Hi, I’m Graeme Dodds born and bred in Stanley County Durham and I am Newcastle United mad! I grew up in the Keegan era of Newcastle United and looking back now, boy am I grateful to have been fortunate enough to grow up watching the entertainers!
My first real memories of Newcastle United are gathering around the radio in the kitchen listening to us beating Sunderland 2-1 on a Wednesday night, with goals from Beardsley and Ferdinand. Even from a young age, I understood the rivalry and what it meant, seeing my Dad’s crazy celebrations as Ferdinand got the winner. From that moment on I was completely hooked!!
My parents both worked full time, so combining that with the demand for tickets to see KKs entertainers, I didn’t get too many games. In 1998 my Dad took me and my sister to our first ever match, as Newcastle United faced Blackburn Rovers in the fourth round of the league cup. It couldn’t have gotten off to a better start as my hero and idol Alan Shearer scored after 9 minutes. That was about as good as it got as late into the second half, Shearer put a penalty over the bar which would have won us the tie. We went on to lose in penalties. Que the tears! I’ll never forget my Dad looking down at me and saying “welcome to life as a Newcastle fan“.
Shearer became my absolute idol. I finally got my first-ever season ticket in 2008. Growing up watching KK as Manager, his 2nd coming was a dream come true. What could possibly go wrong? As we all know, that season ended in relegation with Alan Shearer, my idol, as Manager.
Like any my favourite ever Newcastle player has to be God himself, Alan Shearer. To this day I still have the shirt he signed for me that I took off and dangled over the advertising boards on a cold winters evening at St James’ Park framed on my staircase. He ran over and signed it, saw me shivering and said “you must be mad!”.
The best Newcastle United memories for me have to be watching us beat Barcelona 3-2, the famous Tino hatrick, and I can’t forget the famous 5-1 demolition derby. Hammering our local rivals is up with one of the best days of my life.
I’ve now passed on my love for Newcastle United to my two children. My eldest Milly who is 10 this month is besotted about Newcastle United. I and my Dad took her to her first game a few seasons back and she’s never seen us lose in the few games she’s been to since. At Brighton, we won 2-1 and as we were singing along to the Beatles ‘Hey Geordies’, Milly turned to me and said “Daddy, I think I’ve found my happy place”!
My youngest Theo is only 16 weeks old. Less than 24 hours after being born, on the journey home from the RVI, we pulled over and introduced the little guy to St James’ Park. Since then we’ve had Milly and Theo on a stadium tour, where my wife took the picture of me holding up Theo, Lion King-esque, overlooking the pitch.