NEWCASTLE United chiefs are set to reinstall the fans’ favourite black-and-white anthem to St James’s Park after they changed their tune for Saturday’s match.
But while the Portsmouth game did not signal a return for Mark Knopfler’s theme from Local Hero to the tannoy, it is due a return to send fans home at the end of home games.
Journal readers have voted in their hundreds for the song, Going Home, to be reinstated for the team’s run-out on to the pitch, after it was ditched this season in favour of Sham 69’s If The Kids Are United.
Our poll was launched after readers complained that Knopfler’s song had gone after a decade as the St James’s anthem.
Local Hero won the vote by a landslide with 1,903 votes. Only 16 people voted for If The Kids Are United, with The Blaydon Races winning 95 votes and 42 supporters calling for no music to be played and for the fans to generate their own pre-match atmosphere.
On Saturday the Sham 69 song was replaced by an upbeat, modern version of The Blaydon Races, sung by the Longsands, a Cramlington-based band, which was played again as the teams ran out for the second half.
But the change failed to give the team the desired boost, with the black-and-whites putting in easily their worst home performance this season and losing 4-1 to the Hampshire side.
During The Kids Are United era, United were unbeaten at St James’s Park with four wins and a draw giving the team their best home start to a season for 11 years.
Last night, a club spokesman said they had been looking for a new version of The Blaydon Races for some time, and the intention was to play the Geordie favourite at the beginning of each half in the future.
He said the new pre-match Premier League ritual of the opposing teams lining up to shake hands, to the new official league anthem, made it difficult to find a song to fit in.
He said: “The Blaydon Races is the song Newcastle United are known for throughout the world, and it will be played as the teams come out and at half time.
“We’re looking at Going Home as a song to play at the full-time whistle. We’ve got two songs that are popular with the fans that can both be played as part of match days.”
Yesterday Frank Gilmour, of the Newcastle United Independent Supporters Association, said: “It’s still got to be Local Hero for me. The Blaydon Races is Geordie folklore although it has never been played as the team runs out.
“If they’re not going to have Local Hero I would rather have The Blaydon Races than Sham 69. What a group from Essex have got to do with Newcastle United, I don’t know.
“There’s an argument now for bringing back Sham 69 because they changed it and look what happened. But I don’t think that affected yesterday’s performance.”
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The Journal’s chief reporter, Paul James, was late for the match and standing in the queue to get in when a friend said: “Is that The Blaydon Races?
I HAD actually started warming to Sham 69. Not that I’m a massive fan of the song, but because it produced results. Four home wins and a draw, to be precise. And in the finest tradition of football superstitions, I had started to believe in If the Kids are United.
Like when Newcastle kick towards the Leazes in the first half, or the programme seller who you chose at the start of that unbeaten streak, these things matter more as the good run continues.
I do love Going Home though. I loved the timing of the song, when the drums ended just before kick-off, and the memories it evoked of some of the best years in living memory to be a Newcastle fan.
Times change, of course, as do managers and chairmen. And maybe it was time for a new song. But Newcastle fans like Going Home, as seen by the results of our poll. I’m quite excited about hearing it at the end of the Liverpool match.
Having said that, if we win that game they could play Timmy Mallett’s Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka Dot Bikini and I don’t think anyone would care.
Credit’s due to the club for responding to the dislike of the Sham 69 song, and for the planned reintroduction of Going Home at the ground.
It’s not going to happen exactly as many would have wanted, but I can’t see anyone complaining about The Blaydon Races being played at the match. It’s infinitely better than other clubs, who seem to pick a song at random. At least it’s something everyone can sing along to and at least it means something to us.