View from the dark side
With the Derby only days away, our brave reporter has risked life and limb to bring you an interview from a Skunk fan "Howaythetoon" of Newcastle-online.com. Our brave Mackem is now being decontaminated but managed to phone in this report first:
RTG - Would it be fair for me to say that Newcastle fans are slightly obsessed with all things Red & White? It sometimes seems like there are more Mags than Mackems on our Message Boards.
Skunk - Agent Mags. Just doing their job.
RTG - The Tyne-Wear Derby - intense as ever or a shadow of it's former self?
Skunk - With the advent of Sky and the Internet and with it 24-7 coverage, hype and saturation, the Derby for me personally, has lost a bit of the unknown about it as a fixture. We know each other's players inside out and each other as fans inside out and I relate to it like taking a peek at your Christmas presents while no-one is looking the day before Christmas day. On the big day you can't wait to open your presents, but knowing what's in the box takes a way a bit of the suspense. That's how I feel about the Derby as a fixture.
As a match, the game will never be a footballing master-class from either side but it's lost a lot of it's edge as an encounter I feel. Swap the shirts and badges and it could be any other game.
The atmosphere isn't the same either, at both stadium's. It's better than for any other match, but still muted in a way. That's modern day football though.
RTG - Do you look forward to the Derby match or do you
Skunk - A bit of both. I've got a stomach ache that feels like a fuck off brick resting down there on my intestines but there are a lot of excited flutters too. If you can't enjoy these games, you should do something else.
RTG - Do you see us as "six easy points" this year?
Skunk - Nah. These are never easy games. Form, everything goes out the window. With these games it's often 60-40 in favour of the home team regardless, and that's a small margin so no, no easy points. On paper the two sides are a gulf apart in terms of class, experience and of course wages and transfer fees, but pride and passion compensates for all that on the day and evens things out. I expect, as always, a tight game with the odd goal nicking it.
RTG - How would you compare "our" Derby with other Derby matches
up and down the country?
Skunk - Unbeatable. This Derby isn't just a footballing rivalry, it's a family thing (for the inter-breeders... shame on you!), a work thing, a City thing or in your case a Town thing, it's more than a footballing tradition. It's an everyday thing. You can't escape this rivalry even when you lot are yo-yoing between Leagues with your tails behind your legs. I've been looking forward to this day since the last one.
RTG - How would you describe the rivalry between the two sets of fans?
Skunk - Canny.
RTG - Would you welcome an Abramovic style takeover of Newcastle?
Skunk - No. I know it's easy to say this but I'd rather watch a shit Newcastle side, down in the 2nd Division or something because that to me is football. You can't just wave a magic wand and transform over night. And before you start, our transformation has been paid for by us and every penny the club has made comes from the cloth it cuts from it's own fabric. Our club is the fruit of our labour, we've sweated tears and blood to pay for those stands, Owen's signature and those massive wages. And you lot are no different. Our way, the struggle, the football way, is the best way and most enjoyable way. Sure being able to buy any player in the world would be great but boring after a while. Do Chelsea fans give a youngster the understanding, patience and support a young lad through the Academy needs at any level or would they demand a world-class ready made player? After all they have the money. Nah, they have no soul or spirit - they've sold it to the highest bidder. Good luck to them but no thanks.
RTG - Freddy Shepherd has given us Mackems more than the odd
laugh over the years. Is it embarrassing to have him as your chairman?
Skunk - Shockingly embarrassing, handing massive war chests to every manager, taking the club from nowhere to turning over the 10th biggest turnover in world football, signing shite like Michael Owen, King Al, Emre, Parker, presiding over a club that's played in Europe 8 times in the last 11 years. Bring back McKeag I say.
RTG - Do you sincerely worry for the future of your club and indeed the game as a whole? Your thoughts on the game in general please.
Skunk - Aye, it concerns me more than any run of form on the pitch, that and the Academy which I guess is intrinsically linked anyway. As for the game, not so much but I would be lying if I said I enjoyed the game as a whole as much as I used to - I don't. I just can't be bothered with it all now. Too much hype, not
enough competition and too many tossers kissing badges, trying to get others sent off and of course the play acting.
RTG - Whereabouts in the league do you expect to finish this season?
Skunk - Above you lot.
RTG - What formation, system of play and team will you play on Sunday and who should we fear?
Skunk - 4-4-2, all out attacking total football and you should fear Shola Ameobi, our 20 goal a season soon to be England centre-forward if he plays. Faye will also destroy your midfield should he play. And if I was that Elliott fella, I'd be packing extra kegs because Taylor will tan his arse.
RTG - Its said that us winning on Sunday could do you a favour and may hasten the departure of Souness - would it be worth losing this game if you knew it would force him out?
Skunk - It is true we are perhaps in a win-win situation because if we lose, it could spell the end of Souness which could do for us what that night in the rain did - lots of happy years. But never in a million years would I want to see us lose to you lot even if it meant Souness would be guaranteed the chop. As far as I'm concerned any win is a stay of execution anyway. He will always be a defeat or two away from the sack, so let that happen against Birmingham or West Brom if it's to happen, not you lot. If it did though, I won't lie, it would soften the blow of any defeat and in years to come, we can say pay our thanks. And while I'm here; thank you so much for Sir Bobby, the San Siro, Woodgate, Bellamy, 3 consecutive top five finishes. Means a lot. What did you get BTW? Those 2-1 T-Shirts still holding up in the wash?
RTG - Souness or Gullit?
Skunk - Gullit who is a good coach but isn't the greatest at man management. Souness just isn't very good at anything, other than peddling excuses. But both are extremely poor managers as a whole.
RTG - Is the Premiership overrated?
Skunk - Massively overrated in my opinion and so are most of the sides in the Division. You're better off in the Football League...
RTG - Who was your Manager before Keegan?
Skunk - Ha Ha, you won't fool me with that one. Everyone knows football didn't exist before that.
RTG - Bitterness, hatred, envy, admiration, respect, fear, excitement, passion - all buzz words to describe the Derby. Sum up what this match means to you as a N*****le fan.
Skunk - Just another game... we dare not lose!
RTG - Bob Murray or Freddy Shepherd?
Skunk - Neither
RTG - Finally, a prediction for the weekend?
Skunk - 2-1 in our favour.
October 20, 2005