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Cattermole: Football Is What Sunderland Lives For

The ghosts of the past are driving Catts forward in relegation scrap.

Ian Walton

The experience of seeing a club's spirit torn apart by relegation is what drives Lee Cattermole to prevent it happening to Sunderland - a city he insists 'lives for football'.

The midfielder suffered relegation as a Middlesbrough player and remembers the job losses and loss of enthusiasm around the place. It's not something he wants to see again, especially not here. He told reporters:

This is a huge club, and a big city. Football is what the city lives for. If we go down, a lot of people will lose their jobs. Everything goes down, the attendances, the kids won't enjoy their football as much and look forward to games as much.

Everyone wants to see the big names. I just know from my relationship with Boro, how my cousins and family talk about football. It is not the same as the people here do. There is not the buzz around if you go down. We have got an opportunity now to survive this. It would be massive.

It's something that we have seen too, and it wasn't pleasant. In 2003 when we went down with just 19 points, office staff were being made redundant at the club whilst the players who had done it to them were lapping up the luxury of their lifestyle. Michael Gray, the then captain, famously turned up for work in a brand new Ferrari during the redundancies. It was grim times.

Whether that happens again given the players all being contractually obliged to to take a 40% pay cut, I don't know. Let's just not find out though, eh?

In fairness, it's easy to be skeptical of whether footballer's genuinely care these days, but Cattermole is one who has probably earned some trust there. He stayed in January when he probably could have pushed for a move and his performances on the pitch all season have probably been as committed as anything we've seen in the modern era.

What has the season looked like from his point of view?

Describe the season? I was going to use a swear word! So many ups and downs. Not only personally, but from a team point of view. It has been really tough. We have played the whole season under pressure.

I don't think there will be a Sunderland fan out there who can't echo those thoughts! Can we please just get a few more points and put this season to bed before the final day and forget it ever happened? Probably not, as this is Sunderland, but we must have earned ONE stress-free afternoon of football? Surely?!