When 15,966 constitutes a crowd at the Stadium of Light

Jake's excuse? He's in Spain
Jake’s excuse? He’s in Spain

We can blame living too far away (me), not fancying a midweek game (many), being cross after Hull (many, I’d guess), Northumbria Police for demanding that contemptible late change of date (a few).

But however we look at it, and whatever excuses we dig out, 15,966 is an embarrassing attendance for a game that brings the possibility of Wembley a step closer. We had much more for a couple of reserve games a few seasons back. Or is it just that we couldn’t care less about the league cup, with or without a desperate relegation battle on our hands?

This is from my ESPNFC.con article published at http://espnfc.com/blog/_/name/sunderland/id/2343?cc=5739. If you fancy a say, here or at ESPN, you know the drill …

A penny for Poyet’s innermost thoughts? Even that would surely be an extravagant outlay to determine which of the two home games against Chelsea, within a fortnight of each other in December, he more passionately wants Sunderland to win. Sunderland’s owner, Ellis Short, appointed him to keep the team up, not to win the league cup. Win both games by all means, but the greater importance rests with the need for three points on December 4.

Other supporters appear to agree with me. With fewer than 16,000 in the stands, the Stadium of Light takes on a deserted look. It was a pathetic attendance for any first-team game, all the more so given the bait that a win would take Sunderland to within two games of a place in the final.

A part was played by the inexcusably crass handling of matchday arrangements by the authorities, from Northumbria Police to the club’s safety advisory group, that led to the fixture being “confirmed” for Oct. 30 only to be changed — without the least consideration for fans making non-flexible plans for travel and accommodation — to avoid a clash with Newcastle’s home tie on the same evening. Nothing had altered in the 10 days between first decision and about-turn; the police had always argued against playing the game on the original date.

But that alone does not explain so paltry a turnout. It is easy for me to say that if I still lived in the North-East, I would have been there. I do not, and never seriously contemplated a 550-mile midweek round trip. There was no mainstream television coverage but thousands of others did not even consider it worth a quick hop on the bus for Gus.


27 thoughts on “When 15,966 constitutes a crowd at the Stadium of Light”

  1. Malcolm I’m sorry your appalled by my mate. Acting like you know,him,me or the circumstances is a bit irritating though and none of your business,but I will tell you he’s story. As for me boasting,it was not a boast. My mate loves he’s wife and kids,he worked and worked hard at that in a very stressful job. He’s wife and kids never went without anything,he spoilt them but only FINANCIALLY that was he’s problem.He didn’t give them he’s TIME what is more important.He’s way of dealing with stress was,going to the match with the lads,home and away and having a drink. It cost him he’s marriage but he brings the bairns to about nine or ten games home and away throughout the season and has stopped drinking. I agree with you mate family comes first always but I/we love the club. I was just highlighting the sacrifices a lot of fans make for the club.

  2. Excellent debate without the answers as to why. Its so easy for exiled supporters to say I would have been there everyone has their only personal circumstances for not attending. I can only applaud the fans that were there and look at 16k fans turning out as a positive under the current situation at the club. Onwards and upwards!

    • I agree it’s easy for distant supporters to say “I would have been there”. I wondered about saying it myself. I do think however, I would have been because I enjoy the social occasion that games present. Of course, if lived up there and had to put up with some of the stuff others have seen I might think differently.

      The meeting friends aspect raises another issue – social occasions cost money. I’m in the fortunate position of being able to buy a ticket and a round. I’m well aware others are not so lucky. How many SAFC fans (and others in other depressed areas) miss games because of the embarrassment of not being able to buy a round of drinks? I bet it’s a fair number


  3. Congratulations M Salut on writing the blue touch paper. I note there was a request for an article on crowd size and you obliged.

    For the record I agree with you that the size of the crowd was appalling despite the many valid reasons put forward by yourself and in the replies. Like you my excuse is distance and also the small matter of only just coming out of hospital, though I wouldn’t have made the round trip even if fit. Would I have made the trip if living local? Probably but not definitely.

    I did not see your article as a dig at our fans per se, but I am not surprised that emotions around SAFC are raw at present. Your article was well written if not entirely well received; however, please be aware that raw emotions cause shit to fly in all sorts of directions. If some lands on you, get over it. Man up, clean up and get on with delivering quality SAFC banter.

    I’m sure the dust will settle and those who are venting their anger towards you will soon have more important things to do.

    Oh, and “Haway the Lads” a double of cup success and League survival would do nicely.

    • Hey, we’re all in this together…. I can’t disagree with what anybody’s said but we have to accept that this cup is nowhere as near as important as premiership survival and we are in an impoverished city. We should consider that in these tough times our loyal supporters may have had to make a choice, Sothampton or Man City….

    • I think DJM sums it up well. I, too, did not see the original article as a ‘dig’ at our fans, or even as a criticism; merely a question for discussion.

      I was at the match and it crossed my mind to wonder why the crowd was fewer than the ones for Peterborough & MK Dons, when there was the prospect of watching a Premiership side (albeit a weakened one).

      For my own part, I have to live on a fixed pension and even though a 200 mile round trip is involved, the £5 admission plus a lift from my son for part of the way, makes a cup game one which I can afford.

      What does shock and appal me is how anyone can boast of having a ‘mate’ who has lost his “wife and kids because he spent all he’s spare time and money on the club”. I’m Sunderland ’til I die, but my late wife & children would always come first. Let’s get our priorities right and see life in its proper perspective. (And don’t quote Shankly, he had a twinkle in his eye when he made his famous statement!)

  4. Like M Salut, I have a long way to travel to get to matches. Petrol or the train, either way it’s around £50 to get up from Liverpool. If I lived in the NE I’d be a season ticket holder and I’d have been there. As it was I chose not to bother.

    Fans are perfectly entitled to vote with their feet and I have sympathy with any regular who decided “not tonight” after the Hull fiasco (and the “Di Canio” fiasco, and the first Di Canio fiasco, and Bardlseygate, and selling Sess, and….. It’s a long list).

    I’ve been supporting SAFC for over 50 years and they have done little to earn or even deserve my loyalty in that time. Just think of things as diverse as overpriced food and drink in the stadia, free tickets for ex season ticket holders but not those staying with the club, cavalier treatment of fans who wanted to stand.

    SAFC are no different from any other club. We like to think they are but they aren’t. And are we fans any different or more loyal than those who travelled from Hereford to Salisbury on a wet Thursday night to see their team go down 4-1? There are a lot more of us but then we are Premiership, not Skrill Premiership.

    When you throw into the mix a change of date, a recession that has bitten hard and long, work tomorrow, a recent full ground for the derby and another home game this weekend you can see why there was a low attendance for this game.

    But only by our standards. Birmingham – Stoke, held in the country’s second city, between clubs only a short journey apart attracted 13,446.

    I think, given the circumstances, there was a good crowd on Wednesday

    • nothing wrong with article best site for safc news always well written. Keep it up. I dont want us to do a Middleburough but i would rather beat chealsea in the cup and will be there to see it. We have so many home games against the ‘lesser’ teams we will be safe.

      • oh aye I’ll be looking sunshine and it’ll be me reminding you. All together now numpty dumpty sat on the wall, numpty dumpty had a great fall

      • Smoggie, I don’t know if your trolling us or this is the best you can come up with, but here’s a little secret.None of us on here care about the Boro and judging by the state of your club were not alone, seriously we know we’re in a mess but have a look in the mirror Sunshine er…Lol.

      • Smoggie (or Mag in disguise, if you are, as if we cared),

        Anyone is welcome to post on this site as long as they observe rules such as decency, so you can make your voice heard here. But, honestly, is that the best you can do?

      • Honestly is the kind of football you lot play the best you can do? Aye mores the pity. Not to worry you’ll make a very canny mid table championship side just like us

  5. You are taking the P. Most of us roll in week after week and travel away and then have to take some of this. You are having me on. Most of us work bloody hard for the cash to feed into the club whilst the Big Money earners prance about the field appearing not to give a frig. I suggest you recant this piece or offer apologies to all who attend week after week.
    Disgusted of Shields

    • Tell me what was factually wrong or critical of the fans. I pointed out the size of the gate, as many others have done, accepted that I was among those Sunderland supporters not present, offered various possible reasons and invited people to discuss the issue. I think one or two people are being a little over-sensitive here.

  6. Take into account we already knew we were playing Chelsea in the next round . Let me explain , it’s a cup game , no points at stake, lose and we’ve missed nothing , win like we did and watch the attendance at the Chelsea game double at least .I know a big crowd roars the team on to better things, in theory at least, Therefore add all of the factors mentioned together and basically that explains the crowd .

  7. I don’t want to harp on about the change of date but who decided that it should be our fixture that had to be changed and not the Mag’s match? Next time there’s a clash, say in the 3rd round of the FA Cup, will we be made to change again or will we get the original date?

  8. Firstly can I just say the first feeling that hit me when I read the headline was ANGER and I’m not an angry character.

    Of all the things wrong with the club,the last thing that is wrong is the fans. They are the only thing this club has had going for them for 40 or 50 years,they are the only shining light.

    Your either unbelievably stupid or trying to get exposure for the site.

    I have been to every game this season,the clubs costs me a fortune,it even cost my mate he’s wife and kids because he spent all he’s spare time and money on the club. No one is as loyal or passionate as us no one. Don’t dare say otherwise,yes you have hit a nerve.

    What have we had to shout about since 1973? What? Scraps and embarrassment. Yet we get over 40k every home league game and have arguably the best away support in England. What other club with a similar history over the last forty years can compete with our attendances?.

    Newcastle for example go on about not winning a trophy for years and have big crowds. Yes true but they have also had, fa cup finals,finished runner up in the premier league twice,finished top five,regularly competed with the big clubs,been a regular in europe and competed in the champions league. What have we had? Yes we finished 7th twice oh we are so spoilt,then we went down with record low points TWICE and possibly a THIRD time this season. We have had nothing for years,

    we as a club who has been rubbish for decades should be grateful for 16k in the LEAGUE,yet we get between 40-48k. Remarkable especially for a working class high unemployment,poverty stricken city.

    Talking about Newcastle. Newcastle vs Plymouth at St James park on the Wednesday the 13th Jan 2010 for an fa cup replay attracted 15,805 so they must be poor fans too I suppose,god and I thought the northeast was the hotbed of football.

    • We all support our club in different ways. Some can get to every game I personally envy them, little as there’s been to shout about. Others go through hoops, wherever they are in the world, to listen or watch. I, and those who help with the labour of love that is Salut! Sunderland, spend hours doing my/our best to provide, unpaid, a site that is interesting, informed and entertaining for Sunderland supporters. I was keen to get people discussing why they thought the gate was so low. The responses show it was a valid talking point. No criticism of fans was stated or implied. But let us not pretend other fans will not mock the attendance in our “hotbed”.

      I am not sure what to make of your complaint that the article somehow showed me to be “unbelievably stupid or trying to get exposure for the site”. Of course the site exists in order to be read but I don’t accept it is gratuitously sensationalistic or provocative. We get plenty of exposure, plenty of hits and there are people here who do get to loads of games and offer their thoughts week in, week out for other Sunderland supporters to enjoy, appreciate or, yes, dispute.

    • I think in a perverse way it also does the clubs hierarchy good once in a blue moon to know that they can’t take the fans loyal attendance for granted . I feel Wednesday night was a bit of a protest vote as to how the club has being run recently ,i.e badly. They can buck their ideas up as well as the team. Don’t worry it will be business as usual fan wise on Sunday and that is a Sky game as well.

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