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Culture & tradition,  England,  Sunday Stills,  Travel galleries

Gallery: ‘Coming home Newcastle’, a football anthem

At half-time during Newcastle United games at their home stadium, St James’ Park, one song is always played. ‘Coming home Newcastle’ was written by Ronnie Lambert, the Geordie busker. In it he captured the feelings of exiled Geordies returning home from abroad or London. He also reflected the love that Geordies feel for their native city.

Newcastle isn’t my home town, but I consider it a second home after numerous visits over the years. My husband is from the city, and I have always received a true Geordie welcome from his family and friends. I think occasionally they even manage to forget that I’m a Londoner!

Terri in her Sunday Stills challenge suggests that we match images related to our favourite song lyrics. I can’t claim that this is a favourite song but it stirs up great memories of matchdays at St James’ Park, back when we actually believed we might win! So I thought I would share some verses of the song, illustrated with images taken mainly in Newcastle on some of those many visits. And I’ve enjoyed myself stylising those photos too, using Nik Color Efex.

A quick warning – the song is in the Geordie dialect, so I apologise if some of the lines have you scratching your head. But that’s part of the fun of sharing it!

Tall clock tower and London Underground sign

‘Ah had te come te London,

Coz ah couldn’t find ay job,

But ah don’t intend te stay long,

If ah make ay few quick bob.’

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Looking up at large arching bridge

‘It’s cold up there in Summer,

It’s like sitting inside ay fridge,

But ah wish ah was on the Quayside,

Looking at the owld Tyne Bridge.’

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Inside a football stadium

‘Ahm coming home Newcastle,

If ye never win the Cup again,

Ahl brave the dark at St. James’s Park,

At the Gallowgate End in the rain,

Ahm coming home…’

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Statues of a footballer kicking a bal

‘And ah love the Geordie heroes,

There’s so many famous names,

Like Lindisfarne and Gazza,

Brendan Foster and the Gateshead games.’

Disclaimer, the photo is of footballer Jackie Milburn, not one of those mentioned above

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River with several bridges

‘Ahm coming home Newcastle,

Ye can keep ye London wine,

Ahd walk the streets al day al neet,

For ay bottle ay the River Tyne.’

As I mentioned, the song is written in the Geordie dialect, difficult even for most native English speakers to understand! To get an idea what it sounds like you can listen to it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KrySWH_q37Q.

The Geordie dialect

Tea towel with slogan 'Shy bairns get nowt'
Translation: ‘Shy children get nothing’ (or, ‘If you don’t ask you won’t get’)

Perhaps more than any other in the country, the Geordie dialect can seem impenetrable to a non-Geordie. The differences between this and standard English fall into three main groups:
– words that are pronounced differently
– words that are unique to Geordie
– and words that are used differently, i.e. in phrases you won’t hear elsewhere in the country.

Most of the song lyrics fall into the first category so you should be able to work them out. You might need some help with ‘neet‘ which means ‘night’, although the context makes that pretty obvious.

As an example of a completely different word, Geordies use ‘bairn’ for a child (like the Norwegian/Swedish/Danish ‘barn’) – a popular local saying is ‘shy bairns get nowt’ meaning ‘if you don’t get ask, you don’t get’.

Similarly, ‘gan’ means go (like the German ‘gehen’). When you learn that ‘hyem’ means home, you can work out that ‘Ah’m gannin hyem’ means ‘I’m going home’.

Sign with series of rules in Geordie
Joke sign for the toilet with Geordie dialect ‘rules’

Wor’ means our, or sometimes my (‘wor lass’ means ‘my wife’, while ‘wor Sarah’ refers to a family member called Sarah).

Canny’ can mean several things, including fairly/quite, nice and shrewd – you’ll hear it a lot in phrases like ‘canny good’ (quite good) or ‘a canny pint’ (a well-poured, pleasant-tasting beer). Another common positive adjective is ‘champion’ – you can be feeling champion, have a champion night out, etc.

So I hope those few examples, plus the song, have given you an idea of the Geordie dialect. Perhaps if you ever come to the city you’ll be able to understand a little bit more than many other visitors manage to do.

Meanwhile you can practice by translating the joke toilet rules on this sign!

26 Comments

  • Marie Nicholson

    Hi Sarah, I’m still trying to get WP to sort out why I cannot comment on some blogs, yours being one of them, without having to sign in twice (!) to tick a ‘like’ and then to make a comment, and each time the blog closes and I have to start it up all over again. Tonight they sent me a comment saying that your site isn’t hosted by Word Press and in that case there is nothing they can do. Is this correct? If not, could you get on to the helpline and see what you can do – otherwise I shall be banished to the ends of the earth. Now I’ll sign in again, but I have to do with with Google, just to post this.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      That seems really weird Mari, especially as you’ve always been able to comment in the past. It explains though why I’ve recently got duplicate comments from you, one of which in each case came from an external account that needed moderating (as they were duplicates I’ve deleted them btw – hope that’s OK?)

      I’m afraid WP are right. Mine is a self-hosted ‘wordpress.org’ site, not ‘wordpress.com’. But that shouldn’t stop you leaving comments with your WP account. Many other people regularly do so, and you used to be able to 🙂 I haven’t only recently moved across to self-hosted, my site has been so from the very start. I feel you should push back at WP as it seems the issue is coming from your end rather than mine. Goodness knows I do have issues with my site (I rarely get pingbacks 🙁 ) but I don’t feel this one stems from my end. I do hope you can get it sorted out!

      If you want to use the ‘contact me’ form (under ‘about me’ above) to discuss this further please do – I’d love to help if it turns out there is something I can do 🙂

  • maristravels

    My husband’s people came from Newcastle although he was born in London (a true Cockney, within the sound of Bow Bells) so I often travelled north with him to visit family. I also went on my own once to see and pay respects to The Man with the Donkey whose statue is in South Shields. Do you know the story of John Simpson Kilpatrick, born in South Shields in July 1892, who served under the name John Simpson, was a stretcher bearer with the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps during the Gallipoli Campaign in World War I? He and his donkey carried more than 300 dead and wounded soldiers from the battlefield at Gallipolli to the beach for evacuation over a period of three and a half weeks, when no ambulance could go in. He was killed by a Turkish sniper on 19 May 1915). Simpson and his Donkey are a key part of the “Anzac legend”. Although put forward for two medals he was not awarded any but his donkey was awarded the Purple Cross – the highest award available for animals – by the RSPCA.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Wow no, I had never heard that story! I confess I’ve rarely been to South Shields despite our regular visits to Newcastle. we do have friends there so I’ve been occasionally to meet up with them but I’ve never noticed a donkey statue. I will have to seek it out as it sounds a fascinating story. The most interesting thing I’ve learned about South Shields to date concerns the development of the very first lifeboat 🙂

  • giacomoasinello

    Howay man! Made me smile and brought back a few memories. As a student I used to read “Viz” comic. Is it still published? It was pretty smutty by the standards of its day, but would be considered quite tame today. I also knew a Geordie girl who taught English in Germany. It used to make me laugh hearing German kids talking about “wor hoos” and “troozaz” with their German accents.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      Yes, I believe Viz is still going strong and I would imagine still a favourite of students 🙂 My husband more or less lost his Geordie accent around the age of 20 when he spent a year as a teaching assistant in an Austrian school – he had to talk to the students in ‘proper’ English. But it still sneaks back in when we’re up in Newcastle, and he still uses many of the local words. I’ve even picked up a few myself over the years!

  • wetanddustyroads

    It’s like English … but not at all 😁. The written song I could (sort of) understand, but when I’ve listened to the YouTube song, I was lost!
    We have a Newcastle here in South Africa as well … a British settlement founded in 1864. But I don’t think they’ve adopted the Geordie dialect 😉.

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I’m glad you took the time to listen to the song, as the written version only gives a slight flavour – as you discovered! I wonder if any early settlers in your Newcastle were from ours, and if so how long it took for them to lose the accent?!

  • Alli Templeton

    Fascinating dialect, Sarah, and one I’ve heard quite a few times in recent weeks! We didn’t get to the city this time as we were mainly up in the Northumberland national park or the coast north of Morpeth, but we will next time I’ve no doubt. 🙂

    • Sarah Wilkie

      You chose the best places for scenery Alli 🙂 And while the Northumbrian dialect is different from Geordie there are enough similarities to give you a good idea of the latter! Do visit the city if you get the chance. with your interest in history I especially recommend a visit to the castle (not that impressive but I find it fascinating how the Victorians just sliced through it to build a railway line!) and the excellent Discovery Museum.

      • Alli Templeton

        The wild and expansive scenery is one of the main reasons we love it up there so much. One of our favourite places in the world is the Sycamore Gap on Hadrian’s Wall. We celebrated my degree there with supper and a bottle of wine. I was sitting on the tree’s roots with my feet up on Hadrian’s Wall, and it was one of the most peaceful and beautiful settings I’ve ever been to. It may well be the fact that most people are doing ‘staycations’ this year, but we heard quite a few Geordie’s in the National Park and on the beaches too. I like the dialect, even though it does take a bit of getting used to in terms of comprehension. 😀 But I will certainly visit the city next time we’re up there. 🙂

        • Sarah Wilkie

          Oh yes, Sycamore Gap is a beautiful spot and I can just imagine you sitting there with your wine celebrating your success 🙂 I reckon you’re right about staycations – many Geordies usually take advantage of cheap flights from Newcastle Airport to Spain for their holidays but will have opted to stay closer to home this year. But also many of those places are within easy reach for a day out from Newcastle – we’ve done that often ourselves.

          • Alli Templeton

            …and what a day out! I’m hoping to end up living there, and the thought of being able to pop over the the Sycamore Gap feels like a dream! 😀

  • thehungrytravellers.blog

    Love it! I used to have to act as translator for my Southern office girls when they talked to my Newcastle based employees. I still love using some Derbyshire words and phrases that my Nan and parents used to use. Not as extreme as Geordie of course but still enough to confound a Southerner!

    • Sarah Wilkie

      I used to need my husband to translate on my first visits to Newcastle but I can manage pretty well by now even as a Southerner 😆 Glad yyou enjoyed this!

  • margaret21

    I must have been in Yorkshire, with Geordie neighbours far too long, as I didn’t need a glossary to understand the lingo. Great photos, with a nicely nostalgic feel.

  • Terri Webster Schrandt

    I love what you did with the prompt, Sarah! Their is nothing like sharing special memories and times from your second home, and you taught us a new language, no less! You arranged the verses neatly with the images and brought the bawdy song to life. The Geordie dialect follows closely to what (little) I know about Gaelic and have heard, and I actually understood some of the words (I’ve watched 4 seasons of Outlander with closed captions on…funny what one picks up). Language is always a fascinating subject with me. I’ve been using the Duolingo app to learn German and again, I see the language parallels between Gaelic and German (ken, kennst, etc). Fun post, you made it entertaining!

  • mtncorg

    It only seems to get worse the further north you go ;-\ Especially when you cross the EPL line to the SPL.

  • Nemorino

    With your help, I think I have pretty much been able to figure out the Geordie toilet rules. (Not sure about “geet minging”, however.)

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