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Bring it on, roars defender Simpson
WHEN the Newcastle United squad arrives at the Stadium of Light on Sunday, it's fair to say the reception they get will be far from welcoming.
For any members of Alan Pardew's squad that haven't yet tasted a Wear-Tyne derby atmosphere, that welcome will be a rude awakening.
Fortunately for the Magpies, the majority of their squad have experienced the hostile atmosphere that both teams have to endure during the season, but even so those who have still find it unnerving and distracting as they prepare themselves for the challenge ahead.
There is one member of Alan Pardew's squad that welcomes the hostile reception, though, and Danny Simpson can't wait to see fans giving him stick as the team coach arrives.
"It's just a buzz, a positive buzz," said Simpson, who spent four months on loan at Sunderland in 2007. "You want them to say 'come on give me some.' I like it personally.
"Whether you've got music on or not you can still hear them giving you stick anyway. It happens during the game when you're taking throw-ins and stuff and you hear them on the sideline.
"I like it, some players might be different but I think most of us will enjoy them giving us a bit of stick when we get a tackle and get stuck in. It's good, it's healthy."
Now all of Pardew's international stars have returned to Tyneside, the Magpies will spend the next few days preparing, but when some managers might do something different in training, Simpson admits the squad have gone through their normal routine.
He said: "We haven't done everything different. We know what we've got to do. We need three points.
"We lost the last game [against Manchester United], but we have come back after the break and everyone was buzzing and on it because everyone wants to be involved on Sunday.
"It lifts everyone, everyone raises their game and gives that extra ten per cent in training. The manager doesn't have to do that much because he knows everyone wants to be involved and he sees how much we want it."
If Simpson ever needed a reminder of how important Sunday's Wear-Tyne derby is, a group of Tyneside school children were on hand to provide a timely reminder on Tuesday.
Simpson, along with James Perch, Bob Moncur and Peter Beardsley, took part in a question and answer session about life as a footballer in different generations at St James' Park.
Each player was asked what their best Newcastle memory was and it was no surprise that the majority were wins over Sunderland.
"It just goes to show how much it means to everyone," Simpson said.
"The last two weeks it's all that's been spoken about. Obviously more so this week for the build up.
"It's class, we talk about our games and our goals and all the history of it. I've been lucky to play in four and touch wood I haven't lost yet. My first one was beating them 5-1 here, I'd just come back from injury and to play in that and to beat them the way we did was class.
"Since that game they've been pretty close games, but the 5-1 was definitely my best one.
"Even just speaking to Bob Moncur and hearing their memories of the Sunderland games and their thoughts of it as well. Obviously they'd love to be able to put their boots back on one day for that game.
"It makes you think you've got to enjoy it because you might not play in a game like that again and I don't think I'll ever play in a game that is an meaningful as this. You've got to enjoy it, because it's a passionate occasion."
Simpson is no stranger to being put under pressure by questions from the media, but after holding question and answer sessions with groups of schoolchildren, the right-back admitted they hadn't held back.
"They definitely did ask some of the questions the press don't ask!'' he joked. "They were asking about our wages and contracts and all that stuff. These kids are like ten-years-old, I'm sure you lot are telling them to ask questions like that. The questions were good and it's their chance to speak to us and it's been great for them."
Asked which Sunderland player he would most like to go to dinner with, Simpson replied: "It's a pretty easy one for me, because I've got a couple of lads there that I grew up with, Fraizer (Campbell) and Phil Bardsley, so that would be my answer!"