If there’s one game that every Sunderland fan looks out for at the start of the season, it is the Wear-Tyne derby. This weekend, friendships and relationships are put on hold as one of the fiercest rivalries in English football commences.
For us Black Cats fans, we dream of making it six in a row against our bitter rivals. The build-up to derby day is filled with a rollercoaster of emotions. These emotions usually kick in early in the week when videos of previous derbies begin to emerge on social media.
The morning of derby day is when the mixture of nerves and excitement kick in. For both sets of fans, the day tends to begin in the pub. Some people have rituals they must abide to such as a fry-up or, as one of my friends does, iron their “lucky jeans” and put that item of clothing on last.
The match itself is a fiery affair. Crunching tackles are met with roars from the fans and an injury to a Newcastle player briefly offers a small piece of satisfaction to the Sunderland fans. There is simply no better feeling than seeing a match-winning goal that sends our fans into raptures. The hairs on the back of my neck stand up just thinking about Adam Johnson’s last minute winner at St James’, or Jermain Defoe’s wonder goal last year.
The last time Newcastle beat Sunderland was in August 2011 and, if I’m honest, I’ve forgotten what it feels like to get beaten after winning the previous five matches. This is what makes me worry the most about the possibility of a defeat on Sunday. There is no worse feeling than watching the away end celebrate, especially a black and white one.
Going into the game, it must be said that Newcastle are the favourites after gaining a major boost by scoring six goals against Norwich last weekend. They will be full of confidence and could cause a lot of problems for our back four through Georginio Wijnaldum and Aleksandar Mitrovic. One saving grace for Sunderland is that Steve McClaren’s side did concede two easily avoidable goals and their back four looked very shaky at times.
A lot of people also keep mentioning how Sunderland are in poor form going into the derby, and therefore don’t stand a hope of getting a result. However, if you look back, when have Sunderland ever been in form going into a derby? Hopefully Big Sam can emulate Paolo Di Canio, Gus Poyet and Dick Advocaat and get another win over the Magpies in just his second game in charge. I can only hope this incredible stat continues.
The return of Jeremain Lens will be a welcome one to all Sunderland fans as he is one of few players in our team that looks able to create something from nothing. He can assist goals as well as score them.
Another key player could be Fabio Borini. The Italian went down in Sunderland folklore after a bullet of a winner against Newcastle in October 2013. He then went on to score another in the 3-0 win in 2014. He is lacking that match fitness at the moment, but hopefully on Sunday we will be seeing the famous “knife between the teeth” celebration.
Derby day in the North East really makes you realise that football is more than just a game in these parts. It is a major part of your life and nothing is better than clinching bragging rights for another half season over your bitter rivals!