I hate football. No, I love it. No. Hate it. The things I hate about football are omnipresent in my history of following Sunderland. The things I love are what drew me in to an inseparable abusive relationship. I really hate the fact that as Sunderland go through the ditches of their most depressing period the fans are singled out as the problem. These are the fans that drew me in. That first ever away game at The Dell as I walked up a street nervously with my Dad assuring me everything would be fine. Hearing noise and freezing and then turning a corner to see a pub full of Sunderland fans.
The team have provided little joy. My love for the club comes from the supporters. A collective family that embraces you regardless of race, creed, gender, disability, sexual preference. You’re wearing red and white? You’re one of us. I also love the fact that we grapple with owners. We stamp our feet and say this is our club, not yours. Whether you are a Texan billionaire or an Oxfordshire PR man. The divisive statement from the club which attempted to turn the guns on the fanzines and fans is sickening. It hurt the very thing that drew me in.
We all have favourite stories about awaydays. Whether that be the fella with the bugle sticking a picture of Keegan on the telly on the Shields branch bus home after we were promoted and the Mags lost the league before playing the last post or the daft bastard who ran on the pitch to confront players at Preston before realising he was being a tit.
The point is that the club in terms of results doesn’t really matter. Yeah, we would love for this club to reward us but as a fan base we thrive on our community. In my entire life Sunderland have won fuck all of note. But I have had a blast. I have had misery for sure but the laughs I have had along the way almost make up for that.
When the collective statement was released it was not representative of the fan base, nor did it claim to be. No poll was carried out, no survey outside the ground, it was just fans like you and me being pissed off that we were in the position we find ourselves in. Remember above all else why you are there. I know you crave for Sunderland to have the international platform they deserve and you get frustrated at the shitshow you often see on a weekly basis. But we do talk to fans of other clubs about how great the fans are. I know we are proud of the people that made you love this basket case of a club.
We have nothing else to be proud of other than the fans. So, when the team is shit and the board is shit and we’re at our lowest point just remember. We are Sunderland til we die. Sorry about that.