I was fortunate enough to be selected to take part in phase 2 of the seat change program and turned up on Thursday 13th to give my questionable DIY skills a run out at the SOL.
I’m 43 and have followed Sunderland since I was 7 and probably had a season ticket for 30 years.
It’s a well-worn journey from my home Gosforth to the SoL and this started like most with a visit to my father’s brick, I talk to him here always and today was no different in that respect but telling him what I was doing felt fantastic I know he’d have been so proud, he would be in his 70s now but I know he’d have come along too and no doubt put me to shame with how many seats he’d have done.
I went into the main reception and reported for duty, whilst waiting Stewart Donald breezed through obviously a man with a lot to do and Nick Barnes of BBC Newcastle arrived too. This wouldn’t be the end of the notable faces for the day by a long shot.
A quick and well-presented induction video and the paperwork signed we were off a band of around 25 I think headed for the famous “haway the lads” section in the North Stand.
As we walked around the stadium from Main Stand I noticed Josh Maja wandering off after obviously what had been a morning training session I thought no more of that at the time.
I have to be honest it was bloody hard work and anyone that knows me will tell you that anything manual is far from my strongest attribute. It took me what seemed like an age to attach my first seat back and the thought of being there for a further four hours excited me as much as a David Moyes press conference (I’ve taken to calling him the Scottish manager as saying his name out loud I’m sure brings bad luck) miserable get.
Anyhow I got going and what we found working in twos really paid off and myself and a young lad called Gav from Peterlee I think started making some good progress.
As we worked I got asked for a few words by a young reporter from the Echo and then got back to it but again this time the lads from Fulwell 73 making the second series of their documentary asked if they could speak to me later, I agreed.
You’ll probably know by now but this was the seat change session where the players turned up to help and as I said I’m 43 but felt 13 as I got to talk and work with the people I’ve spent my life following and what a great experience it was, these are good lads. Ozturk spent a good deal of time helping and talking to me, I also spoke with McLaughlin, Gooch, Cattermole and Honeyman the later thanking me very sincerely for what we were all doing.
The fulwell 73 folk came back and I did my interview and I told them honestly this was one of the best days I’d spent following SAFC the players were so genuine so interested and overall appreciated the fans that were there I absolutely loved it.
The four hours that initially felt could have lasted a life time rushed by and we were taken for a pie and pizza in Quinn’s bar.
My overriding thoughts for the day were this feels like a community club now a club pulling together a club being well lead and extremely well organised it didn’t feel like the shambles I’ve watched on and off the pitch for these last few turgid years this felt like my club again and I felt emotion and pride again.
Thank you to the club the players and all the staff involved in this project it was brilliant.