This is a guest post by Alex Jackson, who is a writer from Gateshead, Tyne and Wear. He mainly writes unsuccessful novels but takes an interest in editorial pieces on politics, the media and local news. If you'd like to write a guest post for Enemies of Reason, email me at email@example.com
Think of the North East and what do you visualise? Football? Unemployment? Violence? As a Northerner I wish to wipe these stereotypes from the Southern agenda, yet every now and again someone takes a stab at us Tynesiders (or Wearsiders or whatever), the most recent example being a Tory saying Northerners should be used to pick berries in the Summer. Yes, I am often upset by the Southern attitude to the North, partially due to the belief that we're all thick as bricks. Really? My sister recently left school and got a place at Newcastle University: one of the most prestigious schools in the UK, but I need to get to the point of this editorial: The Tyne-Wear derby.
There were some ugly scenes at the Stadium of Light on Sunday as Asamoah Gyan scored a late equaliser: A fan ran onto the pitch and pushed Steve Harper over, the fans got fighting as per usual and chairs were torn from their moorings and thrown around like deformed beach balls. Ugly indeed, but there were also some dodgy scenes in Birmingham during the Blues-Villa game (albeit not as bad as Newcastle-Sunderland, but you catch my drift), but who gets the most coverage in the Daily Mail? Of course, it's the poor, Labour voting thugs on Tyne and Wearside:
The title of the article is magnificent:
Sunderland vow to boot out thugs after crowd violence erupts in derby showdown with Newcastle
because you can't cram too much provocative language into one sentence.
Of course, the Mail need a nice big picture of the thugs fighting one another, and an equally big picture further down the page showing a big, tattooed man scuffling with Police, just to drill home the 'Ooh! Look at those horrible Northerners fighting at a football match!' effect. Yet what about Villa-Birmingham? Ah yes, further down the page are the pictures with the trails of smoke from a smoke bomb (with a Police officer handily caught up in the midst to get the Mail going about the lower classes) and a line of Police trying to paint the football fans in a bad light despite the fact there wasn't much fighting. Of course, they are two small pictures because they don't want to draw the attention away from the scummy Northerners. They also seem to think the idea of banning hooligans from grounds is a new concept, but then again, it's the Daily Mail, they probably think they're too upper class to go to football matches.
I'm not going to lie: the violence was unacceptable, as was throwing a smoke bomb onto a pitch, yet the pictures in the Mail make it look like everyone at the Tyne-Wear game was fighting. Think about it: the Stadium of Light holds around 49,000, at the most there would have been 100 people fighting, so that leaves 48,900 law abiding fans. Of course, the Mail doesn't furnish us with the fact that only 24 (or 33, depending on your source) arrests were made because they want it to look like all the Northerners were scrapping, then again, the other papers were no better. The Sun, The Mirror, The Times and another paper Mr Vowl loves with a passion: The Express
The picture pushes all of their buttons: a Northern thug of student age wearing a hoodie, it couldn't have been better for them unless Diana had rolled in to calm the violence. For some reason they appear to have put the word attack in speech marks. What was attacking Steve Harper if it wasn't an attack? 'A Northern scuffle' probably.
If you take a look at the BBC's article it seems quite fair despite the jab at European fans at the bottom of the page, but compared to The Star's it is slim pickings. The Star's article is perfectly summed up in the title: Steve Bruce's Fan Fury, basically an Orwellian Two Minutes Hate for the football world. Was Bruce furious about the fans? erm...no, he spent the majority of his interview praising the fans who handed the Harper attacker over to the Police.
Taken in isolation the violence itself is bad enough, but today every paper had either the back page or a double spread painted with pictures of Geordies and Mackems fighting it out to try and paint us in the worst image possible (not surprisingly, there were no pictures of the smoke bombs at St. Andrews). The Tory-orientated papers were the worst culprits, the Mail being the worst example and The Star the worst for vocabulary (article and spelling wise). Of course this sort of thing will sell their glorified bundles of dead tree, but as proved in the past it will only succeed in stoking the fires of hatred. First it was Labour, then the Muslims and then the Poles. This time it's Northerners, football fans or both.
P.S. I apologise for the blatant plagiarism of Mr Vowl's other post title: Chris Jeffries and his Trial by Media