THEY might still be raw from being relegated from the Premier League – but Newcastle United's fans will have to be thick-skinned for a while yet.
For after years of being the butt of jibes from their arch-rivals, Sunderland supporters are at last getting their own back on the Toon Army.
The Magpies' relegation at the weekend, and that of Middlesbrough, leaves the Black Cats as the North East's undisputed top dogs.
And it's payback time for the Geordie fans who have gloated at the Wearsiders' up-and-down fortunes over the years.
When Sund-erland were relegated in 2003 with a record low 19 points, a United fanzine produced a cruel booklet called Let's All Laugh At Sunderland.
And when they went down again with an even worse points tally in 2006, a follow-up appeared, called Let's All Laugh At Sunderland ... Again.
Now, though, the joke's on
the Magpies, and pubs, workplaces and Internet message boards are
full of jokes about the Toon's demise.
They started even before the relegation was confirmed, with a joke at the expense of stand-in boss Alan Shearer doing the rounds.
"What's the difference between Alan Shearer and Newcastle United?" it asked. "Shearer will be on Match of the Day next season."
On the eve of the crunch Newcastle-Boro match, arrowed signs
appeared around roundabouts in Sunderland saying "Skunks and Smoggies' Relegation Party – This Way."
And since United's demotion to the Championship was confirmed on Sunday, they have flowed thick and fast.
"Have you heard about the big ship that's just left the Tyne? The Premiership."
Gazette Face-book friend Gary Mccluskey wrote: "What's the difference between my back garden and the Premier League? My back garden has a magpie in it."
Meanwhile another asked: "What have the Toon Army and comic Roy 'Chubby' Brown got in common? Both will be playing Blackpool next season."
And award-winning Sunderland fanzine A Love Supreme has got in on the act by producing a special Toon Doon T-shirt.
It gloats at the fact that while the Stadium of Light will be hosting the likes of Manchester United, Lverpool and Chelsea next season, St James's Park will have less-illustrious visitors such as Scunthorpe, Peterborough and Blackpool.
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