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Sunderland owner wishes Sunderland fans were as good as Newcastle United fans – Those were the days

3 months ago

I was alerted to a good article on one of the Sunderland fans sites(I think RTG), by my observant friend Tony Mallabar.

A Felling lad, Tony is a fellow mackem despiser and I enjoyed the content.

So I am going to share some of the sentiments from 1983 on here.

At the time Sunderland were in the First Division but only averaging 17,000 crowds.

Newcastle United fans on the other hand were walking in a “Keegan wonderland” in the Second Division and dreaming of promotion.

In a time of economic hardship, the Toon were averaging over 25,000 for every home game (and also filling the coffers of every other team they visited, with our phenomenal away following).

With the mackems £500,000, in debt their very honest owner and chairman, local businessman Sir Tom Cowie, came out with a passionate statement that has since gone down in North East football folklore.

He basically implored the Wearside faithful to bring a friend along to home games and questioned the stay away Sunderland fans desire for top flight football.

Then he came out with the immortal quip, “I wish our supporters were as loyal as Newcastle United’s up the road.”


As you can imagine, the irk and outrage at being compared to their more famous northerly neighbours was unbelievable, the mackems went into complete meltdown.

Of course, Sir Tom was quite correct because the Sunderland fans couldn’t hold a candle to us, and never have done in my lifetime.

However, the ignominy of one their own and most successful calling them out, and comparing them to us, was just too much to bear.

Well, I suppose the question from anybody reading this will be, ‘Was Sir Tom Cowie’s blunt message heeded and did the Sunderland attendances improve?’

The answer is no, not really.

Newcastle United were then promoted in 1984 and the mackems relegated in 1985.

Sir Tom Cowie R.I.P.



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