true faith : SUMMER BLOGS No.9

by • July 14, 2016 • tf blogsComments (11)2627

Obsession

noun

the state of being obsessed with someone or something an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a
person’s mind

Are the Mackems ‘Obsessed’ with Newcastle United?

Do we preoccupy them more than would be considered that of standard football rivalry?

Last weekend I went for a few jars in town, meeting up with a few mates who I’ve known since my University days. There were four of us, myself included, which made for two Newcastle fans, one Spurs, and one Sunderland fan.

I brought up the topic of Newcastle’s new recruits, what with us having just announced the signings of Sels, Gayle and Ritchie earlier that week.


The conversation went as expected, with Mr Spurs dismissing all three new recruits and Mr Sunderland holding huge Mackems4doubts as to the ability of Dwight Gayle.

Not a lot you can really judge from this in my opinion. I mean; as football fans we automatically enter into a football discussion with our own club’s ideals at the forefront of our thinking. Having finished so close to winning the Premier League last season it would seem only natural that the majority of Spurs fans would rubbish the likes of an
unknown (in England) goalkeeper, and two players who played in the top division but weren’t considered world-class.

And Mr Sunderland’s admission that he thought Gayle wasn’t ‘up to much’ came across as nothing more than basic unbiased football opinion – considering the season Defoe has just had then you can see where he’s getting his frame of reference.

But just then, my fellow Newcastle fan decided to challenge said Mackem’s beliefs.

She argued that for Sunderland fans; their main objective is to see Newcastle fail. That they care more about Newcastle’s ‘suffering’ than they do their own team’s ‘success.’

This was instantly dismissed as absolute nonsense by Mr Sunderland, and at least with him this much is true. Having known him for going-on 15 years I can tell you immediately that although he’s unfortunate enough to be an SAFC fan, he’s not what we believe to be a stereotypical ‘Mackem.’

And for the majority of Sunderland fans I’ve met, this has to be true. It’s a thin line between heated local rivalry and what Mackems5Newcastle fans deem to be obsessive behaviour from our neighbours.

To dissect recent examples; the last game of last season where we gave Spurs a hammering. Sunderland fans, having watched their team win mid-week and in doing so seal our relegation to the championship as a result, took it upon themselves to rent a small plane and fly it over St James’ park, trailing a banner which read “Auf Wiedersehen
Prem…Tyne to go”. A stunt which was first witnessed back in April 2015 during another home match against Spurs where this time the banner read: “5 in a row”.

Can these actions be deemed as ‘obsessive’? Or are they elaborate ways to poke fun at the position their staunch rivals find themselves in? Yes; it is rather elaborate. A certain degree of expense has been spared in renting a plane and creating a 30ft banner. Ironically I would imagine that the plane most likely took off and landed at Newcastle airport, but that’s neither here nor there.

It’s obvious that a section of the Sunderland fan base do take a high degree of satisfaction out of Newcastle’s recent demise. But is this only natural? And just how many fans would have realistically pooled their resources in paying for the plane and the banner? I wouldn’t imagine it was anymore than a handful of blokes looking for some praise from the fellow fans whilst happily digging at their rivals in the process. So can we tar all Sunderland fans with the same brush as those
who took in upon themselves to pull these two stunts? I can’t see how we can.

The same applies to the Newcastle ‘fans’ that Sky Sports wheel out in front of the camera’s whenever anything of note comes from St James’ park. The same blokes time and time again who stand there in the latest Newcastle home top and proceed to talk out of their arse for a 10 second sound bite, where the rest of the country sits there laughing, and the rest of the Newcastle fan base sit with their head in their hands thinking ‘not again’.

Are these Newcastle fans representative of the views of the entire fan base? No. And for this reason, a small minority of Sunderland fans flying a plane over our ground can’t be representative of theirs.

During one of Ireland’s games at the Euro’s a photo had been taken and uploaded onto the Facebook page for one of the Mackems2Sunderland’s fanzines. In the photo were three blokes (presumably Irish fans) stood behind the Irish tricolour flag, on which was emblazoned in large black letters; “F T M”.

To attend a European tournament, as Irish fans, yet still show your hatred for your local rivals at domestic level could be deemed obsessive. Actually, no. It’s not obsessive, it’s idiotic. Not only have they deemed it necessary to display their hatred for rival fans above their allegiance to their own, but it’s at an International tournament where they’ve alienating their own fan base in the process. The whole point was to get behind Ireland surely, not to mention the face that doubtless there would have been several Newcastle United supporters within their own crowd that day.

However, do the idiotic few reflect the views of many? How many were in that photo? Three daft blokes. Are we foolish enough to believe that these three attention seekers stand for the views of 40,000 more?

It could also be argued that the flag itself was most likely used during Sunderland home matches, and given that it’s one of the Irish flag it would make some sense to take it to the Irish games, albeit with ‘F T M’ adorned on it.

And so for the ‘F T M’ trend that really taken off over the last few years. It seems to feature most heavily on social media, with many Mackems taking it upon themselves to include it in their twitter profile, or after every post they write on Facebook.

#FTM instead of a full stop.

Speaking from my own personal experiences, I’m always quick to bite when I see or hear something which is anti-Mackems3Newcastle. It’s only natural surely? Your ear is drawn to someone’s conversation. What’s he saying about Newcastle? What’s this here that’s mentioning Newcastle in a derogatory way?

I think as Newcastle fans we’re naturally drawn to these #FTM posts as we known hat the three letters suggest. It’s likely that we see them on social media and remember almost every instance that they occurred.

But do rival fans of other clubs not expedience similar behaviour?

Celtic and Rangers fans for example? Liverpool and Everton? Arsenal and Spurs? To be honest I don’t know, and that’s because I’m not automatically drawn to it. I’m not involved with any of those other rivalries and Newcastle are the only club I care about.

I couldn’t write a piece like this if I didn’t mention what seems to be the usual argument to explain what some Newcastle fans believe as the origins of this ‘obsessive’ behaviour – the two cities.

The city of Newcastle, the darling of the North, forever in the public eye, with photos of the Tyne Bridge lit up at night, St James’ Park the backdrop to the city, the glitz and the glamour of Grey Street and the Diamond Strip, not to mention the common knowledge that many Sunderland AFC players live and socialise within the city of Newcastle.

It stands to reason that this lends itself to a certain degree of animosity with sections of the Sunderland fan base. It would be easy to assume that those living within the poorer Suburbs of Sunderland would develop a hatred to that which reflects what they don’t experience.

Tales of money and wealth are a million miles away to some ‘dole-walla’ living in Hendon. And with that breads a certain degree of jealousy and animosity – It’s not difficult to see why.

I remember years ago I once went out on a date with a Mackem lass. We met in Newcastle for drinks and at some point Mackems6during the night the matter of football was brought up. She was a fairly passionate Sunderland fan and attended most home games if I remember correctly. But the thing that sticks with me from that night, and the reason I’m bringing this story up, is that she seemed to have a real chip on her shoulder about Newcastle United. She said that the fans were arrogant. Above our station. That we looked down on Sunderland and their fan-base.

I therefore assumed that this opinion was fashioned simply through her own impression of the apparent difference between the two cities. That as a result of Newcastle city itself being more developed, prosperous and well known throughout the country that Newcastle fans deemed themselves superior as a result?

Did she believe I thought myself superior to her? There was no second date (my doing) so I never go to find that out. But the point stands.

I’ve never seen said Mackem lass since that date night, but we have one or two mutual friends on Facebook. And this was how I found out she had donated to the Liam Sweeney and John Alder cause many years later.

So this Mackem lass. This stereotypical Sunderland fan who, if we were naive enough, we would believe reflects the entire opinion of the Sunderland fan-base, took it upon herself to donate to a Newcastle United cause. And lets not forget, so did thousands of others.

So what am I saying here? That they’re obsessed and riddled with hatred but innately generous with their cash?

Well not every Sunderland fan donated to the Sweeney/Alder cause did they? And that’s my point. That for every circumstance of anti-Newcastle, of ‘FTM’, however they chose to display their rivalry towards NUFC, those individual actions are that of a small minority whose feelings towards a rival, no matter how deeply set they are within that person, do not reflect those of all Sunderland fans.

I believe that the letters #FTM which have become most representative of Sunderland’s rivalry with ourselves are no more that – basic level football rivalry.

 

LUKE ANDERSON 

 

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11 Responses to true faith : SUMMER BLOGS No.9

  1. Joe Hawkins says:

    Rivalry, Banter, Etc… is one thing but it is true that our friends from along the road definitely pre-coccupy themselves with matters Newcastle United !
    You only have to visit their website “Ready To Go” to see the evidence right before your eyes.
    Every time Newcastle play there are threads started that can sometimes run into 50 pages or more which would not happen on a Newcastle board or forum.

    You always get the sense that it is to the detriment of their own team and you wonder what they could achieve if they only channelled that into supporting Sunderland.
    A lot of it is utterly childish and bordering on the absurd when people’s judgement is clouded by absolute hatred !

    Last season when Advocaat was manager Wijnaldum’s name was mentioned for Sunderland before he eventually signed for Newcastle and a thread started the day before with fans saying how good a player he was.
    30 odd pages later it was announced that he was on his way to Newcastle the train of thought suddenly changed and he became a terrible player in seconds.
    Even some of their regulars had to get the growing baying mob to calm down accusing them of a meltdown.

    Personally that is the difference between the two sets of fans with Newcastle fans always being optimistic and Sunderland fans always being doom and gloom !
    That is where the whole deluded Newcasdtle fan thing comes from with them thinking any kind of optimism or ambition should not happen in the North East.
    The consensus a mong Sundetland fans is that we up here should know our place and not get above our station.

    Sunderland fans would obviously disagree but you only have to look back in history to first “The English Civil War” and then “The Jacobite Rebellion.”
    Their jealously towards Newcastle and it’s Royal Coal Charter are the catalyst for this and it has never ended until this day with other stories of Geordie oppression against them.
    Their hatred even made them traitor their own countrymen with their siding with the Scots during “The Jacobite Rebellion.”

    Even to this day they cite conspiracies against them which include “Tyne & Wear Corporation” bias towards Newcastle, Tyne-Tees Television, Look North etc which is given the name “Mag-Media.”
    The problem is there was no Tyne & Wear Corporation when the likes of Dobson and Grainger were around designing buildings.
    It doesn’t stop them though with their every Geordie on the street is responsible for keeping them down.

    Some daft idiot from Newcastle decided to do a pathetic ditty titled “Ooh We’re Geordies” on You Tube which was cringe worthy but all of Sunderland thought the whole of Newcastle wrote the song with the now put down “Yiz Just Divvent Understand.”

    Yes it is fair to say the illogical, Childish, Petty hatred comes from their side masking a deep inferiority complex which continually bubbles to the surface !

  2. Jack says:

    Is this article it’s self not in some way showing that we are obsessed with them too i mean we all ways bang on about this.

  3. Gordon Yates says:

    Look North is anything but ‘Mag Media’! That living cadaver who is in charge of the football news is clearly a Sunderland supporter. Their reporting gives the impression of a very strained duty to have ‘balance’, but there’s no leaning towards Newcastle at all, whereas the leaning towards Sunderland (and also Boro) does come through.

    On the general point of the article, I’ve always found Sunderland fans to be a little too interested in Newcastle United. A mate of mine is a Mackem. He’s bringing up his kid to say anti-Newcastle things while at the same time purporting to be an open minded, politically correct liberal on Facebook.

  4. Colin Mccabe says:

    As a Dublin based Irish NUFC fan that was over at the Euro’s and travels to the majority of Irish away games I can tell you that those boys are definitely in the miniscule minority.

    Cringe really.

  5. Jarra mick says:

    Joe they were right about Winjaldum though.

  6. SteveP says:

    In my experience, I only ever seem to encounter problems with those that don’t go to the match, or those that go so infrequently it isn’t any ‘support’ of consequence.
    The ftm thing also seems to be for the majority of those that again, don’t go to games.
    As with all clubs though, there will be knackas that do go to games and are stupid enough to be obsessed by us and use the ftm thing.
    A new tv deal comes into play this season, giving every club in the Premier League at least £100 Million, they’ve signed nobody yet, but see fit to comment on every aspect of the players we’ve brought in so far and numerous posts about us getting over excited because we beat an Irish team 6-0 and reminding us that were in the Championship.
    If I were a sunderland fan, I think that yes, it would have me thinking about the impact of those new players for that club, but more pressing would be the inactivity by my own club, a team that yet again survived relegation by the skin of its teeth and simply cannot continue in the same vein, aiming for 17th, because as NUFC have proved twice in 7 years, it catches up with you eventually

  7. Andy says:

    I recently asked a Sunderland fan that if Newcastle United had been West Brom or Stoke, would last season have been a success?

    Scraping by and avoiding another relegation by the the skins of their teeth. 40k plus crowds every week and a long history to just avoid relegation?

    He eventually conceded that I was right and it was just the fact it was is they sent down that added a fake gloss over the season. Fair play to him for that.

    Playing the long game (maybe only one season) could see a Newcastle reborn and a new proper structure in place with a first class manager leap frogging them. Sunderland surviving has once again meant they won’t change annoying. Better still relegating us has made them complacent. I look forward to 10 months time….

    • SteveP says:

      Most of the turning points in our recent history have been a result of sunderland inadvertently doing us a favour.
      If we’d beaten them in the 1990 playoff, that team would never have stayed up and we’d not have got Keegan.
      If wed beaten them in the downpour, we’d not have got Bobby Robson and had we stayed up last season, the Ashley blueprint would have continued (not that I believe sunderland beating Everton sent us down, we weren’t good enough to survive on our own over 38 games)