The Newcastle Falcons Supporters Club has its beginnings in an ending as Honorary Life Member and self-confessed South Stand Loudmouth Dick Godfrey explains.
The takeover of Newcastle Gosforth RFC by John Hall created a problem. With the era of membership over, who would organise the transport of supporters to away games?
This had traditionally been done by a group of long-serving senior members. There were occasional hiccups like the time on the return from a trip to Waterloo when a whip-round was necessary because the money collected beforehand wasn’t enough to pay the coach hire.
It was decided that a new professional era needed a new approach. This was in the mind of Keith Irving – a stalwart of the membership age – who summoned those interested to a meeting at KP.
The idea was to form the Newcastle Falcons Away Supporters’ Club. Why, I asked, did we need such a cumbersome title? And I was already thinking that any club for supporters should have a broader remit. “Wouldn’t the Falcons Supporters’ Club be better?” There were widespread murmers of agreement and a vote confirmed the name. It remains my greatest contribution to the FSC.
Not surprisingly, Keith – a policeman who eventually became Stadium Manager at KP – was our first Chair with me as his deputy, the start of a lengthy spell on the Committee.
While arranging travel was one of our prime purposes, we did arrange a few social functions as we sought to assume the role and ethos of the old membership days. We also began making awards. The Player Of The Month and Year awards still exist. A couple of others have fallen by the wayside.
One was an Unsung Hero Award presented to the person deemed to have made a significant off-field contribution. Physios and medics featured prominently.
Most interesting of all was the Hospitality Award made to the club we had most enjoyed visiting. This was highly appreciated by the recipients.
When the award went to Moseley (This was pre-Premiership), the Midlanders insisted on the trophy being presented in the middle of the pitch at half time.
In those early years we also had a commercial side. We sold pin badges, T-shirts and even ties bearing the badge I had commissioned with its On The Wing motto.
But not everything went smoothly at the beginning. We had a difficult relationship with Sir John Hall’s senior management team who because of their experience with fans at Newcastle United – which Hall also owned – tended to regard organised supporters with some suspicion.
After a few games when players enjoyed the comfort of some friendly voices in often hostile environments, relations became more cordial and have remained so through changes of ownership.
Our Coming Of Age was the Twickenham Tetley Cup Final in 1999. The Supporters’ Club organised and filled all the coaches without any management involvement. We even arranged sponsorship to keep prices down.
The Supporters’ Club became fiimly established and expanded its role well beyond the initial goal of getting supporters to far-flung places.
We have come a long way in the twenty two years since that first meeting at KP.