Tony Gillan: Nevermind Middlesbrough - at least Sunderland won’t have to endure Newcastle United derby next season

Newcastle celebrate promotion.
Newcastle celebrate promotion.
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Excitement is mounting for this evening’s fixture at the Riverside; but I couldn’t tell you where. It’s not in our house.

When I received my ticket some time ago, the game was shaping up to be “huge six-pointer.”

I suppose it remains a six-pointer, but a largely irrelevant one.

Second bottom is preferable to rock bottom, but it would be a strange type of supporter who is particularly exercised by the issue.

It’s almost of less interest than the general election. Almost.

This really is one to get out of the way.

Both clubs must have a feeling of being sniggered at before they have even kicked off.

Neither Sunderland nor Middlesbrough can defend, so this might at least presage a few goals; were it not for the fact that neither side can score either.

Sunderland have drawn blanks in seven of their last eight games; Boro are the league’s lowest scorers and have failed to net in 16 of their 33 matches.

We can’t help but be bored by a game we haven’t even seen yet.

Realistically, what is everyone hoping for from tonight’s rave-up?

A win would be jolly and usually pragmatic football would send everyone home happy if it hoovered three points.

But both teams are past that now.

I think I would be satisfied if the post-match punditry was along the lines of well-we-enjoyed-that-more-than-we-thought-we-would.

Entertainment seems as likely as survival for both sides.

But let’s hope that Sunderland have a bash at it anyway.

Their supporters deserve much but ask for little.

Now that I’ve whipped up the party atmosphere, perhaps you should have a lie down. Frenzied optimism can be wearing.

I am truly sorry that to be unable to write anything more positive or uplifting.

But having taken my cue from Sunderland’s manager I can hardly be blamed for this (blame-avoidance being another of his more prominent qualities).

Matters were exacerbated for some by events at the North East’s fourth best stadium on Monday night.

Job done; but Newcastle have hardly inspired this season and their fans have surprised many by being by their standards relatively (though not entirely) free of delusion. Another blow for tradition.

However, their promotion provides one thing to be grateful for.

Derby matches are horrible events to contemplate and endure, even if your side happens to regularly win.

It will be a minimum of around two-and-a-half years between derby matches for Sunderland. It could be much longer and I for one don’t miss them.

Other things worthy of our gratitude are that the end is only 25 days away; and you can still buy dirt-cheap Easter eggs if you know where to go. Oh, and the snooker’s on.