Auf Wiedersehen Again
By Rob Nichols
Tuesday 10 Nov 2009 17:48:00
Browse all Auf Wiedersehen Lads articles



This is an interview with Malcolm Robinson and Barry Hindmarch co-authors with Robert Nichols of Auf Wiedersehen Lads – a diary of the epic struggles for Premier survival from fans of the big 3 of the north east.


The big three north east clubs more or less went head to head for 2 of the 3 relegation places and in this book Barry (Newcastle), Malcolm (Sunderland) and myself keep a day by day diary of the traumatic run in. We don’t come to blows but all too often share the despair and disillusionment of our teams losing. But as always we pick ourselves up and bounce back for more.


This is a fans-eye account from the perspective of supporters of all three clubs. This is not a report from the press box but from the stands, watching Soccer Saturday or screaming at the radio.


OK we all know how it ends but then again the Boro fans at Upton Park did find some solace in results elsewhere and it would be fair to say there was actually some laughing amongst the tears at the final whistle.


MR: I thought up the project back in February when I thought all 3 clubs were going to survive and I was going to take a chance on 3 staying up. But I’m not too bothered that 2 of you went down!

Fly: So it would have been like a Great Escape?

MR: Aye it would have been a better story but it is quite a good story for Sunderland fans anyway. It is a good book though altogether.

Fly: I don’t suppose this has ever happened before with rival fans describing a head to head situation where not everyone is a winner.

BH: I don’t think I’ve ever seen anything like it before. There are lots of rivalries around the country even in London/Chelsea/Arsenal/Tottenham. But I’ve never seen anything like this that’s what makes it unique and across the board in the north east.

MR: I think it’s the first time that all the major clubs have been in one book. There have been Newcastle and Sunderland books and Boro and Newcastle but not all three together, it’s something different.

Fly: And from the fans not media people?

MR: Yes. It’s got all the different emotions in there, the frustrations etc.

BH: There’s also a load of banter from fans on the terraces so to speak as opposed to media pundits or professional writers giving their opinion of us.

MR: Instead of clichés it is proper banter.

Fly: Obviously as you are writing your own diary you haven’t a clue what the others are saying.

MR: No it wasn’t until I was editing it that I could see the other bits, separately they were all right but when they all come together for the same day there were different scenarios so it has come together well.

BH: You see each side’s point of view over the race where most things tend to be focussed down one route of all the Newcastle fans and all the Newcastle opinions. Here you can see what the other fans were thinking about each other’s club as well as their own.

Fly: Have either of you kept a diary or a blog before? I hadn’t.

MR: I wrote a book from a diary based on life in Afghanistan (From Afghanistan to Temazepam) 2 years ago. Fell into place for this really.

BH: I used to keep a diary as a kid and then a weekly record for Sunday morning football but not day to day.

MR: You’ve got to be disciplined and keep on doing it even when you don’t feel like writing. You’ve just got to get on with it and get through the pain barrier.

BH: It certainly was a pain barrier at the end.

Fly: Yes, it all came down to the last day. I remember at Upton Park. We were down and going out but the only thing keeping us going was that Newcastle were losing.

BH: I was in a pub in Ripon with Middlesbrough, Newcastle and Sunderland fans and Hull fans altogether. The banter was going across the room and the songs. Then the deflected goal went in you just knew Newcastle were doomed.

MR: I was at work on the last day with Sky Sports News on in the background keeping us on tenterhooks. Once the final whistle went at Villa Park it was the icing on the cake for us. Considering we were playing Chelsea I thought we were no hopers at one stage. It turned out any one of the four clubs on the last day could easily have gone down.

Fly: You’ve got a Hull contribution as well haven’t you?

MR: Yes Hull is in the last day of the season as well, just to cover all angles.

Fly: It’s a good job West Brom were stuck to the bottom..

BH: Yes it could have been all 3 of us going dowauf wiedern. That would have been disastrous for the region as a whole.

MR: I think West Brom saved the north east region.

Fly: It’s a slice of social history isn’t it? Often you have books looking back at the good times but you have to appreciate the other side of it don’t you?

MR: There’s the recession mentioned as well. It will be a historical artefact in years to come.

BH: Not purely the football but also thoughts and what we are doing in our lives. It crosses all barriers really.

Fly: Malcolm you are not based in the north east are you?

MR: No I’m an exiled fan so it is a different viewpoint in that way as well. Obviously I don’t get to all the games but I so go through the same frustrations watching it on tv. Watching Soccer Saturday is worse than going to the match.

BH: You see the disastrous performances replayed over and over again as the ball hits the back of the net.

MR: It’s not been easy I think it’s been worse in fact.


Auf Wiedersehen Lads is available to buy online at for £10 – postage free. It is currently stocked on Teesside at Boro Programmes; Smiths, Teesside Park; Billingham Book Inn; Guisborough Book Shop.


More details about the book







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