by • January 3, 2014 • NewsComments (10)2027

We’d heard a rumour just before Christmas that the derby game at St James’ Park on Buses1/Feb/14 would be declared a “bubble” trip by Northumbria Police i.e. only those Sunderland fans getting buses to the match would be issued with tickets for the game.

That has now been confirmed as true. See link here. 

Now, it ill befits this fanzine to stand up for Sunderland supporters but on this occasion we will explicitly state absolutely unambiguously that this decision is completely wrong. It is a grotesque inhibition of civil liberties, has ramifications for our own trips to Sunderland (okay, I know there’s a good chance they’ll be relegated this season but stay with me on this one) and furthermore it won’t work.

There is absolutely no way anyone can coral Sunderland fans attending the game back onto buses AFTER the match. I don’t need to remind you that all of the trouble (grossly exaggerated by the media) occurred AFTER the game finished last April. I am sure a sizeable proportion of Sunderland supporters will simply say no to getting back on the bus and decide the Metro / Train is easier to get back to where-ever it is they come from. I can’t say I’d blame any law-abiding Sunderland fan for standing up for the human rights they don’t hand in just because they have gone to a football match.

As well as the restrictions placed upon civil liberties, this is also wholly inconvenient for ordinary football supporters, many of whom live well away from Sunderland, where I expect the buses will leave from.

There is also the statement made by Sunderland AFC which is all spin and no substance. I am sure Sunderland fans intending to travel to St James’ Park who object to the “bubble” trip will be interested to know the identities of the “fans groups” who have been consulted as well as their explanations. Likewise, I’ll be interested in learning of the role (if any) provided by Newcastle United’s Supporters Liaison Officer and the Fans Forum in coming to a decision which I am going to guess the majority of away-day travellers at Sunderland as well as Newcastle United will strongly object to.

Of course, the excuse for this action will be it is in response to the scenes at the last derby at St James’ Park. I do not recall any other area of public life where the many are punished for the sins of the few such as represented by this draconian action. The disorder after last April’s game was caused by and large AFTER the game by people who had mostly NOT been to the match. The trouble was mostly also not caused by Sunderland fans travelling to and from the game. Yet it is long-standing Sunderland fans (and we’ll be next) who face being punished for idiots who do not attend matches.

This is the wrong action, targeting the wrong people and it will have the wrong outcome.

Then there is the role of Northumbria Police. Our Police Service always seem to struggle with policing this high profile fixture in a way that doesn’t appear to be the case in London, Birmingham, Manchester, Liverpool and Glasgow where local derby fixtures are equally, if not more volatile than our own little local difficulty.

I am interested in the role, if any played by Northumbria Police’s Commissioner, Vera Baird, who appears to have forgotten she is accountable to local people rather than her own officers.

So, what can be done?

Well, both sets of supporters have to come together to present a unified opposition to this worrying development and hopefully that is what will happen.  


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10 Responses to BUBBLE AND SQUEAK #1

  1. Steven Mitchell says:

    Absolutely spot on Michael and well said. I think this is an absolute disgrace, and fail to see how it would have helped back in April, when a load of tossers who hadn’t even been to the game fancied smashing up their own city like a bunch of bell ends.
    Frankly, normally I couldn’t give a shit about them lot down the road but in this instance we agould stand together as it has ramifications for us all, not being allowed to choose how we travel to a football match? A joke.
    Can also virtually guarantee, especially in the case of a home win, this will cause many many more problems than it solves. Be very interesting to know which ‘supporter, groups backed this idea.

  2. Pat Hughes says:

    I also agree with all that is said. Whilst measures should be taken to make sure everyone has a good safe time, the proposed ‘bubble wrapping’ is an insult to true and proper fans. I’ve long felt that the powers given to police during the miners strikes still lurk and are applied to football matches and travelling fans – a long-standing thatcher legacy and proof of her abuse of power.

  3. dave hetherington says:

    we live in a nanny state now,so this doesn’t surprise me at all,the police and governing bodies getting it wrong again,it’s wrong in so many ways.

  4. Mark Wilson says:

    Very good piece.

    I’m an exiled Sunderland fan. Many good mates support Newcastle. We’re looking at ways for Sunderland and Newcastle fans to join forces. There is a sensible thread here on our message board. I hope we can stop the bubble happening for both sets of fans.


  5. andrew safc says:

    The fact that we all agree on this shows how ridiculous it is.

    Our ‘supporters liaison’ officer said that he hopes it can be a success.

    Well as an SAFC season ticket holder living in London, it has been a resounding failure to me as i am now unable to attend a football match that i was looking forward to (kind of…).

    They’re inability to do their job is an embarrassment to the region.

    • about time SAFC’s Supporters Liaison Officer did some proper liaising rather than talk to himself in the mirror. I’d be interested in hearing what ours has got to say as well.

  6. Phil jobson says:

    Not sure this action is legal in euro-union. I challenged Bruges police statement last season which created much back-pedalling. Suggest local and euro-mps are contacted on legality of this. Free movement of people etc.

  7. STEPHEN says:

    What’s all the fuss about ? up until about 4 years ago they didn’t come over on the train anyway.

  8. mikey says:

    Great article. I think refusing to get back on the buses by Sunderland fans would be a very direct and successful way to refuse to be treated like animals.

    Walk up to the police, hands by your side, tell them yore going to make your own way home and you refuse to be forced onto a bus against your will. If enough of yous do it, it’ll work. Make sure you get it all on film, divven’t kick off and then sue the bastards for false imprisonment of they physically force you onto the bus.

    Never trust the police with my ‘safety’ like. Their PR has changed but their view of ordinary working class football fans has never changed. No other group of people in the country can have basic liberties suspended at the drop of a hat like this.

    We need united action.

    Another idea would be to get hundreds of both Newcastle and Sunderland fans to walk up to the match together and demand the mackems get let in.

    Never forget Hillsborough. They are not on our side.

  9. STEPHEN says:

    Mikey, a couple of years ago sunderland fans took great delight in telling anyone who would listen that they were able to breach the police lines in their escort from the Central Station at will and “ran Newcastle/kicked Newcastle all over the place” .They smash the Metro’s up on the way over, attack Newcastle fans on the platforms on route, i could go on.Suddenly they are bloody hard done too angels. I do not agree with ‘bubbling’ but lets not get too carried away here about ‘us’ walking up to the ground together and having a bloody love in. Quite a percentage of their 2,800 or whatever that come over here are up for lets say mischief (ditto when we go over there our support are no angels and will try to get away with as much disorder as possible).This is all a huge argument. I’ll leave you with this – and playing devils advocate – have you witnessed the Police operation and astronomical numbers of officers, vehicle’s, horses,dogs that are deployed on Derby Day because of the anomosity that exists between the two groups ? Could the money that this all costs not be better spent going towards maybe saving one life at the RVI.