Peter Dillon’s is a place to watch Newcastle in Manhattan. From growing up in Dublin to life among the skyscrapers in the Big Apple, Owners Fergal Titley & Sean Henshaw talk to First Touch about building a place for Newcastle supporters in New York City.
2021 will go down as a milestone year for Newcastle United,. That’s due largely to the controversial take-over of the club by Saudi prince Mohammed bin Salman. Somewhat less publicized has been the recent launch of their new supporters venue in New York City. First Touch is here to redress the balance.
The crowd on 36th Street this bright November morning is an apprehensive mix of regulars and first timers as Peter Dillon’s once again flings open its doors early and wide to welcome in Newcastle fans of all stripes (well black & white ones, mostly). With the season’s first win still on the ‘to do’ list, host Sean Henshaw is nonetheless happy to welcome his flock, forget the present momentarily, and ponder better times, past and future, as a fan of this legendary club.
Becoming A Newcastle Fan
Growing up in Dublin, with his father playing for St. Pat’s in the role vacated by Paul McGrath following his life-changing move to Manchester United, Sean resisted the peer pressure to become a Red – choosing the less fashionable Newcastle United as his team to follow.
“My first game was 2003 vs Blackburn Rovers. Bobby Robson was managing Newcastle, and Graeme Souness was managing Blackburn. We got beaten that day but I fell in love with the place and got obsessed with it.”
At that point Sean’s dad realized his efforts to lure his son back to Old Trafford were a lost cause, as St. James’ Park, Newcastle became the destination of choice for their trips across the Irish Sea.
“We started going to about 2 or 3 games a year. Then once I was old enough to fly by myself I was flying over as often as I could. I think my mother was happy when I moved to New York ‘cos all I was doing was working to make money and then spending it on Ryan Air flights to Newcastle.”
A Newcastle Fan In New York
Living in New York meant that Sean was able to meet up regularly with the local Toon Army. When Sean took over a neighboring bar with business partner Fergal Titley in 2019 it seemed like a no-brainer and a labor of love to set up a supporters group for their beloved team.
“We were open through the pandemic – at 7:30am when nobody was around. People were afraid to come to the city – so it was a little bit daunting at first. but we still got at least 8 Geordie regulars every week.”
Sean quips that his sales skills must be OK since he also convinced a number of local New Yorkers to start following what he describes as “a bad Steve Bruce version of Newcastle United.”
“We’re steadily growing, we have our own flag outside and signed jerseys from the club.
Magpies Over America
Undoubtedly, The Magpies profile in America and around the world is only going one way over the next few years, but Sean also thinks its important not to get carried away.
“Fingers crossed we go from strength to strength but you don’t want to lose yourself as a club. It’s about the city. The first five times I went over there we didn’t win, but I loved it. I loved how welcoming the people were, how engaging the fans were. On Matchday it’s brilliant – It’s like a religion. You don’t want to lose the soul of the club, but I think with the fan base we have, that won’t be a problem”
2 E. 36th St. (5th Ave)
212 300 4091
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