Managerless and bottom of the league, we need distraction. The poll provided one. Monsieur Salut brings news of the results so far …
‘I remember thinking how curious it was to see all these ancient buses full of supporters from Tow Law or Spennymoor or Crook. They seemed such far off places, somehow separate from Sunderland.’
That matchday memory of a Sunderland childhood was shared with me many years ago by Kate Adie, the top BBC reporter, in an interview for Wear Down South, the magazine of the London and SE branch of the Sunderland AFC Supporters’ Association.
For the young Kate, it was evidence of what we all know to be true: that the catchment area for SAFC support extends to the whole of County Durham (as well, of course, as the Tyne Valley and elsewhere in the North East). Sunderland were, and remain, the County Durham club – our gates over the years would have been a great deal lower had the fan base been confined to the city.
And that county has at its neighbours to the north and south-east Tyneside and Teesside. So it is hardly surprising that to many people, matches between Sunderland and both Newcastle and Middlesbrough were derby games.
“To many people … ” but not, for the purposes of this little spot of fun inspired by Bill Harris’s idea to test fan opinion, enough.
As I write, a clear majority of the 100+ readers who have so far responded to the poll share Bill’s view that our only derby is against Newcastle.
I still think that is illogical and changes the actual meaning of the term so that it becomes a state of mind and not a simple question of geography – we care more about the Wear-Tyne games so they’re derbies – but there it is: nearly 55 per cent disagree and, in the electoral sense, that is close to a landslide.
Update: with well over 200 votes now registered, the lead is stretching.. Two of three “other answers” don’t help me either: 1) there’s always been a Tyne tees wear tees derby; 2) Leeds; 3) it’s their derby not ours.
See how the debate began by clicking on Jake’s match image:
I shall leave the poll open until tomorrow, ie until the dust settles on whatever happens later at the Riverside.
If the voting pattern remains pretty much unchanged, I shall congratulate Bill on winning a fair fight and try to avoid scoring points by referring him to the Boro fan who said the only true derby games were between clubs from the same city so that not even Wear-Tyne matches qualify.
Who knows? The compilers of dictionaries may even be willing to change the definition of “derby” to take account of the Salut! Sunderland vote.
Catch all the non-derby build=up at ….