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 Atmosphere report

Sunderland AFC - Newcastle United (2-2)
Premier League, 05 February 2000
Stadium : Stadium of Light
Attendance : 42.000

This was my first derby away to Sunderland, everyone spoke about it for weeks before the game and acted like it was world war 3 coming up and scared because Sunderland were doing very well that season and had a great striker called Kevin Phillips so I was a little nervous about going but knew I'd never forgive myself for not going.

I'd been to st.James but never the Stadium of Light! It had been hard to get tickets but Dad got them from work eventually and we got the coach to Sunderland, it took ages because the police escorted us just about all the way and stopped just as we entered sunderland because they wanted to find out where the Sunderland hooligans were so it was safe for us.

I must admit when we turned the corner and saw the stadium I was stunned. It looked brilliant and new, it was only about 4 years old. We were told to go straight into the stadium to avoid trouble so we did, it was about an hour before kick off but already thousands of Sunderland fans were standing along from the pubs to the stadium watching us. Obviously they were there to greet our hooligans when they arrived, one or two threw bottles and most were chanting but nothing much but I felt intimidated at that age.

We sat down in our seats and the sight of the emtpy stadium was breathtaking, it was bigger than ours back then and I had never seen anything like the place. We had burgers and coffee and we could hear the Newcastle fans in the bar below us chanting and enjoying themselves. The stadium filled up and as it was going to kick off the Sunderland fans all held up red and white cards to make the crowd look like a giant red and white sea. It sent shivers down my spine, as our team was read out all you could hear was booing and whistling from the Mackems. It was very intimidating but an unforgettable moment.

The match started brilliantly and we were 2-0 up, great! Our fans were going crazy chanting and jumping around, hugging each other already celebrating but bang there's Kevin Phillips and it's 2-1 and oh no there he is again 2-2, a late equaliser. Our fans were stunned and silent but the Mackem fans were hysterical. I had never seen such scenes, there were celebrations wild and out of control, I read later the noise had broken BBC microphones and they were on the pitch dancing around Kevin Phillips.

One ran across the pitch towards us and jumped in amongst us and shouted something, a scuffle broke out and police took him away but you could see what the goal had meant to him, he had gone crazy! That shows the passion of this derby, the biggest in Britain historically and in football.

After the game the police kept us in the stadium and everyone was pretty tense and depressed wanting to just leave, some tried to break out and were stopped which I was pleased about, I didn't fancy walking out amongst the Mackems. After a while we were taken out by a police escort, we could see about 200-300 Sunderland fans right down from the stadium, they were throwing things at the police and running backwards and forwards, chanting at us. They were quite a distance but it still felt scary, I was only 13!

We went home with no problems but took a while to be escorted out because of trouble down the road and in the city centre. People were saying fans being escorted from the train station in the town had also been ambushed before the game by thousands of Mackems so I was pleased I wasn't there for that but it was a great day really, an excellent and very memorable experience if just for the stunning stadium and atmosphere. Pitty we didn’t hang onto a win!

Report added : 16 April 2006
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