Maybe being thousands of miles away encourages a more philosophical outlook than is possible to take from the singing section down by the south-western corner flag at the Stadium of Light.
As I lay awake in Sri Lanka awaiting news of the Swansea match from the mobile phone of Mr Sixsmith, up in the East Stand, I did wonder whether Danny Graham would be playing and, if so, whether he’d be booed. The answer to both questions, it seems, is yes (there was precious little other “news” of the game to savour).
My own views on the should-we/shouldn’t-we? issue are unchanged from when it was first reported that SAFC had made a bid for Graham.
I could not care less then that he supported Newcastle United as a lad and could not care less now. Nor does it cause me sleepless nights even that, in a light-hearted interview, he once implied that he could never play for Sunderland. The only news value from such an interview would have come from a declaration of the opposite view: “Oh yes, as a lifelong Mag, I can think of nothing better than turning out for the red and whites.”
So yes, I welcome Danny Graham. I accept that his personal allegiance to the wrong club in the North East places a special responsibility on his shoulders. But if is plays to his fullest ability, even when SAFC come up against NUFC, and – of course – if he is actually any good, there is not the slightest, flimsiest reason for any Sunderland supporter capable of joined-up thinking to be other than grateful.
Those are big ifs. It is for him to remove the conditional. But in the meantime he’s ours and deserves the support we once gave Lee Clark, Pop Robson, Bob Stokoe, Bobby Moncur and others. Any other view still strikes me as babyish, much as I continue to defend the right of others to disagree.
This will be a controversial note on which to end, but the most impressive contribution I have seen in months to the (always highly impressive) exchanges on the Blackcats e-mail list came this week from someone whose permission to quote by name I cannot easily seek and obtain while on holiday. So I shall limit myself to saying these are the words of Mr X (unless and until he approves identification):
I have to say, his getting booed the other night was singularly one of the most embarrassing episodes I’ve had as a Sunderland fan. Made a sizeable section of our fans look like a bunch of small-minded, parochial, myopic, carrot-crunching, bigoted, dummy-spitting twats – and indicative of exactly why we’ve not won anything for 40 years and counting.
To much of the world we must look like a footballing backwater – albeit one that’s ravenous for success – giving players and coaches a convenient excuse to steer well clear. Danny Graham may end up being a pile of ca-ca. Who knows. But these daftass prejudices are outdated. Time to move on. Hope he scores a hatful. And by taking on this challenge (and I do know he’s not doing it for free), he’s at least showed he’s got the bollocks for the fight.
There is at least one other way of looking at the matter that includes the right to boo and the right to challenge the manager’s judgement. Perhaps the boo boys and girls really do have Mensa minds and moreover, having had their fun, will be the loudest to cheer him when he comes on.
We shall see. For now, it’s back to a last day of sunshine – after another thank you to Mr X.