Wow, what a match! Probably the most exciting football match I’ve been to over the first half, in fact the most exciting of any sports events!
As this was going to be the last chance for me to get to a Sunderland vs Newcastle derby match, I was really wanting to experience the passion and atmosphere of this match and it didn’t dissappoint! We were in the 3rd row in the south west corner, about 20 yards from the Newcastle fans filling the entire south stand. Actually, we followed their convoy of buses in and I’ve never seen such a sight! At least 40 buses with a full police escort including helicopter! Must have been expecting trouble.
After 32 minutes of Sunderland being the better team, the unthinkable happened – Justin Hoyte scoring to put us 1-0 up. Certainly silenced the Newcastle fans. Things had actually been quite light hearted, with a lot of chanting back + forth between the supporters, but nothing too serious. Football was pretty good all through the first half, with even the Newcastle team + supporters admitting Sunderland were the better team. Of course, it didn’t stop the Newcastle fans waving sings of “Murray In” as a wind-up for pretty every Sunderland supporter wanting current chairman, Bob Murray, out of the club.
All changed in the second half though. A good opening 10 minutes quickly turned to farce as the defence was caught completely off guard with Chopra coming on as a substitute for Newcastle, running straight on to a long free kick, and putting the ball into the back of the net.
The Newcastle supporters went ballistic. Gone was the friendliness, and out came swearing + abuse. Out of nowhere, scores of police arrived to prevent the rush of Sunderland fans trying to get at the Newcastle supporters. As all this was still being cleared up and the swearing back + forth continued, we turned to see the referee pointing at the spot, signalling a penalty to Newcastle barely a minute after their first goal. Sure enough, Shearer stepped up and finally scored a goal in a Sunderland vs Newcastle derby.
Madness followed, with dozens of fans plowing down the steps and clambering over seats. Perhaps we didn’t have the best seats in the ground. It took almost 10 minutes to clear everyone back to their seats, in which time Newcastle managed to score yet another mickey mouse goal with the defence completely hapless and Davis in goal without a clue. Most fans gave up and trudged back to their seats or off home.
A final Newcastle goal within the last 10 minutes didn’t cause many problems with most Sunderland supporters past caring. Again, it was another terrible goal to give away. From the elation of the first half where we at least got to watch some passion and pride from the Sunderland players, we were left watching a mess in red + white shirts. How on earth this team has managed to go to Old Trafford last Friday and hold Manchester United to a 0-0 draw, hold Tottenham to a 1-1 draw at home a couple of months ago, and push Chelsea before losing 2-1 in January, then just go to pieces completely like this is unreal.
Losing in a derby match is always difficult, but an embarassment like this really is tough to take. As pretty all the match correspondents have said, with great repsect to Newcastle, they didn’t win, Sunderland lost. Made you feel like the changes the Newcastle fans had obviously made along the road to the stadium feel quite correct.