A new documentary by the fans for the fans highlights the ups and downs of Newcastle United

A new documentary by the fans for the fans highlights the ups and downs of Newcastle United
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Updated 09 December 2020

A new documentary by the fans for the fans highlights the ups and downs of Newcastle United

A new documentary by the fans for the fans highlights the ups and downs of Newcastle United
  • We Are The Geordies is released on December 11 across several streaming platforms

Every weekend, from the age of seven, Neil Mitchell would wake up with only one thing on his mind. Newcastle United.

Saturdays were sacred. It’s match day, for the day three generations of his family.

With his father, a former youth player at the club, and his grandfather, a battle-hardened supporter who hitchhiked to three cup finals in the 1950s, the trip to the cathedral-like St James’ Park every other week was a rite of passage for the young Geordie.

If you’re born and bred on the banks of the River Tyne, you don’t get a choice in the matter.

The memories remain as vivid as ever.

“I’d emerge from the dark of the stand into a floodlit St James’, in awe of the vivid green pitch and excited to finally see my heroes in action,” said Mitchell. “It was the start of a lifelong love affair with a club whose ground sits in and is, in many ways, the heart of the city. The synergy between club, city and community is what cements the passion the fanbase has for the team in black and white. One club, one city, one love.”

Now living in Dubai, Mitchell, the founding chair of Newcastle United Supporters Trust (NUST), has been involved in the production and promotion of a new documentary about the club and its fanbase; We Are The Geordies, to be released in theatres and on streaming services from December 11.

“For most of my teenage and adult life I have been passionately involved in connecting the fanbase,” he added. “Be that via fanzines, occasional columns in the local newspaper and much more. After I moved on from NUST, I set up a supporters group, called NUFC Fans United, with the intention of improving communication with the club for all fans, with my good friends Steve Hastie, Steve Wraith and Zahra Zomorrodian. Zahra, with her background in film and media, came to us with an idea she had about making a film. Not just a run of the mill football flick but rather something that expressed the real passion and love affair Geordies have with our club.”




The 91-minute documentary We Are The Geordies follows the story of Newcastle United and its fanbase.

“We reached out to the club and all the contacts we had and within weeks she was on a coach to an away game with a film crew in tow. The rest as they say is history.”

What they couldn’t have foreseen was that their labor of love would face so many obstacles or to be released at arguably one of the club’s, and football’s, most uncertain times.

“The subsequent three years have had their ups and downs and I know how much blood, sweat, tears and personal finance Zahra and her partner James have poured into this project and we have tried to help and support in every way we can along the way,” Mitchell said. “It gives me so much pride to see their passion project pay off with an amazing film. Something unique and magical. And on a personal note, the fact they chose my father as one of the fans to follow is something I’m eternally grateful to them for as well.”

The 91-minute documentary is co-directed by Zomorrodian, also a producer, and James DeMarco, who wrote the script. It covers the 2016-17 season, which saw Rafael Benitez lead the club back to the Premier League, by highlighting the many highs and lows through the eyes of 11 supporters, Alan Shearer, Les Ferdinand and the beloved Spanish coach himself, among others.

With a tagline of “Football without fans is nothing”, the timely film is in many ways a microcosm of the challenges the club has faced since the unpopular Mike Ashley took over the club in 2007. And how the fans have suffered, as much from misconceptions of the pitch as from lack of success on it.

One myth that continues to irk Newcastle supporters is that they are some of football’s most entitled and demanding. Why this has persisted so many years after Newcastle’s last successful era in the 1990s and early 2000s, is anyone’s guess, though Ashley’s friends in the media, the likes of beIN Sports’ Andy Gray and Richard Keys, and many other ex-professional footballers continue to peddle the line. Mitchell rejects the lazy stereotype.

We Are The Geordies I think is a perfect counter to any of these utterly ridiculous accusations,” he said. “All we want is a team who will always try. To aspire to better things. To represent us on the global stage the way we hope to represent it. That’s all. And I think this film taps perfectly into the thoughts, dreams and aspirations of a fanbase who haven’t seen silverware of any kind since 1969 and yet still turn out week in week out to back the lads.”

With continuing talks of a takeover of the club, Mitchell is keen to highlight what any new owners would be getting for their investment.

For a start, Newcastle – despite its club’s enduring and often vicious rivalry with Sunderland – is, like Paris and Leeds, a one-club city. Established in 1892, one thing this club has in spades is a unique sense of identity.




One of Newcastle’s biggest selling points for potential owners is the imposing 52,000-plus capacity St James’ Park.

One of Newcastle’s biggest selling points for potential owners is the imposing 52,000 plus capacity St James’ Park situated at the heart of the city, still one of England’s biggest grounds.

Newcastle supporters, like fans of many English clubs established in Victorian times, are fiercely proud of their home and their heroes. Outside the stadium you are met by statues of three of its greatest figures. Jackie Milburn, or ‘Wor Jackie’ as he’s colloquially known, Bobby Robson and record Premier League goalscorer Alan Shearer.

The list of club icons, old and modern, is long and illustrious. Albert Stubbins and Hughie Gallacher. Malcolm MacDonald and Kevin Keegan. Peter Beardsley, Chris Waddle and Paul Gascoigne. Les Ferdinand and David Ginola. And cult heroes like Micky Quinn, Faustino Aspilla and Gary Speed. All names chanted across decades from the raucous Gallowgate End.

It’s this heritage that has attracted potential buyers in the Middle East – and indeed a whole new army of fans in recent years, particularly since the promotion campaign covered in the film.

“Over the last couple of years takeover talk and interest in the club from the Gulf region has most certainly raised the club’s profile and I know living in Dubai we have made a lot of new friends both in the UAE and most recently Saudi Arabia,” Mitchell said. “I like to think of this film on a personal level as a gift from the fans of Newcastle United to our newfound friends here in the Middle East. It is also a showcase to any potential buyer of what comes along with the purchase of the club. You buy the heart of the city. A community who will welcome you with open arms. United by name. United by nature. You take custody of the soul of the city.”

Anecdotally it’s often noted that if Newcastle United win on the weekend productivity in the city goes up by 30 percent the following Monday. Mitchell believes there’s more than a grain of truth in that, and that lifelong adoration and loyalty awaits any new owners willing to take a chance on the club.

“Anyone who can harness that club, city, and community synergy has the potential to shake English football for years to come,” he concludes. “Under the current ownership the club has become a bit of a ghost ship, drifting with little direction. We Are The Geordies shows quite clearly there is still a strong heartbeat there and it lies with the fans. For anyone who owns the club and can unlock that synergy, the sky’s the limit.”

We Are the Geordies (link: https://www.wearethegeordies.com)


Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal win big to seal all-Saudi AFC Champions League semifinal

It was a double success on Saturday for Saudi football clubs after Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal reached the AFC Champions League semifinals. (AFP)
It was a double success on Saturday for Saudi football clubs after Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal reached the AFC Champions League semifinals. (AFP)
Updated 16 October 2021

Al-Nassr, Al-Hilal win big to seal all-Saudi AFC Champions League semifinal

It was a double success on Saturday for Saudi football clubs after Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal reached the AFC Champions League semifinals. (AFP)
  • Results now mean there will be an all-Saudi showdown in Western half of the draw on Oct. 19.

RIYADH: It was a double success on Saturday for Saudi football clubs after Al-Nassr and Al-Hilal reached the AFC Champions League semifinals with impressive victories.

Al-Nassr thrashed UAE’s Al-Wahda FSCC 5-1 at the King Saud University Stadium in their quarterfinal, while Al-Hilal cruised to victory with a 3-0 win over Iran's Persepolis.

Al-Nassr were relentless from the first minute and the Emirati club had no answers to a brace from Jaloliddin Masharipov and goals apiece for Abderazak Hamdallah, Abdulfattah Asiri and Sami Al-Najei.

Saudi national team stalwart Salem Al-Dawsari opened the scoring for Al-Hilal in Tehran and two strikes from superstar striker Bafetimbi Gomis made sure there would be an all-Saudi showdown in the Western half of the draw on Oct. 19.


Azarenka books spot in Indian Wells final against Badosa

Azarenka books spot in Indian Wells final against Badosa
Updated 16 October 2021

Azarenka books spot in Indian Wells final against Badosa

Azarenka books spot in Indian Wells final against Badosa
  • Azarenka clinched victory on her first match point when Ostapenko slammed a forehand into the net

INDIAN WELLS: Victoria Azarenka, who is hoping to become the first three-time WTA winner in Indian Wells, punched her ticket to Sunday’s final by rallying to beat former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko 3-6, 6-3, 7-5.

Two-time Australian Open winner Azarenka continued her solid play in the California desert as she goes for her first title of 2021 and 22nd of her career.

The 32-year-old arrived in the semifinals without dropping a set and after losing the first one to Ostapenko she settled in and found her form.

Azarenka will face Spaniard Paula Badosa, who defeated Ons Jabeur in straight sets 6-3, 6-3.

Azarenka is seeking to win the tournament for the third time after victories in 2012 and 2016.

She is the only former champion left in either the women’s or men’s field, and with another victory can separate herself from the list of women who have won the trophy twice — which includes Martina Navratilova, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.

Azarenka clinched victory on her first match point when Ostapenko slammed a forehand into the net.

This was the second career meeting between the two but the first on hardcourt, so it took Azarenka time to feel her opponent out and figure out her weaknesses.

“She was playing really incredible in the first set, not giving me much,” said Azarenka.

“I was just trying to find an opportunity — actually create an opportunity — for me to get back into the match and take a little bit more control. I really had to fight for every ball.”

Ostapenko controlled most of the first set, breaking Azarenka in the second game to go up 2-0. She then held serve to jump out to a 3-0 lead using her powerful ground strokes to move the Belarusian around the court.

Azarenka went down again 2-0 in the second set but then caught fire while holding serve in the third game.

That started a run of five straight games to take a 5-2 lead. Ostapenko held serve once more but Azarenka served out the set to level the match.

Azarenka raised her level another notch in a hard-fought third set, winning the final three games to get to the final where she will face Badosa for the first time.

Meanwhile, Badosa has reached the final in her first appearance in Indian Wells, cooling off Jabeur, who has been one of the hottest players on the Tour with 48 wins in 2021.


Manchester United lose at Leicester, City roll on as five-star Liverpool go top

Manchester United succumbed to a first away league defeat for 30 games by losing 4-2 at Leicester as Liverpool stormed to the top of the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Watford on Saturday. (AP/Action Images via Reuters)
Manchester United succumbed to a first away league defeat for 30 games by losing 4-2 at Leicester as Liverpool stormed to the top of the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Watford on Saturday. (AP/Action Images via Reuters)
Updated 16 October 2021

Manchester United lose at Leicester, City roll on as five-star Liverpool go top

Manchester United succumbed to a first away league defeat for 30 games by losing 4-2 at Leicester as Liverpool stormed to the top of the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Watford on Saturday. (AP/Action Images via Reuters)
  • Mohamed Salah again took most of the plaudits for another stunning solo goal

LONDON: Manchester United succumbed to a first away league defeat for 30 games by losing 4-2 at Leicester as Liverpool stormed to the top of the Premier League with a 5-0 demolition of Watford on Saturday.
Manchester City moved into second with a 2-0 win over Burnley, while Chelsea can move back to the top of the table when they travel to Brentford later in the day.
But the focus will fall on United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer after his side failed to win for the third consecutive Premier League game.
United led at the King Power thanks to Mason Greenwood’s spectacular strike, but were quickly pegged back by Youri Tielemans’ dinked finish beyond David de Gea.
A flurry of four goals in the final 12 minutes then condemned Solskjaer’s men to a first defeat on the road since January 2020.
Caglar Soyuncu put Leicester in front before Marcus Rashford equalized on his first appearance of the season after shoulder surgery.
Straight from kick-off, United’s leaky defense was breached once more as Jamie Vardy smashed home and Patson Daka’s first Leicester goal in stoppage time sealed a much-needed win for Brendan Rodgers’ men.
Roberto Firmino scored his first hat-trick since 2018 as Liverpool ran riot at Vicarage Road in Claudio Ranieri’s first match as Watford boss.
But it was Mohamed Salah who again took most of the plaudits for another stunning solo goal to take his tally for the season to 10 in as many games.
“In this moment it is clear that there is no one better than him,” said Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp of the Egyptian.
Salah helped open the floodgates with a defense-splitting pass that teed up Sadio Mane to score his 100th Premier League goal.
Firmino would have been unavailable due to a late return from international duty but for an injury that forced him to withdraw from the Brazil squad.
He tapped home his first goal from James Milner’s cross before half-time and took advantage of another open goal after Ben Foster parried Craig Cathcart’s attempted clearance.
Salah left four Manchester City defenders trailing to score in a thrilling 2-2 draw before the international break and pulled off a similar feat before curling into the far corner.
Firmino then completed the rout in stoppage time.
City did not need to hit top gear to see off Burnley at the Etihad and remain one point behind Liverpool at the top of the table.
Bernardo Silva and Kevin De Bruyne were on target either side of half-time for Pep Guardiola’s men.
Wolves produced a miraculous comeback from 2-0 down with 10 minutes remaining to win 3-2 at Aston Villa.
Danny Ings and John McGinn had put the hosts in a commanding position at Villa Park.
But Romain Saiss, Conor Coady and Ruben Neves handed Bruno Lage’s men a dramatic three points.
Southampton got their first league win of the season thanks to Armando Broja’s goal to beat Leeds 1-0.
Norwich remain winless and bottom of the table after a 0-0 draw with Brighton.


360VUZ to bring football action to fans’ mobile phones

360VUZ has partnered with the Saudi Professional League to bring top tier football action to fans’ mobile phones. (Supplied/360VUZ)
360VUZ has partnered with the Saudi Professional League to bring top tier football action to fans’ mobile phones. (Supplied/360VUZ)
Updated 16 October 2021

360VUZ to bring football action to fans’ mobile phones

360VUZ has partnered with the Saudi Professional League to bring top tier football action to fans’ mobile phones. (Supplied/360VUZ)
  • Under agreement with Saudi Professional League a new dedicated channel will allow users to navigate easily on the app and watch the top tier Saudi clubs in action

RIYADH: 360VUZ, the immersive virtual mobile app has partnered with the Saudi Professional League to offer a fuller experience to football fans, enabling them to watch highlights of the SPL games, behind the scenes videos and exclusive interviews with players all in 360 degrees.

The new partnership will play a major role in engaging 360VUZ users with the Saudi league, making it one of the first major leagues in the world to bring an immersive football content to screens.

Khaled Zaatarah, founder and Chief Executive Officer of 360VUZ, said: “We are happy to team up with Saudi Professional League to show spectacular videos of the league on our platform. In 360VUZ we strive to offer an immersive experience with vital content for all our users just through using their phones.”

360VUZ will offer a dedicated channel for SPL, which will allow the users to navigate easily on the app and watch the top tier Saudi clubs in action. The app includes KBW Ventures — founded by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal bin Abdulaziz, President of Saudi Sports For All Federation — as one of its investors.

“Seeing 360VUZ ink this partnership with the Saudi Professional League is really exciting for me as an investor,” Prince Khaled said. “During their initial pitch, I could see how well their immersive experience would work for Saudi sports enthusiasts, and now with SPL the app can bring these moments to fans both in and outside of the Kingdom.”

Abdul Aziz Al Afaleq, Chairman of the Board at Saudi Pro League, said: “We are keen on adopting the latest trends and technologies around the world, and featuring our league on 360VUZ app makes us the first league to present exclusive and immersive video content to our fans.”

“This partnership aims at enhancing our connection with the league’s fans by offering a one-of-a-kind experience to watch the league’s stars and the latest highlights of our matches,” he said.


Faf du Plessis stars as Chennai Super Kings down Kolkata Knight Riders to win fourth IPL title in Dubai

Chennai, winners in 2010, 2011 and 2018, remain one of the most successful IPL franchises after five-time champions Mumbai Indians. (Twitter: @IPL)
Chennai, winners in 2010, 2011 and 2018, remain one of the most successful IPL franchises after five-time champions Mumbai Indians. (Twitter: @IPL)
Updated 16 October 2021

Faf du Plessis stars as Chennai Super Kings down Kolkata Knight Riders to win fourth IPL title in Dubai

Chennai, winners in 2010, 2011 and 2018, remain one of the most successful IPL franchises after five-time champions Mumbai Indians. (Twitter: @IPL)

DUBAI: Faf du Plessis smashed an attacking half-century to help Chennai Super Kings thrash Kolkata Knight Riders by 27 runs and clinch their fourth Indian Premier League title on Friday.
Du Plessis’ 86 off 59 balls guided Chennai to 192-3, a total their bowlers defended by restricting Kolkata to 165-9 in the final in Dubai.
Opener Venkatesh Iyer hit a 32-ball 50 but the knock was not enough to stop Chennai’s M.S. Dhoni from a landmark win in his 300th match as T20 skipper.
“We had match winners coming game after game and doing really well,” said Dhoni who also praised Kolkata for reviving their fortunes in the tournament’s second leg.
“Every final is special, if you look at the stats, we may say we’re the most consistent team to lose the final too. I feel it’s important to come back strong, especially in the knockouts.”
Chennai, winners in 2010, 2011 and 2018, remain one of the most successful IPL franchises after five-time champions Mumbai Indians who failed to defend their title this season.
Shardul Thakur took three wickets including twin strikes in one over to hurt two-time champions Kolkata who came into the final on the back of four successive wins.
Spinner Ravindra Jadeja and pace bowler Josh Hazlewood took two wickets each.
Eoin Morgan’s Kolkata won the toss and elected to field but their bowlers failed to get a wicket until the ninth over and took a hammering in Dubai.
Ruturaj Gaikwad fell for 32 off spinner Sunil Narine but Du Plessis kept up the charge to raise his fifty with a six amid raucous support for Chennai at a nearly packed stadium.
The South African veteran smashed seven fours and three sixes and put on key partnerships with Robin Uthappa, who made 31, and Moeen Ali, who hit an unbeaten 37 off 20 balls.
“That was a great day. It was also my 100th game in the IPL,” said man of the match Du Plessis who scored 600 runs this season.
“I have loved my time here. I have done almost ten years here — two seasons were a bit of a break. Number four in the trophy cabinet is really good.”
Du Plessis was all praise for his opening partner Gaikwad who topped the season’s batting chart with 635 runs and named emerging player of the tournament.
Du Plessis was out on the final ball off pace bowler Shivam Mavi. Narine was Kolkata’s best bowler with figures of 2-26.
Kolkata started strongly with Iyer and Shubman Gill, who made 51, putting on a quickfire opening stand of 91.
But Chennai hit back with Thakur’s twin strikes in one over including Iyer’s key wicket as wheels came off the Kolkata chase.
“We are extremely proud of the fight we have shown. The character and fight is trademark,” Morgan said of his side that bounced back from a seventh place in the first leg to storm into the playoffs and then the final.
The tournament was halted midway due to a surging pandemic in India in may and resumed in the United Arab Emirates last month.