the state of being obsessed with someone or something an idea or thought that continually preoccupies or intrudes on a
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.
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.’
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 Sunderland’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-Newcastle. 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 during 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.
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