Some of the world's most renowned football teams with high reputations can sometimes possess a certain part or end of their home ground where their fans simply refuse to stay quiet throughout the whole course of the match. Many football fans may be familiar with 'The Dortmund Wall' aka the 'Yellow Wall' for Borussia Dortmund, The 'Stretford End' at Manchester United and Rafa Benitez will, of course, be well familiar with the 'Kop End' at Liverpool's Anfield. Over the course of this season, many could well be adding Newcastle United's Gallowgate End to that list of famous parts of the ground that the fans will see as their 'Holy Grail'.
This season has witnessed the introduction of the Gallowgate Flags which, to put it in few words, display the identity of the club. Many flags feature club legends like Alan Shearer, Malcolm McDonald and, going back some decades, Colin Veitch. Other Gallowgate flags also display past and present club crests and quotes to signify unity between the club, players and the fans.
The Gallowgate Flags are waved and displayed in the minutes leading up to kick-off and are arguably the most eye-catching part of the stadium during that time where the flag bearers wave the flags for all in the stadium and watching on the telly to witness for themselves who we really are and how passionate we are for our club. No words can begin to describe just how passionate Newcastle fans are for the club but they show it, not with words but, with showering the most treasured area of St. James' Park in displays of club legends and supportive quotes for the players who are about to step on to the hallowed turf to the tune of "Going Home: Local Hero by Mark Knopfler".
Every time I witness the Gallowgate flags, whether it be whilst I'm sat in the Gallowgate End or watching the match on telly, there's always the feeling of pride that I support a club where all the fans are fuelled with anticipation and determination to get behind the team in a push for a win. Along with that feeling comes a scent of patriotism that fills the surrounding air; patriotism not for one's country, but for one's club. A typical patriotic person looks upon their national flag with feelings of pride and gratefulness to be a part of that nation and, with the Gallowgate Flags, for me, the only difference is that we are a club not a nation but the feelings and amount of feelings are still there. We look upon our club crest with joy and when somebody insults that important part of us, it would be easy to get offended, but at the end of the day, we'll stand tall and say "I am a fan of Newcastle United Football Club". I get the feeling of patriotism towards the club when I see the Gallowgate Flags.
When looking towards the future at St. James' Park, the atmosphere could be set to change. New ground regulations for Premier League teams to begin at the start of next season will mean that fans of the opposition will have to be sat pitchside. This move is one that will affect the club because the club currently places opposition fans at the start of next season will mean that fans of the opposition will have to be sat pitchside. This move is one that will affect the club because the club currently places opposition fans at the highest tier of the Leazes Stand. Assuming Newcastle reach their target of an immediate return to the Premier League, the new ground regulations will be a topic that is likely to be debated by fans of the club. A simplistic solution, in my view, to this new problem would be to place the opposition fans in the East Corner of the Leazes End.
It was this area of the ground where opposition fans were placed for some of this season's EFL Cup matches and for most home matches during the club's Europa League campaign in 2012/13. Many Newcastle fans will argue that it's the club's right to have the sole decision as to where the opposition fans are to be sat. On the other hand, clubs can argue that this rule will apply to all Premier League teams however some clubs like Liverpool, Bournemouth, Crystal Palace and Arsenal to name a few already give the away supporters pitchside seating so this new rule will mean change at Newcastle but not for some other clubs.
In my view, it would be a really bad move if the away supporters are to be sat anywhere near the Gallowgate End; it would be best to keep the away fans as far away from the Gallowgate as possible. This will be a decision that will be made by the club. Whether they will listen to the fans on this topic, I certainly hope so but, at the same time, I respect that different fans are likely to have different opinions on the subject as to where away fans will be sat next season and it will certainly make for an interesting debate.
Along with the new regulations, it's another question as to how the atmosphere will change and it's another question as to whether our home form would suffer as a result if the opposition are able to hear their fans loud and clearly with them being pitchside. As for the Gallowgate Flags, however, I can't envisage the fans in the Gallowgate changing their tune or their actions. Alex Hurst of the 'Gallowgate Flags' spoke to the Chronicle newspaper stating, "The idea behind the flags was to try and create a positive atmosphere inside St. James' Park."
Aleksander Mitrovic was interviewed by the Chronicle recently and praised the Gallowgate Flags campaign by saying, "It's nice to see. Every game they make something different. We know they are behind us because we're showing fight. We're playing to the end and fighting for every ball. That is the right mentality".
I'm sure the fans will be looking forward continuation of the Gallowgate Flags for the remainder of the season and beyond!