The so-called “Tyne-Wear” derby is one of the fiercest in English soccer.
The longstanding enmity between Newcastle (on Tyne) and Sunderland (the Wear part of the equation) dates back to the days of Oliver Cromwell and has its roots — like many of England’s soccer rivalries — with dock workers from opposing areas. Nowadays it seems to be more of a sporting rivalry, that is until Sunday when riots around Newcastle’s St. James Park broke out following Sunderland’s 3-0 victory.
Perhaps Newcastle fans were emboldened by the display of Millwall supporters who took it upon themselves to brawl — with each other — during the team’s loss to Wigan in the FA Cup semifinals at Wembley Stadium. Maybe they were just mad they got embarrassed by their biggest rival at home. More than likely, it was a small element of angry fans who are looking for any excuse to throw punches.
One of those punches — from a fan with a bandanna covering his face — landed on the neck of a police horse.
Punching a horse isn’t unprecedented in the world of sports. Back in 1995 former Cincinnati basketball player Art Long (a hidden gem in ‘Coach K Basketball’) was arrested for allegedly for throwing a punch at a police horse.
And then there is horse-punching’s mangum opus from the late Alex Karras in “Blazing Saddles.” Playing “Mongo” the former Detroit Lions lineman scored a one-hit equine KO in the Mel Brooks classic comedy.