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Putting some perspective on the Sunderland plane banner

4 years ago

I know it isn’t a popular thing to do in this modern era but I thought I would try and put a little perspective on the Sunderland plane banner ‘debate’.

These days, especially when it comes to social media, so many people feel the need to show over the top opinions, either really loving something/someone, or hating it/them.

Mildly disagreeing or agreeing to disagree rarely comes into it.

For anybody who hasn’t followed the story, this is what appears to have happened so far…

A year ago Newcastle are relegated and Sunderland fans pay for a ‘banter’ banner to fly over St James Park – ‘Auf Wiedersehen Prem Tyne To Go’.

Some 10 or 11 months later, a group of Newcastle fans fancy doing something similar to return the favour and start asking for donations to help raise the £960 to pay for a (yet to be decided wording) banner to be flown over the Stadium of Light.

Donations quickly reach and then exceed that £960, so the organisers decide to approach the families of a number of children who are suffering from cancer (from both sides of the Newcastle/Sunderland divide) and see if they will agree to accept any excess money received through the donations.

In the meantime, there has been negativity shown by some Newcastle fans to the idea of having a Sunderland plane banner taking the mickey out of them, as it is seen as a bit naff and lowering ourselves to the level of the Mackems.

Taking on board this negativity, the organisers of the banner appeal decided to give a number of options for fans to vote online for after running them past the families – some a simple mickey take of Sunderland/relegation, whilst others attempted to also make reference to the angle of the thousands of pounds raised for the kids suffering from cancer.

That voting (over 8,000 people voted according to reports I read) concluded on Sunday night and the most popular was:


This came out on top by 2% ahead of second placed:


I have to declare interest on a few levels.

My family sadly has a history of cancer running through it, plus I am the product of  mixed marriage – one half of the family are black & white, the other red & white.

On Friday night (last night) we were having a bit of a family do (engagement party) and the Sunderland plane banner became a topic of conversation, as well as Newcastle’s promotion and the Mackems heading back to where they below (going up, going down…).

I was interested to hear what people had to say as social media is usually no great guide to what the majority actually think.

It obviously wasn’t a definitive sample but from the few dozen friends and relatives I spoke to last night, both Newcastle and Sunderland fans, the main reaction I got was that most weren’t bothered either way.

A few thought it was a bad idea, both having any plane banner and the wording on it. Whilst a few more thought the exact opposite, that it was a bit of a laugh which was also raising money for good causes.

There were many views on what would have been the best wording, with some weird and wonderful ideas. However, whilst quite a few thought the ‘United by cancer divided by leagues’ was a bit lame, nobody was outraged by the words that were going to be used, which is totally at odds with some of the venom seen on social media – including the quite ridiculous threats made online to the organiser(s). These opinions included some of the people in my family circle who have been most touched by the evil of cancer.

Coming away from the get together last night, I think the main thing I took from it was that people felt there were far more important things to be getting hot under the collar about, such as NHS underfunding, rather than some Newcastle fans getting irate with a naff idea that they didn’t agree with.

None of us agree with each other when it comes to even picking the (Newcastle) team, so when anything like this Sunderland plane banner comes along it is no surprise when people don’t see eye to eye.

I haven’t donated to the banner and I won’t take any interest when it is flown over thousands of empty pink seats this afternoon BUT let’s just try and accept different opinions and debate reasonably, rather than taking things to such ridiculous levels as anonymous threats to the people involved.

(Last month writing on The Mag, one of the organisers, Darren Curry, had this to say about the Sunderland plane banner:

“There were 20 or 30 of us originally involved but thanks to social media it has gone a little bit crazy and after seeing the number of people donating, we then decided to make it so the banner will be voted for online with a few options.

Maybe celebrating our promotion or a fighting against Cancer themed one (‘Cancer has no colours’ etc), which I’ve agreed to talk to the parents of the children about nearer the time .

The final choice of ideas to vote on will be publicised in due course.

Without the banner we probably would have raised very little money but now we’ve collected so much, the banner seems almost irrelevant, but will still go ahead.

It’s a bit of fun without trouble and Sunderland fans as well as Boro supporters have donated – as I have a lot of my mates who work offshore.

A lot of people are seemingly against the idea of a banner but we are saying that without the banner there is no donation to the kids (Frankie Sherwood, Hope Feeney and Bradley Lowery) , as the banner was solely the reason people originally donated money.

We are having a laugh and also now the banner is long ago paid for, we are generating some cash that will help in some small way the three kids named above.”)

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