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Match Reports

Behind enemy lines: Watching the derby undercover in the Sunderland end

6 years ago

Sunderland 3 Newcastle 0 Sunday 25 October 12noon

Sunderland: Johnson 45 (Pen), Jones 65, Fletcher 86

Well, where do you start with this one? A match totally dominated by Newcastle, turned on its head by a shocking decision from a far too inexperienced referee.

Watching it in real time from amongst those in red and white,  it actually did not look like a penalty, they bayed for one and he satisfied their thirst without hesitation. He did it all afternoon, or at least did while I was still inside(my cover was blown after the second goal and I departed).

But I am getting ahead of myself, so let’s start at the beginning.

The day started with me being both confident and nervous.

Confident because I know we are the better team, nervous because I was going in undercover alone, because while I was unable to get a ticket in our section I managed very easily to get one amongst them!

Parking up not too far from the ground, the nerves kicked in a little, conscious that I stood out like some sort of glowing Ready Brek kid, I wondered if my choice of 2 tone specials t shirt was the right one? Too late now I thought, I’m going to have to ride the storm

Although I was driving, I thought a single pint was in order. It was still early and the nerves needed calming, so I crossed the Wearmouth bridge, passing a huge gang of their lot drinking on a garage forecourt and entered a club…the Sunderland deaf association club. Maybe I thought my accent would not be heard amongst the deaf!

The atmosphere inside was fairly venomous to say the least, it’s fair to say their hatred for us possibly outweighs ours for them. Maybe it’s the inferiority complex and giant chip on their shoulders that the whole of Wearside seems to possess, this is absolute fact.

A very swift pint was had, and I left , walking down toward St Peters Metro where huge masses of hatred were now gathering, and this is where the police come into it.

Superintendent Steve Neill blew his trumpet last week, telling everyone the Policing policy would be relaxed, firm but fair. Absolutely not the case, I don’t care what he says post-match, the policing was awful.

I sat on a fence and witnessed several unsavoury incidents all instigated by Sunderland fans, packs of hounds had gathered and were intent on trouble. The police, what did they do, tapped them on the shoulder and gently eased them back into the masses, if this had been in Newcastle many arrests would have been made.

As the metro full of Newcastle fans pulled inm the intensity heightened. I was now not conscious of what I was wearing as attention was clearly directed toward the Newcastle fans who were now in the vicinity.

The Newcastle fans were in good humour, and most definitely not aggressive, meanwhile a dad – in his 30s possibly. Was teaching his very young kid to continually shout ” f*** right off you black and white c***s. I am not taking any moral high ground but this was appalling.

There was no free walk up to the ground as promised by the aforementioned Mr Neill, the fans were separated  from each other by a line of police, and the Newcastle fans were made to walk a longer and more convoluted route to the stadium.

A middle age Sunderland fan dressed in a rather natty long coat and cap made several attempts to get at the Newcastle fans, charging at pace into the Police line, was he arrested? No, just a further gentle request to move away, instead a Newcastle fan seemed to be arrested…..not the aggressive offender.

At this point I moved away, my Black and White 2 tone specials t shirt that I had unwisely chosen to wear, was struggling to be concealed by my far to tight jacket. Have to be honest, it’s time to go to XL next time I buy a coat!

Walking around to my turnstile the mood away from St Peters metro was more relaxed, however my route was blocked into turnstile 24 by a police cordon. So I decided to have a wander into the Sunderland fanzone – live music, a couple of bars and the  irritating Kevin Ball were all that was on offer so I did not hang around, instead I gritted my teeth, took a deep breath and entered the stadium.

I still felt like I was standing out, but looking around the concourse  there were plenty not bedecked in red and white deck chair style clothing. A knowing glance, the odd wink, gave a renewed confidence, clearly I was not the only of black and white persuasion.

Now back in the 80s and early 90s it was the norm for several hundred Newcastle fans to be in the wrong sections, and one particular game (available on youtube) show this to be the case, but things have evolved these days and people are much more civilised, except this was Sunderland and I had just witnessed outside that this was not the case.

I made my way to my seat and glanced around me, normal people indeed. A small child to my right engrossed in his match day programme and eating sweets, on my left I had just 2 vacant seats and then the aisle, a simple exit if needs be. I’m 51, overweight and running away is not an option!

Unfortunately, while there were quite a few empty seats, despite what the official attendance states, the two vacant seats were taken by two not so amiable chaps, who clearly had a hatred of all things Geordie!

The atmosphere cranked up as the teams entered the pitch, and for the next five or ten minutes I have to say it was impressive and daunting, but Newcastle started well and it very soon became subdued. I was silently enjoying it as chance after chance came, the Newcastle fans above to my left were loud and clearly enjoying what they were seeing, but we did need a goal I whispered to myself.

There is no point in detailing the happenings on the pitch from this point onwards, but suffice to say those around me blew a collective sigh of relief when the odious Cattermole clearly impeded Winaldum in the area, which the one-sided referee chose to ignore.

Moments later you saw what happened and that was more or less that, second half we did create a couple of decent chances, but ten against twelve was always a big ask.

Cattermole carried on fouling and the referee continued ignoring, when their second was bundled in I got up to leave while the celebrations were still going on. A half shove and a torrent of abuse  told me I had been found out as I edged past the cavemen to my left,  one might have spat at me but it could have been aggressive drooling, instead of celebrating his teams’ second goal he was more interested in giving me rabid abuse, that says it all about them to me!

I did not respond ( although on Friday night Puma from Forest Hall informed me it was my duty to smack one in the mouth if the opportunity arose, sorry mate), I walked away and headed downstairs and persuaded a steward to open a gate.

Walking back toward St Peters Metro and back to the car, more packs of hounds  hanging around looking for early leavers from Newcastle. Fortunately, because of the direction I had come from they did not bother me, the fair minded police made no effort to move them on or move them away. I reiterate the policing policy was one-sided and appalling, thank you Mr Neill ( if he wishes to discuss I can be reached by via this website) .

I got back to the car without incident and set off for a long drive to Birmingham with first Radio Newcastle and then Radio 5 Live on, at the same time the Wearside Real Madrid scored a further flattering third – I was pleased to be heading away from the area!

Radio 5 live though talked about the penalty incident in-depth, one pundit Steve Claridge describing it as a joke.

The subsequent interviews of the two managers suggested the same, even fat Sam seemed a little reluctant to say too much on it, instead extolling the virtues of his superstars, one decision spoiled and affected the outcome, shameful.

I can’t wait for the return game, watching the first half I know we are far superior despite the result, eleven v eleven and there is only one winner.

Stay with this team because despite our results I firmly believe we will come good!

These are the key stats as provided by BBC Sport;

Possession was 61% Newcastle and 39% Sunderland

Total shots was 21 for Newcastle and Sunderland 9

Shots on target was Newcastle 8 and Sunderland 3

While corners was Newcastle 10 and Sunderland 1

Team: Elliot, Janmaat, Coloccini, Mbemba, Dummett (Thauvin 78), Colback (Anita 49), Tiote (Lascelles 46),  Sissoko, Wijnaldum, Perez, Mitrovic (Cisse 88)

Unused Subs: Woodman, Haidara, de Jong, Cisse

Ref: Robert Madley

Crowd: 47,653 (2,800 Newcastle)


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