to mind. It€™s like waiting for Santa with the added fillip of not wondering if Santa will not only turn up, but hang around and stamp on all your toys for 80 minutes. At the thought of results going the wrong way, devastation unsurprisingly jumps to the front of the queue. But thinking of the long term future of the club, even taking into account relegation, we€™re back at excited. No really, we are. The casual outsider may not realise it but we don€™t fear relegation anymore inNewcastle. We don€™t like it and of course don€™t want to go through it, but the fear has been replaced with a steely determination to face up and fight whatever we get thrown. Much like the attitude of the players on the pitch now. I think it€™s like the grieving process as it enters the final stages of acceptance.
Those that don€™t support a sport team will not understand. The agony, the disappointment, standing in the cold with a watered down pint, a hotdog of questionable origin before crawling onto sardine like coaches for an 8 hour coach journey. €œWhy do you care?€ they ask. Because it is part of who who we are. I am a fan. It is a sense of belonging, a part of being something, be it good or bad. That moment when you exchange knowing glances with a fellow be-shirted fan while being dragged around the local shopping centre the day after a big win is worth more than any non-supporter will realise. So where has the fear gone? Well the (slightly debated) placement of Dean Richards as Director of Rugby next season has gave the home fans a figurehead to rally around and dream of better times long after this season has panned out. Our neighbours Newcastle United suffered the same embarrassing fate of releagtion a couple of years ago and look at them now, threatening to break into the Champions League, a feat that was on offer at 500/1 at the start of the year. Semore Kurdi has splashed the cash and washed away the fear, mainly because under previous Chairman, David Thompson, the fear was not being relegated, it was disappearing altogether. With dwindling crowds, revenue and star players, the future looked pretty grim without the financial crutch of Premiership rugby. Now the rumour is that £3 million has been allocated for the battle to return to the premiership next year if need be, a substantial war chest I€™m sure you will admit. So basically Newcastle Falcons are on the up and the future is bright. Maybe not in the short term but we are all very hopeful for the future. It€™s just a shame it€™s now, with two games left with Wasps holding all the cards that the optimism is peaking around Kingston Park. In 160 minutes of rugby at either end of the country this weekend, misery, anguish, excitement and hope will have washed over the army of Falcons of fans, that I can guarantee. Which ones win out in the end, we€™ll all just have to wait and see.


Follow @BallInTouch on Twitter to keep up to date with all the latest rugby news and columns. Jeff Ball is a Geordie with a Newcastle Falcons season ticket, a rugby coaching badge, a bias for Newcastle United on Playstation games and was terrified by Jurassic Park as a child. For more of his personal musings following him on Twitter @JeffreyBall If you have any comments about this story please post a comment.