One of the perils of responding promptly to Salut! Sunderland‘s annual appela for end-of-season reviews is that Monsieur Salut may succumb to pressures of other demands on this time and forget ever receiving it. Another is that ensuing events may render the most incisive thoughts out-of-date/
Ken Gambles fell into the first trap. As for the second, a minor adjustment to take acocunt of movement on the change of ownership was all that was necessary. We thought the series- see all entries at this link – had ended with the eighth instalment, Pete Sixsmith‘s traditional closing analysis, but with Ken’s piece, and another from a contributor whose best intentions were delayed by travel, Sixer’s will now be re-numbered 10 …
As the sports writer and sociologist David Goldblatt so nicely puts it, “football matters because people have chosen to invest it with meaning, by playing it, organising it and following it”.
So I’m sure that, despite the fact that is also “only a game”, that this awful season has had as depressing an effect on you as as it had on me.
The hours spent talking or reading about the parlous state of Sunderland AFC have not been good for the soul. It was reasonable to fear as the season drew to its close that our pain was likely to deepen in League One but we can at last hope that positive moves on ownership change mean there really is nothing worse to come.
No doubt we all will have our reasons for the terrible decline most of which will be legitimate and it’s clear that over the past two years (or make that six or more), the club has made a succession of indefensibly bad and unprofessional decisions. You may add your own list here.
Yet, as the Schalke 04 constitution has it, “our future lies in our past” and “collective elation and collective pain are important and valuable parts of our identity”. This is where I’d like focus, hard though it might be.
Our home record of six wins in nearly two seasons and 26 points from the 39 games is truly appalling and there can’t be a club anywhere in the world where the home support wouldn’t be devastated by those stats.
I suppose I’ve been luckier than most in seeing all of these, plus three away wins. Heady stuff eh? But I’ve also witnessed countless inept, spineless performances as bad as any seen in the past 50 years of supporting Sunderland.
So, all we are currently left with is hope (I know, I know) and the realisation that recently Leicester, Southampton and Wolves have been in League One but come back strongly to give themselves a future. Obviously it’s been harder for Leeds and Forest but you get my drift.
We need to believe (that in itself requires a huge act of faith) that it’s going to be like 1987 into 1988 or 2006 into 2007, two terrifically enjoyable seasons. Let’s hope (that word again) that we’ll laughingly reminisce on the incompetence of Camp, Fletcher and Billy Jones as they fade in the memory except in joining the likes of Kelvin, Jozy and Gareth in our worst ever players competition.
It’s whistling in the dark maybe, but the change of owner, a revitalisation of the club (and thank goodness for our brilliant support) might see us take the first steps to being a force again.
As St John of the Cross says, “We are not made nor unmade by things which happen to us, but by our reaction to them” so with that in mind, it’s season card renewed, fingers crossed, and bring on Division One …