Elsewhere, we have made our apologies to mayfly larvae and other forms of pond life feeling insulted at comparison with the Newcastle United ‘fans’ who rampaged through the city centre after their team lost a football game, as their fathers perhaps did before them when Toon suffered reverses. Jake notes that the yobs made it on to the nine o’clock Spanish news. And Pete Sixsmith, while reporting on the Under 21s’ defeat by Blackburn Rovers, worries about the safety of any horse with a Geordie accent should results go badly this coming weekend …
The day after the lunchtime before and here we are with 350 other hardy souls at Eppleton CW to watch the Under 21 squads of two seriously underachieving teams do battle. It is rumoured that this is to be the last Under 21 game at Eppleton due to the Premier League decreeing that the dressing rooms are not up to scratch. Poor lambs, having to get stripped in inadequate changing facilities. Good job they have never played at Cockfield!
The Hetton Irregulars are all there, with smiles and beams and a tale to tell from derby day. Keith Scott had gone bird watching to avoid the result, was called by his son at 2pm and thought he was being duped.
Much discussion about how and why we were able to win. Most thought that it was a combination of a fresh approach and more open tactics. The fact that we defended higher up was made and also that our central midfield, allegedly the weak link according to Newcastle fans, was able to snuff out the totally ineffective Tiote and the struggling Cabaye.
One wag said that the quickest he moved all afternoon was when he sprinted over to Howard Webb to persuade him to send off Danny Rose.
A collection was made on behalf of the RSPCA to aid Bud, the West Yorkshire police horse, walloped by the Newcastle fan post match. Every time I see the picture I giggle. My sympathies are with the horse.
Talking of Howard Webb, last night’s referee was a pot model of him: shaved head, imposing way of carrying himself, crap decisions. Like all modern refs and their assistants, he felt it necessary to say “Don’t foul” to the players. Assistants are worse; they are so busy telling players what to do that they end up five yards behind the back line. Are they instructed to do this or has it crept in at the whim of referees? I think we should be told.
It ended up 2-0 to Rovers and a deserved win it was. Our Under 21s are about as far Under 21 as you can get, with very few over the age of 18. A good number of 19 and 20-year-olds have been released and Craig Liddle’s Under 18s have filled the gap.
Our most experienced player was Ryan Noble who, two years ago, was being touted as a possible first team player. Alas, this was probably his final appearance in front of a Sunderland crowd as he has been told he will be released at the end of the season.
He did little here to change anyone’s mind. On three occasions in the first half, he was presented with chances that, a couple of years ago, he would have gobbled up. Here, he was fractionally too late to get his shot in or hit the keeper or put it into the Hetton Centre.
Mikael Mandron and Jordan Laidler, bench warmers on Sunday, also played. Laidler was neat and tidy while Mandron showed some very good touches with head and foot and he may well be close to a first team game if the league position is all done and dusted before the end of the season.
The impressive Anton Forrester and the £2m Jordan Slew scored the goals, the second one coming after an uncharacteristic error by Jordan Pickford. His kicking out was excellent throughout and he set Noble up twice in the first half with accurate kicks. He has done well in his last two loans at Darlington and Alfreton and could be another contender next season – although he will not displace the excellent Simon Mignolet.
So, the dust settles on the derby and we look forward to Everton’s visit on Saturday. Should we win and Newcastle lose at West Brom, we will be above them. Horses all over Tyneside will be tuned in to the radio on Saturday afternoon.