My City’s Beating Heart

“The beating heart of Rome is not the marble of the senate, it’s the sand of the Colosseum.” — Gracchus, ‘Gladiator’

I used to like football more than I do today.

The modern game feels less like the beautiful game as it becomes increasingly tainted by bigger bucks with sizeable egos to match.

However, living in Newcastle, it’s hard not to be bitten by the bug as St. James’ Park sits proudly upon high, smack bang in the middle of the city — a pounding heart beat whenever there’s a match on.

More than the game itself, I love the rituals that surround it.

I see the tantalising floodlights glowing from home and hear the bassy voice of the announcer warming the crowds…

…the walk with my children into town becomes denser and denser with fans making the pilgrimage to their cathedral.

A squeeze through the turnstiles, a climb up the stairs and…then…the surge of adrenalin as we step into the huge melting pot, a cauldron of sensations and emotions.

A full house at St. James' Park watches Newcastle United lose 1-2 to Everton on 2nd January 2013

The organic chants and reactions of 50,000 people, a fifth of the city’s population, ebb and flow in tune to a handful of twenty eight* other humans running around on a patch of grass.

I can’t help but think of the all-powerful mob and the sand of the Colosseum, as described in the epic Gladiator.

A full house at St. James' Park watches Newcastle United lose 1-2 to Everton on 2nd January 2013

On Tuesday night we lost 1-2 to Everton.  It’s typical of a recent bad run but, I must confess, my disappointment was only temporary.

Above all, I enjoy being in the midst of my city’s beating heart.

* Twenty two footballers, two managers and four officials

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  1. Couldn’t agree more. There is something special about being in a crowd of that many people at a sporting event. The giant collective voice cheering on their team. For me its American football instead of soccer, but the power of the fan applies throughout the sports world. Great post.

  2. What a wonderful post Jack, so elegant as always and gorgeous photos! And it is like Gladiator when you get up into the lofty heights of St James’, especially when they’re chanting ‘Toon Toon B&W Army!’ Will never forget my first time! Amazing! Think I’ll have to go and watch Gladiator now – brilliant reference! It’s so child friendly there too! I think it was the game or two before Cabaye left that the passing between players was really beautiful and we actually said for once that Newcastle were starting to play beautiful football and it was a joy to watch – a very rare statement indeed, it’s a crying shame if that step forward is lost again! Thank you for sharing! Jane

  3. “More than the game itself, I love the rituals that surround it.” I understand so well, what you mean with that. I became interested in football in the seventies, in my teens, when the matches took place at three on Saturdays (at five in Finnish time). And I liked all that singing and I somehow could feel the atmosphere, even though I watched the matches via television. Thanks for leading me to your artilce. I liked it.