Is Middlesbrough vs Sunderland a derby or just a match between teams not that far apart geographically?
Monsieur Salut writes: it is a simple enough if inconsequential issue. I think it is a derby, Bill Harris – an SAFC stalwart, Salut! Sunderland reader and occasional Guess the Score winner – is adamant it is not.
Before giving the platform to Bill – this poll was his idea – I shall try to reproduce the debate as it proceeded on the imperfect debating ground of Twitter.
It started like this:
It’s not a derby, the two teams are not local to each other
— Bill (@bill_hadd50) November 3, 2017
M Salut: tell that to fans of Lyon and St Etienne, or Southampton/Pompey/ countless others … your definition also rules out several of the games between London clubs
Bill: they are close rivalries, but they can’t be local derbies unless their fans live, work and socialise with each other, concept of local derby
M Salut: a short hop along the A19, in a region where a whole county’s historically SAFC catchment, & no one meets oppo fans at work or socially?
Bill: fans don’t call Boro v Sunderland a derby, just the media.
M Salut: yes let’s blame the media for pretty much everything, including dictionary definitions (“two teams from the same area” – argue against that)
Bill: they are not the same area, they even have different local radio stations.
M Salut: that’s the narrowest notion of ‘same area’ I’ve come across. The French definition is ‘towns under 100km apart’. Doubtless the media’s fault … not to mention that you’ve now excluded Wear-Tyne as a derby
Bill: this isn’t France, most people in the NE consider anywhere below Scotch Corner to be the Deep South. Let fans decide
Ending like this:
Go on then, Bill, and we’ll have a poll. Your words though: “they even have different local radio stations” … mmm.
— Colin Randall (@salutsunderland) November 3, 2017
That’s our exchange in a nutshell. I say the (English as well as French) dictionary definitions make it clear a derby is between clubs based fairly close to each other. Sunderland and Middlesbrough are just under 30 miles apart. Sunderland and Newcastle are under 11 miles apart. But, to take another of Bill’s criteria, there are different radio stations for each side of the Wear-Tyne divide. Not caring as much about playing Boro is not the same as saying it’s not a derby.
Here is how Bill sees it:
Many Sunderland and Newcastle fans live in the same area, town, village even street as each other, they work for the same companies.
People from Sunderland work in Newcastle and vice versa. People from Sunderland will often go for a night out in Newcastle.
This everyday interaction is a vital component of a local derby. This does not happen between Sunderland and Middlesbrough. Very few Boro fans, if any, work in Sunderland and vice versa. People from Sunderland do not routinely go to Middlesbrough for a night out – it’s too far away.
Nobody considers Liverpool or Everton versus Man City or United as local derbies, yet the distance between Liverpool and Manchester is roughly the same as the distance to Middlesbrough.
Radio Newcastle extensively covers, and provides live commentary on, all Sunderland and Newcastle matches, but not Middlesbrough. Why? Because Middlesbrough are covered by a different local radio station as they are in a different local radio area.
The term Derby is shortened from Local Derby and there is a limit to how far “local” can be stretched otherwise we will be including Leeds, Hull Carlisle etc as derbies and derbies will cease to be something special.
Over to the Salut! Sunderland jury. Vote above … you can write in your own alternative answer but unfortunately, this doesn’t show when readers check the results. I will publish them here in due course. And do bear in mind that the results include the votes of any Boro fans or neutrals who participate.
* and while you’re on, here is the Salut! Sunderland build-up to derby – or mere encounter between teams with close rivalries
Or just use this look to the home page and browse at leisure …