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Newcastle v Sunderland – Too Easy To Demonise The ‘Enemy’?

7 years ago

‘Some people believe football is a matter of life and death, I am very disappointed with that attitude. I can assure you it is much, much more important than that’ – Bill Shankly.

The recent tragic events of flight MH17, made more poignant to Tyneside through the loss of two of our own, brought to mind the famous Bill Shankly quote.

Whether Mr Shankly was being entirely serious is another matter but life obviously is more important than football.

Yes, it is hard to take a defeat, especially to our bitter rivals. Or an early cup exit, although now we are getting used to that. What has happened recently though has highlighted that it is nothing compared to the loss of a loved one, or a comrade as in this case for those of us who aren;t family or close friends.

On the subject of our ‘bitter rivals’, what a remarkable gesture that was of SAFC fan Gary Fergusson and the others who joined him in putting aside the hostilities to contribute in memory of Liam Sweeney and John Alder.

This started a union as our own fans began to follow suit, along with fans of other teams.

What was originally intended only to raise enough for a floral tribute to our two supporters has now snowballed to over £28,000 (to add to that total click HERE), meaning many more will benefit through their generosity with the money raised divided between the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation and the Marie Curie Hospice in Newcastle.

It makes you question yourself, asking if I would have done the same if the roll of fate had been reversed?

It has made me feel quite humble, or even ashamed, as I never usually had a good word, either spoken or written, to say about them.

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It is easy to demonise the ‘enemy’, in this case Newcastle v Sunderland. It is a reminder that there is good and bad in all groups of people or fans, just as there is amongst our own fan base.

It’s a shame it has taken something as drastic as this to jolt us back to reality but hopefully  this can be a befitting legacy to the memory of John and Liam.

It has brought the region together. After all ,we are together when it comes to being shafted by Westminster etc. and unlike other parts of this Isle, we can’t jump up and down and demand our ‘freedom’.

I have read comments from fans stating they would like to officially mark our appreciation, which would be a great idea, say at the next home derby match. A minute’s applause from both sets of fans would be good to see, or some form of fan meeting at Sir Bobby’s statue?

Whether this will cause a seismic change in the attitudes of both sets of fans will remain to be seen but maybe, just maybe, the hostilities can be set aside off the pitch.

Our thoughts go out to John and Liam’s families, as indeed they do to the rest of the MH17 victims loved ones.

To Gary Ferguson and all the other SAFC fans who followed his lead, take a bow, we salute you.

You have shown us that there are more important things in life, by doing so your club and city should be proud of you.

Your humanity is a shining example to us all.


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