Football FanCast columnist Chris Mackin reflects on Saturday’s derby where the dark side of football reared its ugly head and not just in the stadium.
Credit then to Sunderland's players, who performed with verve, pace and commitment and thoroughly deserved their win. Newcastle United fans may take time to reflect on what might have happened had Jonas and Barton came on sooner, but any such talk will not be an effort to mitigate the result. That Joe Kinnear took the same cowardly attitude to a game at The Stadium of Light as Alladyce before him will nag every one of our last nerves, but that is our problem, not Sunderland's.
Slightly less credit to Sunderland's supporters, who handled themselves with all the dignity and style of a losing Big Brother contestant falling asleep on the train and missing their connection.
Due to work commitments meaning I missed the buses and a kind offer of a lift, I spent the morning drinking in Sunderland city centre. And the annals of football hooligan history will indeed attest that I ‘took' the Londonderry, giving it large in the far corner talking quietly to Sunderland supporting friends and feeling sick.
I was doing my good natured best to not judge because, hey, we're all people right? Such romantic notions, though, do tend to dissipate when the ghastly woman next to you takes time out of hocking up phlegm to join in with the latest sick rendition of "I'd rather be a ***** than a Mag".
This hatred of Newcastle United is so firmly ingrained, such a marked part of the Sunderland supporter's psyche, that it manifests itself in horrible ugly racism like this; or in the scenes after their winner when two cretins confronted our goalkeeper; or in the coins and bottle thrown at Barton. Or the embarrassing pitch invasion at the end- embarrassing, not in a ‘state of the modern game way', but embarrassing for them. I mean, really, what was that? Who invades the pitch at the end of narrow home win in the league? It led the bloke behind me to wistfully wonder aloud "what are they like?"
It's a good question and one that has beaten even history's most noted thinkers. What, exactly, are Sunderland fans like? Here are a group of supporters who feel so affronted by a footballer from a competing football team doing squat thrusts on the touchline that they respond with ten pen pieces and Lucozade bottles.
And even the ones not channelling their demented hatred through the medium of soft drink containers and small change can't escape this gormless fixation for another football team and their supporters: ‘We Always Win 2-1' T-Shirts on sale now, sir, yours for twelve pounds, posting and packaging and a large slice of your dignity. And while your at it make sure you search ‘Kitkat celebrates' on Youtube and see if you can get past thirty seconds without cringing to death.
It's bizarre, truly baffling, and whilst we can laugh at the morons producing the T-Shirts and posting the video blogs, it's all part of the same mentality, the same creepy obsession that results in what happened yesterday at the second goal and the final whistle. The same mentality which will eventually result in blanket bans on away fans at all derby games in the North East as Newcastle fans look a bit wide eyed and confused, lamenting being stuck with idiots like these as rivals and wondering why we couldn't have a set of fans cool, funny and intelligent to match our wits with.