Pigs do fly after all. Top of the charts at the Sunderland page of newsnow.co.uk is a Newcastle United blog’s posting in which a Mag offers positive thoughts about Sunderland.
That means a lot of people have already seen it. If you haven’t, you should read on.
Writing at nufcblog, UTD111 describes the appointment of Martin O’Neill as “one of the most significant events to happen in the North East recently”. And even if you leave aside the many SAFC supporters who have added comments welcoming his well-written and intelligent piece, the feedback has been extraordinarily healthy; the greatest area of controversy when I looked concerned correct usage of the possessive apostrophe*.
UTD111 goes on:
Of course there is massive rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland, so it takes a lot for a Newcastle fan to say something like that. But rivalry and competition manifest themselves in every walk of life. Being better than others at school, in your job, sibling rivalry at home, my car’s faster than your car, my dad’s bigger than your dad – the examples are endless. It’s part of life and something we have to deal with every day.
When it comes to football however, rivalry can often get out of hand to the point of bigotry and violence. “Local Derby” rivalry has existed since football began, and no matter what anyone says, there is no bigger derby and no bigger rivalry in football than that between Newcastle United and Sunderland. The rivalry between the two modern-day cities can be traced back to the 1600s and linked to them supporting different sides in the English civil war! But sometimes it’s important to remember that these days it’s mainly about football, and whether we like it or not, there are bigger issues in life and basically people are pretty much the same wherever they come from.
Growing up as a Newcastle United fan I was told by the older lads around me that Sunderland were “the enemy”, somehow inferior to us and we needed to beat them on and off the football field every time we met. In my early teens, being fed this sort of stuff, I became a bit bigoted about them, something I’m not particularly proud of today. The problem with having that shoved at you from an early age is that the messages stay with us, either consciously or subconsciously, and can influence our thinking as we (hopefully) mature and enter adulthood. The point about being an adult though, actually one of the things which separates us from the animal kingdom, is our ability to use reason.
When I left school and started work years ago, for the first time I worked alongside people who actually came from and supported Sunderland. This was a new experience for me – I’d never met and mixed with anyone from “that place” to any great degree before, but I found that they were mostly canny people just like us! Contrary to what I’d been told, they didn’t seem to eat babies after all, they just ate chips at the canteen like the rest of us and being a young lad I couldn’t help noticing that some of the lasses were quite bonny! I also learned that they were just as passionate about their football team as I was about mine.
The other thing I learned at quite an early age is that the North East of England always has a fight on it’s hands to be recognised and given credit on the national UK stage. The government is a long way away in London and our perception is that it doesn’t always seem to care about our issues or problems. There are also lots of people, for example politicians and folk in the media only too willing to take every opportunity to put us down and stereotype us. So it’s great when our region does something positive and shows that we’re just as good as anyone else.
In his analysis of O’Neill’s arrival, UTD111 hails Sunderland’s capture of a truly top-class manager” as good for the region, his region. “I know many United fans won’t agree with me but personally I’d rather see both Newcastle United and Sunderland up there at the top of the Premier League than teams (and their crowing fans) from London, Liverpool or Manchester.”
When Newcastle were flying high earlier in the season, UTD111 argues, the media actively ignored the achievement, “Invisible United” gaining scant attention because “they haven’t played anybody yet”.
“That’s why I was well chuffed when a Martin O’Neill inspired Sunderland beat moneybags Manchester City 1-0 and this was followed up by Newcastle United stuffing Man U 3-0 (see…I managed to mention that one more time!). Sound of jaws hitting the floor in the Sky studio. Results like that stick it to the folk who dare to write us off, as individual clubs or as a region. I want to see more results like that from both clubs. I hope Martin O’Neill does a great job at Sunderland, I’m sure he will. I hope the North East has two teams near the top of the Premier League in the next few years, and they both regularly beat the media’s so-called ‘big teams’.
UTD111 then restores the natural order of things by hoping for a resounding home win at this season’s second Wear-Tyne derby.
* And the apostrophe scandal? Worth repeating, too.
A rare voice of dissent in the comments field, in which UTD111’s article rightly wins generous praise, takes issue with the headline (“Martin O’Neill at Sunderland – A Geordie’s View!”). A Mag called Lyle declares: “A Geordies view my a***!” – minus asterisks – and earns this magisterial putdown from Workyticket: “Lyle, without a possessive apostrophe there, you’re saying that Geordies view your a***.”
Great stuff and M Salut is happy to salute his confrères at nufcblog.com.