Whilst flicking channels last night I happened to come across a football match with a half empty stadium (in fact looking at the TV it looked more than half empty) and was shocked (well not really) to find out it was our neighbours and close rivals who were playing in a 5th round FA Cup tie against one of the best teams in the land.
In fact barely 26,000 turned up and over 4,000 of them came from down south. So only 22,000 makems could be arsed to go and see their team play in their home stadium in a game which has taken them one stop from a semi final at Wembley.
Bear in mind as well that their team is on a superb run inspired by their Irish lepricorn.
Now correct me if I am wrong but the same game up the road at St James’ would attract possibly double that and be a sell out. Forget Niall Quinn’s bleating about TV affecting the attendance, this is simply a reflection as to what a small town club Sunderland actually are.
The rivalry between our two clubs is simply geographic – not two similar sized clubs battling out for north east supremacy as the media like to make out. Why we bother with them I really do not know, we should treat them with disdain like that other pathetically attended club further down the coast.
We should be looking at the top level clubs as our rivals; Arsenal, Chelsea, Spurs and of course bloody Liverpool – hopefully that is the mentality Ashley and Pardew are bringing to the club, it is certainly what the national press are scared about.
Meanwhile consider this – 30,000+ watched our 3rd round tie against Blackburn on a thoroughly unpleasant day and probably only 25 souls made it up from Blackburn…. keep crying into your milk Niall.
Jonnie runs a walking and guiding company in the north of England. Visit his excellent website at Where2walk to find out more