What a delight it is for me to be writing this article to you all, the wonders of modern technology make this world a tiny place, and there is nothing like football to make strangers the best of friends. Particularly when it centres on Newcastle United.

I have travelled the world and never failed yet to find a Toon supporter for a cold beer and a chat about the old times. Nowadays, even in the furthest flung corner, the chat will be up to the minute.

I envy the lot of you, it has to be said, because I have had some wonderful times in Singapore. I first arrived there as an Arsenal player, about 11 months after being transferred from United, and spent most of my time bumping into indignant ex-pat Geordies wanting to know what possessed the Club to transfer me.

Well, they had been strange times at Newcastle, and the Club now is going through a similar period of change. Bobby Robson is facing one of the most challenging close seasons' of his life.

The Retain and Transfer System has been finally settled, at least to the agreement of most. Chairman Freddie Shepherd knows exactly where the Club is in the middle of it. Less in transfer fees, but wages will spiral ever upwards, and it is my belief Newcastle Utd, have equipped themselves accordingly.

It is going to be wholly down to the summer selection of the manager whether the Club will prove next season if they are just making numbers up, as has happened these last months, or they can truly mount a sustainable challenge on the mammoth squads of Man.U, Arsenal, L'pool, Leeds and Chelsea.

These are extremely testing times, none more so than at St. J. P.. The new build Fortress has not been well defended of late, and when 50,000 Geordies boo their team off the pitch, as happened at the end of the Boro defeat, one senses there is a make-or-break period ahead for all those in charge.

There is a demand for better football, imagination rather than the predictability of this season. Through this new venture website you now join us in our demand of entertainment from players who have got to realise the black and white shirt they wear is the ensign to the dreams and hopes of a people scattered far and wide, yet never more than a second's thought away from their beloved Football Club.

It isn't a matter of life and death, it's more important than that, said Bill Shankly.

Jackie Milburn told me when I first arrived at St. James' Park, what the fans of this great club want is to be excited. They want something they can talk of at work for the whole week. Give them that and they will never forget you.

It's not too much to ask of NUFC's Manager and his players, is it?

My kindest regards

Malcolm

(24/03/01)