Are you a sports fan who’s new to Newcastle? Allow the Courier writers to introduce you to your new favourite teams
The Newcastle Falcons - hoping to get off to a flying 2019/20 season.
The Newcastle Falcons: a team 142 years old, located at Kingston Park, and recently relegated to the RFU Championship after a rather poor season. Not exactly the greatest selling point to persuade someone to go watch them play, but I can assure you that if you’re not a fan of rugby, you’ll be a fan of the atmosphere. Only costing £15, the same amount as five pints (welcome to Newcastle, Freshers), how can you go wrong? For any Freshers wanting a day out, perhaps with your new flatmates, it’s a great opportunity to take the Metro, watch some rugby and experience what Newcastle-based sport has to offer.
When I saw them take on the Bristol Bears on 18 May, even though they were 19-0 down in the second half, the Newcastle crowd certainly did their part, cheering on their team as if it was their last game in the league - which it was. Fans of ages young and old, and a group of 20 lads all in Hawaiian t-shirts on a stag do, all joined together chanting for their team, and in the last 10 minutes the Falcons did manage to score two tries - not enough to win the game, but enough to put a smile on any Newcastle fan’s face. With tickets ranging from around £10-15 per game, if you’re wanting to see some (hopefully) quality rugby, in a quality destination with a quality crowd, then the Newcastle Falcons are your RFU Championship team.
If you’re coming to live in Newcastle, then you’re going to have to get along with football. In particular, with Newcastle United.
Few places in the UK breathe the sport like the Toon. There’s no need to ask a Geordie which team they support; the answer will always be Newcastle. The club keeps the city’s daily life ticking by.
Founded all the way back in 1892, the club have played at the prestigious St. James’ Park ever since. You can see the towering stands on the Newcastle skyline from across the city and, on match days, the crowd’s goal celebrations can be heard for miles around. Students can often score special price tickets from the Students Union, although you’ll have to be fast as they are hot property!
In recent years the club has suffered turbulent times thanks to a rocky relationship with owner Mike Ashley – the chap behind SportsDirect.com. Yo-yoing between the Premier League and Championship, the recent acquisition of Rafael Benitez as manager brought a smattering of optimism to Magpie fans. However, Benitez’s patience with Ashley ran out this summer and the pleasant, yet not so prolific, Steve Bruce has taken over. A few big summer signings, including £40 million striker Joelinton, might have suggested a positive year ahead. However, at the time of writing, back to back losses in their first Premier League games is not the sign Geordies were hoping for. Can Newcastle survive the drop again this year?
Newcastle is often referred to as a one club city. But alongside the world-famous Magpies, Tyneside also boasts a handful of non-league clubs that, whilst having none of the glitz and glamour of their famous cousin, provide live football, a good atmosphere and a community feel at student-friendly prices.
The area’s two foremost non-league sides, Gateshead FC and Blyth Spartans, both ply their trade in the National League North after turbulent summers off the field.
Despite the tumultuous times at the two clubs, attendances have remained stable, with the dedication of the hardy sets of supporters a highlight of any trip to The International Stadium or Croft Park.
Gateshead’s International Stadium is a rare non-league all-seater stadium, with the Heed faithful making a racket from behind an athletics track. The stadium is a 20 minute walk or a quick trip on the metro from town, making a visit to Gateshead FC a hassle free way to sample live football in the toon.
A trip to Blyth offers a more traditional non-league experience, with the club’s intimate, all standing stadium, Croft Park, offering all the usual non-league novelties including the chance for supporters to change ends at half time and a proper clubhouse with cheap pints sold in real glasses. The ground is serviced by a regular bus from Newcastle which takes around 40 minutes.
Both clubs are set apart by their community feel, they provide a hub for the towns they represent and fans quickly become known to one another, sharing a laugh and a joke whilst coming together to support their team. The offer of £5 student tickets means the clubs also provide a budget friendly alternative to the bigger North East clubs.