I Asked For It...

February 20, 2018

I asked for it. I mean, literally – and I use the word in the correct sense here – I asked for it. “Feel free to tweet me on the subject”, I said, and, yeah, that’s exactly what happened – it was disco time for my iPhone, as my twitter notifications exploded. 

 

For those that missed it – as well as those that don’t seem to get it (looking at you here, population of Tyneside) – let me run it by you one more time.

 

After tweeting a video of Lee Cattermole ‘misplacing’ a pass, and fully expecting ‘ha, your team is crap’ style abuse, I was inundated with replies – all commenting on the empty seats. And while I have no problem at all with our rivals (sit down, Boro, no one gives a shit) commenting on how crap we are – and we are, no two ways about it – I pointed out that, given how bad we’ve been (and become), any club would struggle to sell out their ground. Including Newcastle.

 

And that, right there, was my point.

 

It was a pat on the back for the Sunderland fans still turning up to the SoL, who have had to put up with so many awful, heartless, pathetic displays. Just two home wins in more than a year – horrific by anyone’s standards, but heart-breaking for a club with our proud history. And, yes, it was also a ‘do one’ for the attendance wankers (#attendancewankers), and their arrogance for thinking such a thing was impossible for them.

 

At this stage, I have to make something abundantly clear: I don’t want, expect, or think we deserve sympathy from Newcastle fans. Of course not. Mags, your hearts should remain unbroken, your pants should be well and truly pissed, and with potentially (probably) two successive relegations on the horizon for the club you hate more than anyone, well, it’s bound to be a hilarious affair. And so it should be – likewise, there’d be equal amounts of mirth on Wearside if the situation were reversed, I’m sure.

 

As I said in my original piece – we deserve all the piss-taking we get for being such an awful team, that’s part of the rivalry, and part of the fun of having a rival. We don't like each other – we’re supposed to not like each other. That’s what a derby rival is, no? But that wasn’t what I writing about.  

 

My twitter replies, though, went (and still go) on, and on, and on…  

 

It seems you cannot, ever – ever – question Newcastle’s crowds. I mean, I didn’t, their crowd is clearly huge, and that was never my point. But, wow, don’t they just love to tell the world about their big crowds? They luv it, just luv it.

 

(For clarity, they’ve never averaged less than 30k since 1994 (two years after Keegan took over), and never less than 43k since 2001, with 2001 to 2008 50k plus. From ’78 to ’94 you’re looking at early 20ks (twice 29k, their highest, and twice 16k, their lowest.)

 

Some of the replies were witty, some of them barely legible (it seems a large portion of Tyneside loves a smiley, but struggles between “your” and “you’re”), a big number referenced that plane and banner, and countless mentioned six in a row. Both of which clearly stung them. Although they seem to have forgotten about flying their own plane and banner…

 

Some bloke was outraged we’d spent money on the banner, when we should have given it “to Bradley”. A bullshit thing to say – the support for Bradley was overwhelming, from the whole of the North East – Sunderland and Newcastle fans were amazing, as were other fans too, for Bradley and little Frankie too. To even mention that lad’s name in petty nonsense like this was, frankly, disgusting. I put that down to one idiot, not Newcastle fans.

 

Lots of people went searching through my timeline – someone found some posts of me having a laugh at Newcastle’s expense (the “we’ll never be defeated” banner – “well, we managed it six times”, ho-ho). Again, again, again, no one’s saying we can’t wind each other up. At all. I was making a point about enduring attendance through crap times… *repeat to fade*.

I’d tweeted about the hideous, evil Barry Bennell. Several Mags found that, and wheeled out stuff about Adam Johnson. For fuck’s sake, point scoring with child abuse? But that’s twitter, it’s an open door to all kinds, I guess.

 

Well done to @markvickers10, who tweeted some attendance stuff (obviously), and then “Deleting my comments. Ah bairn! [Crying emoji]”, to which I replied…

 

It's Twitter. Only you can delete your own comments. The only way I could delete your tweets would be to fly to England, come round your house, wrestle you to the ground and take over your device. I dunno, that seems like a lot of work, given you're a few lines of crap and an emoji.

 

He’s since blocked me. Ah bairn irony.

 

By far and away the weirdest tweets, for me – in between the countless ‘WE GET BIG CROWDS, OH, LOOK AT OUR CROWDS, THEY’RE BIG. HUGE! CROWDS!’ and stuff about planes – were the people tweeting they want us to go bankrupt and go out of business. I just don't get that. Don't get me wrong; I dislike Newcastle a huge amount, as I’m supposed to. Like I said, that’s part of the fun. But I wouldn’t want that for them. And while I dislike derby days – they make me too nervous – I’ve thoroughly enjoyed our recent run of them. Before that, we had an awful home run of them, so surely the Mags enjoyed their time? Isn’t that the point?

 

All this talk of multi-million pound takeovers, and massive transfer investment (should Fat Mike move), could see Newcastle go one way, and Sunderland the other. And, personally, I think that would be awful. But I wouldn't want it to go the other way, either. No, really. I mean, who wants Man City Vs. Stockport? Or Liverpool Vs. Tranmere? Having a real derby (I said no, Boro) is part of the fun. As long as you don't mention the size of the crowds.

 

Because still, it continues…

 

“Your last 3 Championship campaigns returned averages of 31k, 28k & 27k”, said @NUFC_1980_1994 (not sure what that’s about? Ant & Dec’s birthdays? I’m sure he’ll tweet and tell me, he does like a tweet or nine).

 

I’d say they were good crowds for the Championship. And I think it makes the current 27k average even better, given THIS IS THE WORST SUNDERLAND SIDE OF ALL TIME.

 

It’s an average that’s better than a third of the Premier League, who get to watch much better opposition, and who, the worst of which, still have a far better team than us (see the aforementioned THIS IS THE WORST SUNDERLAND SIDE OF ALL TIME).

 

Also, as we have a big ground, we’re seen as having poor support for ‘only’ getting 27k, whereas someone like, say, Palace (24k average), are seen as plucky fighters. But are Palace ever going to double their crowd? Doubtful. Especially if they were watching THE WORST SIDE OF ALL TIME. Funny ol’ game, eh?

 

Cheers to the people that tweeted me nice comments, including a few reasonable Mags, and the odd Boro fan (odd as in number, give the lad a break). Although I’m sure this will rumble on for a bit yet.

 

And, yeah, feel free to (gulp) tweet me…

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At the back end of the 1980s, football fanzines began to sweep the country and in 1989 we were presented with a new vehicle on which to enjoy some of this ride – A Love Supreme. ALS was a place we could all go to celebrate and commiserate being a Sunderland fan. Win, lose or draw, the pages of the fanzine became solace for many of us as we stumbled our way through our day to day lives, punctuated by the ups and downs of more match days than any of us care to remember.

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