John McCormick writes: many of you will know at first glance that the photo on the left is of Ian Todd. Others may not and, perhaps, would appreciate some kind of introduction.
I’m not sure I’m equipped to provide one, other than to say this man is the kind of Sunderland supporter I’d like to think I am, and I’ve been to daft and distant places like Norwich, Bristol, Oxford and Leyton Orient, not to mention those most hostile of venues, Old Trafford and Millwall’s old Den.
Ian has been much further, much more often, and done so much more wherever he went. And he still keeps going.
Over to Ian:
This morning booked my Norwich match and rail tickets. Prompted, rather than inspired, by this initiative I then got out my Season Card and rail tickets to Sunderland for the Derby game and put them together in my Railcard wallet. What has come over me?
Am I in danger of being categorised as enthusiastic, excited even, for the coming season? No! I prefer to classify it as curiosity! I openly boycotted many away games last season plus, for the first time in my recent memory a home game – the final one against Swansea. So is this a change of heart, a surge in that inbred devotion? Not yet! My emotions are to be put on trial.
Yes, I allowed the club to start deducting my season card payments and will often take up my usual SoL seat. But I certainly can’t guarantee 23 visits, or for Cup games when I may well have to sit elsewhere. Midweek and other silly televised kick-off times and dates will probably provide sufficient incentive to accept a Barnes and Benno commentary in the comfort of my armchair as the more pragmatic decision.
So why 100% attendance at our first three Championship games? As I’ve said curiosity! I clearly ought to familiarise myself with these new players and to assess whether Simon Grayson can provide me with genuine hope that a more durable foundation for progress has been laid. I can then set that against my growing despair in the last few PremierLeague seasons and plan the degree with which I’m prepared to be a part of the team’s support throughout the coming winter.
It’s not a mental state I’ve experienced before nor one for which there is any medical treatment. The remedy lies on 24 Championship football grounds!
(Footnote – again for those who don’t know Ian. He was responsible for the foundation of the London branch of the SAFCSA 50 years ago. Just the other day I was looking at an old programme (SAFC v Everton March 25th 1967) when I got distracted supposedly looking for something else, and he got a mention there. He is also an elected member of the Football Supporters’ Federation, was awarded the MBE and is a frequent visitor to the Colliery Welfare ground in Hetton watching SAFC Ladies. MD)