Ahead of Newcastle's visit to Goodison Park back under the lights on Thursday night, we caught up with Ash from NUFC News to get his views on how the Magpies are doing this season, his feelings about Everton and the curious rivalry that has emerged between the two clubs, as well as who the Blues should watch out for if he plays – spoiler alert: it's a familiar face!

Update ToffeeWeb returned the favour, with our responses to NUFC News's questions here.

TW: You no doubt came into it with a huge amount of excitement given the incredible achievement of qualifying for the Champions League but how would you sum up Newcastle’s season so far?

Ash: Cursed. Next question? In all seriousness, the fact that we’re still in with a shout of getting out of the ‘group of death’ in the Champions League, we’re in the quarter final of the Carabao Cup and are still in the hunt for a top four Premier League place given all of the injuries we have - we can’t really moan too much, can we?

TW: And what, in your opinion, represents a successful season for Newcastle in 2023/24? 

Ash: It might be a strange claim to make before Christmas, but in light of the injury crisis and the Sandro Tonali ban, I’d say we’ve already achieved success this season. Before the season got underway I wasn’t expecting us to repeat last season’s success, I thought that was a fluke and that the Champions League would be too much too soon. Eddie Howe and his lads keep proving me wrong and I’m here for it, so whatever happens now, I’m happy.

TW: There have been murmurs that Newcastle’s ownership might be considering Eddie Howe’s long-term future. From the outside, he looks to be doing a phenomenal job but is there a danger the PIF might start angling for a bigger, more glamourous name? 

Ash: Those rumours are made up by bored journalists with nothing to write about, or by pundits who don’t understand what is happening at Newcastle. Eddie Howe has bought himself a ton of goodwill, even in his first half-season in charge when he pulled us out of certain relegation. Then to follow that up by qualifying for the Champions League in the very next season … the man walks on water up here both in the eyes of the fans and the eyes of the owners. He’s going nowhere.

TW: Who has been your best player so far this season and, of the ones likely to play on Thursday, who should Everton particularly watch out for?

Ash: I’m not just saying this to get a rise out of Everton fans, but for me it’s Anthony Gordon. He came back from the summer break a changed man and he just gets better every game. I wasn’t sold on the idea before we signed him but this season he’s been phenomenal. As for players Everton need to watch out for, of course there’s AG, but Alexander Isak is always dangerous and I honestly can’t get enough of watching Lewis Miley lately, he’s such a talent.

TW: Fitness permitting, Anthony Gordon will play his first game back at Goodison Park on Thursday night. What are your opinions of him as a player now that he’s been a Magpie for almost a year. Worth the money? 

Ash: As I said, I wasn’t convinced when we signed him for £45million, I wasn’t a fan of his at Everton, I thought he was a bit of a shithouse and didn’t have an end product, and to be honest, that was the case when he arrived too. This season, however, there’s not been a more consistent player in our side, he’s been outstanding and £45million now looks like a bargain.

TW: A bit of a rivalry appears to have formed between Everton and Newcastle fans on social media in terms of big clubs experiencing long trophy droughts. What are your thoughts on the Toffees in terms of the club in general, its fans and the job that Sean Dyche is doing? 

Ash: This could get my Magpie Card revoked, but I have no real issue with Everton. I don’t really understand the faux rivalry that’s popped up, other than the Jordan Pickford craic. I did a podcast with an Everton fan so I like to see them do well for him - but not on Thursday, sorry Liam, I know it’s your wedding day and that, but that’s enough happiness for one day, don’t you think?

Sean Dyche has finally got your lot playing like a team, something that had been missing for ages. Now he just needs to teach them how to finish and you’ll fly up the league.

TW: Everton had a pretty good record against the Barcodes in the 2010s but in recent seasons, matches against Newcastle haven’t been the happiest for us Toffees (March last year aside, of course). Last season’s 4-1 defeat at Goodison was a particularly harrowing experience for us. How do you see this one going seeing as you haven’t had the best record on the road so far this season? Got a score prediction?

Ash: We seem to be gaining the upper hand in this fixture now, which is nice. While our away form hasn’t been the best, I still fancy us to bag the win here and I’m going with 0-2, I just don’t think one goal will be enough for Anthony Gordon on the night, he’s going to want to make a point.

TW: Finally, your opinion on VAR? Bin it entirely or keep it but with serious improvements?

Ash: VAR is brilliant when it works, but that’s more rare than hen’s teeth. I think even the most ardent haters of it will agree that we’ve got used to it being around now so to scrap it entirely would be jarring, but it needs major improvements before it will be fully accepted. I mean, why they didn’t bring in that offside system that they used in the World Cup I’ll never know.

Reader Comments (36)

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Paul Ferry
1 Posted 05/12/2023 at 19:43:36
Love this Eds, thanks for doing it. I also enjoyed Ash, his insights, and footy nous. More of this please, as and when you have an opportunity to ask someone with a game against us coming up to discuss it and other things.

Great format! Great stuff!

Barry Hesketh
2 Posted 05/12/2023 at 20:11:12
I believe that the 'faux' rivalry between the Barcodes and Everton goes back well before the arrival of Jordan Pickford at Goodison.

One of the Barcodes fan-sites mentioned it when giving its opinion about the points deduction.

It was 1988 and Newcastle United had recently sold Gazza for a record transfer fee of over £2m.
We had spent most of the money on Dave Beasant, Andy Thorn, John Hendrie and John Robertson.

When we headed to face Everton at Goodison Park, we had high hopes that Newcastle United would have a good season.

How wrong we were.

Everton crushed us and their own recently acquired £2m man Tony Cottee bagged a hat-trick. It was on this day that yours truly gave them the nickname the ‘scouse mackems' and it stuck.

You see, we had received dog's abuse on our way out of Goodison Park after the game and it had became a bit feisty. I was a strapping foot soldier back then and I was game for any challenge, confronting them with the spontaneous verbal response of “Come on you scouse mackem ba..ards.”

Myself, my brothers and friends have referred to them as the scouse mackems ever since, and it quickly caught on amongst the Toon Army, the term has endearingly persevered to this day.

Scouse Mackems Everton get their comeuppance BUT where were the Premier League Septic Six points deductions?

I'm all for peace and harmony between rival supporters and a bit of banter, but if your trophy cabinet isn't rammed to its fullest and you have only added one significant trophy – only seen by those over the age of 54 and it was won prior to Neil Armstrong walking on the Moon – perhaps it's best to keep quiet and show a little more humility.

I also never forgave that Newcastle team that wiped out half of our first team, back on New Year's Day 1986, which probably ruined our chances of retaining the title.

I used to have a soft spot for Newcastle United, and others such as West Ham, in my younger days, but with the advent of social media, it's far more difficult to like any 'second' team.

Barry Rathbone
3 Posted 05/12/2023 at 20:34:22
Never gave them a moments thought they're a non entity yo-yo club who couldn't fill the ground till the Keegan revolution. They thought they were going to win the world cup but went straight back to being a yo-yo club.

Any success now will be of the Chelsea, City variant resultant of oodles of cash. They go mental when you mention it but without oil money would they have gambled on potential like Gordon at £40m and would he have gone there?

Fervent one club city but no marks otherwise

Mike Gaynes
4 Posted 06/12/2023 at 00:23:45
"I thought he was a bit of a shithouse and didn't have an end product, and to be honest, that was the case when he arrived too."

That one gave me a laugh.

Rob Halligan
5 Posted 06/12/2023 at 01:13:49
“No comment” on the Skunk Maggots!

See you next week.

Neil Tyrrell
6 Posted 06/12/2023 at 01:51:58
He's still a shithouse Mike, probably leads the league in barrel rolls after (maybe) being fouled. Neymar would be proud of his rolling ability. To be fair though, the little shithouse is playing well this season. Hopefully not on Thursday.
Kieran Kinsella
7 Posted 06/12/2023 at 02:03:25

Not sure if this was offered or solicited but I quite enjoy these views from the other side. Seem to recall we had one from Norwich before? Also our mate John Hood from Brentford has become a welcome poster any time we play them.

Now obviously I'm not suggesting we give air time to any RS but hearing perspectives from smaller clubs with undistinguished histories like Brentford and Newcastle always puts a bit of perspective on our situation.

Neil Tyrrell
8 Posted 06/12/2023 at 03:31:47
Agreed Keiran, John Hood's posts are always welcome when we play the Bees as you say.

Imagine it could get difficult trying to weed out "reasonable" supporters of other teams (just look at TW ffs!), but the view from the other side is a great counterweight and perspective is a good thing. I for one would welcome more of it.

Danny O’Neill
9 Posted 06/12/2023 at 06:22:05
I always listen and read with interest on other supporters' views on Everton. I often get intrigue. The "why Everton" question because I am from Liverpool (I know!). And the more patronising "you lot are okay", mainly from Chelsea supporters who seem to have a deep dislike of the red cousins.

I'm massively stereotyping now, so no offence meant to Ash, who gave a very balanced view in response to the questions.

Newcastle are an interesting one. I think they riled other clubs with giving the perception they thought they were as big as Manchester United and they are the self-proclaimed best supporters in the land, a theme supported by Sky for decades.

I have a very good friend who I've known for nearly 30 years who is a Newcastle season ticket holder. We talk regularly about all things football. Unfortunately he can't make it tomorrow. I always say to him that, despite regional rivalries with the likes of Sunderland and Middlesborough, they are one club in one city, unlike Everton or the Manchester clubs. It's a totally different context.

One final question if Ash is reading: Why do Newcastle get away with pushing away supporters into the gods and those 140 steps? Yes I've counted them.

Premier League clubs have agreed to a new rule whereby away supporters will be seated together at all stadiums, and at least one block of away fan seats will be made available pitchside.

Paul Hewitt
10 Posted 06/12/2023 at 06:58:41
Newcastle fans are the same as Spurs fans, both think they are massive clubs. Well in my eyes they ain't. Trophies are what make you a big club. Neither have won any in god knows how many years.
Derek Thomas
11 Posted 06/12/2023 at 07:24:43
Ronnie Radford (may he rest in peace) still the best goal ever.
Dave Cashen
12 Posted 06/12/2023 at 07:49:03
The Geordies are hilarious.

There is no funnier sight in football than watching their drunken hoards of shirtless, smelly neanderthals singing "You stole my stereo".

I was up for the Iwobi game when we beat them with ten men. The violence before the game was horrendous. No Evertonians were involved. Two or three dozen of them punched and kicked fuck out of each other all they way up Spellow lane... All the money in the world won't buy you class

Rivalry ??? I feel a greater rivalry with the likes of Forest, Derby, Leeds and yes even Sunderland. At least those clubs have lifted Silverware in my lifetime.

While NUFC have drifted between divisions. We have racked up more top flight games than any other club in world football. We have won so much more than them...and when we move into our new stadium we will be getting bigger crowds than them.

On what level does that club rival ours ?

Last season. I heard a group of Geordies in a London pub telling an Evertonian that we were going down. He laughed at them and said "Who d'you think we are ? Newcastle or someone? "

Big club ? As somebody more articulate than me once said. "My arse !!!"

Ian Jones
13 Posted 06/12/2023 at 08:06:35
Paul @ 10. I do think Newcastle and Tottenham are massive clubs and the winning of trophies does usually help. However, always makes me laugh when I remind a friend who is a Newcastle fan that their rival clubs Sunderland (1973) and Middlesbrough (2004) have won a major trophy more recently than his team.
Dave Cashen
14 Posted 06/12/2023 at 08:06:39
BTW Ash.

You were a great sport for coming on here. You knew what was coming and no doubt you will give plenty back.

Well done.

Paul Hewitt
15 Posted 06/12/2023 at 08:07:49
Dave@12. Spot on. It's why I have so much respect for Villa fans. Much bigger club than the skunks, but they don't go round shouting how big they are. They realise like us that they ain't as old as they once where.

Paul Hewitt
16 Posted 06/12/2023 at 08:17:17
Ian@13. Ok, why are they massive clubs?
Danny O’Neill
17 Posted 06/12/2023 at 08:21:12
Dave & Ash,

I meet with a lot of football supporters of other clubs on my travels.

I have often had the opinion that Newcastle can be very fickle. I suppose you could say that about a lot of clubs, including Everton (not me). I'm probably going to get myself into trouble here with the wife's roots, but I find Villa the worse for that.

Dave, kind of linked, the one and only England match I went to was in Luxemburg in the 1980s. I was only about 12. Horrendous. Newcastle and Chelsea supporters fighting amongst each other on the open terrace behind the goal during the match and then horrific violence on the way back into the City. I always remember the hordes overturning a car outside a Church as the Nuns came out and pleaded for calm.

By the way, Ash, I'm not accusing Newcastle supporters for that last bit. Just a lasting memory.

I've never liked England anyway or the culture of their following.

Ash Harrison
18 Posted 06/12/2023 at 09:14:23
Knock, Knock… can I come in?

Thanks for your comments and questions, guys, glad you liked it, just wanted to address this one:

One final question if Ash is reading: Why do Newcastle get away with pushing away supporters into the gods and those 140 steps? Yes I've counted them.

I have no idea. I think it's killed the atmosphere since the away fans were put up there. The back and forth is what makes games interesting but if you can't hear the away fans, you've got nothing to respond to. Also, I've sat on that level, it's like watching a game of Sensible Soccer!

Ian Jones
19 Posted 06/12/2023 at 09:27:24
Paul, OK.

Perhaps I'll downgrade them to being big clubs. My usual go to answer would include trophies won but appreciate that they haven't been very successful recently. Of course, success can be cyclical.

I suppose it's also subjective and a combination of things.

I would also consider Leeds, Aston Villa, Sunderland also to be big clubs but that might be due to my age, 59 and can remember those clubs in the late 60s and 70s when I first started taking an interest in football.

I wouldn't include Notts Forest to be a big club even though they won 2 European Cups.

So, in no particular order.

Traditional/historic reasons/well-established.

Clubs that have attracted decent players/managers over the years and not just because of how much the clubs can afford to pay them, but because of the overall stature of the club and perhaps the perceived style of play.

In my opinion, there's a number of clubs that managers who are out of work would be keen to manage given the opportunity and Newcastle/Tottenham are included in those, as our Villa, Sunderland and Leeds. I would include Everton in this list.

Decent stadiums (White Hart Lane wasn't too bad). Aston Villa's stadium is fantastic (I would recommend their stadium tour to anyone).

Large and passionate fan base including overseas.

Well-supported - Big (massive) clubs tend to have highish average attendances at home games. Fairly stable (not necessarily dependent on how successful the team is) and a larger number of supporters who travel to away games.

I won't include financial ability because most clubs have experienced their fair share of financial wobbles over the years.

Trevor Powell
20 Posted 06/12/2023 at 09:30:42
Personally, I like the comments from the Bournemouth Lads on Back of the Net. Their perspective seems very well measured, not based on abuse and generally fair!
Mike Doyle
21 Posted 06/12/2023 at 10:24:51
Money aside I suspect the only way Newcastle (with their near non-existent post war trophy winning history) can progress would be the recruitment of an elite level manager who could persuade the elite level players to join. someone like a Guardiola or Ancelotti.
While I admire Ash's respect for Eddie Howe I think we all suspect their owners will be on the lookout for an upgrade.
They don't have the historical appeal or profile of City, United or the RS - and cannot offer the attractions of London.
Without these they are likely to remain on the periphery.

I recall the comment supposedly attributed to Nicholas Anelka when asked about the appeal of Bolton Wanderers replied "its very close to Manchester Airport". Not sure if this was true or an urban myth but I guess it summarises the challenge clubs like Newcastle face in competing with the big boys.

Danny O’Neill
22 Posted 06/12/2023 at 10:46:03
Thanks Ash.

It is what you say. We may have our posts and obstructed views (not for long mind with Bramley Moore Dock rising above the Mersey). But once you've caught your breath, you almost need binoculars!!

Apart from tomorrow, best wishes for the season.

Ian, Villa Park is my favourite stadium and that was before the wife. Two semi-finals and how they have redeveloped it is fantastic. It's retained the original character but modernised. We could have done that with Goodison but that ship has sailed and we are moving on.

Ash, I remember going to St Jame's Park around 1988. There was the one stand (I think its still there). The Gallogate was open terrace, the other side along the pitch was open gate and we were crammed into a corner behind the goal next to a scaffolding temporary stand.

You had some Brazilian playing for you. The stadium has come a long way from them days!!

Geoff Lambert
23 Posted 06/12/2023 at 10:52:28
Love the best song always saved for the fat beerbelly doylems.

Fuck all youv'e never won fuck all..Ahahaha.

Rob Halligan
24 Posted 06/12/2023 at 12:03:30
I know I said I wouldn't be making any further comment on the Skunk maggots, but having just read that link posted by Barry # 2 Re: Scouse Mackems, for me, two things stuck out a mile……………

“Let's face it, nobody would miss them because they have been stinking out the Premier League for the best part of the last 30 years.”

“Both teams will always live in the shadow of their more illustrious near neighbours”

Well, if we've been stinking the premier league out for the past thirty years, fuck knows how long the skunks have been stinking the Football League then Premier League out for 50 or 60 years… maybe even 70 years! The last trophy they won was the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup in1968-69. Some of you may have to ask your great grandfather what that cup was! The last domestic trophy they won was the FA Cup in 1955, a whopping 68 years ago!!

And as for the More illustrious neighbours bit……..I imagine determining how big a club is can be gauged by how many league titles you've won………..Sunderland have won the Football League Six times, Newcastle four times, the last time being in 1927, so 96 years ago! Nobody alive on this planet today will remember that.

So go and crawl back under your stone, you Skunk maggots. Big club, my arse!!

Sean Mitchell
25 Posted 06/12/2023 at 12:29:22
Grown, fat men having no tops off at football grounds.
Leave that right there.

We need the 3 points and they need bringing down to earth.

Break this horrendous home record and also the bad run against Oil Money#2 FC.

Show the corrupt organisation that we're going nowhere.

Richard Duff
26 Posted 06/12/2023 at 12:34:39
Danny (22).

I was also at that game in the scaffolding, looking down onto the away section. Mirandinha was the Brazilian who scored for them, Snodin got our equaliser, finishing 1:1. That was my first ever Everton game and I so wished to be in the away fans.

Ray Roche
27 Posted 06/12/2023 at 12:53:46
Rob, you mentioned the Inter Cities Fairs Cup, now I'm going from memory but I think that the year they won it they finished 9th or 11th and took OUR place in that competition because of the one club per city rule, and the RS were already in it. Consequently we couldn't participate.

I pointed out to some Toon fans in a bit of online banter that there was no one alive who could remember them winning anything of any consequence. Fell on deaf ears though, as did the ‘one club in the city' argument. Ash seems a decent bloke but, in general, Skunks are way above their station.

Alan McGuffog
28 Posted 06/12/2023 at 13:09:35
Rob...another thing that might need mentioning is that the Mackems won the cup four years SINCE the last silverware landed at St James Park.
Pete Clarke
29 Posted 06/12/2023 at 13:20:32
This view from the other side could be pretty insulting to all almost every club in professional football and even more importantly the supporters of those clubs.

Every professional football club has its history and winning trophies is just a small part of it although it does add to status.

I imagine following your local club all over the country regardless of success would have to be deemed the best in regards to support.

We can't just dismiss any professional football club because they have no trophies. That's nonsense even though we fully understand why we have a better standing than most other clubs.

Rivalries are great by the way and drive football to be the greatest sport on earth. Let's try to get on with other fans and not get too drawn into any feud.

In fact I'll go as far to say that this is the time for all supporters to get together and try to right the wrongs of this money-driven machine.
Rob Halligan
30 Posted 06/12/2023 at 13:33:32
Anyway, I’m off in an hour or so to the Sir Vivian Richards cricket stadium in Antigua for the second ODI between West Indies and England. 1-0 down in the three game series, mainly due to a shit bowling performance from Sam Curran in the first game.


Danny O’Neill
31 Posted 06/12/2023 at 14:24:17
Have a good one Rob.

I never took to cricket. I fall asleep watching tennis as it takes too long. Only football and athletics for me.

Pete; you should try my train journeys. Once I finally bite to "We pay your benefits" and they look almost stunned, we end up friends, talk football and I give them advice on where to go.

Stephen Vincent
32 Posted 06/12/2023 at 14:35:55
I had a house just outside Newcastle for a few years.

I got a taxi one morning to the airport and chatting to the driver (as you do), I rather stupidly revealed that I worked for Mike Ashley, not at the football club but at Sports Direct. He immediately stopped the cab on Cheviot Way and made me get out, luggage and all, didn't ask me for the fare, just drove off.

Kind of says it all. Always had problems with the Barcodes. Years ago, I had to climb out of a pub toilet window to avoid a hiding. So not my favourite bunch of lads. And the walk up to the away section – don't get me started!!!!

Pete Clarke
33 Posted 06/12/2023 at 14:48:41
1985 on holiday in Corfu we became friends with a gang of Geordie lads who had been getting hassled by a gang of Londoners. Anyway, strength in numbers and we all got on well for two weeks.

We all met up before and after a few games at Goodison over the years and one particular night they all stayed over at my flat in Oakfield Road ( facing the Kop 🤢) after a good piss up in town. My landline phone never stopped ringing from Geordie women calling their boyfriends that night I can tell you.

My memories of the Newcastle lads are great for this reason and I'm comfortable with the knowledge we have won our fair share of trophies so I won't bite to many on that score.

I lived down East London for a short time too so also have good memories of the West Ham lads. Actually found it more difficult drinking around your neck of the woods around Chiswick, Danny.

Packhorse and Talbot pub always full of knobs.
Peter Gorman
34 Posted 06/12/2023 at 15:00:31
I don't really do social media (the illustrious TW aside) so I can't comment on what is generally understood to be a toxic cesspool at the best of times.

I do, however, have quite a few Geordie mates with whom I've watched a fair few games and I've never had any problems with their fans or in the city.

My opinion was canvassed on the transfer of the ginger one and I'm probably now completely indifferent to him and what he does for them.

There are far worse than the Geordies out there and I find the sight of their fat bellies in the stands a homely tradition of sorts, so there.

Danny O’Neill
35 Posted 06/12/2023 at 15:03:45

Even with the fitness levels that the football and the Army installed into me, those steps are a lick out and test of endurance!

Pete, I'm mostly surrounded by Chelsea and QPR (peculiar bunch). Not forgetting the lifelong London Lucifer's children who I often have to embarrassingly educate them on their supposed own club.

The better half cringes when I start.

Jimmy Salt
36 Posted 07/12/2023 at 14:06:45
Paul @15. Have to agree. I find it hard to like any premier club these days but I don't mind Villa. Proper club decent fans.

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