The derby day countdown begins

Posted by Marc Duffy

Julian Finney/Getty ImagesNewcastle supporters hope the misery of their Sunderland counterparts continue following this weekend's derby.

The first North East derby of the season takes place on Sunday and the countdown is well underway.

As soon as the two clubs' weekend fixtures drew to a close, with Sunderland on the receiving end of a 4-0 thrashing at Swansea, talk turned to the derby.

Newcastle fans took to Twitter with the hashtag #CelebrityHowManyPointsDoSunderlandHave -- Numerous photographs of celebrities holding up a single finger.

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Sunderland supporters took to their biggest online fanzine to dream up songs to taunt their rivals with on the day -- most of these were about horse punching or willing a nasty end to Steven Taylor, with none about their beloved football club.

Meanwhile, both sets of supporters point fingers at the each other arguing over which group is the most obsessed.

I myself even managed to get into a petty squabble about the merits of Newcastle as a city over Sunderland. I should have known better -- there is no comparison and I'm sure even the Wearside resident knows that himself.

At this stage, things are mostly light hearted. The tension and heat will increase as the week goes on until it reaches fever-pitch by Sunday afternoon.

The trip to the Stadium of Light is always an interesting one for Newcastle supporters. The majority take the official club buses down to Wearside and in that way you don't really see too many home fans until you are inside of the stadium.

Another alternative method of transport is the Metro train system. The police made changes last year meaning that even this route manages to keep the rival supporters apart -- the biggest risk to the travelling fans utilising the Metro are the crushes that take place when heading back to the station after the game. Hundreds of fans filtered in through gaps only designed for one or two at a time.

Last year I was dropped off close by and walked in. I won't be doing that again!

Inside of the Stadium of Copyright Infringement the atmosphere is always electric building up to kick-off. Because Sunderland haven't enjoyed a great deal of success against Newcastle at home over the years, their fans can quickly quiet down and this is an absolutely key factor on Sunday. With only one point on the board so far, if Sunderland make a poor start, then the crowd will be silenced. On the other hand, if they start well, then they will see it as a potential turning point in their season.

Personally, even if Newcastle were Premier League contenders and Sunderland were in The Conference I wouldn't enjoy derby day. The nerves are unbearable and defeats like the 3-0 Newcastle suffered in the last one can spoil a supporter's week, at least.

That last result has to form the basis of Alan Pardew's motivational talk before the game. It was a totally unacceptable horror-show.

It's not about bragging rights for me either -- I don't know too many Sunderland fans, it's just the deep feeling of agony in the pit of your stomach that defeat brings or the absolute elation that comes with a win -- these things are impossible to explain to a person who doesn't like football or supports a team without a 'proper' rival.

This is a big, big game -- one of the most intense derbies there is. It is underestimated elsewhere in the country and that is their loss.

Twitter: @MarcSDuffy


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