A wise man, or maybe a singer actually, well, someone once said, "you don't know what you've got, until it's gone", and let me tell you, following my recent move to France, that couldn't be more true.
If, like me, you are always looking to keep up with all of the latest Sunderland news, read the build up to games, watch every game, home or away, and listen to everything available about your club, just imagine having almost all of it taken away from you. Nice thought? No, not really. But I'll start from the beginning...
Is it just me that remembers the days of walking around the town on a Saturday (unfortunately in my case, being dragged around by the mother and my sister), and, rather than look at the latest cardigan Marks & Spencer had to offer, found themselves drawn towards Dixons and the promise of the football scores ticking by on Teletext?
Skip forward a few years, and Soccer Saturday became a national institution. If you couldn't make it to the game, at least Jeff and the boys would be on hand to guide you through the day, gleefully recounting every shot, goal and sending off as our game took place somewhere that was just out of reach.
Then of course came the one thing that makes steam erupt from Sir Niall's ears, internet streaming. Happy to listen to Russian, German or Uzbekistani commentary? Get yourself on a whole host of sites that will happily show the game in full.
Now I was happy to have all of that at my disposal, but when I moved to France, it all fell away. Suddenly I didn't have the internet anymore, except for a few spare minutes when the working day was coming to an end. My Sky subscription had become to expensive to install in France, meaning that I was without TV, and low and behold, my phone decided to pack in. My last link to Twitter was broken. I was cut off from the football media that I have grown to love and cherish.
So what to do in these desperate times? Let me talk you through some of the things I've done, just to try and keep up with the Black Cats, and maybe I might inspire a few people to take a trip to the SOL, while it is still relatively simple.
In my first home game over here, I realised that if I balanced my work load well, I should be able to do a full shift of overtime on a Sunday to catch it on Sky Sports. Simples. Unfortunately, that meant a 45-minute walk to the boss's house to pick up the keys, a 30min bus ride to get to work from there, and a 12 hour shift, to compensate for watching the game, all on a Sunday, with a massive hangover. Worth it? Yes.
Other trips have seen me emailing collegues one-by-one, until someone finally gave in and let me 'borrow' their computer for a couple of hours on a Saturday. If going to someone's house who you don't really know all that well is your idea of awkward, imagine doing that, having to meet their visiting parents, then getting a foul look when you shout 'f**k' through an open door, when Stoke knock in that third goal. I haven't been back.
And so, with no trips to work available due to a shortened week, no internet at a collegues due to a violent, football-related temprament, and no phone to grab Twitter updates on, I sank to the lowest level for the Tottenham game. Checking updates on the missus's Kindle (an eReader, incase you aren't aware). With possibly the worst 3G connection in history, it is the most frustrating device I've ever encountered for looking at web pages, I imagine it is like trying to get a signal at the centre of the Earth, if you went down in a lead box. So, having to reset the thing every two minutes to try and see the latest from the game was almost soul destroying, as was the fact that it missed the last goal, and I thought we drew, until work the next day.
But... The French have pulled through. I have my internet, subscription to SAFC World, and am in a happy place again. But just remember, when you think about calling at the pub instead of taking yourself off to the SOL - You don't know what you've got until it's gone.