Newcastle vs Sunderland: do we fret more than we care?

With thanks to Canny Folk

We know how important Sunday’s Tyne-Wear derby is to most of us and them. But hand on heart, how much do we think it matters to neutrals?

Two comments have struck me this week.

Chris Makin, a Manchester lad who enjoyed his time with SAFC, seemed to hit the nail on the head with his tweet: “Don’t like showing the North East Derby on Sky do they? Why is that? Great fixture!”

So yes, it does matter (if Chris and ESPN’s views reflect public opinion)…

But then I remembered a second comment which challenged my assumptions on how even the opposing fans see these encounters. It ran like this:

“I don’t really like derby matches, I have to be honest. I know the atmosphere is good, and it’s the only time each season you get to sing “Wee’s Keys Are These?” all all that. And, if you win it’s, like, THE GREATEST DAY EVER. But it really is a ‘so much at stake’ thing. I mean, I work in an office three-quarters full of the other lot, I know the true cost of defeat on a highly personal level. I tend to have the attitude of just wanting to get them out of the way, have two 1-1 draws and then get on the rest of the season. Because, as we all know, our players are complete gits and never do what we expect of them. If we could actually trust them then Derby Day would be the highlight of the season. But, we all know that we can’t.”


The speaker
was Keith Topping and he didn’t use the phrase “the other lot”. He referred to “Macks”, meaning us. Keith, a North-eastern broadcaster and author of more than 40 books, is a Newcastle supporter and he made the comment in response to a question in one of last season’s Wear-Tyne “Who are You?”s, in fact the Tyne-Wear one so a result like 5-1 may well have altered his view.



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But he is not alone.

I introduced his remarks in a thread at the Blackcats email loop with these words of my own: “Not sure if it is a function of age, but I worry about these games more than I look forward to them.”

The thread betrayed much nervousness and varying degrees of optimism.

Sample phrases:

nervous in Melbourne

nervous. But it’s 50/50

my levels of optimism/pessimism are fluctuating. Wish we hadn’t been so dismal last weekend

at least MON is now in charge. I now firmly believe Bruce couldn’t or wouldn’t, and therefore didn’t convey to the team, how much he wanted to win the game

would have given up the ghost already if it were still Bruce. I just think we don’t handle the pressure as well as the Mags do in these games. That’s my biggest worry, and at the FoD they seem to make it more intimidating for us than we do for them at the SOL

all of the derbies under Bruce were characterised by a lack of fighting spirit as well as an inability to turn it on when required on the day

if MON is the manager we think he is, then he must get a decent performance out of his players”; “I hate these games. On hot bricks for a week now. By the time it gets to kick off, I may be wearing adult nappies. Uneasy feeling in the pit of the stomach … any sort of draw will do me. A win would be fantastic. Probably a sick note needed Monday though

how much is it to ask that we just come out and do a professional job and play at the best of our ability? (I mean like we should do this every week, but we don’t, but you’d think they could when it really matters)

this is the one away game/season I opt out of because of (a) the vile atmosphere and (b) the post match policing but I’ll be just as internally wrenched as if I was there. And it’s a bit too early in the day for a brandy

I absolutely hate watching the derbies. It’s that agonising decision, do I watch it and be ecstatic when/if we win, varying emotions depending on who scores last with the draw, or utter despair when/if we lose (again!)

Over to the overnight jury …

Monsieur Salut
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1 thought on “Newcastle vs Sunderland: do we fret more than we care?”

  1. I live n work in Newcastle and have very little interaction with safc supporters and generally have good memories of the derbies, so my outlook should be different, but it’s not. I hate them and would take two draws every time. Despite the joy of the 5-1 memories and of a number of free kicks sailing in, I know a defeat will spoil my summer holidays

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