Previewing the Tyne-Wear derby for ESPN, I mentioned the decision by Northumbria police to treat the game with a less jittery approach to security.
Am I being too cynical in wondering whether the logical outcome, given the sad existence of their horse-punchers and our own minority of not-so-peaceable followers, is that it’ll be back to the ring of steel next time?
But for the preview, I went along as far as I could with the more positive outlook.
Here’s an extract. The full piece appears at http://www.espnfc.com/club/sunderland/366/blog/post/2205231/another-draw-would-suit-sunderland-in-derby Have your say.
… as Tyne-Wear derby day approaches, there have for once been conciliatory murmurings. Everyone knows some hotheads, supporters of either side, will be as intent as ever on causing trouble.
Even so, Northumbria police say they will adopt a relatively ‘softly, softly’ approach. In the words of a report in The Guardian, the force has decided to drop formal escorts for visiting fans, protective road closures and the dispiriting sight of away supporters being matched by officers to the stadium.
If this reflects a welcome new sense of proportion, it is one born of tragedy. A rare display of mutual solidarity and camaraderie appeared in the aftermath of the crash of flight MH17 over Ukraine in July. Two Newcastle supporters, John Alder and Liam Sweeney, on their way to watch their team in preseason action in New Zealand, were among the dead and Sunderland fans nobly raised 22,000 pounds pounds to honour their memory.
Was this a one-off gesture that will be forgotten as soon as match day arrives or has one awful event changed the nature of the Tyne-Wear derby? Time will quickly tell.
Catch all the derby day build-up by going to the home page – https://safc.blog – and navigating from there to Guess the Score and Who are You?