Sunderland out West: an American Mackem in Toontown

Malcolm Dawson writes….Jesse Burch went to see Sunderland play Pachuca. Read his excellent report here. Being in the area and having relatives offering free B&B gave him the opportunity to experience life on the dark side. He was dragged along kicking and screaming to watch the home town team play the black and white barcode boys. And boy was he glad he went because it made him realise just how much he has bought into the Sunderland way of life! Here is what he witnessed as he watched the Mags play Sacramento in the same stadium that 24 hours previously he had seen the team in green.

See all articles in the Sunderland Out West series at

Jesse takes up the story.

So after last night’s match against Pachuca, I retired to my aunt and uncle’s home in — wait for it — Newcastle, California. I know. It’s not okay. Nevertheless, it was my home-away-from-home last night and I was grateful for a free bed. But here’s where things get embarrassing. My aunt, knowing I’d be here for the Sunderland match, offered me a ticket alongside her and my uncle at tonight’s Sacramento Republic match — against another team from the North East that we have had the pleasure of beating five times in a row.

So I went.

Now, if you’ve read my past two dispatches from Sacramento, I hope you have taken away how deeply I love Sunderland and feel very much a part of its support. I didn’t go to this match as a neutral — far from it. From the moment I stepped back inside Bonney Field and saw all of the black and white swanning around I became borderline ill. Which is strange. Again, I have no geographic or familial connection to Sunderland at all. Nevertheless, it was there in spades: all the dislike, all the bitterness.

Newcastle CA - USA
Newcastle CA – USA

How terrible it was to go from being surrounded by my friends in red and white to being effectively alone and among the Great Unwashed. It was such a dramatic shift! Same location as the night before, but now irreparably changed and corrupted — what a reversal. I missed my compatriots, and how valuable they’d have been to have beside me!

I wanted so desperately to sing “Five In A Row” at Stephen Taylor. And Jack Colback. They were right there. They would probably hear me. There was Tim Krul, just standing there, very close by. I could’ve screamed so many things. But I was alone in a sea of black and white and frankly, I’m just not brave or stupid enough to put myself in harm’s way like that. Sorry.

We took our seats and I reverted to supporting Sacramento Republic as best I could, while shooting eye-darts at anyone in that strip. Thankfully, the SRFC support is loud and brash and they out-sung and out-stomped anything “Toon Army” could muster. Newcastle were gifted an own-goal but generally were outplayed by Republic. The Ginger Pirlo did a lot of tugging on players’ arms and passing sideways. Stephen Taylor even took a direct shot to his privates (that made my night). But overall, nobody stood out as particularly dangerous.

The upshot is that despite McClaren’s braying on about how he thought training in hotter weather in Sacramento was the right choice, it didn’t make much of a difference. Newcastle are still rather useless.

And I’m tired. I’m going to bed and then returning to LA in the morning.

I have one more thing to do before I leave though. On my way out of town…

FTM? What's that mean? For the media? Follow the Mackems? Five Times  Mags? We know!
FTM? What’s that mean?
For the media? Follow the Mackems? Five Times Mags?
We know!

All those contributing to the Sunderland Out West series belong to the Sunderland SAFC North American Supporters’ Association. Check out the association’s Facebook pages at

safc nasa

2 thoughts on “Sunderland out West: an American Mackem in Toontown”

  1. You should have felt honoured Jesse , you were in the presence of the ‘ best fans in the world’ who support ‘ the worlds biggest clerb ‘ . Im relieved at least that you got through the match without witnessing a pitch invasion , another longstanding Mag tradition .Seriously though , glad that you saw through them imediately and if your worried about your encounter with the great unwashed in any way counselling is available , just call this number , 0303210110, I’m sure that will put your mind at rest !

Comments are closed.

Next Post