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Not Funny Then, Sunderland - Funny Now

Chris Thompson from 'A Love Supreme' guides us through the sheer ridiculousness of Sunderland's season.

Matthew Lewis


In my time as a Sunderland fan I remember seasons with either plenty of ups (usually promotion pushing Championship seasons) or plenty of downs (low points seasons, most seasons to be fair). Never before has there been a season which has taken us to such dizzy heights but such demoralising lows. Mistakes have been made, we can only learn from them. We're safe now, so we should put those downs behind us and remember them merely as piece of the jigsaw in this memorable season as an SAFC fan. In a way, for all they weren't funny then, they are all quite funny now.

Paolo Di Canio

Not funny then: It seems like another life now, but what a crackpot this bloke was. It brought great shame and embarrassment on us as a group of supporters to be not only associated with a self-admitted fascist (is that still controversial?), but to be expected to invest into one. It's not something I wanted associated with my club, and by some of his earliest quotes at Sunderland, it became apparent that he was a Britney Spears waiting to happen. His ostracism of Cattermole (my top man this season) and Bardsley was a clear sign of his poor man management, and he lost the dressing room early into the season (it's debatable if he ever had it). Not a good manager, not a good bloke, correct to get shot of him as early as we did.

Funny now: What were we thinking? He was absolutely mental! From that knee slide at St James' to going on for 40 minutes about condiments. Remember when he said Chris Powell was his best mate to try and convince everyone he wasn't racist, only for Powell to turn around and say something to the effect of 'actually, we only played together for a year and even then he was a bit of a fruitcake'? Pied. Absolutely pied. Ever sent a friend request on Facebook to someone you think you're mates with only for them to ignore you? It happens to Paolo every day.

Fielding an ineligible player

Not funny then: When this all came to light I got myself in a bit of a panic. A simple administration error it seemed could have cost us our place in the league if the powers that be had decided to impose a points deduction on us. What a kick in the bollocks that would have been, to do all this fighting to stay up only to be relegated thanks to something as daft as that.

Funny now: It was Ji Dong Won. The world's tallest midget. Ten to two feet. If anything we should be awarded points for giving the lad a game. It's hilarious how clubs are supposedly kicking off about it as well, like he made even the slightest bit of difference to our performance. I know there's that argument 'if Dortmund are after him he can't be shite', but the thing is, I'm actually an amazing singer, the best singer in the world. In the shower I sound like Andrea Bocelli, but when I sing in public I might as well be Lottie Henderson performing 'let's get physical'.

Outrageous red cards

Not funny then: They cost us games those outrageous red cards. It's fair enough rescinding the decision, but it's no compensation to us if the game has already passed and we're 3 points to the deficit. Imagine going down and having to watch one of those decisions again in the season review, would have been sickening.

Funny now: I quite like it when Cattermole gets sent off in a way, all the so-called experts come out of their underground bunkers and say 'yeah that lad has a real discipline problem, all you ever see him do is committing fouls'. Aye, that's because all you ever do is watch Match of the Day and they only show the outstanding highlights, you don't see all the sweeping up, pinging balls across the pitch and legitimately outstanding tackles that amount to 90% of his game. Additionally, let's be honest, for all that Cardiff sending off (the shirt pull which started outside of the box) was praised for being a logical decision, we were very lucky to get that, I've never seen one of those given before whether it was the right decision or not. It's an old cliché, but these things do tend to even themselves out. Poyet's post-match comments when he's annoyed are also generally quite funny. 'HOW A RED CARD? EXPLAIMMM'.

Jozy Altidore's goalscoring record

Not funny then: When you buy a striker, you'd love for them to be the type of player who doesn't mind mucking in with the defending from time to time, maybe he likes to work the channels and create space for the wingers, maybe he likes to drop off and drive at the defence from the midfield, maybe he sees himself as more or a target man and likes to lay it off occasionally, all that is great, but it's a luxury. Ultimately, the bare minimum you really expect from a striker is that they score goals, and Jozy has scored the same amount of goals in the league this season as Lee Cattermole. That's saying something.

Funny now: Altidore has quickly turned into some sort of twisted cult hero. I remember in the semi final second leg against Man Utd when he had a great chance to whip a cross in, took an almighty swing at the ball, missed it completely and fell on his arse. The crowd didn't even get on his back, they just laughed and clapped him, and this was when we HAD to score. If you've been following his Twitter escapades you'll have learnt to appreciate his dry sense of humour as well, from rubbing his status as a Premier League footballer into the face of his detractors, to telling them that he'll have a go at the girl in their profile picture, to bragging about the size of his nob. I like him, I hope he's still here next season, with a pair of shooting boots this time.

The FA Cup quarter final team selection

Not funny then: It wasn't just the weakened time selection down Hull that made us feel cheated, it was the timing of it. For all we were proud of our efforts in the League Cup Final and proud of our conduct as supporters, we were all a bit emotionally fragile and the lack of ambition shown to give us another chance at a domestic trophy despite being at such an advanced stage just felt a bit disrespectful, our shit run afterwards certainly didn't help matters either.

Funny now: You know, in a strange way, he just might have gotten it right. We'd have been backlogged with fixtures if we had progressed in the FA Cup, especially with that Man City match getting postponed. Rumours were, if we had progressed then we'd have had to play 4 times in just over a week; Saturday, Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday. It could have well and truly killed us off, you just never know. Plus, knowing Steve Bruce with his big fat head and face like a week-old helium balloon, he'll somehow find a way to cock up the final. He'll probably start with no forwards, or sign Nedum Onuoha on an emergency loan and play him as a lone striker. Something like that. It was also quite funny watching the Hull fans try to wind us up with their awful chants. Acting as if we're bothered. As if they matter. Saying that like, their 'getting mauled by the tigers' chant made me cringe so much that I think I suffered whiplash. I might put a claim in.

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