Sunderland versus Newcastle is one of the most renowned derbies in English football.
The rivalry between the two sets of fans is crazy, extreme and, let’s face it, a little bit mental (mostly in a good way!). The derby which will take place on Bank Holiday Sunday is causing great concern as the kick off time is 4pm and despite the police’s best efforts, the Premier League are refusing to move the time.
So, why is a 4pm kick off such a bad idea? The simple answer is alcohol.
Many fans love to have a drink before they go to matches and a late kick-off means more drinking time – especially on a bank holiday when they have got the Monday off, too. One of the other concerns is that after the problems and aggravated crowds at last weekend’s game at the Stadium of Light, things may kick off again.
Sunderland fans are less than happy about their current position in the league as they sit just one point above the relegation zone. The crowd disturbances and the fans trying to storm the dugout during their 4-0 home loss to Aston Villa were blamed on drunken supporters, so if things haven’t gotten any better since then, it could get even worse.
Northumbria Police raised objections to a later kick off time earlier in the year, hoping for a lunch time fixture, as they generally do not cause as much issues amongst fans because the pubs haven’t been opened as long. These opinions were ignored by the Premier League and Sky Sports.
But previous fixtures have also shown that earlier kick offs do not always make things any better. In April 2013, violence erupted on the streets of Newcastle after a midday game between the two rivals.
All-in-all, I am not sure the kick off time is a good idea. I agree that whilst the police will always do their best job at the match and around the ground it is usually in the city centre where the trouble happens. When fans start to drink excessively before or after the games that’s when the anger and disruption usually occurs.
It is bound to happen, especially with the trouble Sunderland are in – their fans are bound to be more angry and have more pent up energy. No matter what time the kick off is in the Tyne Wear derby, it will always be one for the passionate fans.
All fans of any team want to win a derby and while the fans in the North East come out as more passionate, that is the be all and end all. The just want to win.
There will always be a bit of trouble no matter what time the match starts, the most important thing is that the officials have enough time to plan to stop as much trouble as possible.