In pubs across Tyne and Wear today men and butch-for-the-day women in their husband’s strips will be screaming at big screens, holding their heads in their hands and shouting expletives at their rivals.
But for those outside the region it can be difficult to understand the intense rivalry between the two cities and their football teams. Why do they hate each other so much?
Here’s my (with help from my lad) quick guide to the history of why Mackems and Geordies hate each other for all those living South of the Tees.
It began with the Games of Thrones
Geordieland boomed in the 1600s when ill-fated Charles I granted rights to export coal to Newcastle, strangling their neighbour’s ability to trade.
Wronged Wearsiders took up arms and backed Parliament while Newcastle battled for the Royalists in the English civil war. The factions met in battle on Boldon Hills and Sunderland won, capturing their rival’s command and helping win the war.
Once Charles II was restored to the throne he wasn’t too fond of the traitors of the North who’d helped Parliament chop off his Dad’s head, so again granted licenses to Tyneside.
Later, Sunderland backed the Scots and Newcastle the Germans in the Jacobite Rebellion. This time the Mackems were on the losing side.
Thus, the Derby game is really a historical re-enaction of past military battles. Sometimes, if you squint hard at the telly on match day, you can see someone sporting an elaborate curly wig or metal bowl on their heads in homage.
It’s Hitler’s Fault
Sunderland was once the greatest ship building town in the World. It’s from there the nickname Mackem comes from. Once a derogatory term for the way Wearsiders speak (We Mack the boats….we Mack em…”), it was adopted and became a way to distinguish themselves from their Geordie neighbours.
Unfortunately the shipyards were close to the town centre and when the Luftwaffe bombed much of the impressive Victorian architecture was destroyed. What Hitler started was finished off by the council who thought it a good idea to knock down buildings like this…
and replace them with buildings like this…
Meanwhile Newcastle didn’t suffer the same wartime damage and is still a beauty to behold. This irks most Mackems every time they step off the Metro at Monument.
The Tyne and Wear Development Corporation always pays its debts (as long as you’re a Geordie)
While we’re on the subject of the Metro it took TWENTY TWO YEARS for it to finally reach Sunderland after it ran out of cash once the Newcastle bit was finished.
One of the main principles of the Tyne and Wear Development Corporation was to develop the riverside’s of both Sunderland and Newcastle.
Now, Newcastle’s Quayside looks like this…
Are people from Sunderland bitter because Newcastle is better..?
Why yes, yes they are. And many would say understandably so. Sunderland is actually a bigger city with a larger population, but it languishes far behind its neighbour in terms of investment.
It really is a tale of two same but different cities.
Newcastle city centre is lovely and pockets of the outside are nice too. However, much of it is a Tyneside flat ridden wasteland where tramps in tracksuit bottoms shuffle in their slippers to the corner shop to buy Special Brew and Lambert and Butler.
Much of Sunderland’s suburbs are positively lovely, with tree-lined terraces, award-winning parks and two stunning beaches.
However, the city centre is a Pound shop ridden wasteland where tramps in tracksuit bottoms shuffle in their slippers to buy Gregg’s sausage rolls and browse the shelves of the three floor Primark.
My lad is fond of saying if you could combine the two – Sunderland’s coastline and suburbs with Newcastle’s majestic city centre – you would have one of the best cities in the World.
But we can’t. So we’ll kick each other’s heads in instead. And both send our young to join the cast of Geordie Shore in the hopes it will bring some form of alcohol fuelled unity.
Come on Gaz and Charlotte. Our fractious peace relies on you.