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

Sunday Touchline

A short tangent on a Sunday…

It may feel like a bit of a drag getting out of bed on a Sunday morning sometimes, especially knowing that I’ll be spending the first hour or two of the day standing on a cold touchline (albeit in support of one of my children).

However, as an added incentive, it’s worth me remembering that some of the football clubs are in pretty good locations.

I had a feeling that I should carry a camera with me today as we made the 40 mile journey north to Longhoughton — a small village in the wilds of Northumberland where the football ground nestles beside the East Coast Mainline…

East Coast Mainline Train Passing Longhoughton

An express train charges south towards Newcastle…

Longhoughton Winter Sun

Skinny winter sunshine over neighbouring farmland.

For those who like to know, these were shot on my much-loved Lumix LX3.

I inadvertently had the crop ratio set to 16:9, something I’m not used to but actually rather like on seeing these — very filmic, don’t you think?

Oh, my son’s team lost 4-0 by the way…