I was pretty philosophical about the decision that I and other SAFC supporters had to make on Sunday.
For me, it had to be the Great North Run (GNR). After struggling through 34 years of them, I could not be giving up now.
I imagine the powers that be, on the advice of Sky, will have ensured private helicopters to ferry any SAFC supporters from Jarrow and South Shields to the match so that they would not need to use the Metro. Then if they just pop a policeman on duty at Black’s Corner at East Boldon to merge the escape routes from both venues to the A1/A19, the traffic would be cleared by Monday morning’s rush hour.
I was not so philosophical and forgiving on the morning of the run, however, after standing on East Boldon Metro station for two hours, in the company of hundreds of runners getting increasingly panicky, angry and stressed as we watched trains come and go with thousands of runners from Sunderland sardined in.
The ‘good luck runners’ message in place of actual train times was beginning to look like sarcasm. After 34 years of arriving relatively stress free before the start, I was, with many others, rushing up to the start at 10.15am wondering what to do with kitbags and ill-prepared for the task ahead.
After all the years of Metro successfully running, admittedly very crowded, trains to the GNR start, surely, it has an idea of how many passengers rely on this facility.
‘Being caught out by the sheer numbers’, really will not wash. It was all over the news in the weeks previous.
It was not the brightest of ideas to reassure runners that extra trains would be running and then send one every half hour through the Boldons from Sunderland. A total of four trains between 8am and 10am was thoughtless and potentially dangerous as it resulted in people fighting to get on board.
If Metro is unable to get people to the start of the GNR, it should say so in advance. We could have walked quicker. Indeed, my companion ran the 13 miles 30 minutes quicker than the time we spent on the Metro platform.
Despite the Metro, I was proud to get to the finish line for the 35th time. Thanks are due to all the wonderful volunteers who have supported and helped over the years.
Perhaps they should run the Metro?