There hasn't been a lot to smile about for us Sunderland fans recently, a flirtation with the Capital One Cup last season, edged with a glimmer of hope as Fabio Borini's opener hit the back of the New Wembley net..... Could we actually beat the champions and win a trophy for the first time in many years? Of course not, but the idea was nice for a while.
Another two sweet victories over them up the road, highlights of a somewhat desperate last season, and 'the great escape' brought on more of a relieved grimace after bouts of intermittent euphoria, when we finally got the results we needed to secure another season in the BPL.
The good news is, we have won a trophy, in fact very recently and in somewhat emphatic fashion at that.
Introducing Sunderland AFC Ladies, whose acceptance into the Women's Super League has been a long time coming.
Formed in 1999 by a merger of Blyth Spartans Kestrels and Sunderland Ladies, the club have been at the top of the women's football in the north east for the majority of their existence, winning several Northern Division and FA Women's Premier League titles.
Last season saw the team make a stunning debut in FA WSL2, winning the league title with an outstanding record of only 2 defeats and 47 goals in just 18 games and breaking WSL2 attendance records along the way.
The new season kicks off in March, with Sunderland now lining up in WSL1 and taking on the big guns including Manchester City, Arsenal and current title holders Liverpool.
As the Ladies prepare for the transition to the top flight several new appointments have been made to drive the club forward. Former Academy coach Carlton Fairweather has been named Head Coach, with club stalwart Melanie Reay named Assistant Head Coach.
SAFC Director Per-Magnus Andersson has been appointed Chairman and had this to say, ‘Interest in the women's game is growing significantly and securing promotion to the top flight as champions was a fantastic achievement for the women's team. I am both proud and delighted to be taking on the role of chairman as they begin their WSL1 journey and I am looking forward to the season ahead.'
Alongside Everton, Leeds and Birmingham, Sunderland have supplied more players into the England International set up than any other club in the whole league structure and currently have players in every level of the England set up.
Current England captain Steph Houghton is Sunderland born and bred, just one example of the standard of player Sunderland have been producing for many years.
Fans player of the season Beth Mead, a stand out performer and goal of the tournament contender in the recent U-20's World Cup, is surely one to watch out for in future England squads and will be looking to emulate her goal scoring form as the Ladies make the step up to WSL1
Special cut-price season tickets for the new WSL1 season are on sale for a limited time only, at just £38 for adults and £12 for under 21s and over 65s. Family season tickets are also available, featuring two adults and two children or one adult and one child.
Season tickets (special prices available until January 30, 2015)
Under 21s/Over 65s: £12
Family Season Ticket 2 Adults 2 Children: £90
Family Season Ticket 1 Adult 1 Child: £45
Exciting times are ahead, we'll be keeping you up to date on their progress here at Roker Report.