Features. Toon Under: Meet our Aussie Magpies

Aussie Magpies
19 May 24

This week, Newcastle United will jet out to Australia ahead of facing Tottenham Hotspur and the A-League All-Star Men in Melbourne and, despite being over 10,000 miles away from Tyneside, will be backed by a number of Magpies fans based Down Under.

Eddie Howe's side will kick off the city's 'Global Football Week - Melbourne' event at the world-famous Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) at 7:45pm (all times AEST) on Wednesday 22nd May, taking on a Spurs side managed by one of the city’s favourite sons, Ange Postecoglou, before facing the A-League All Star Men at the impressive Marvel Stadium in Melbourne's Docklands on Friday, 24th May at 5:05pm (all times AEST).

The post-season trip also marks Newcastle United's first visit to Oceania for almost a decade, when the Magpies won the Football United Tour in New Zealand with victories over Sydney FC and Wellington Phoenix in the summer of 2014.

We spoke to a number of Australians who hold Newcastle United, despite their vast distance from St. James' Park, so close to their hearts.

On creating the St. James' Park feeling when unable to be there in person:

Tim Brown: I set up the NUFC Sydney group with the one goal of bringing together Newcastle fans across Sydney and New South Wales to watch games together. We meet at Cheers Bar on George Street for a number of games throughout the season and this helps to create an atmosphere away from St. James' Park.

On average, around 50 fans attend (kick off times tend to range from 9:30pm to 3am) and it's been a great way of bringing together ex-pats or Australia-born Geordies from across the city. Highlights this season have included the Tyne-Wear derby where we reached capacity (250+ Newcastle fans) and hosting the first ever Australia national fans meet up in 2022 - with around 150 fans from across the country in Sydney for the weekend.

Claire O'Connor, who will be attending both of Newcastle United's fixtures in Melbourne this week: Even though I've been away from home since 2009, the sense of family unity and connection to Newcastle United hasn't faded. Thanks to NUFC groups overseas, I've found a way to recreate that sense of camaraderie and friendship even from afar.

Whether it's chatting in the lead-up to games, meeting up in pubs prior to kick-off, or exchanging messages and FaceTime calls with family and fellow fans, being a Newcastle United fan means staying connected and part of a larger community, no matter where I am in the world.

Dimitri Bourandanis, who has supported Newcastle United for over a quarter of a century: I’ve watched every single game and don’t think I’ve missed a live game for over 15 years. Most of the time, given the time difference, I’ve had to watch at home but that doesn’t stop me from expressing unbridled ecstasy when we score or win a game!

On some occasions, I’m able to experience the games with fellow NUFC supporters here in Melbourne, by congregating at a pub or venue to drink, chant and enjoy together.

Mark Scott: I arrange match meet ups for Brisbane for likeminded fans through a Facebook group I was asked to help as an admin. We have grown to a few hundred fans, often doing the lunchtime kickoff games and steadily growing, and the atmosphere created is just like being back in Newcastle.

I am also part of a podcast team here in Australia where we do match previews and reviews, the occasional watch-along and try to get guests on to share our passion with fellow fans despite being so far away. These two have been great to meet up with fans and really is the next best thing to being back with your mates in the UK or at the match.

On being a Newcastle United supporter:

Tim Brown: It was a huge part of my childhood. I had a season ticket with my dad, grandad and cousins between 1995 and 2014. It's a unique feeling being a Newcastle fan and you feel a togetherness with other supporters.

Whether it is watching a Newcastle game at St. James' Park away from home or the pub in Sydney with hundreds of others, the feeling is similar - a raw passion and love for a sports club that is so pivotal to the North East of England. Even since being outside of the UK, my passion, and I can speak for others, hasn't wavered.

Clare O'Connor: Being a Newcastle United fan means everything to me. It's not just about supporting a football club; it's about passion, pride, and a sense of belonging. The word that comes to mind when describing my experience as a Newcastle fan is "intense". There's an intense passion for the club, its players, and the fan base that runs through every game and every season.

Moving away from home to Australia made me realise how much Newcastle United is intertwined with my family and my identity. When people asked what I would miss the most about home, it was the football because it wasn't just about the games, it was about the shared experiences with my family.

Whether we were all at the stadium together or watching from afar, supporting Newcastle United was our bond. It was how my family connected with us kids, and those hours spent together as a family are cherished memories.

Dimitri Bourandanis: Ever since I was six years old, I have been obsessed with everything to do with this club. Being in Australia back in those early years, the games were generally shown live each weekend however, as I was still quite young, I wasn’t allowed access to this paid subscription.

I’d therefore go over to my grandma’s house most weekends to watch the games at all hours of the morning and the time of the game didn’t matter. I was desperate to catch every single Newcastle game live on TV.

As I started learning more about the club, the passion of the supporter base really resonated with me and strengthened my love for the club. I’m a very passionate, emotional football supporter, so to see and feel how much this club means to actual geordies, drew me closer to Newcastle.

Nothing really stops for my fandom. In January 2022, during the early morning hours of my wedding night, I watched the 1-0 away win against Leeds from our wedding suite’s bathroom. Whilst on my Honeymoon in August 2022, I left my wife in Greece with her family to fly to Newcastle for the opening game of the season against Nottingham Forest. I ended up being in England for a total of 43 hours.

Mark Scott: The club is bats**t insane but it’s one rollercoaster you never want to get off once you are hooked. The fans are the best in the world and drag everyone along with the passion and obviously know how to have a great time, win lose or draw.

It's never a dull moment and while there’s been dark times and a barren patch, if we do ever win any silverware it is going to be the party to end all parties! No other club could make you feel this way.

On what Newcastle United stands for:

Tim Brown: I think now it's clear what the club stands for. It's one big family that is collectively working together to bring success to the North East and Newcastle fans around the world.

For me, my favourite thing about Newcastle United is how passionate the fans are and how it helps bond people together.

Clare O'Connor: Newcastle United stands for more than just football; it represents a sense of identity, belonging, and pride for its fans, both on and off the pitch.

The club stands for tradition, resilience, and community. It embodies a rich history and heritage that is deeply ingrained in the fabric of the city and its people. Through the highs and lows, the club has shown resilience, bouncing back from challenges and adversity with determination and spirit.

We must honour our rich traditions while eagerly embracing the exciting changes which lie ahead.

Dimitri Bourandanis: The club represents the city, the region and all Newcastle United fans around the world. It stands to always strive to win by playing on the front foot, on the attack and leaving absolutely everything on the pitch every weekend.

It stands for chasing after your opponents, full blooded challenges, pressing all over. Effort and intensity is exactly what the local area especially demands. It’s a working class area and, no doubt, the team needs to represent that attitude each week.

Mark Scott: The club has always been inclusive but the fans are some of the friendliest and most passionate around the world. That passion is what holds the club together for those in Newcastle and those of us around the world.

I’ve spoken to fans in Australia, in Vegas when over there and the same thing keeps coming up – the fans are the lifeblood and what gets most people involved in the club when they don’t have any other reason to follow us. In fact, meeting fans of other countries while on holiday is something that really stands out – in it together, for better or worse. We are a family, not just a club!

On their favourite thing about Newcastle United:

Clare O'Connor: It's hard to pinpoint just one favourite thing about Newcastle United, but if I had to choose, it would be the unwavering passion and loyalty of the fan base. Despite the ups and downs, the highs and lows, Newcastle fans remain dedicated and fiercely loyal to the club.

Whether it's filling St. James' Park with chants and cheers or supporting the team from afar, the passion of Newcastle United fans is truly remarkable and makes being part of the club's community an incredible experience.

Dimitri Bourandanis: Win, lose or draw, we will wear our heart on our sleeve. I love that this club always has that.

My passion for football and sport generally is what many around me would consider very vocal and unique, so to have a supporter base in my eyes who are just as passionate and in love as I am, makes me feel connected and a part of this community.

Mark Scott: My favourite thing about Newcastle United is the fans, the passion and the history. We may not have recent trophies but the region as a whole, and the fans, live and breathe football.

The love of the number nine, the adoration of heroes past and present, the fact that no matter what we stick with the club. But above all else, the iconic black and white shirts walking up to St James Park is one of the best sights in football.

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