CHARLES GRAHAM - When friendly rivalry turns into something more

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GIVEN the events since Wigan Athletic’s clash with Newcastle United last Sunday week there was a danger of healthy rivalry between two great clubs and their fans descending into something far more unpleasant.

The Toon feel trebly aggrieved that Callum McManaman was not punished for his crunching tackle on Massadio Haidara, the injury to their player (happily nowhere near as bad as first thought) and the fact that assistant manager John Carver was charged with misconduct in the game’s aftermath. A suspect winner for the home team hasn’t helped either although there is no side around that hasn’t benefited from bad refereeing decisions at some time or the other and they have to be seized or at least accepted.

But then the ante was ramped up further when it emerged that around 300 marauding Newcastle fans had trashed two amateur football matches on the nearby Soccerdome fields before the DW Stadium game had even started.

As the acrimony threatened to swell even further, Newcastle chiefs announced that they would be recompensing the Wigan sides for the damage caused and distanced themselves from this troublesome minority of away supporters.

In a further act of reconciliation, the Toon is preparing to invite Wigan Cosmos to play at their ground while Latics have presented the amateur side with a replacement for the ball stolen.

I hope this is the end of the matter now. While some feel that the goodwill gestures were the least St James’s Park could do, I trust they will draw a line under a torrid few days and that everyone can now just enjoy the football again.