Sunderland give us plenty of reasons to moan; the endless cycle of underachieving in the Premier League, the constant screw-ups off the pitch and in the transfer market - I could go on.
But, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so you’ll have heard the incredibly sad news regarding Bradley Lowery, something which makes our worries about football pale in comparison.
We heard the news that his cancer is terminal and he has been given only months to live. This is a story that has touched many people and for me, it really has put things into perspective.
I know first-hand how it feels to lose someone close to you through cancer - last week marked ten years since my mother passed away from the disease. It’s horrible.
A child losing a parent is bad enough, but for a parent to know that they are about to lose their five-year old son must be unbearable. I can’t even begin to imagine how Bradley’s parents must feel.
The show of support from other clubs and fans has been heart-warming. Everton and their supporters have really gone above and beyond with their backing of Bradley, whilst the football community as a whole really have came together to show their love for this poorly little boy. It’s truly astounding.
This past weekend there were various tributes to Bradley around the country, including at St James’ Park during Newcastle’s game with Birmingham City. It stood out particularly because, despite the Tyne-Wear divide, the Newcastle supporters put rivalry aside when it came to a real-life issue - Bradley’s has truly touched all of us.
Throughout this whole thing, Bradley Lowery has worn a wonderful smile on his face. He has had every reason not to be cheerful but the fact he has seemingly been unwilling to let this get the better of him speaks volumes.
He is, quite simply, the bravest boy I’ve ever seen.
The very least that he deserves is to enjoy what time he does have left. I’ve no doubt that his family and loved ones will make this Christmas the best he has ever had, loving him and cherishing him whilst he is still here.
This story has made me really think about how important football is in the grand scheme of things.
Obviously football is never ‘just a game’ and I will forever stand by that statement but compared to real life issues like this, it feels somewhat irrelevant.
Football does have a place in society but when you really think about it, why do we love it so much? Why do we go to the Stadium of Light to watch Sunderland, even though we’re often let down by the result? Why do our fans sell out almost every away allocation that we receive?
The answer, to me, is because the football brings people together. Supporting Sunderland is passed on from generation to generation and is something that connects many people. Whatever gender, race, sexuality or background in general, football connects so many people across the globe. It’s more than ‘just a game’ - it’s a social thing.
Football may feel somewhat irrelevant compared to Bradley Lowery’s situation, but it has also brought many people from many different backgrounds together to pay tribute to a heroically brave boy who never stops fighting and, most importantly, smiling.