As far as the basic principles for rivalry go, the Tyne-Wear derby pretty much ticks all of the boxes. Newcastle versus Sunderland predates football by 226 years. This is a rivalry that once divided two the two places, 14 miles apart, for a couple of hundred years.

If I could ask any of my fellow Newcastle fans any question as we approach next weekend’s derby game versus Sunderland, it would be: why do you hate the Mackems?

Now the usual answer I receive is an “…errrrr they’re scum” or other strange mutterings, however, almost 100% of the time they fail to come out with any rational reply.

newcastle sunderlandAs a Newcastle fan who mostly grew up living in Durham, going to school with friends who support Sunderland, playing football with friends who support Sunderland and having friends who actually play for Sunderland, I know through them exactly what it means to (vicariously) support Sunderland and what the win at Old Trafford means to the football club.

Unfortunately though in recent years, mainly due to young lads who are around the same age me, the rivalry has taken a turn for the worst. It’s not nice, it’s distasteful.

More and more often, young lads are becoming more violent, more angry, showing a total hatred at anything to do with Sunderland. One of the worst examples of this, is the :

“Jimmy Saville is Cattermole’s dad, Jimmy Saville is Cattermole’s dad” – now really, is there any need for this? Is it banter? Is it even funny? Now I don’t know about others but I don’t actually know who Lee Cattermole’s Dad is but it’s not Jimmy Saville.

I for one was disappointed at the reaction of the majority of my fellow Newcastle United supporters, as many I know failed to congratulate Sunderland on what was a fantastic performance the other night, in particular one Newcastle United fan twitter page.

Hurling disgusting abuse to people over social networking sites just because they support a football team that happens to be in close geographical proximity to you, is once again, nonsense. I strongly believe that things are slowly getting out of hand, for some people this rivalry is turning into pure hatred – and is perhaps a little embarrassing.

Here are a few samples from the twitter sphere:

“Hate Sunderland fans. Disgusting c****”

“Looking at all the Sunderland fans on the TV last night just proves they’re all inbred scruffs”

“Sunderland fans frustrate the f*** out of me! Bunch of whining clueless b*******”

I’m not pointing the finger at all fans, there are some that are able to control their emotions in a mature and responsible manner.

The North East is, in my opinion, the greatest place to play football; the noise, passion. We live in a country that is dominated by London; the politics and the economics is all capital-based.

In the North East, we aren’t intellectuals, we aren’t painters or poets. Sport is what we love, and sport is what we, as a region, do best.

I hope Sunderland go on to beat Manchester City in the League Cup final, it would be brilliant for the region and I know for my friends, it would be the best day of their lives.

Then maybe, just maybe, seeing Sunderland win a trophy at Wembley will give our club -Newcastle United – the impetus to do something about this.

To look at ourselves and say “we need to match this, we need to improve, from the owner through to our loyal supporters, we all need to improve”.

Rivalry between cities is the norm, but as a region we need to be as one, have we though begun to cross the line?