Sometimes I am in a position of insight that not only do I not want but no-one else wants either. When my son was 8 he said those words every dad fears (no, not he prefers the Style Council to the Jam, not as bad as that) – “I cannot support this garbage (SAFC) anymore. I want to support my home town team.” This was 11 years ago when his mates all wore Chelsea tops but as I was working in Bradford my son was born in the part of town previously famous for serial killers and the odd riot.
We continued for many years to have trips up to games with the Manchester Section of the Sunderland Supporters’ Club mixed with Bradford City games. As money became tight we bought season tickets at City and have gone ever since. Sunderland home games became rare but away games around Yorkshire and Lancashire were plentiful. Including the chance at Wigan away to win a tin of Uncle Joe's Minty Balls.
In the last ten years I have worn my ever increasing in size Sunderland top whilst watching Bradford city at Wembley (three visits including a cup final) and City win 4-2 at Chelsea in the FA Cup. I also wore it when City beat Sunderland in the FA Cup. I saw City take a young Pickford on loan in goal and predicted he would play for England. I have seen Grayson being crap at Sunderland and then crap at City.
It is an awkward thing watching good value for money football (£149 a season ticket) but constantly looking at your phone for the Sunderland score. It is like sitting with your current girlfriend who is lovely and good fun but yearning to see the previous girlfriend who was exciting but unpredictable and made you suffer so much you became estranged.
Now both teams are in the same division and if the Lads are expecting it to be easy, it won’t be. City have crowds of 20,000 which is massive for the division and teams come there to win – it is their Leyland Daf Cup final; they raise their game ; they do not park a bus ; they go for it and it is a battle. Players with skill get squashed and reputation means nothing. Having a lot of money does help if it is spent wisely but this is Sunderland and when have they been wise?
The grounds the fans will go to are generally small but welcoming and it will be an adventure I am sure many will enjoy as they should make at least the playoffs.
If it goes wrong, then we could all end up with a tin of minty balls.
To celebrate being complete and utter shite once again, we’re bringing bring back this classic t-shirt from the 05/06 season. Looking back to those halcyon days under Mick McCarthy when we managed to amass an incredible 15 points to see us relegated from the Premier League.
Don’t worry we will reach those lofty heights again but until then we can take comfort in the fact that we’re all... still here when we are shit! Hardcore fans and Sunderland till we die, whichever league we are in and whoever owns the club. Players, manager and chairman come and go. Fans remain. We are the club… click here to view product