Toon Flag To Beat English Record?

 Image result for Newcastle United The Gallowgate End

The Gallowgate End could soon be blanketed in a banner the size of the entire stand - if Wor Flags' most-ambitious project yet proves successful. But, in order for that to be the case, they need the help of supporters.

Newcastle United fans' group Wor Flags - who evolved out of Gallowgate Flags - are in the process of raising funds to eventually commission the creation of the largest banner ever unveiled at a European football ground.

Plans for a 75m-wide by 70m-tall surfer flag, which would weigh 36 stone and would stretch from the side of the pitch all the way to the back of the Gallowgate Stand, are currently being designed by the group.

It will be entirely funded by supporters - Wor Flags have turned down commercial funding offers because they believe in the authenticity of their fan-led displays - and will incorporate the names of every single donor in a message on the banner.

The grandiose vision the group has is an expensive one, but it is something they believe will help take the matchday atmosphere at St James' Park to a whole new level.

But where did the inspiration for this flag come from? What will feature on it? When will it be ready? And how can supporters contribute financially to the project?

 

Initially Wor Flags had hoped to set a new world record for the size of a flag unveiled inside a football stadium, but it became clear that such a task would prove impossible given that a Brazilian club performed a display around the circumference of a bowl-shaped stadium.

Given that St James' Park has four separate stands, displays are restricted to one section of the ground - but that still makes a European record possible.

"Watford supporters unveiled a banner which was the size of the stand behind their goal recently, and we thought: 'If Watford can do that, why can't Newcastle?'" Dan from Wor Flags told Chronicle Live.

"Some Watford fans claimed their banner is 85m by 50m, but we're pretty sure that was just to scare us. We think it was roughly 73m by 33m - and we think we can comfortably beat that. We like to think of it as a potential 'world record for a banner in English football'..."

The current proposal is for a flag which is two metres wider and more than double the length of the one on display at Vicarage Road.

"People believe in the matchday experience. We've had people - and Rafa Benitez - tell us they genuinely believe we've helped improve matchdays, and that can only have a positive impact upon the players, too," Dan added.

"It's not about us as a group. It's about how the atmosphere can affect the players and help the club.

"The display and flags are not just for the fans, they are by the fans - and that's what makes them so special."

"This has been in the pipeline for months. Our current surfer flag has rips in it due to wear and tear, given that it passes through hundreds of pairs of hands per game and is then taken down for storage," Anth, another member of Wor Flags, added.

"We don't want to display it too much because of the damage, and we need to take it away for repair, so we need something to temporarily replace it as well."

The surfer flag is two-and-a-half years old and is already cherished by supporters and the club alike. It features on photos inside St James' Park, while fans around the world have adopted it as their Twitter cover photo.

Yet it has been seen only twice this season - for the Manchester United game at the start of the year, and during the display marking Miguel Almiron's home debut - due to the frail condition it now finds itself in.

While the new Gallowgate-high banner would not entirely replace the surfer flag, it would allow it to be taken away and repaired.

What's more, the sheer size and weight of the new flag would make the logistics of using it for every home match unworkable; instead it would be reserved for important games, and the original surfer banner brought out for other fixtures once it is restored to its former glory.

The 25 core members who make up Wor Flags have debated for months exactly what to feature on the Gallowgate End-size banner.

Suggestions ranged from a shadow image of the current squad, re-working the surfer flag from the 1990s, a bigger version of the current banner, and one of the more left-field ideas of a huge image of Monty Magpie.

"Eventually we stumbled across an idea that we all liked, and one we all feel represents everything that makes us proud to be Newcastle fans," Anth explained.

"We wanted a flag which encompassed everything that is great about the team, the fanbase and the area."

The focal point of the flag will be a re-imagined skyline of Newcastle, the North East and beyond. Not only will it feature iconic city-centre buildings, but also those from the wider region; St James' Park, Grey's Monument and Newcastle's famous bridges are set to be accompanied by Whitley Bay's Spanish City, Hadrian's Wall and the Angel of the North .

"It is not jut about the two-mile radius around the city centre; we want this flag to be representative of our entire fanbase," Dan added.

"We know it has become a cliche to say that Newcastle fans are the best in the world, but some supporters genuinely believe that - and we want to deliver something they can be proud of."

Although the exact colour scheme of the flag - which is being primarily drafted in his spare time by Dan, who is a graphic designer - is yet to be determined, naturally a black-and-white theme will take prominence.

As is so often the case, Wor Flags also wants the banner to beam a message across the stadium and around the world.

"We are the Mags" is provisionally set to be emblazoned across the middle of the flag - but the letters will not merely be block print.

"We want every supporter who contributes to this flag to have their name incorporated into the design," Anth said.

"Whether someone has donated £1 or £1,000, they have still played their part, and their name will be used along thousands of others in order to spell out the letters of the message."

So far more than 800 supporters have donated, both via the group's GoFundMe page , as well as their own online shop. All of them will feature on the flag.

Dan continued: "Fans can donate a minimum of £5 through our GoFundMe page , which is great - but some supporters can't afford that, yet they still want to be a part of it.

"So we wanted to give something back, as well as give fans the chance to contribute as little as £1 . If fans buy something from our website - be it a hat, a scarf, or a mini replica flag - they not only get something back, but the small profit made on each item also goes back into financing our flags and the displays."

Not only do Wor Flags want to celebrate the iconic buildings in the region, they also want to integrate some of the area's inventions into the design too.

Newcastle Brown Ale, Joseph Swan's light bulb, George Stephenson's steam engine, Lucozade, and even Domestos, could all feature on the final flag.

"We want to create an almost 'Where's Wally' element to the banner, so I'm experimenting with the plans," Dan said.

"You won't be able to spot all of these inventions and things the North East is famous for from a distance, but when fans buy replica merchandise they'll be able to look more closely and maybe see a bottle of Brown Ale on the window ledge or whatever."

Donations have been picking up pace in recent weeks, and Wor Flags estimate that they currently have the funds to make a flag which would stretch the full width of the Gallowgate Stand, but only halfway up.

The group are waiting for a full quote from the production company they use, but they expect the price to exceed £10,000 - and so they still require donations from supporters.

In terms of when the flag will be unveiled, it will take at least two months to go through the production process; but, as long as the money is accrued, the banner should be ready to be displayed during the first home match of the 2019/20 campaign.

"We had thought about pushing to get the new flag out by the final match of the season against Liverpool, but we opted against it," Dan continued.

"We don't want the celebration of all-things Newcastle United to be overshadowed by anybody, and Liverpool could arrive on Tyneside having ended their three-decade wait for a league title.

"NUFC deserves celebrating in its own right, and we want something fresh and new which can help kickstart the atmosphere in the new season."