The first Tyne-Wear derby of the season is fast approaching and despite several arrests during recent fixtures, Northumbria Police have announced that Sunderland fans will be able to make their own way to St James’ park and will not be marched there by the police, much to the dismay of both Newcastle and Sunderland fans alike.
The announcement was made on Twitter yesterday and instantly received a flood of criticism from locals…
— Mark (@SnedNE25) December 10, 2014
@northumbriapol good luck, it's gunna be chaos!! It's gunna come back to bite you on the arse
— Liam (@LiamCostello95) December 10, 2014
@northumbriapol absolutely crazy,who ever made this decision should be sacked when it all kicks off, it will, just takes one idiot.
— Stephen Willis (@wincywoo2) December 10, 2014
Chief Superintendent Steve Neill has the unenviable task of policing the Derby and the upcoming game will be his tenth in charge.
His new approach is to give the derby ‘back to the fans’ and he hopes that with the fixture being so close to Christmas that fans will be in a festive mood and all the excitement for the match will be present without any of the disorder that has occurred during recent fixtures between the two North-East rivals.
He also hopes that the generosity shown by many Sunderland fans following the death of John Alder and Liam Sweeney will be the catalyst to build a new relationship between the two clubs based on mutual respect.
A Tyne-Wear derby without any controversial incidents would be welcomed by the majority of Newcastle and Sunderland fans but this fixture is one of the most fiercely contested in club football and although the majority of fans are there for the right reasons, many are not.
Newcastle’s 3-0 loss at home to Sunderland in 2013 received a lot of media attention, not only because of the surprising scoreline, but more so because of the disorder that followed afterwards, including the infamous ‘horse-punch’ from Newcastle supporter, Barry Rogerson.
The video below highlights the chaos that followed this match and includes footage of the disgraceful behaviour by Mr. Rogerson who was subsequently jailed for 12 months for the incident and banned from attending any UK football matches for 6 years.
After watching the video it is easy to understand why so many people are surprised and unhappy with the idea of not escorting the away fans to and from the stadium on match day especially as it will be one of the busiest days of the year in Newcastle for Christmas shoppers.
Let’s all hope it works out.