Most weeks, readers of Salut! Sunderland drop by on Friday morning to catch the latest instalment in Pete Sixsmith’s twin series, The First Time Ever I Saw Your Ground (if the game in question is away), Team (if it’s at the Stadium of Light).
This is therefore a reminder of all the magic of what we have come to call TFTEISYG and TFTEISYT.
In each case, Sixer has come up with superb pieces of Sunderland nostalgia, drawing on more than half a century of solid support.
Like the rest of us, he gets exasperated. He even punished the club after the dismal 1996-97 relegation by largely withdrawing active support for the season and although he made it to Wembley for the playoff final, those of of us with him that day sensed an air of sullen detachment that had survived the push for promotion.
For all that, and the occasional threats to abandon SAFC in favour of Rugby League and non-league football, he remains a diehard fan, whatever the challenges to his faith Sunderland have presented last season and this.
But both series also offer great reads for supporters of our opponents and indeed for anyone who appreciates seriously good writing on football generally.
So if you support either Sunderland or any of the sides we have played so far this season, home or away, take a look. Click on TFTEISYG if you’ve played us at home, TFTEISYT if your team has been to the Stadium of Light.
Catch the Millwall piece if you can. Millwall supporters tell us a lot has changed and it is clear a lot of decent fans of that club are embarrassed by the reputation the more unruly elements have created.
Sixer, recalling his first trip to the old Den back in 1974, says this:
The ground was a shocker. I am sure that Millwall fans loved it but it was a horrible place to watch football for the away support.
Situated between a series of railway lines with industrial sheds all around it, it paid homage to the powers (if that be the word) of corrugated iron. The stands were unpleasant to look at, the terracing was a weed collector’s paradise and it was easy to see why they rarely lost at home. And that was before we met the crowd. We decided to take seats in the main stand, paid our £1.20 or whatever it was and sat near the back with as decent a view as you could get in a ground that was designed for naked hostility rather than watching the beautiful game.
Read the whole piece here: https://safc.blog/2018/02/the-first-time-ever-i-saw-your-ground-sixer-goes-to-millwall/
He won’t be at the new ground tomorrow. But he reminds all associated with Sunderland AFC that this is the first of 12 games left to “save our universe”.