Sunderland seem to have a unique ability to reach the brink of despair before producing something completely endearing. What you’re feeling right now is nothing new — the elation and pride after a controlling victory — but it comes around so rarely that you could be forgiven for forgetting we’ve experienced it before.
The wiser and weathered among us will be dubious of getting carried away. It isn’t very often that we win two games on the bounce, especially when that requires winning at home. But this time it feels different. Our backs are against the wall, but, finally, we’re fighting.
While Sunderland have produced listless, cowardly performances this season, their showing against Derby couldn’t have been further from the norm. Inspired, courageous, and aggressive are more appropriate adjectives. We scored four goals, and it could have been more. The momentum has shifted, and now is the time to give it everything we have. Now is the time for supporters to fight.
Chris Coleman has called on fans to give their team one last chance. He has begged for stay-away supporters to return. In his post-match presser against Derby, he said: “We’re gonna need all the support we can get. If anybody is watching at home who hasn’t been to see us, I don’t blame them, but we’re gonna need them Monday. We have to make sure we just leave everything on the pitch, try to get another three points, and put pressure on everybody above us. We need all our supporters — just this one game — to come with us and we’ll try not to disappoint them. We’ll try to make them happy like we did tonight.”
So often this season, and in recent years, it has felt like Sunderland have been unwilling to fight. We have seen our players throw in the towel and become complicit in sides walking over us. Our fans have reacted accordingly — why should we fight for a team that is unwilling to fight for us?
We have been desperate for Sunderland to show even an ounce of strength, something for supporters to latch onto, any kind of catalyst to inspire change. Our performance against Derby was that catalyst, now is the time for change, and now is the time for supporters to fight.
Monday 2 April, 3pm, Sunderland supporters must come back to the Stadium of Light. Those who have stayed away must return, must swallow any pride and resentment they feel and join us in the fight. We are individuals, but we are a collective, and we must celebrate that identity. We are still in this, the Sunderland fans are still a force, and together we can win the fight.
For Sunderland fans, it has been a lifetime struggle — a never-ending fight. I say to you, and you will understand, that it is a privilege to fight.