It’s no mean feat for a football club to overturn a decision after being petitioned by humble football supporters but when two football clubs come together to make that decision then something rather special has just happened.
So, (deep breath, try and be all grown up and that), a massive well-done to the people at both clubs but especially, Sunderland AFC for their decision to scrap the Bubble transport arrangements for the forthcoming derby.
Issuing that joint statement, which is absolutely scathing of Northumbria Police, can’t have been easy, but it was absolutely the right thing to do. Please take the time to read that statement carefully and come to some conclusions about what is being said about Northumbria Police.
Put a pint in my hand and I might describe Northumbria Police’s actions differently but for the purposes of this medium, let’s just say, in my opinion, they have been disingenuous at best.
That is a kind assessment of their role in this in my opinion. Their statements that they have no powers to determine the kick offs of matches is well, technically true but omits the pressure they have been bringing on the Premier League and both Newcastle United and Sunderland AFC in the selection of kick off times for our games against each other.
Their mistake has been to attempt to hang Sunderland AFC out to dry with regards to the allocation of blame for the Bubble trip but reading this it seems both clubs have grown weary of seeing high profile and equally if not more volatile fixtures than the NE derby (West Ham/Millwall, Liverpool/Man Utd, Old Firm etc.) kick off at a variety of times (and earn money from television) whilst our bumpkin Polis has behaved as though every single football supporter in the NE is a mad-eyed, frenzied Visigoth from whom the citizenry of our region needs to be protected.
What they forget is that WE are the citizenry of this region and they are our public servants and not our masters.
While I am of such an unusually generous disposition may I congratulate Kevin Miles and his team at the Football Supporters Federation for co-ordinating the vital opposition to this latest attempted restriction of the civil liberties of football supporters! If you aren’t amember of the FSF, you should be. Click here.
Similarly, may I thank our comrades at The Mag, nufc.com and the Newcastle United Supporters Trust for falling so firmly, quickly and emphatically behind this opposition with us!
Likewise, (gulp) may I also point to the role played by a selection of Sunderland fanzines, message-boards, websites and podcasts including A Love Supreme, Seventy Three, Roker Report, Ready To Go and Wise Men Say. They made their case eloquently and passionately and to be fair they were listened to by their club. To be fair, they listened to us as well, which is pretty astonishing really.
That’s not to suggest this derby game is without its issues. It remains the most volatile on both clubs’ fixture cards. I’m not going to suggest we will ever be marching up to SJP arm in arm with them and I don’t want any of the passion taken from this game. Further, I reserve the right to take the piss, wind them up and revel in their many and hopefully continuing misfortunes. I’d expect nothing less in return. But as far as wanting to kill each other, nah …
But if I had one message to give to Commissioner Vera Baird and the Northumbria Police, it’s this:
WATCHING FOOTBALL IS NOT A CRIME!
That Is All.