A PRANKSTER has mocked Sunderland supporters by leaving an effigy clad in the club’s colours hanging from a historic gallows.
Elsdon, in Northumberland, is home to Winter’s Gibbet, which was used to display executed criminals to the local people.
Now a mystery supporter of rivals Newcastle United made a new sinister addition to the gibbet.
Attached to a rope is a ghoulish effigy covered in the Black Cats’ red and white stripes with obscene writing in black pen.
It has yet to be taken down and Martyn McFadden, who runs independent Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme, has blasted the stunt.
He said: “There is a lot of banter between the two clubs, of course.
“I thought the effigy would have been taken down by now.
“But what surprises me the most is that the Newcastle fan who has done this can actually spell.
“There are a lot of Sunderland fans in the Northumberland area, so I’m sure we’ll get our own back.”
Local residents in Elsdon, however, believed it was just part of the harmless rivalry that exits between Newcastle and Sunderland fans.
One local woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s quite humorous really.
“I’ve heard people talking about it hanging on the gibbet, but I’ve not actually seen it myself.
“It’s just a bit of fun.
“You get a mix of Newcastle and Sunderland fans living here so it’s part of the banter that goes on between them.”
Another said: “There used to be a head hanging from the gibbet but someone stole it. This kind of thing is happens all the time.”
In 2004, countryside campaigners used the same executioners scaffold to hang an effigy of Tony Blair to protest the ban on fox hunting.
The gibbet is named after William Winter, who in 1792 was hanged in Newcastle and his body was brought to Steng Cross hill and hung up until it rotted away.
He had broken into Margaret Crozier’s home in Raw Pele Tower near Elsdon with his sisters Jane and Eleanor Clark in 1792.
He knocked on Mrs Crozier’s door, begging for shelter from the rain, but then attacked and killed her before signalling to his sisters so they could rob the house of valuables.
On the August 10, 1792, all of them were executed in Newcastle.
The bodies of the two sisters were given to a local surgery to be dissected.
The body of Winter was put inside a gibbet cage and left to rot for all to see.