For Wrinkly Pete, otherwise known as Peter Lynn, in this penultimate instalment of Salut! Sunderland‘s annual series of end-of-season reviews, promotion would have been premature, exposing Sunderland to a challenging time in the Championship. He may be right, though most of us probably wanted to go up all the same.
But Pete refuses to see another League One season as too much of a hardship. He has enjoyed himself in the one just ended and most of all at away games.
Pete Sixsmith concludes the series tomorrow with a magnificent appraisal of our season. It is timed to appear just as Liverpool kick off against Spurs in Madrid so you’ll know where to turn should that event fall below expectations …
Always look on the bright side of life
Please play the above clip whilst reading my review of the past season. If you prefer, just watch the clip instead and give me a maximum rating!
When this superb website was being invaded by a mystery “Brian” earlier this season, with his poisonous comments, I was reminded of the “messiah” speech by Brian’s mum in Life of Brian when she says he is in fact “a very naughty boy”.
Hence the video clip from the film but it does sum up my feelings about the season. For me it has been truly enjoyable, despite the ending leaving us short of what many would have wished for.
As other reviewers have already said, promotion would have been preferable but personally I feel it would have been too much, too soon.
The present squad, as shown so clearly in John McCormick’s excellent analysis is not quite good enough and so I believe we would have really struggled in the Championship. Far better to make improvements at the present level without the negativity that would inevitably have arisen from the short sighted fans among us at the first sign of failure.
As to the season past, with my “Wrinkly’s wisdom”, I can view the overall improvements to my club and appreciate their value alongside the playing results. For me, the watching of a good game of football, in good company and in good surroundings is equally as important as the actual result. In that respect, our Checkatrade final was a good example. It might have been nice to win the penalty shoot-out but I will remember the many positives from my day out with my two sons more vividly.
As others have said, it has been good, especially at away games, to engage with opposition fans and see their genuine support in contrast to that of many “big clubs” adopted fans. It has been a privilege to be part of our away support, largely without the vitriolic “sniping” at home fans that some seem to somehow equate with support for The Lads.
I think fondly of the splendid rendition of Sweet Caroline by our fans pre match at Wycombe and will cherish that memory rather than the grim game and result. I still smile at the thought of our fans in the pouring rain stood in the open end at the abandoned Accrington game singing Sunderland ‘til I dry.
Of course there are occasional blips to this thought process of mine. What do I do with my abiding memory from Barnsley away? The game was played in a gale force wind. Grant Leadbitter, who had solved our seemingly eternal problem with corner kick taking, got one (only) of them slightly wrong and the wind took the ball straight out for a goal kick. The man sat directly behind me said “useless c- -t”!
Even the final game of our season has happy memories for me, and these focus on what I will term the fellowship of football.
We had been made aware of the availability of parking for Wembley at Wealdstone FC ground. The club offer free parking with a suggestion that users might patronise the club bar and superb outdoor barbecue. The ground is a short walk from Ruislip tube station, then a brief £1.50 journey to Wembley Park.
Our party of five – seen above – took full advantage and enjoyed the company of the very friendly and loyal supporters of this pyramid level six club, once the home of our own Luke O’Nien.
Thus I will remember season 2018/19 as the one when we once again learned how to “laugh and smile and dance and sing”.