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BLOG: Sunderland Walk-Out An Indictment Of The Team, Not The Fans

Somehow, Sunderland fans leaving early against Crystal Palace seems to have been more of a story than the dross served up on the pitch (AGAIN!), which is frankly ridiculous.

Mark Runnacles/Getty Images

"What do Sunderland fans expect?", I heard one so-called television expert ask in a distinctly southern accent and the most derogatory tone imaginable at fans streamed out of the Stadium of Light in disgust.

After Sunderland's 4-1 embarrassment against Crystal Palace, what can you possibly say that is new? Absolutely nothing, and that's the problem.

They lost. Again. They collapsed. Again. They appeared to give up at the first sign of a bump in the road. Again.

It wasn't just losing a football match. It barely even was a football match. It was a surrender; a flagrant act of abandon in the faces of fans who will accept literally anything but. Again.

And the ridiculous thing is that you can pick up any newspaper or switch on any football discussion show and you'll be told with manufactured authority that, actually, it was the Sunderland fans who abandoned the team.

Granted, the scenes as thousands upon thousands of Sunderland fans leaving at once didn't make for nice viewing. It's not, and should never be considered, a reflection on them, though. It's a reflection, as well as the most damming indictment imaginable, upon what they have witnessed in recent years.

I wasn't one of the early leavers personally, but I did spend much of the second half messaging a friend in another part of the ground about trousers.

Despite what the assorted media, most of whom have probably not paid to attend a football match for years, will tell you, any notion - any - that Sunderland fans are fickle is absolutely laughable.

I've seen Sunderland fans roar their side to relegation with a ferocity most clubs could never even begin to hope to extract from their supporters in the most successful of times.

I've seen Sunderland fans laugh and sing their way through more footballing misery than I'd like to remember.

I've seen Sunderland attract 40,000 fans in the Championship and almost 30,000 in the (old) Third Division - and it only stopped there because demand exceeded Roker Park's then capacity.

This season alone we've seen a 43,000 average attendance for a return of just three Premier League home wins and, for all the empty seats at 3-0 against Crystal Palace, I'd still be staggered if there wasn't another huge crowd again next time.

What we saw in the stadium isn't a lack of support or passion from the Sunderland fans - we saw a continuation of a cumulative lack of trust in the hearts of the players.

Walk-outs are not a result of a bad afternoon, they are a result of years of abuse at the hands of this team; years of fundamental distrust, years of worrying, years of having more faith in rivals losing to save Sunderland's skin than their own team winning and, most of all, years of players in red and white failing to demonstrate, even at the most minimum level on anything like a consistent enough basis, that they are sufficiently invested in Sunderland as a football club.

Winning games would be nice, but it's not something the vast majority of us have ever had the luxury of expecting at Sunderland.

Show us some sh*t, by all means, but leave us in no question it's the best you have to offer and the very least you will be at Sunderland is appreciated.

Lose a match, but lose it with sufficient defiance to swell the club's heart and you'll probably be applauded for it.

What do Sunderland expect? Absolutely nothing - and these lot continue to get nowhere near it.

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