Football – it’s a funny old game. It divides friends, families and communities, but also brings them all together as well.
I am a Sunderland fan and have been for 30 years or so, my older brother on the other hand is a Newcastle fan. People often ask why I support Sunderland (Gods Children) when my brother supports Newcastle (great unwashed). Here is the tale from my viewpoint.
I was born in Gateshead, my Dad (also born inGateshead) supports Sunderland but also as was quite common ventured to St James Park to watch football. My brother, most of his friends, and indeed most of my friends are Newcastle supporters as well. So why Sunderland is the question?
As younger brothers do they are influenced by their older siblings in what they do and how they act from an early age. So it would seem a right of passage that I would become a Newcastle fan. And I must admit when I was young I liked Newcastle, I even had a hand me down Newcastle top (another thing that happens to younger brothers). My friends at school were mostly Newcastle fans bar 2, one of which‘s dad was good friends with my dad and he also happened to work for Sunderland. So the influence of Sunderland started to creep into my life.
I remember my first Sunderland game was on a Tuesday night at Roker Park against Wolves ,which was a birthday treat (some may disagree) and the vivid memory of this was Peter Daniel of Wolves looking quite scary with his big beard and hair. Funny how things stick in your mind. After that, and more through my dads friend and with my best friend at the time, I visited Roker Park for every home game I could, but as well as that I did also go to St James Park quite regularly as well, as football became more and more influential in my life.
So it transpired as you get a little older (not long after my birthday) and I had to make a definitive choice and after weighing up the pros and cons, Sunderland became my team. My brother may have a different slant on this tale but that is my reason. It is not as if I was born in Sunderlandand to be honest if my dad hadn’t taken to me to see Wolves (and the scary Peter Daniel, sorry Peter) it would have been likely I would have followed in my brother’s footsteps and became a “Mag”.
Since then as our bonds with our respective teams have strengthened, so our rivalry has deepened. However derby day is a day when we avoid contact for several hours as is the case with a lot of my close Newcastle supporting friends, it may be some form of mutual respect that has developed between us or the fact that if you gloat it invariably comes back to bite you somewhere along the line (normally very quickly in our case).
We both have been known to write the odd article in a fanzine or two about our respective teams and Barry for one got some ribbing off his pals when I did a piece for Seventy3 magazine, the retroS underland fanzine, about the glorious 1973 cup final. The problem was that my brother got the credit through a name printing error. I saw the funny side but not so sure Barry has quite lived that down yet.
editor ~ Sorry Tony, we have now fired that particular proof reader to avoid any such blushes for your family again. You made the right choice in the end, Haway the lads!!