Last Saturday afternoon, Newcastle proved once again why they are 7th in the Championship home form table. A crushing 1-3 defeat to Fulham saw Rafa’s side drop crucial points in the fight for promotion.
Yet the focal talking point centred more around the off-field issues than what happened on the pitch.
The atmosphere at St James’ Park has been the centre of much debate over the course of the past couple of seasons. Many complaints have been made about the quiet or often toxic feeling around the ground. Certain fans have been blasted for jumping on player’s backs early and even booing at half-time.
Rafa’s tenure at NUFC has lasted just over a year now, however, the issue still remains a huge topic. The side’s sterling away form is the reason Newcastle are top, yet this only adds fuel to the fire surrounding these issues at home.
Ripples are being made though and the complaints have not fallen on deaf ears.
This is where Wor Hyem 1892 come in; a new movement of passionate supporters aiming to transform fan culture at Newcastle United F.C with the cooperation of Gallowgate Flags.
In order to find out more about their plans, I got in touch with one of their members.
First thing’s first, tell us a bit about the origins of Wor Hyem. How did you get started?
Wor Hyem started in late November last year. After the effort Gallowgate Flags put into the displays, it wasn’t making a difference to the noise and people were really taking it for granted. A Twitter discussion between myself and two other lads took place and I asked them if they’d be interested in starting something up to change the atmosphere.
After that we established the name Wor Hyem. I believe to have a passionate atmosphere you need a sense of pride and patriotism, so using a Geordie term like ‘wor hyem’ was a good idea. The logo was then created and we went with some symbolism: The fist represents the people’s unity and fight, the Tyne bridge as a local iconic structure, the flowers follow suit with “ultras” groups logos around the world, the star is for the blue star of the old shirts, but we decided to fill it with the Northumbrian flag to try and instill some local patriotism, Newcastle once being a major town of the Kingdom of Northumbria.
2. How many of you are there?
There are now eight founding members and around 15 other members involved in the day to day.
Men and women, which I think is extremely important to have that diversity to encourage women and younger girls to get involved in match day antics that they would probably feel wasn’t for them.
3. Could you give us a summary of what you are trying to achieve at SJP?
At this moment in time, we are trying to bring a positive atmosphere back to SJP. We aim to do this by positive re-enforcement on social media and around the ground. We also believe a singing section is vital to making it a success.
4. Where in the stadium would you like to call home?
The Gallowgate is our focus, however, once we are established and consider it a success, we would be happy to help out other like-minded people wanting the same thing in another part of the ground.
5. What has happened with the atmosphere for you to decide to make a change? Why do this now?
The atmosphere is toxic and is actually a hindrance to our home performances. Anyone who disagrees with that statement should look at our away record, our home record and Rafa’s comments nearly begging for a positive atmosphere. Personally, I wouldn’t want to be on that pitch with 50,000 people shrieking if I lost the ball or made a wayward pass.
Something needs to change RIGHT NOW before we end up sinking as low as Arsenal in terms of atmosphere and their entitlement attitude, which is also a problem here. Some people have the attitude of “We are Newcastle United, we should have won this league by now, I pay my money so I’m allowed to scream abuse at Paul Dummett all I want.” It’s just nonsensical.
6. To what extent do you feel that, as Newcastle United fans, we live off this “past reputation”?
50,000+ is a great achievement in the Championship. But if/when we return to the Premier League, we won’t be the third biggest stadium anymore. You’ll have City, West Ham, Liverpool, Arsenal and Man Utd with higher attendances, and that’s before Spurs and Chelsea’s new stadiums are built.
After that, we are eighth in the country with no expansion plans. Expansion looks out of the window given the carpark at the Metro has the go ahead for student accommodation. So after we are 8th in the table for attendance, what will everyone rave about? 50k at SJP? So what? It doesn’t sound like 50k until Jack Colback is caught in possession or Paul Dummett mishits a clearance.
7. What do you think of Home atmospheres in general across the UK?
Extremely poor. Clubs are too interested in the profits and sponsor deals, dishing out banning orders left and right, wanting tourists to take a stadium tour to go to the game, take thousands of videos of “star players”, buy coffee and pies and be a customer. And the “fans” think there’s nothing wrong. Players should “give them something to sing about.” As an example, the way the Pogba deal went down at Manchester was corporate nonsense.
What happened to buying a player and showing him off to the fans like when Shearer signed for us? Now it’s two years anticipation driving the betting markets up and finally, a long-awaited transfer followed by dabbing, Adidas adverts and an “I’m back” video with a Grime artist. It’s set up in a way to please customers, not fans. It’s the great illusion that everything is fantastic in our “world class” Premier League.
8. Looking at the likes of Red Star Belgrade, Galatasaray and obviously Dortmund, fan culture is a completely different story in other parts of the world. Who do you state as your influences?
AIK Stockholm is my personal influence. But I do take note of the majority of the others in Europe, North Africa and South America.
9. In most European grounds, there is often someone with a microphone who leads the chants. Is this something you are looking into as well?
We are keen on pursuing all avenues that lead to improvement. We would consult the occupants of the section before trying anything out.
10. NUFC recently visited Celtic Park to see their safe standing section. There has been a lot of talk surrounding the matter itself, with many clubs looking into it. Would you like to see this at SJP?
We would love to see safe standing in all grounds around the UK. Celtic have had a great trial with it and it’s improved on an already fantastic atmosphere. I would prefer people start calling it by what it is though; rail seating. I think the terminology can slow down such a process.
11. Are you working alongside the club to get things like this done?
We have a great relationship with the club and Gallowgate Flags. We are in constant contact with NUFC and we are working on a lot of stuff behind the scenes. There isn’t a lot more I can say on this as it may affect our plans with the club, but things are extremely positive.
12. The displays from Gallowgate Flags have been fantastic this season. How involved do you aim to be with them?
We are in constant contact with them and we help out as much as we can on match day. Alex Hurst and myself discuss a lot of ideas regarding atmosphere. We aim to help in whatever way we can to make sure the Gallowgate flags displays continue to be fantastic as always. We also want to stress that these lads have put some incredible graft into what they do. Their second quiz night is Friday the 24th of March, the first one was a fantastic night and there are some amazing prizes up for grabs at this one too. Please get your tickets and get down to that and continue to fund the Gallowgate Flags to be able to do the displays!
13. Paint the scene for us. We’re in the near future and Wor Hyem 1892 are in full swing. Describe the ideal SJP experience.
The dream scenario; people meeting up with their mates pre-match in the bars and having a good catch up and discussion before the game. Around 1:30 before kick off, fans get into the Gallowgate concourses, the price of beer has dropped and there’s a live band playing. Already, there is a real lively atmosphere. 15 minutes before kick off and people are out into the stadium, singing, chanting and making a real racket. Meanwhile, the opposition manager is spending the majority of his team talk stressing the importance of silencing us.
When the opposition players come out, they look left and up into the Leazes, then they look right and see the intimidating displays. They hear the noise booming out of the Gallowgate and everything they were told has gone out of the window and they’re thinking “I don’t want to run towards that end.” There are some flags going all game and non-stop noise. Hopefully, we win and then at the end of the game the captain or man of the match comes and starts a chant with us like they do all over Europe. That’s the dream.
14. Finally, what message would like to send out to the Toon faithful ahead of this exciting project? What can we, as fans, do to help out?
Don’t get on players’ backs. Don’t tweet them telling them they’ve been rubbish all season, when in reality they’ve just had a bad game. Sign up at worhyem1892.com if you’re wanting to be part of a singing section, follow us @worhyem1892, put your trust and faith in us to succeed and back the @gallowgateflags as much as possible with funding and match day volunteers!