Difficult to describe how much I am looking forward to this one.
A fully attended match, home and away supporters, each of whom currently with major beefs against their clubs ownership.
Newcastle United are of course perma under achievers. The Tottenham of the North. A sense of entitlement their history cannot justify. A whole bag of chips on each shoulder. These days of course they draw crowds of over 50k, which hasn't always been the case and they demand a certain type of football, yearning for the all out attacking game of the unsuccessful Keegan era. I say unsuccessful, because, and I don't need a fact checker to be sure, they won sod all under him.
Their beef of course is with their owner, a man so wicked he froze season ticket prices at St James Park for around a decade. Now, of course there is plenty of smoke and mirrors in that stat but the one thing Ashley cannot be accused of is milking their supporters for their hard earned. He's also been trying to sell the club for the past couple of years, and at a fairly realistic price. I'm not too enamored with who he is trying to sell the club to, but I doubt too many Newcastle supporters are that bothered. Some will be of course, but many simply want change.
Newsflash for the Newcastle supporters - the sugar daddy you crave ain't coming. The Chelsea and City shortcut is probably out of fashion for a while. London, fair enough, Manchester, a stretch, Newcastle ? Don't be silly. There's a reason Keegan told Andy Cole Newcastle was nearer London than Bristol.
Enough though of addressing the oppositions delusional thoughts, we have more than enough of our own, but surely winning away on Saturday isn't one of them.
Pre season of course if no form guide to anything when the real battle commences, but David Moyes seems to have built a solid team spirit, and retained the core of his successful side from last season. The gaps in the squad we can all see, we are short at CB, CM, and especially up top. As deadly as we are on the counter attack, our achillies heel is the fact most opponents will know if they sit back we lack the guile to break them down. Steve Bruce is a pragmatist, he will manage what he has to try and get a result and suffer the boos as a consequence from the Gallowgate.
I'm expecting a low scoring game with the odd goal settling it, maybe a 2-1 win for us, and I'll settle for that and a chance to catch up with some friends I've not seen for 18 months.
Spare a thought too though for those supporters from each club who won't be returning, those who have sadly passed away in those 18 months from Covid or some other illness. Every year there are some empty seats and if it's one thing the pandemic has taught me it's that every game could be the last i ever see, so I should make sure I enjoy it.
Maybe the grumbling Magpie supporters are right to do so after all, every game that passes as a joyless dull affair has gone forever, never to be replayed.
The good news for them is that on Saturday the famous West Ham are in Toon, and Newcastle supporters will get to watch at least one decent team. Rice, Soucek, Coufal, Benrahma, Bowen, Antonio and Fornals all have it within them to provide a little bit of something worth watching. Little wonder we have sold out our entire allocation of tickets. It's not just the Toon Army that travels in numbers.
I can't wait.