Martin O’Neill at Sunderland – A Geordie’s View!

Posted on January 12th, 2012 | 59 Comments |

Tyne and Mackemland.
Sympathy for the Devil?
I think Sunderland signing Martin O’Neill as their new manager is one of the most significant events to happen in the North-East recently.

Of course there is massive rivalry between Newcastle and Sunderland, so it takes a lot for a Newcastle fan to say something like that. But rivalry and competition manifest themselves in every walk of life.  Being better than others at school, in your job, sibling rivalry at home, my car’s faster than your car, my dad’s bigger than your dad – the examples are endless. It’s part of life and something we have to deal with every day.

When it comes to football however, rivalry can often get out of hand to the point of bigotry and violence. “Local Derby” rivalry has existed since football began, and no matter what anyone says, there is no bigger derby and no bigger rivalry in football than that between Newcastle United and Sunderland. The rivalry between the two modern-day cities can be traced back to the 1600s and linked to them supporting different sides in the English civil war! But sometimes it’s important to remember that these days it’s mainly about football, and whether we like it or not, there are bigger issues in life and basically people are pretty much the same wherever they come from.

Growing up as a Newcastle United fan I was told by the older lads around me that Sunderland were “the enemy”, somehow inferior to us and we needed to beat them on and off the football field every time we met. In my early teens, being fed this sort of stuff, I became a bit bigoted about them, something I’m not particularly proud of today. The problem with having that shoved at you from an early age is that the messages stay with us, either consciously or subconsciously, and can influence our thinking as we (hopefully) mature and enter adulthood. The point about being an adult though, actually one of the things which separates us from the animal kingdom, is our ability to use reason.

When I left school and started work years ago, for the first time I worked alongside people who actually came from and supported Sunderland. This was a new experience for me – I’d never met and mixed with anyone from “that place” to any great degree before, but I found that they were mostly canny people just like us! Contrary to what I’d been told, they didn’t seem to eat babies after all, they just ate chips at the canteen like the rest of us and being a young lad I couldn’t help noticing that some of the lasses were quite bonny! I also learned that they were just as passionate about their football team as I was about mine.

The other thing I learned at quite an early age is that the North East of England always has a fight on it’s hands to be recognised and given credit on the national UK stage. The government is a long way away in London and our perception is that it doesn’t always seem to care about our issues or problems. There are also lots of people, for example politicians and folk in the media only too willing to take every opportunity to put us down and stereotype us. So it’s great when our region does something positive and shows that we’re just as good as anyone else.

That’s one of the reasons why I was actually very pleased recently when Sunderland managed to get Martin O’Neill in place of “Agent Bruce”. Whenever a manager is sacked at a big-ish club, and the media interview fans about who they would like to see take over, it’s not surprising that the words “we’d like Martin O’Neill” tend to come out. Why? Because O’Neill is one of those rare football managers who is capable of breathing life into an ailing club wherever he goes. He has a track record of success, turning things around and winning. He’s what the americans would call “The Real Deal”. If you don’t know much about the man, you can check out his achievements on Wikipedia

So why would I, as a Newcastle United fan, be pleased with Sunderland’s capture of a truly top-class manager? Basically, because It will be good for the region, my region. It means Sunderland will get their act together – actually Martin O’Neill has already had a series of cracking results since he joined them in December. The North East with two teams in the top ten, or top 6 even, would be much more interesting for all of us in terms of our local rivalry – and would help put the region on the national map.

I know many United fans won’t agree with me but personally I’d rather see both Newcastle United and Sunderland up there at the top of the Premier League than teams (and their crowing fans) from London, Liverpool or Manchester. When we were 3rd and 4th in the Premier League for a long time earlier this season, the media were making a point of actively ignoring us. The “let’s have a look at the top of the Premiership” discussions would talk about the teams above and below us and we became “Invisible United”. When we did get mentioned on the odd occasion it was to write us off – “yes but they haven’t played anybody yet”. I got just as annoyed as anybody else about that treatment, but it was just another symptom of the way the North East is treated in general.

That’s why I was well chuffed when a Martin O’Neill inspired Sunderland beat moneybags Manchester City 1-0 and this was followed up by Newcastle United stuffing Man U 3-0 (see…I managed to mention that one more time!). Sound of jaws hitting the floor in the Sky studio. Results like that stick it to the folk who dare to write us off, as individual clubs or as a region. I want to see more results like that from both clubs. I hope Martin O’Neill does a great job at Sunderland, I’m sure he will. I hope the North East has two teams near the top of the Premier League in the next few years, and they both regularly beat the media’s so-called “big teams”.

I also hope we stuff Sunderland at St James’ Park on March 3rd – Just to remind them who’s the best!


NUFCBlog Author: UTD111 UTD111 has written 59 articles on this blog.

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59 Responses

  1. Great article, I as a Sunderland fan love my club but I work in Newcastle and have many friends who support the old enemy. I totally agree with the point of seeing both teams doing well, however we all want our respective north east team to be slightly better than the other. Healthy rivalry and healthy banter is the way it should be!

  2. Such bi-partisan thinking may even allow “Agent Bruce” to come out of hiding and walk openly in either city.

  3. I spent many hours inside the belly of the beast, Joker Park, when I was a bairn, and I ran around with the real FA Cup thanks to them (I pretended I was Supermac though). I also met Stokoe (Geordie), Porterfield, Kerr and all that lot. My best mate at school was a Mackem and his dad was a director at Sunderland.

    I do firmly believe that if you get a Mackem at the right stage, give them a bath and educate them, then they can eventually take their place amongst decent society. Controversial I know but I have seen it woth my own eyes.

    Only joking Mackems! ;-)

  4. The better Sunderland are the more Newcastle have to keep improving to stay ahead, so is really good.

    Plus would be good to see a competitive derby again!

  5. Nice article. I am a Sunderland fan and always would like to see us ‘get one over’ the mags. However, I must admit to a genuine appreciation of Newcastle ever since the days when Keegan was manager (the first time). The type of football they played was some of the most exciting I ever saw. Watching them beat ManU was especially thrilling a few years ago.
    When I left the area for the USA I met a Newcastle fan here locally and we got on very well. It was like meeting someone from ‘home’. All the best NUFC (except when you play us of course!)

  6. I’m a Sunderland fan and agree with this, u was told the same growing up that Geordies have 12 toes and one have a use as “cannon fodder”, but as all true football fans (not these plastic manc’s or cockney wannabe’s that pop up when a clubs doing well) the first thing I look at, at the start of the season is for the derby days, there is no other atmosphere like it. Not at old Trafford, anfield or even wembley.

    It’s great for north east football when teams are doing well, and when u have a manager who is or will become a true great in the game (ie Bobby Robson) let’s hope both clubs keep pushing each other so we can progress.

  7. Well said. As a Sunderland fan of 50+ years we used to go to NUFC every other Saturday when our lot were away. Bobby Charlton I believe did the reverse.
    Good friendly rivallry is what it’s all about – or should be

  8. Oooh it’s like Christmas 1914 when “Tommy” and “Fritz” put aside hostilties, shook hands, smirked tabs together and had a game of football, which is nice!

    Welcome Mackems!

  9. Thanks for a really good article. I have been a Sunderland fan for 60 years, and was introduced to all this inter-club/city stuff by lads who worked in Newcastle (Exchange Buildings under the Tyne Bridge). We did the SJP / RP thing week on week as a group. The banter was great, always funny, sometimes harsh – but NEVER savage or with hatred.

    I would welcome those days back.

    The stronger NE football is the more the country will be forced to acknowledge us. So REAL football fans will become more visible.

    Lets hope the Boro can join us next year.
    … and also that the Mags will one day rise to our level of civilisation.

  10. sirjasontoon says:
    January 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    “Good to see Wallsend on the Map.”

    We used to call it “Segedunum” back in my day SJT.

    Johnain says:
    January 12, 2012 at 7:44 pm

    ” … and also that the Mags will one day rise to our level of civilisation.”

    Touché Johnain.

    I have to admit you’ve got some of us Geordies worried with this O’Neill gadgie and that American’s wallet, which tends to open more easily than Mike Ashley’s.

  11. Awww, let’s have a group hug!

    …and let me know when we’re passing around the peace pipe!

    Seriously, good blog. Who says nobody thinks before they write on teh webz?!

  12. Fabulous article, however I have a feeling a few of your brotheren from the darkside are a touch worried about the outcome at the ( giggle ) Sportsdirect Arena Football Club on the 3rd of March. By the way kicked your arses back in the 1600s too.

  13. brian S says: As a Sunderland fan of 50+ years we used to go to NUFC every other Saturday when our lot were away – same here mate, NUFC of 60+, even wore my B&W scarf without a problem, mind you I had to watch where I stood at derby games

  14. What a well balanced and accurate article. Totally agree that it would be great for both teams to be challenging the so called top six. I have to say that I have more faith in our Chairman and Sir Niall that I would in Mr Ashley who insulted Geordies everywhere with his pitiful renaming of the stadium.
    Roll on March 3rd and please god aka Mr O’Neill let it be us celebrating this time.

  15. Speaking as a mackem who works with a lot of magpies I find this article absolutely spot on, it’s amazing when your younger to see that the ‘ enemy’ have so much in common with yourself. Possessions run high when it comes to football in gods country but outside of football we find we have so much in common, why not? As for the south ignoring the north, again, spot on, we really do need both teams in the top six to make them take notice. Show them that manchester is not the real north, it’s actually the midlands!! Great points made..

  16. Lyle says:
    January 12, 2012 at 8:40 pm

    “A Geordies view my arse!”

    Lyle, without a possessive apostrophe there, you’re saying that Geordies view your arse. ;-)

    I can confirm that UTD111 is a Geordie, he has a view, therefore it’s “a Geordie’s view.”

  17. Very mag-nanimous & extremely brave article UTD111.

    I spend quality time with a mackem, all the way down here in the ‘big bad’, top bloke. Though he still won’t even entertain the idea of hooking up to watch the derbies, after several years association. I knew that first time i asked what he was deein’ for the match & he didn’t answer…Ah! OK then! Nee sweat like.
    There seems to be some unwritten/unspoken ‘rule’ about not mentioning the ‘war’.

  18. CLiNT FLiCK says:

    January 12, 2012 at 10:35 pm

    “I spend quality time with a mackem, all the way down here in the ‘big bad’, top bloke.”

    Clint, I thought you were going to confess that you were in a “mixed marriage” there until you mentioned “top bloke”. Bowburn was, he broke down and confessed on here that his missus was born in an “SR” postcode. :-)

  19. Notice you didnt mention Boro. Bridge too far? lol. I work with a Mackem and it’s true they are just like you and me. Mine even likes football. Just kidding. He doesn’t really.

  20. Fletch says: “manchester is not the real north, it’s actually the midlands” – I’d accept Leeds as north midlands !

  21. whilst i realise they are humans i also believe in darwins idea of evolution and sunderland fans are just under the grime growing under a blue square premier league seat.. in terms of evolution. despite the legs, arms and ability to talk. possibly just gutted MoN is manager now :S xx

  22. Fulwell Black Cat says: I have more faith in our Chairman and Sir Niall that I would in Mr Ashley who insulted Geordies everywhere with his pitiful renaming of the stadium
    – yes mate, you win hands down in that department – and probably a better manager, but time will tell

  23. Supermac says:
    January 12, 2012 at 11:05 pm

    “and probably a better manager, but time will tell”

    How much time Supermac? They’ve both been at it for a while now.

  24. worky,


    Na, no marriage for me mate, been there, done that etc.
    ‘Don’t fix what ain’t broke’.

  25. Good for you Geordie.
    I’ve lived in Whickham for more than 50 years and as a Sunderland supporter have seen the vitriol increase ridiculously over the last few years.
    The worst ones it would seem never even go to games, it’s just an inbred hatred.
    I have many long standing friends who are mags through and through and the best ones are those who, whilst keeping up friendly rivalry, recognise that we are all part of the football community and wish it to continue.
    There are bigoted idiots on both sides who are simply, er, idiots.

  26. worky – I mean Pardew v O’Neil – who will prove the best over next 12 months? I would not bet against O’Neil.

  27. SAFCwhickham – when I was a lad nobody had a car and you went everywhere by bus. From Ryton we could get to Whickham on the Whickham Flier (later taken over by Northern) but no further. But we could get to Newcastle by United or Venture bus – which is presumably why all us Durham lads (yes Durham not bloody Tyne & Wear) only ever considered supporting NUFC.

  28. What – some sense at last? I am from the generation that would go to RP one week and SJP the next. Although Sunderland was my 1st love when I moved to London aged 18 it was the NE v the rest of the world. I was always pro NE and against the rest. There were those who thought my accent was Irish? East Anglian? Welsh? Scots? Foreign? I maintain that attitude. After years away I have moved back and live in a place which is 40% Mackem, 40% Mag and 20% Smoggies. (I discount any other team except Darlo and Pools!) Let’s celebrate the banter and vive la difference but let’s knock the bigotry on the head.

    Ha’way The Lads!

  29. re: AP v MON-It’s hard not to see the mackems doing well under O’Neill. Every time he’s been given some money he’s done well, and he wouldn’t have joined if there was nothing to spend.

  30. What a woderfully written and refreshing article. This lad is talking a lot of sense. It would be the best thing that could happen to the region if both clubs were battling it out at the top. For decades it seems that the fortunes of each club have waxed and waned almost at the same time in completely opposite directions. This has accounted for the region being ignored by the media and if this were to change then there would be enormous benefits, and not just in football terms for the region. It would help in a lot of other aspects of life too. As a life long Sunderland supporter it’s a long time since I agreed with anything that a Mag has to say, but I can take few issues with this. Great article!

  31. Good sensible comments

    As a passionate NUFC fan I get amazed at how far some people will take their dislike beyond Rivalry.

    Not healthy

  32. What a pleasure to read such sensible and pleasant comments about our respective clubs from both sides. However I do feel that these are the views of the sensible minority. You just have to go to a derby to witness the mass hatred and vitriol that is on display from both sets of fans. I suspect that most of the posters on here are of a ‘mature’ age, as it does seem to be the younger ones that display the real hatred, which is symptomatic of the intolerant modern society. Is it just immaturity or is it really a rather sad indictment of what living in todays world means?

  33. Great Article, I was brought up in South Shields, so it was quite mixed but was still fed on all that shite at an early age at RP.

    I joined the Army at 17 and was amazed when you meet Newcastle fans who are so much like us, passionate, loyal and a strong desire to succeed.

    23 years on and when we played 2 seasons ago and lost 5-1 I had me and 3 other newcastle fans in my house (deep down i was gutted), but we got pissed after that and had a laugh.

    Some of my best mates are mags and its great to have some quality North East banter.

    We still hold the record though 9-1 !!!!

  34. Very good article mate. Praise where its due. Its not often you get good sensible debate, on both sides, but this puts it all in perspective. The North East is a fantastio region with fantastic people.

  35. Folks
    Thanks for the positive comments and feedback!
    It’s good to know there are others out there who can see the wider picture and appreciate our region.
    To be honest, I half expected to get a load of flak for my views! (and that might still happen yet LOL!)
    How does that advert on the telly go? “What a refreshing change”!

  36. Lovely piece and I think it encompasses what many of each sides fans feel about the other. I sometimes prefer it when Newcastle have someone like Allardyce or Souness as manager because it is very easy to have a go at them – Joe Kinnear was a wonderful appointment from that perspective – but Robson and Hughton were such good men that it was impossible to have a go at them.
    I don’t like Pardew (his loyalty is questionable and he sais some very unpleasant things when he dragged West Ham out of the Championship on our coat tails a few years ago) but he is a good organiser and a good coach. It even seems that Mike Ashley is doing things the right way, although the capacity for doing a George Reynolds is never far away.
    Both clubs are different and have different images; Sunderland have always had a touch of class about them, with two far superior stadiums, while Newcastle havehad the brashness and populism that goes with being a big city club.
    Both sides to finish in the top 10 this season. Sunderland 9th, Newcastle 10th..

  37. Haha!
    Well done Pete – there’s a few wild statements in there for us to have a go at…
    This “touch of class” you mention, can I just say I hope you don’t mean your liking Greggs pasties – cos they come from Gosforth LOL!

  38. Worky Ticket if you look at the comment again “A Geordies view my arse” you will see the A at the start of the sentence refers to singular not plural and as far as the positive apostrophe goes I’m positive where I’d like to stick it.By the way workyticket is two words Worky Ticket.

  39. Great article, one of the most interesting articles I have read in a long time and agree with all of your comments. The North East has to start taking over this country and besides in many many years London will be under water anyway!. SAFC fan that works with Geordies and Mackems.

  40. Respect to you Mag marra.
    I live in Melb, Australia for the past 36 years,Sunderland born, ex youth player & supporter till I die…
    Your article suggests a real sensible view, no need for the cracker jack stuff, rivalry absolutley, We are better than you absolutley….however I have spoken your words to mates for years.
    I take my hat of to you along with the fact that Newcastle via Pardew have/are playing very good football.
    The wonderful Nth East with football teams making good news via success is probably the greatest way to acheive
    respect for ALL Makems & Geordies alike, who we are & who were those past,
    Vs the rest of ” Down South “…….
    Away the lads.

  41. On ya Woffy, good sensible debate it is !
    Hendo arrives on Feb 11th for a few days in Melb.
    All the best, Keith.

  42. Nice article filled with good sense and who knows the mags MAY ACTUALLY FINISH ABOVE SUNDERLAND THIS TIME FOR THE FIRST TIME IN FOUR YEARS. You may even deserve to with the fighting spirit that you have shown this season.

    I have always argued that if all the north east clubs do well it benefits us and football in the region as whole. I just wish the relationships between fans on the footballing terraces were as adult as those at Rugby matches where the banter between fans mixing together is so good it enhances the enjoyment of a game and then there would be no limit on numbers attending from visiting clubs. Too much to hope for I know but why is it Rugby Neanderthals have more inclination to drink together rather than fight.

  43. Agree with you athedley be great though if both clubs could be in the top five every season could we see both sets of fans together like Everton and liverpool do.Cant see it but the banter at work is always agood laugh.In the late seventies as a young mag all my mates were mackems and when newcastle played I always went in the Roker End with them and never saw any bother wasnt until the eighties things kicked off.Anyway good to see some decent Red n Whites on here but boy are there some bitter people on that SMB Football Forum good laugh though.Roll on the derby.

  44. This is all manufactured rot. In my day real “football” suupporters attended either a Newcastle or a Sunderland game. They went there because they liked football regardless of the colour of the stripes.

  45. Totally agree, I said much the same thing a few days ago, didn’t get much response then though.

    I was initially a Gateshead supporter, it’ll be great when they get into the EPL. Be a conundrum who to support then, although as someone might point out it aint the Heed of Redheugh park days.

  46. Why are some so up the arse of Sunderland? It’s just another town (sorry toon). It’s like Birmingham hating Villa.

    Oh, sorry, they do.

    Which is what matters.

  47. Great article. I hope some of the SAFC websites see it and finally start toning down some of the puerile anti NUFC stuff they write. SAFC and NUFC are two of the greatest clubs in England and the fans are quite happy to work, drink and support England together! We have a common enemy in the media and the middle aged fans of so called big clubs from London and the NW who patronise us and have no idea how many major trophies we have won between us. I am a Sunderland fan who has worked in Newcastle and been reluctantly dragged along with work mates to some midweek NUFC matches. The clubs and fans are remarkably similar – we even sing most of the same songs (with slightly different words). Anything that reduces the ignorant hatred between us is to be welcomed. Here’s to both our clubs finishing in the top eight this season.