The Home End

October 15, 2019

Stations are funny places; in London they attract beggars and wood worm (why else would there be holes in the gent’s cubicle walls) while in Durham they attract SAFC away fans as well as a strong contingent of middle aged women dressed up to the nines heading to York? It is here I find myself on a damp Saturday morning about to head to Lincoln, which is a lovely place by the way.

 

This will be the first time that I have attended an away game in the “home” end, a strange set of circumstances lead us to this situation. Including – but not limited to – an exiled brother, a window cleaner and a Lincoln player. Hardly six degrees of separation but who cares.

 

The journey began with a clash of seats, a classic double booking, a match up like this hadn’t been seen since Benn versus Eubank. Fortunately, I can understand how a calendar works and the other chap had seat D70 for the previous day. Hopefully he managed to avoid the jobsworth ticket inspector, age fifty two, but he didn’t look a day over dead, who I’m certain, given the chance, would have him beaten to death with a sh*t covered cricket bat. Officials, I’m not a fan.

 

I’m sat next to a canny lad as well as my errant teenage son receiving regular updates on local football scores. The pleasant ambience is occasionally broken by the cackle of a Prosecco fuelled orange ball of oestrogen wrapped in a pink ribbon and wearing a large hat - nailed on heading to York.

 

Also, on board are a set of West Ham fans, or so they say, although none of them know Ray Winstone so I’m not entirely convinced. Maybe they’re under cover Arsenal fans or hiding some other similar embarrassing fact. They are off to the smoke to watch some hip and trendy DJ in Camden, sounds like they are off to eat humus, wear their large hats and snort whatever this week’s latest en vogue narcotic is.

 

To set the scene here are is some key information relating to Lincoln.

Lincoln is a nice place similar to Durham/York with good locals.

Lincoln zombies are a thing, homeless people smashed up and groaning in doorways.

Lincoln is flat, I mean really flat, think flat…

 

We arrive, have a couple of pints and head to the ground. Lincoln appears to be an area that is thriving, much like their football club. The town centre is full of students looking thoughtful and angst ridden I can only imagine they are all reflecting on spending eight million pounds on a foot bridge the width of a collapsed giraffe – seems reasonable.

 

The match took place and we were awful, in particular the fullbacks. The away end was subdued at best and the Lincoln supporters’ enthusiasm reminded me of happier times when the Stadium of Light was rocking. There’s a strange feeling in my chest and it’s not indigestion, it’s the pang of jealousy.

 

Sunderland have missed a trick in not going for the recently departed Lincoln management team (Cowley’s) this sort of enthusiasm and passion that the Imps showed today is the reason that I fell in love with the game. That all seems a distant memory from where I find myself as we trudge away from the Sincil Bank with the aspirational (emphasis on ass) three points no longer available.

 

Another away day and another defeat my recent sub optimal away record stands at P15 W1 D1 L13, possibly the worst record since Billy Ray Cyrus released Achy Breaky Heart. It feels like the first forty-five years of childhood are the hardest.

 

 

 

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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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