Newcastle versus Maitland. In any other context it would be a contest dependant on the season - football in winter or cricket in the sunshine. But in the subversive, defiant minds of Geoff Rissole and Rick Furphy, it's become another kind of competition entirely.
In their new book, Sh*t Towns of Australia: The Great Aussie Road Trip, and with their sharp tongues firmly lodged in their respective cheeks, Rissole and Furphy claim that Maitland "is an ideal place to live if you enjoy choking on coal dust" or "drowning in your living room".
At the other end of the river, Newcastle is "a rusted carcass of a port with a decrepit CBD welded on". It's a Jimmy Barnes song in search of a postcode. And it's in no way better than Cessnock, a town "brimming with bored bogans" where a coalmining decline has forced it to turn to "alternative industries such as fish and chips".
If descriptions like these leave your sensibilities offended, then you'd be best to join a very long queue of outraged Australians. Ever since Rissole (not his real name) and Furphy first used Facebook to parody our current pre-occupation with online reviews - those ubiquitous and apparently authoritative opinions on everything from espressos to Uber drivers - an increasing proportion of their audience have been left shocked at their audacity.
The whole thing started as a bit of a joke.Geoff Rissole
"The whole thing started as a bit of a joke," says Rissole from his native New Zealand.
"We'd visit a town and then write a review of it and send it to our mates. After we shared it all on Facebook, it just blew up from there. I think you can have a different type of humour online."
And if that type of humour is aimed at your home town then duck for cover. If you're even just a tiny bit proud of where you were born or how you were raised then don't expect these blokes to placate you. In fact Rissole and Furphy are so indifferent to the outrage they inspire that they've even included in The Great Aussie Road Trip - on pages they've entitled Fan Mail - a generous sample of their reader's prideful, abusive feedback.
"For us the funniest part is the overreactions that we get from people. It's interesting which towns get the most animated and which don't so much," Rissole says.
Just in case you were wondering, Rissole and Furphy's new book does offer us a choice selection of "fan mail" from Newcastle. But it's hard to accurately convey the sentiment of those messages in this publication. Let's just say that the expletives are numerous and colourful.
"I think we got Newcastle pretty good in the first one," Rissole says. "We thought we'd share the love around a bit this time."
The earlier work that Rissole refers to, the more succinctly titled Sh*t Towns of Australia, caused such a controversy when it was first published in 2019 that Rissole and Furphy became, at least in Port Pirie, the most hated men in town. In that still hilarious book, before several pages devoted to roasting the entirety of the Central Coast, you will find little old Newcastle.
But despite this unseemly inclusion, Newcastle was far from the angriest or most spiteful city when we first found that our town had made the list.
While Port Pirie, a place that "proves you don't need hills to have hillbillies" became the source of death threats, and the Mayor of Kalgoorlie claimed that the authors were "out of control", Newcastle residents took it all on the chin.
"We've found that the towns that get the most aggravated are those that have a bit of an over-inflated sense of themselves," Rissole says. "In terms of online abuse, Byron Bay is probably the worst that we've had. By comparison I think Newcastle is pretty confident in who they are."
But if you're wondering whether that healthy supply of self-esteem means that Newcastle might graduate from the list then think again. Look us up in The Great Aussie Road Trip and you'll find us still struggling to prevail over our friends up the river. Maitland and Newcastle are still in a vigorous contest, claim Rissole and Furphy. It's a "bit like two hobos fighting over a sh*t sandwich".