So at last, we have Aston Villa v Newcastle this Saturday teatime.
After a week of insult throwing, the match is at last here, with the two teams fighting it out on the pitch rather than the supporters online.
Every match is worth the same three points but some matter more than others.
I know in advance of the match Rafa Benitez has claimed that Aston Villa will still be up there at the right end of the table in May – but I don’t think anybody seriously believes that, at least not on what they have shown so far.
So today we aren’t hoping to deprive a promotion rival of points as well as adding them to our total, yet this game is more important than most, at least to the fans anyway.
This is a good thing.
If Newcastle were still in the Premier League this season, there would be total indifference as to whether points were picked up against the likes of Bournemouth, Hull, Burnley and others. Obviously you’d want NUFC to win every match but if we say beat Burnley rather than Bournemouth, or vice-versa, you wouldn’t care.
However, the usual suspects you would have cared about – Mackems, Man Utd etc.
Likewise, in the Championship we have a lot of clubs whose names are simply interchangeable – Burton, Wigan, Reading, Preston, Brentford – they mean nothing.
So thank you Aston Villa, or rather their fans, yes we do really want to beat you, because of the chain of events you set in place on a sunny day back in May 2009.
It matters more if we beat you than Burton, you have given us a reason to hate/dislike/be bothered.
That is what football is about, the added edge when you go to a game.
Later in the season when we play Leeds United, it will be amusing the split amongst Newcastle fans.
Pretty much anybody under the age of 30 will be wondering what’s the big deal, whereas for anybody over the age of 50 they will be desperate to beat ‘dirty Leeds’, with memories of the 70s era rivalry feeling like it was yesterday. Those between 30 and 50 will be a mixed bunch where the Yorkshire club are concerned.
Rivalry is good, not caring is bad.