Soapbox: after the party

Soapbox

Opinions vary on the apportioning of blame for the minor outbreak of trouble on the pitch after Saturday’s stirring win against the Mags. The most intelligent and balanced assessments – and these, it could be argued, are the ones not found so far in many corners of the press – put blame on both sets of fans, and on the club and police for not being more alert to the possibility of a pitch invasion. The same rational accounts also note that the numbers involved, and the numbers arrested, were negligible bearing in mind the near-48,000 attendance. Now Pete Sixsmith has his say…

Well, we’ve had a couple of days to get used to being top dogs in the North East and my, doesn’t it feel good?

Mags are staying in their houses and refusing to face the world and the fact that they are in serious, serious trouble at the wrong (right) end of the table and that a failure to defeat West Brom tonight will leave them in a critical if not yet terminal situation.

I spent an enjoyable half hour yesterday trawlimg their websites and came to the conclusion that they are in serious denial. The general consensus from them is that losing a derby game is no big deal and that if you have to celebrate as if you have won the European Cup you must be a pretty sad bunch.

There is a smidgeon of the truth in that, but it fails to explain why derby wins from the dark side have been celebrated as if they had won the European Cup etc. This, I believe, is a classic case of refusing to face up to the realities of the situation.

A doctor writes: “When something unpleasant happens, the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, the realisation that you have to applaud Joey Barton, our defence mechanisms kick in and we end up denying that which has happened.
We can deal with this by becoming unnecessarily aggressive and attack those who have hurt us by throwing red and white plastic seats at them. Another way is by refusing to accept that what has happened has happened and continue to wear a bar code shirt even if we are on the verge of becoming the circus that nobody wants. It can also be dealt with by remaining indoors and withdrawing so much into ourselves that we become paranoid and believe that every journalist in the country has an agenda against us (see True-faith.co.uk passim) or, and this is the hardest choice the weeping Mags have to make, face the reality of the situation and accept that our nearest rivals are far superior in every department. And that one, as any counsellor or psychotherapist will tell you, is very difficult for any rational human being to make, let alone a twisty, moaning Mag.”

The coverage of the “riot” at the end has taken some of the gloss off the win. Newspapers pander to peoples whims and prejudices and journalists will often write about what their editors want them to. Hence, much of the coverage in Monday’s papers concentrated on an idiotic but relatively minor pitch invasion and the fact that 29 people had been arrested.

We now find that only 11 of those arrests were inside the stadium, that the rest took place before and after the game and that those arrested were Neanderthals from both sides. Yet to read some accounts, this was the return of 1980’s style hooliganism and that the infamous Millwall riot at Luton paled into insignificance when compared with this one.

I’m not condoning what happened, but it has to be accepted that on derby day, we don’t like them and they don’t like us. There is a feeling of hostility and unpleasantness that pervades the whole affair and I have been known to hurl the odd insult their way myself. But it would be grossly unfair for the scuffling at the end to disguise the fact that Sunderland won, that Newcastle were second best and that maybe, just maybe, the power base of North East football is swinging away from the banks of the Tyne to the mouth of the Wear. Wouldn’t that be nice?

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