There are dividing lines between Sunderland supporters.
Unfortunately these days being born closer to the Tyne than the Wear seems the hottest button.
Less nastier is the line drawn between those who were there in ’73 and those who weren’t yet born.
But for those who watched in the sixties there’s another, stranger dividing line.
The hatred of Leeds United.
Supporters under 40 years old will find it hard to understand. Other than through the folklore of their elders – same reason I hate Yeovil Town – there really isn’t a logical reason based on recent history to have such an overwhelming distaste for the Yorkshire outfit.
But go back in age another 15 – 20 years and you’ll get your answer – visceral hated for that all-white strip.
So much so that for me Leeds were always the team to hate. Not the mags. And I was there in Bath Lane back in ’79. Those days you just hated everyone and Newcastle was closer than most.
But mention Leeds and the adrenaline flows like Vaux.
The two games in the 63-64 promotion season were described as the nearest thing to all out warfare ever seen on a football pitch.
I can see them still, in all their strutting, arrogant, nasty, time-wasting, referee-swarming ways..Bremner, Collins, Giles, Hunter, Charlton, Clarke, even their goalie Sprake.
And then, as if the cake needed dressing any further, there was 1967 and the fifth round, second replay at Hull City’s ground.
It’s one thing being robbed by the ref’s stupidity. Another to be robbed by his greed. Ask anyone who was there. Ask Don Revie – if you ever get to hell.
No. Sorry, I can’t hate the mags.
I hope they lose, of course. But hate? No, they’ve suffered enough from the same London-biased football hierarchy as we have to truly hate them. Maybe it’s because I’m an exile and I look back on those Friday nights in the Bigg Market with nostalgia.
But give me Leeds.
1973 was sweet. Very sweet.
But it wasn’t enough.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)