Pride?


When was the last time you felt a sense of pride in our club? For me you have to go back nearly two years to May 2016, when Allardyce danced in front of the South Stand after beating Everton and Chelsea to steer us to safety. I left the ground that evening buzzing, partly because we'd just condemned our nearest and dearest to relegation, but mainly because we looked to be a club on the up.

The 15/16 season had been a rollercoaster, as was standard during our relegation escapology acts. First Big Dick arrived, cried, left then returned, but things quickly turned sour (they always do) and we were left propping to the league yet again.

Then came Big Sam, promising to turn things around providing the players followed his instructions to the letter and prioritised clean sheets and functionality over attacking flair. It seemed to take an age to turn.

But May 2016 was the perfect storm, as Defoe bagged the last-minute penalty at Stoke, whipping boys Villa held the Mags to an unexpected 0-0 and we twice came from behind to defeat the reigning champions Chelsea. The job was completed in style a few days later.

It's all been downhill since then. Not a slow decline, but a rapid, painful death from a thousand cuts.

The news that the club plan to close the Premier Concourse next season is entirely sensible, but also a reminder that season ticket renewal packs are due to hit our letterboxes - or inboxes - in the not too distant future. For the first time in my life I have a decision to make.

Given our financial plight and huge decrease in television revenue, the club needs our season ticket money now more than ever. But balls to them. Ellis Short - a billionaire - created this hole and I begrudge forking out to bail him out when he has so blatantly taken the piss out of us.

I get literally no enjoyment from going to games now. When the stadium first opened we played exciting, attacking football, won games and had players who were proud to wear the shirt, but that has long dried up. Over the last 5-10 years, going to the match became more about the social side as the football was so rubbish, but the current plight has gone way beyond that now. Instead, I leave the house as late as possible, turn up at the turnstile at 2:59 to get it over with then go straight home and on with my day. The less time I spend thinking of football the better.

In fact, the only possible reason I can think of to justify renewing is that I don't want to get out of the habit of not going. It's too easy to either cherry pick or not bother at all once you find better things to do on a Saturday afternoon, and I'd hate to lose the bug completely.

But there really is only so many times you can have your weekends ruined before you start to question your sanity. I think I might be past that point already, to be honest.

When I think of Sunderland, I think back to those Everton and Chelsea games, Big Sam, Pickford and Defoe. The current team might as well be a bunch of strangers as I feel no association or pride in them.

During the week I feel angry that idiots like Short and Bain have destroyed my club, but on matchdays I barely feel anything. It doesn't bother me when they lose because I might as well be watching a different team. It's like watching the reserves. I'd rather they won but it doesn't hurt me when they don't anymore.

Parts of this season have actually been quite funny, in a ‘laugh or else you cry' kinda way. What else can you do when your keeper - proven to be so bad he's been repeatedly dropped then reinstated when both of his replacements turned it out to be equally as awful – allows a long punt to sail over his head 20 yards from goal then receives a red card for trying to catch it? When your top scorer does a moonlight flit to get away without telling the manager then comes back to score against you? Or when you wait the best part of a year not just to win but even take the league in a home game, only for the league's bottom-placed club to score twice in quick successful to peg you back?

Maybe the novelty of drinking gallons of ale, singing daft songs and paying through the nose just to end-up disappointed has worn off. Some will see that as treason or weak-willed, and maybe it is, but I don't think I could stomach League One with Short and Bain dismantling the club bit-by-bit.

I don’t think I’m the only one though. See you next season? Probably. But very reluctantly unless something drastically changes. Relegation without a change in ownership would be the death knell for this club.

#Sunderland #Football

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