Sunderland fans have at last found something to get animated about.
Looking certainties to do the double (consecutive relegations, not league and cup one…), crowds have more than halved – now below the twenty thousand mark.
With no wins in the last 10 Championship games and only nine matches left, what is there to look forward to?
Well, their final game of the season is home to champions-elect Wolves and as well as a predictable high demand for tickets from the visitors, now plenty Sunderland fans are interested in going back for that one after having deserted their club on relegation.
News/rumours is sweeping Wearside that Newcastle fans are planning ‘another Gillingham’.
For younger fans, this relates to 1987 and Sunderland’s play-off game against Gillingham, the Mackems needing to win, otherwise they were going down into the third tier.
As you will see below, some Sunderland fans are in denial that it even happened at all, but 30 years ago you had a lot of Newcastle fans who travelled down to that game.
I now…because I was there.
On the morning of the match the Sunday Sun said that there were still plenty of tickets left despite the relatively modest capacity, so my mate and me decided to go down for a laugh. Unknown to us, there had clearly been a more organised effort, as the train was rammed with Newcastle fans (no colours) on the way down to Seaburn station.
The eventual gate was 25,470 and exactly how many Sunderland, Gillingham and Newcastle fans were there that day, will always be argued about.
On getting next to Roker Park we were asked by a copper ‘Are you Sunderland, Gillingham or Newcastle’? What a question.
We went in the Gillingham end, where I would say there were around 500 Newcastle fans alongside a couple of thousand Gillingham supporters, whilst Newcastle fans also had their own dedicated section in the paddock.
Gillingham won the tie on away goals and Sunderland were relegated, not sure what happened with those Newcastle fans in the paddock but we were locked in for a good while, as Sunderland fans outside were desperate to get at the Newcastle supporters who were in amongst the Gillingham fans. Though I don’t think the Gillingham fans were too popular either having sang ‘We love you Newcastle…’ for much of the match, aimed at those NUFC fans in the Paddock and in amongst them.
Anyway, moving forward 30 years and now Sunderland fans are hearing widespread rumours that a repeat of Gillingham is planned by Newcastle supporters.
Who knows if it is true or not but whilst some Mackems are seeing the funny side of it and offering their tickets to any Newcastle fans who want to watch the rubbish they are watching, plenty of other Sunderland fans are now very interested in suddenly returning for this last game of the season on Sunday 6 May (12.30pm kick-off). Many seeing the chance to take out their anger on any Newcastle fans who do make the trip…
Comments taken from the main Sunderland fans message board Ready To Go:
‘Has anyone else heard any rumours regarding a number of the unwashed trying to get tickets for the Wolves game?
It seems a few have got a bit carried away with themselves believing that thousands descended on Roker in ’87 and their web-toed offspring are possibly planning it this year?’
‘They’ll have no trouble getting tickets.’
‘They can have mine.’
‘We should be all for it. Think of the extra pennies off the debt.’
‘I’ve heard it from quite a few of the young (Newcastle) lads at work. “Their generations chance to do a Gillingham” they reckon.
They are adamant it is on.’
‘Give them their own alllocated section.
£50 a pop.
‘Wasn’t planning on going to another game until Short has packed his bags. But I would happily go to this at the prospect of splattering a few wannabe hard lads from Mordor.’
‘I was in the clockstand against Gillingham and I didnt see any Mags that day.’
‘I’d say about 300/400 in attendance. In the section below the seated Gillingham fans.’
‘They had the section near the Roker End.’
‘That could be brilliant a sold out last game of the season. Would help put much needed money back into the club. Howay you smelly b……s come and watch us play.’
‘I was in the clockstand against Gillingham and i didnt see any Mags that day.’
‘I was in the Roker End and I did. They were singing One Peter Beardsley I recall for some bizarre reason.’
‘I honestly wouldn’t be bothered, nothing will better the 6 in a row imo. The away games were absolutely class. I doubt they’ll ever experience anything like that.’
‘I hope so, we could do with the cash and a full stadium.’
‘There was a good hundred and the police protected them after the games, as they were getting a lot of attention. There were on the Roker End side of the Clockstand.’
‘Let them come !! be nice to vent and get rid of the pent up frustration of this season and last, and the one before that and the one before that…..’
‘Apparently they are looking to arrange a fight in Seaham after the game. Triple threat with the wolves money boys. Rumoured to be bringing thousands.’
‘I was in Roker End that day and there was nowhere near 150 , and I will gladly turn out for the Wolves game now.’
‘If this rumour gathers pace it’ll probably put a couple of thousand on the gate …
…. all Sunderland hoping the dopes actually show up and make themselves known.’
‘Why don’t we just allocate them 3000 places in the NW Upper at £50 a pop.
Club makes itself £150,000 of much needed cash and they are made to look like the obsessed tw.ts that they are.
Everyone’s a winner!’
‘It doesn’t bother me – we’d take the pi.. if it was the other way round
I just hope the daft lads get a few clips.’
‘Lad at work has said he’s heard at their games that plenty of them planning on coming.
Should be fun.’
‘Any mag thinking he can take the pi.. is f…ing deluded.
This isn’t roker park in the 80s .
I hope they try it, I really do.’