WHAT better way to begin this weekly (or should that be weakly) drivel than by looking ahead to derby day.
Some supporters of both persuasions would have you believe that Sunderland versus Newcastle United is the biggest game in the known football universe.
It ain’t, not by a long shot.
Have the two sides met in cup finals, semi-finals or title deciders? Nope.
Can the average football follower from outside the area remember the result of the two clashes last season? Unlikely.
Sunderland versus Newcastle is merely the biggest game around these parts.
Mind, never mind the rest of the nation, countless Black Cats’ fans also choose to blot out recent derby scores.
Four wins in 30 games spanning 32 years is a disgraceful record which the law of averages suggests is going to begin evening out at some point.
There are, after all, only so many free-kick winners that the likes of Liam O’Brien, Scott Sellars, Emre and Ryan Taylor can score.
My hunch is that the best a disjointed Newcastle can hope for is a low-scoring draw.
So it will be an early Sunderland lead before the home side retreat into their typically cautious shell instead of going for the jugular.
Cue Shola “The Mackem Slayer” Ameobi to rise from his wheelchair and deflect an equaliser in with his tartan rug or walking stick.
Many a fan of both sides would secretly settle for that outcome now.
- Gavin Ledwith