What To Do Now?

March 18, 2018

In the mid 90’s when I was young and reckless I waved a red card in the air to indicate that I wanted the chairman to quit the football club I loved. When that didn’t work I sat down and waited for the inevitable police march forward to remove us from the stand. That didn’t work either. Shortly after that Bob Murray appointed Peter Reid and the world changed.

 

Bob Murray was not a billionaire. He did not have an endless pot of cash. We were frustrated largely by the sudden discovery of loads of New****le supporters who emerged blinking from the darkness following their sudden influx of cash. We were frustrated that our near rivals who, not two seasons ago, had been struggling for crowds but could now suddenly fill a huge stadium.

 

If we’re absolutely honest about it, we were jealous. That legacy lives on. Those mags who crawled out from rocks and woodwork in 92 try and laud it over us to this day. They call us the unwashed. People from Washington call other people from Washington inadequate because their team plays in a city with an airport. We live with this all the time. For a while it was fine. We could be proud of our underdog status and when Ellis Short came in we were lifted. For a few seasons we even thought the underdog had his day. We had a billionaire owner who apparently seemed to get it. Ellis Short wore a. ALS badge saying “FTM”, he apparently called Peter Crouch out in a tunnel for not signing for us, he even caught the mood by challenging Jack Colback to an ice bucket.

 

However, in all the euphoria with the six in a row we became complacent. We ignored what was happening before our eyes with a Texan who knew nothing about football making a succession of poor appointments which has resulted in our decline. The managers are not to blame and never have been, the backroom behind them must shoulder all of this and those appointments were made by Short. Ellis Short must carry the blame.

 

His naivety is entirely forgivable, after all, if I took over a basketball team in America it wouldn’t matter how much money I had, if I took the wrong advice I would be as effective as Alan Partridge running The Hacienda. What is unforgivable however is where we are now, the fact that in our moment of most dire need we have no leadership.

 

Coleman, bless his heart, is holding Rosemary’s baby. He, above everyone else at the club, needs support from the top but Ellis Short seems to have disappeared. He ignores us in the same way a person on the verge of bankruptcy ignores the post coming through the letter box. Ellis Short has an opportunity now above all other times to become a hero. He could turn up and make a statement. Say that he was sorry and that things were going to change. He could invest and raise the club from the inevitable relegation to League One and harness the power of the fans to show everyone what a great club this is capable of being.

 

He won’t of course, and I fear how deep this will go. When you do a deal with a man who made his money from distressed assets I guess this is what you should expect. What I didn’t expect was how quickly our other prominent heroes would disappear. Niall Quinn brought Ellis Short in, yet now he is almost silent. Who will be our saviour now? Who knows.

 

I have never been angrier with an owner than I am now and the inaction and apathy from the club is scandalous. Martin Bain appears arrogant and ignorant to the feelings the supporters have.

 

However, he is just the stool pigeon. And when it comes to trying to bring more money into the club, does Ellis lead us? No, he gets Chris “sacrificial lamb” Coleman to ask the supporters to renew their season tickets. There are jokes of clubs and then there are owners who prey on the passion of their customers. I fear we are in the latter space.

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At the back end of the 1980s, football fanzines began to sweep the country and in 1989 we were presented with a new vehicle on which to enjoy some of this ride – A Love Supreme. ALS was a place we could all go to celebrate and commiserate being a Sunderland fan. Win, lose or draw, the pages of the fanzine became solace for many of us as we stumbled our way through our day to day lives, punctuated by the ups and downs of more match days than any of us care to remember.

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