There’s method in the madness of Police planning for Newcastle v Sunderland
Much has been said about the arrangements by the Police to deal with the rival fans when it is Newcastle v Sunderland on Sunday.
Not a lot of it has been positive, if any.
The main change is that rather than having special metros laid on for those Sunderland supporters who choose not to go on the free buses, instead they will only be able to use the normal metro trains that are running as per the usual schedule.
Many are predicting mayhem to ensue and maybe it will, but I think I understand where the cops are coming from on this one.
The doomsayers are talking as though all fans, Newcastle and Sunderland, will be allowed to just get on with it as they make their way to the ground.
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However, my guess is that you will see even more police than normal, just used in a different way.
The introduction of the free coaches, X number of years ago, changed the derby day experience forever.
Instead of fans taking a more varied approach on how to get to the rival ground, it basically polarised supporters into those who went on the free coaches and those who came on the metro.
This then led to the now annual ritual at both grounds, where a big escort from the station to the stadium is the focus of pretty much all potential mischief. Personally I think the free bus approach has led to more problems than it solved and made the big escorts a surefire focus for trouble.
I think the police are trying to return the derby day policing to more like what it was before the free buses, there will be coppers all over the city centre and the hope must be that smaller more manageable groups of Sunderland fans will travel, rather than all of them together on a couple of metros. If a big group of likely lads turns up together then I would take it that it’s obvious that they will then get an appropriate number of officers escorting them up to the ground.
On the metros themselves there will naturally be a a significant police presence to help keep the peace and ensure that they have the right numbers of coppers to meet them on arrival at Central Station.
I think clearly there have been positives in terms of the mood between the two sets of fans following the tragic loss of John and Liam, but anybody, police and fans, is living in dreamland if they think that on derby day this will play a part in many people’s behaviour.
It isn’t a case of hoping for trouble, it is simply facing the truth. It is all very worthy trying initiatives to produce a better relationship between Newcastle and Sunderland fans and away from the actual derby days, there may be projects/events where supporters can work together.
However, we all know what iit is like on derby day and it isn’t going to change any time soon. To an extent few of us really want it to, I’m all for no violence on a derby day but words alone won’t stop that.
The buzzwords in the FSF initiative are passion without the poison and while maybe that poison can be diluted slightly, the truth is that it will always be there when Newcastle meet Sunderland.
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