Chris Wood may have scored his first Newcastle United goal at St James’ Park in the one nil win over Wolves. Yet photos of his celebrations, as well shared on social media as they were, were overshadowed by the image of club co-owner Mehrdad Ghodoussi waving a black and white flag ahead of kick-off.
The snap of Ghodoussi waving the flag – as thousands of people around the pitch did at the same time – was a special moment for the group behind the flags who are currently winning applause at all levels of the football club. “If there’s one symbol of how far we’ve come over the past six months, this is it,” says Wor Flags member Thomas Concannon proudly.
In Mike Ashley, Newcastle fans had an owner who cared little and didn’t seem to see the benefits a united club could exploit. The new owners seem to not only understand this, but play a huge part in it.
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“Mehrdad Ghodoussi was standing there waving the flag and being part of the support on a match day – it shows what we have been through as supporters over the last six months. It shows the difference we have now in owners,” Concannon added.
The group, who have presented every home game since the new owners’ first against Spurs in October, have spent many hours putting up thousands of black and white flags on the four stands at St James’ Park. As the kick-off against Wolves approached, their hard work was recognized by Ghodoussi himself as he met the group in person.
“We talked to him about how they can make our job of setting up the displays easier. If there is anything we need we just need to reach out and they will do their best to accommodate and help us as best they can.
“One thing we’ve always emphasized is that we’re funded by the fans and that’s the best thing about the flags – we don’t want to take money from the football club. We like the fact that it’s fan-funded. That makes it pure. Authentic.
“It’s much better than doing it this way than having it funded by the football club and risking not feeling the same. That was a point we pressed on Mehrdad.
“We all recognize the role the flags now play on a game day. We see all the praise we get from the fans, and that means a lot – it makes you want to keep doing it more and more.
“We talked jovially about putting flags on Mehrdad’s seat. We talked about it for months – just go out there and do it.
“With the Wolves exhibit being in the Milburn stand we thought it was a good time to do it. When he met us, he asked if the flags were still in his seat, and they were. It was great to see him pilot it – the co-owner of Newcastle United.
“It was just a nice feeling to see him do that and he kept his word – he told us he was going to do it, and he did it. It was nice to watch from Gallowgate to see him wave that. flag.
“It was brilliant. We can’t thank him enough for the kind words and very public support he gave us.
The display of wolves again was what the band calls “a mess of flags” with fans asked to pick up and wave flags left in their seats. At kick-off against Wolves, St James’ Park was a sea of black and white.
Within hours of the match, videos of the display were posted on social media, and again Wor Flags were praised for their efforts to improve the atmosphere. “Wolves were brilliant,” adds Concannon.
“The display – there was a lot of skepticism as to whether it would work, but as with the East stand, the Milburn stand proved they could get involved! It looked truly amazing just to see all four sides go there, and long may it go on.
“Just an amazing show. We just hope it gave the players a boost.
It seemed to do just that with Newcastle claiming their first win in three Premier League games. The win all but guarantees their place in the top flight for another season.
The group are planning a special presentation for this Sunday’s game against Leicester – and have long-term ambitions to reach Tier 7 and also into the family compound. Meeting the group, Ghodoussi praised the efforts of the volunteers, as he had done earlier in the day alongside his wife and co-owner Amanda Stavely, as the pair met the Newcastle United Supporters Trust.
Concannon added: “The main reason for the flags is to create an atmosphere and to give support to the players and to have those at the top of the club praising us, it means a lot to the group. It’s just a good thing for people who work hard, who volunteer with Wor Flags, who often flaunt the displays until the ungodly hours, it was just nice to have that recognition from those higher up.
“It’s worth it. You want to keep going when you get that accolade.
“As a band we’ve had it from Howe, Shearer, Lascelles, – it’s really nice. You know you’re doing a good thing when you get that accolade and keep it going for a long time.”