Peter Lynn, our own Wrinkly Pete, makes a welcome return to these pages with a positive appraisal of all things SAFC. And no, he never actually fell out of love; it was just a lovers’ tiff …
“I can’t help falling in love” – again.
Old fashioned as I am, I didn’t feel right contributing to this splendid website this season until I had seen a few games.
Now that I have; four wins and a draw in a calendar month, I would like to express my feelings for the positive changed atmosphere around the club.
As those kind enough to read my opinions will know, I wasn’t one to blame all of SAFC’s recent past woes on Ellis Short. However, the new ownership (they would probably prefer custodianship) has incredibly quickly replaced a poisonous atmosphere with something approaching genuine happiness.
The replacement of the SoL faded seats is probably the most visible action they have taken but engaging with the local fanzines and allowing space for their articles in the match programme is, for me, more significant.
Both Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven have said they are football fans but that is easily said. Actions like the content of the programme or Stewart Donald standing among our away fans at the Doncaster away game prove their worth.
Their appointment of Jack Ross seems, at this early stage, a master stroke. Not only do his team selections seem sound but his use and timing of substitutions have been perfect in the games I have attended. I am happy to admit that questions I raised about – for example – the replacement of Maguire with O’Nien at Plymouth have been quickly and positively dismissed.
In addition, he has clearly instilled a team spirit that sees players fight for each other and the cause.
At Plymouth, when the inevitable response to our opening goal meant that the home team put us under pressure, our players threw themselves into prone positions in order to block shots. I know some might say that is only what you would expect; I would reply that it is not something you saw as a norm last season.
Further, I should imagine that he is behind the current greater engagement of players with fans, as seen on the train returning from Plymouth with Luke O’Nien’s time spent with our fans.
Speaking of happiness, the atmosphere amongst our fans at away games is now a joy to be part of.
While I have found enjoyment in past seasons it was always a case of expecting the pleasure to be short lived. Now there is positive momentum and I can even tolerate the odd (?) fan climbing up my back to stand on the top of my redundant seat to celebrate another Aiden McGeady super goal!
6 thoughts on “Wrinkly Pete: can’t help falling back in love ….”
I was a little confused when CM claimed that ‘the fans are fickle and at some point in the future they could turn against them’, it seemed a strange statement during the honeymoon period.
I tend to think that he just phrased poorly (which is surprising for him as he is normally a competent and articulate speaker) what he was trying to impart, although I only read his comments and therefore cant fully contextualize them, but what I think he was trying to say was that the support were suspicious, and after Ellis’s tenure that’s no surprise, and was coming very much from the school of ‘respect is earned and not any bodies god given right’, actions speak louder than words etc. etc.
So far their activities are ticking all the right boxes and they appreciate that the support is passionate, hopeful and has expectations/ delusions (cross out as applicable) for the future. What is encouraging about the new set up is their willingness to engage with the supporters and be so open about the Clubs situation. This is a breath of fresh air in comparison to Mr.Short.
They have sorted some problems, there are some to still be resolved, and yet more that require close vigilance, but we are moving in the right direction and its a case of so far so good and shows good promise for the immediate future.
I think the point he was making is that supporters crave success and if at some point in the future they have ambitions which the club is not delivering, whether those are realistic or not, there could be grumbling and dissatisfaction. He referred to Bob Murray’s departure and at the time there were plenty of fans who thought he had taken us as far as he could.
Also while we consider Stewart Donald to be a wealthy man he hasn’t the wealth of an Ellis Short or Saudi prince, so should we continue to progress up the leagues other backers may need to be found or for the club to be sold.
Personally I am 100% behind the current regime and my only worry is that should they receive an offer they can’t turn down, supporters would feel betrayed and let down yet again.
I don’t think that will happen but we Sunderland supporters have learned to be cautious!
Thankfully, there appears to be less criticism of individual players recently, or maybe that’s because I’ve blocked HITC. I really hope Ozturk plays in the cup games and does well as he seems to be the only player that some fans still have negative feelings about, despite his solid performances off the bench since his hesitancy against Charlton, led to the penalty and against Sheffield Wednesday led to their first goal.
What the current ownership have shown is that by taking control of all aspects of the organisation, by appreciating the place that the club has in the community, by respecting and valuing the supporters and by appointing the right people then the fans will get behind them and to paraphrase Ian Holloway, the out of control juggernaut can be stopped and turned around.
Listening to Charlie Methven helps one appreciate just how big a mess the club was in when they took over, even though most of us could see for ourselves the extent of the maladministration under Ellis Short, which was frightening – although interestingly CM says the rot started with the Drummaville consortium.
Whilst Jack Ross may take the credit for on the pitch performances, just as previous managers took a lot of stick, the ownership have a huge say in the culture of the club, the type of manager and players appointed.
Stewart Donald knew the type of manager he wanted and Jack Ross impressed so much that once he had been interviewed no further applicants were seen. Tony Coton was appointed to oversee player recruitment and given a strict brief as to the type of player (in terms of personality as well as playing strengths and salary) needed and we can see the result of that in the way the whole of this current squad is building up its relationship with the fans.
There is a perception that Ellis Short left the club debt free which is not strictly the case. Although he did wipe off a huge amount of debt and to his credit waited to find buyers who he thought would work in the best interests of the club, SAFC were at a point where they were about to go into administration and there were still outstanding payments to make for players who were no longer at the club or had any intention of playing for us again.
Stewart Donald and Charlie are rightly collecting a lot of praise for what they have achieved in six months and for re-engaging with fans but they are both businessmen and their team is Oxford United. In a meeting I was at where Charlie Methven was present, he said they are in it for the medium term at least and apparently they have already been approached by other parties interested in buying the club. He also said that he is aware that fans are fickle and at some point in the future they could turn against them. I am hoping that they continue the good work for quite a while and I get the feeling they are beginning to feel that the North East has a special relationship with its football clubs that is far more intense and involved than they were used to in the South Midlands and Home Counties.
Like almost all Sunderland supporters (where are you Brian?) I am enjoying following the club again. Hopefully I will continue to do so in the Championship next season (whilst counting no chickens as there is still a long way to go) and am looking forward to my new red seat when next we play at home.
Ha’way the Lads
It’s not something measurable, rather it’s something. Being felt is no less worthy than being something thought.
Being something felt leads to something being loved. After thousands of years of study….nothing is more important than that we love….it’s time to fall back in love with SAFC. Peace and love brothers and sisters. Neil x
It had been a long day…and maybe i’d imbibed a glass too many…the bar-room philosopher will be confined to a padded room henceforth….sorry for the cod psychology….still agree with the sentiment though
Peter some times it is easier to fall out of love than to loyally continue a one way relationship with not one vestige of interest or concern shown by the other side for the suffering you feel. This season has been like a cool drink to a camel lost in the Sahara.
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