Hotly contested on the field, and hotly debated off it, every season the derby provides drama like no other game for Sunderland and Newcastle supporters.
There is, however, one area where the two clubs and their fans share a common goal.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is a charity that directly benefits cancer patients from across the entire region and Sunderland and Newcastle United are both official supporters of its work finding more effective ways to detect and treat cancer.
Michael Duell, from Silksworth, works as a bookmaker in both the Stadium of Light and St James’ Park. Today (Saturday 26 October), the 21-year-old Sunderland University student is running between the two football grounds to raise money for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
Michael says: “Working at both clubs, I get to see at first-hand the strength of feeling both sets of fans have for their team.
“It’s derby week so that’s always a bit of crazy one for betting shops as fans get even more passionate than normal and I wanted to mark the occasion somehow.
“When I decided I wanted to do this run for charity I knew it should be for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation.
“I remember seeing Sir Bobby at the Stadium of Light all the time, even though we all know he was a Newcastle fan. The work of his charity is something which unites the whole region and I’m really proud to do my bit.”
Michael will be running 14 miles between the two clubs. He will be setting off from St James’ Park at 9am (Saturday 26 October) and can be sponsored at www.justgivingcom/runforrobson.
And in the run up to this Sunday’s derby, both Sunderland and Newcastle, along with Middlesbrough FC, also an official supporter of the charity, have pledged support for Sir Bobby’s Breakthrough Auction.
This online auction and text-to-win competition is backed by headline supporter BT Sport and organised by a team of dedicated volunteers. It is aiming to raise £1million for the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation, Breakthrough Breast Cancer and Suffolk Hospitals’ cancer services.
It ends on Sunday night (27th October) and lots are evenly split between sports and lifestyle items and experiences.
To support the auction, Sunderland AFC has donated four VIP hospitality tickets, including a dressing room tour, for the Sunderland v Everton match at the Stadium of Light.
Newcastle United has donated four VIP tickets for the Chairman’s Suite at St James’ Park, including stadium tour, for their game against Manchester United. Both games are currently scheduled for April next year.
The Sir Bobby Robson Foundation is represented by committed Patrons including Middlesbrough’s Steve Gibson, Sunderland’s Niall Quinn and Newcastle’s Alan Shearer.
This year, thanks to tremendous ongoing support, the Sir Bobby Robson Foundation has been able to fund an Imaging Flow Cytometer for £438,000, which allows scientists to see cancer cells that may be circulating in a patient’s blood.
It has also part-funded the greatly valued complementary therapy programme, which provides relief from the symptoms of cancer and its treatment for patients at the Northern Centre for Cancer Care and jointly funded a cancer patient ambulance.
Early next year, thanks to the Foundation’s largest funding contribution to date, £850,000, the latest generation in stereotactic radiotherapy surgery will become available to cancer patients from across the North East and Cumbria. It will be used to treat tumours which are currently inoperable and delivers extremely high doses of radiation with pin-point accuracy.
Other North East Sir Bobby’s Breakthough Auction lots include Middlesbrough FC, Sunderland AFC and Newcastle United related experiences and memorabilia, local artwork, a Go North East annual bus ticket, five year’s supply of Northumberland Tea and a fully restored and customised ‘Sir Bobby Robson’ safe dating from around 1909.
Amazing sports prizes also include a private bowling session with Graeme Swann, two tickets for a FC Barcelona home match at Camp Nou, a table in the Blue Riband on Ladies Day at Epsom, a one-off experience to accompany Kieron Dyer as his personal guest to watch Real Madrid play Barcelona and access for two teams to play at the famous Essex Cricket Ground.
Also available are tickets to three events that are not normally open to the public: the FIFA Ballon d’Or Gala ceremony in Zurich, the PFA awards in London and VIP tickets to watch both sessions of the 2014 World Snooker Final at Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, with a backstage tour and full hospitality.
In addition to the auction, there is a text-to-win competition to win England football, Formula 1 and Champions League Final prizes costing just 50p plus normal network charges.
For more information, please visit www.sirbobbysbreakthrough.com.