I was down at the Sunderland v Newcastle match last night.
I had been thinking about it at work throughout the day and when I got in the house, my 12 year old son was up for it, so a quick turnaround and we were out of the door.
Not normally one for taking much, if any, interest in reserve games, the fact it was a local derby (not going to see many of them for a while…) and had been moved to the Stadium of Light (instead of normal reserve venue) were obviously the key attractions.
Always a bit of a strange one if you ever go to a big football stadium when there are very few people inside it (no cheap jokes here about Sunderland fans getting used to that this season…).
I would say there were between maybe 300 and 400 Newcastle fans there, in a section at one end of the ground, even though the pre-match info was that there would be no segregation.
I was glad I went.
It ended up being one of the most entertaining matches I have seen this season.
I have seen that there has already been a mini-match report put up on The Mag but when you end up seeing four goals and 26 penalties (24 in the shootout after 120 minutes, plus Sunderland scoring one and Newcastle missing one during the game), then you can see why it might have been worth going to.
The young Newcastle players come out of it with great credit, it has been tough times in recent years for the NUFC younger age groups and our reserve side are currently second bottom of the reserve league second division, one division below the Mackems.
So a great victory in the circumstances and hopefully one that can help inspire them to better times ahead.
Coming into work this morning I was looking around for any write-ups on the match and I have read one or two decent bits, from both a Newcastle and Sunderland perspective.
However, I have now noticed that this is all being overtaken by coverage of the ‘trouble’ last night.
People are getting just a little over excited…
The ‘trouble’ was a handful of seats being smashed, unless I’m missing something, and when there are only a few hundred away fans there, it would be kind of difficult to miss anything of note.
It is not big and it is not clever, smashing seats at a reserve game, but it is simply embarrassing more than a major incident/talking point.
The few police (and stewards) in attendance at the game didn’t seem keen/interested in getting involved and I’m sure the £1000 or so the Mackems banked from the extra Newcastle fans turning up will more than pay for the cost of replacing the handful of smashed seats.
The bottom line is that the ‘troublemakers’ were kids getting a bit excited being out late on a school night, no doubt a bit hammered on blue pop, and today bragging to their schoolmates about ‘how they took Sunderland’ last night.
There were no seats thrown on the pitch, nobody was trying to get at the home fans (they would have been too tired by the time they got to them anyway). To sum up how thick and immature the kids causing ‘trouble’ were, one was even daft enough to let himself be pictured holding up a smashed seat on his way home on the metro – the image circulating on social media.
Amusingly, a quick look on the main Sunderland fans message board has them riding a very very high horse, outraged at the ‘trouble’ and taking that as proof that all Newcastle fans are guilty of war crimes, or something. Well, at least horse punchers anyway.
I know it is only a small minority who are engaged in the name calling and seat smashing but it does kind of represent generally the level of our derby rivalry these days.
Imagine being fans of the two Manchester clubs, fighting it out in the Champions League and at the top of the Premier League, arguing the toss about those, and not a few smashed seats and one person who years ago embarrassed himself when trying to punch a horse.
Maybe it is best if we don’t have a derby for some time after all. Realistically with the way the two clubs are run, it would be far more likely to take place in League One than the Champions League.