I love Jordan Pickford.
I think we’ve established that. Goalkeeping aside, he’s a good lad and a good Mackem at that.
Whilst all around the Stadium of Light and wilted as the spectre of relegation loomed large over it, there was Jordan, sticking right up the Newcastle fans after Theo Walcott secured the three points for Everton on Monday.
If that wasn’t enough, he then posts a picture on his Instagram account of himself celebrating with the caption “No better feeling than keeping them quiet.”
An obvious response, no doubt, to the stick he’d been taking over Sunderland’s relegation two days earlier. And that’s exactly how it should be.
A rival club of your boyhood heroes gleefully gloat about their demise, so you answer those taunts with a clean sheet and a defeat for them. It’s brilliant. No, honestly, it’s brilliant because that’s how it should be.
You might think I’m going a little over the top there, but it’s all part of football and there have been too many cases of paper-thin sensitivity when it comes to things such as this.
Football has the power to bring people together but the rivalries also play an integral part too. Football is competition. Football is rivalry. Player v player. Team v team. Fans v fans.
I shouldn’t feel the need here to emphasise there are lines that shouldn’t be crossed in this regard, but it’s for the good of the game that it is sustained.
Healthy rivalry breeds the will to be better. Better than your rival, better than you are today.
It gives you the motivation to push that bit harder. That bit further.
The same people who jump on to those who stray from the narrow band of beige we have shepherded our players into, in fear of doing wrong, are the ones that say there aren’t any characters in the game today.
Who wants a world where Jordan Pickford doesn’t care about what Newcastle fans are saying about Sunderland?
It’s refreshing to see, in a world of beige robots, Jordan give some back to the fans who would be doing the same if the shoe was on the other foot.
As for all of the pleasure our relegation seems to be giving others, let’s be honest, we’ll all just have to take it on the chin until Sunderland’s circumstances do an about turn.
It’s easy too bite back though. I know, I’ve done it myself this week, but we should at least appreciate that one player is still fighting the good fight, even if he’s no longer at the club.
I’ve no idea what the reaction of those Newcastle fans was at Goodison.
I’m sure it did nothing to dull their delight at seeing us in the third division again, but I hope there wasn’t any double-standard offence taken at his reaction either.
My mate, James Brown, brought to my attention via Twitter, pictures of Sunderland fans parading a coffin around Roker Park with the words “Leeds United 1973” painted on it, presumably just after the cup final that year.
I just replied that Goliath was inside the casket and didn’t think much else.
There were a few replies of “Karma” and “They aren’t laughing now, are they?”, to which I just thought ‘No, we’re not laughing, but it’s not because we’re wracked with guilt about something that seemed humorous over 40 years ago’.
And fate’s retribution for that incident certainly isn’t the reason we were relegated this season. We went down because we weren’t very good at football.
There’s far too much hypocrisy and preciousness to it all these days.
I know I might sound like I’m about to go on a Stewart Lee-style “It’s political correctness gone mad” rant, but aren’t we all becoming a little bit delicate?
There have been other examples lately and I just roll my eyes at them and think ‘Really? You’re offended by that?’
Earlier this week, there was a video of Macclesfield Town players celebrating their largely unexpected promotion back in to the Football League by singing songs about their ex-title rivals Tranmere Rovers.
Some called it “Classless”, saying they should show more respect to the team they pipped to the title? Again I ask, really?
It’s not as if it was supposed to be for public consumption and this is what you do when you are celebrating.
It isn’t all corinthian spirited handshakes and a round of applause in honour of the gallant losers. Not now.
Not when you have the sweet smell of victory filling your nostrils and the blood of a champion running through your veins. Allow it.
Do you think they were show the utmost respect by everyone at Prenton Park when they played there? I’ll guarantee they weren’t. And that’s not just a pop at Tranmere fans.
That could and would have been the response of most clubs in the aftermath of that video if it had been directed at them.
This is rivalry. Gloating is the victor’s prize and the loser’s punishment and, if ground is gained either way, it should be accepted.
Fans being bothered about another club’s success just makes them look childish and whiney.
Any praise heaped on another club, manager or players is seen as an affront to their own, incredulous that they don’t have a monopoly on praise and adulation.
I’m assured by someone more knowledgeable than myself (which narrows that down to anyone more intelligent than a shaved monkey), that “salty” is the word to describe what they are.
I’m not sure if “peppery” might be more appropriate, because it irritates the hell out of me.