Hello all at ALS
My son is 23 years old, has Asperger's Syndrome and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD.)
I have been hell bent on taking him to a Sunderland game for ages. I so want him to experience the support, humour, love, friendship and noise that only Sunderland fans can show. I have told him about all these things, but he needs to experience it for himself. The problem is, is that he has such sensitive hearing he can't stand loud noises.
I planned to bring him to the Stadium of Light for the game against Tranmere Rovers on 22nd October. He supports Tranmere (which is our local team) whereas I have been a Sunderland supporter for 61 years now. He was really apprehensive and somewhat scared about my plan but said he would 'give it a go'.
After witnessing Saturday's vitriolic abuse (yes, that is what it is) aimed at Jack Ross, players and other supporters, I am now undecided about bringing him on 22nd October. I have had my fair share of abuse, both verbally and physically at matches, notably in the 70's and 80's. Attacked at Stoke, Tottenham, Man Utd, Bolton (yes, Bolton,) and worst of all Everton to name but a few. I don't need it anymore. I don't want my son to see or hear it.
I have told him that he will never experience support that only Sunderland supporters can give. We have created a bond that ties us forever. We jump, cheer, shout, laugh and cry as one. We hug each other when things go right and console each other in troubled times. We might never see these supporters again, but we are Sunderland and it is what we do, or should that be what we used to do.
Depending on the outcome of the match on 22nd October, (would my son be able to tolerate the noise and/or any potential violence and/or abuse) I wanted to take him to Prenton Park on 28th January next year so he can see his beloved Tranmere play my even more beloved Sunderland. My wife was also going to go. After Saturday's events I'm already having second thoughts. Why expose them to potential problems.
I have taken time to reflect about events on Saturday and even now, I just can't understand why supporters don't just stop for a few seconds, think of others around them and realise that their abusive and aggressive behaviour impacts on others. It doesn't really bother me, I just move away from the area but there where many children and women around who don't need to witness violence and abuse. How many of them will return to follow the lads?
Along with many supporters, I feel the pain and disappointment that our performances have brought us so far but for God's sake we have to be patient like never before. We have had to put up with so much crap, both onfield and off for what seems like ages. Our managerial merry-go-round has to stop. We desperately need managerial stability so let's give Jack Ross more time. If we are mid table by Christmas, then fair enough, a change may be in order then. In the meantime I plead with with my fellow supporters to stop fighting between ourselves, continue to support our team, encourage our players to do better and support Jack Ross. We are the gorilla glue that binds us together. Please, let us not tear ourselves apart.
Now, just because we are by far the biggest club in Division 3 (forget this league 1 claptrap) it doesn't mean we have the right to win it easily. Why should we win the league with 100 points or more? As I have said many times, the Accrington Stanley's, Wimbledon's, Tranmere Rovers and now Bolton's of this world can beat anyone in this league on a good day. I expect us to get promoted but I know it's not a forgone conclusion.
I want us to spend any new finances wisely and not rush in to panic buys. We've done that, got the t-shirt. Never again. Just look at the current so-called Premier League (Premier League for who? Manchester City and Liverpool only.) Clubs are paying stupid money for players and are going nowhere. Man Utd will win sweet FA (happy days) Everton have spent a fortune and are treading water and Aston Villa have spent even more in a survival attempt. (Survive for what, the same situation next season.) Them up the road are just making up the numbers.
I would die a happy man if Sunderland got back into the 1st Division (Premier League) and won it, but it would taste so much better if the majority of the players came from Sunderland or who have come through the academy. Wishful thinking maybe, but we can dream.
Onwards and upwards.
Eddie from Birkenhead