Rivalry is a historic occurrence, it’s existed from the moment man realised there were others around him – and the beautiful game reflects that. Football is mapped, marred and moved by derbies, whether that be inter-city or between neighbouring teams. As many as there are, however, very few can claim to be a match for the stripes of the North East.
Now, in the more distant of recent times, Sunderland haven’t endured much success. There was – of course – the crippling misery of the 5-1, soon to be followed by Ryan Taylor over the wall. Awful stuff, for us at least.
But keep the clock ticking from there, and we get to happier times. Six consecutive wins which saw elation and optimism hitherto scarce in encounters with our dear friends up the road, and whilst that streak came to an end – recent events have given us more bragging rights than ever.
No prizes for guessing, but I’m talking about the defeat of Everton. A match that simply meant one thing: turning over the toffees would give us the final nail to drive into Newcastle’s coffin – sealing relegation for them.
And yet, now that it’s done, there seems to be a cloud of moral ambiguity blowing in from Tyneside. Celebration of triumph over our rivals is, seemingly, something that we shouldn’t be doing. This message is summarised in one singular insult – "obsessed".
Any fan of Newcastle who talks the game to friends or colleagues outside of the North East will emphasise the significance of their footballing feud with Sunderland, the atmosphere, the players, the historical context of it, the lot.
Surely, if this same passion is to be consistent, us relegating them should simply be a chapter in this age-old rivalry. But instead, when the Sunderland fans are vocal of their victory, they’re to be shunned?
No, I don’t think so. Flying planes over St. James and slinging banners over the Tyne Bridge is an expression of passion for one of football’s most passionate rivalries. For Newcastle fans to claim moral high ground by labeling us as petty is to deny the vivacity of such a fierce contest between two very big clubs.
It’s not obsession of Newcastle, its dedication to Sunderland.
This being said, I don’t condemn Newcastle fans for believing what they want to believe, I’m simply stating that obsessed is a term thrown around so often and so easily that it’s lost it’s meaning in football.
If Newcastle were the ones relegating us, I’m sure there’d be an article defending their alleged obsession, too.