I've been a Sunderland fan for 50 years. My first game at Roker Park was in March 1964. We beat Preston 4-0, if anyone cares.
I can remember us signing Jim Baxter from Rangers, I can remember Colin Todd being the best young defender in the country, I can vividly remember the Cup Final win in 1973, (we were even better against Arsenal in the semi-final) and I can remember more dismal relegations and resurgent promotions than I want to count. But I can't remember as extraordinary a season as this one.
From the circuses that surrounded Di Canio's ridiculous press conferences to the players revolt that saw him sacked, from the disastrous early season run in the league to the magnificent League Cup run to Wembley, from Poyet's revival to the post-Wembley slump that had us - all of us - convinced we would fail, it has been a gloriously unpredictable ride. It's as if you boiled down Sunderland's many highs and lows of the last 50 years and concentrated them into a single season that said everything about what it is like to be a Sunderland fan. And, of course, it has finished with the greatest escape in the history of the Premier League, a run of results that the finest teams in the country would struggle to match. Simply, unbelievably, beautiful.
Poyet has his critics and he has made a few mistakes. But he is the first manager we have had for many, many years who combines a clear vision of how he wants the game to be played with the coaching skills to see that vision realised on the pitch. We've survived by playing good football, some of the best I've seen from a Sunderland side for quite a while. I'm confident that Ellis Short will do everything he can to hang onto this manager and create the period of stability we need to build for future success. And playing like this, why shouldn't we succeed?