The paper I work for in the Gulf, The National, launches its Saturday edition today (Nov 15), making it a seven-day-a-week publication. The sports section has a new feature – My Team – and has shown a healthy sense of priorities, running my piece on Sunderland as the first in the series. Here it is….but after reading it, post a Comment telling Salut! Sunderland why YOU support SAFC and what it means to you (or another team if you strayed in here but support someone else). Footie books for Christmas will be the prize for the best entry, as judged by me and assuming sufficient people reply to make it worthwhile
You do not, or should not, choose a club to support in the way you select from a menu or rack of clothes. Clubs choose you.
Well, that is how it used to be. You followed the team in the town in or near where you lived as a child, or which had been your father’s team even if the family had moved away.
One fellow supporter of Sunderland AFC characterised his allegiance as an “act of malignant fate”.
But his commitment, like mine, was never in doubt. We both grew up in County Durham, in north east England, at a time when Sunderland was part of the county.
My father first took me to see them play at Middlesbrough when even standing on tiptoes failed to produce a clear sight of the pitch. Somehow I glimpsed Brian Clough’s winning goal and knew in an instant that Sunderland would be the passion of my life. And how I have suffered for that passion.
The “Bank of England Club” of the 1950s descended, following the first relegation in their history, into a sad yo-yo existence; each time they rose to the top flight, they fell back again.
Short-lived flashes of excellence (winning the FA Cup in 1973, finishing seventh in two successive Premier League seasons) seemed little more than tantalising overachievement.
Decades later, I am just as dedicated, to the extent of keeping my season ticket despite moves to France and then the Unied Arab Emirates.
But why shouldn’t I be? I may have endured eight relegations; I have also seen nine promotions.