Dear Roker Report,
It’s been about five years since I became a fan of Sunderland. Before then I spent my Saturday mornings, on the couch with my daughter, watching whatever random Premier League team the sports channel decided to broadcast.
I grew up in the rural part of the United States, a blue collar type town, and the thought of following a “soccer” club wasn’t on the cards. So when I first started watching... I was a free agent.
Manchester United or Liverpool were the logical choices - their matches were always on the television and they have plenty of fans in the States. One Saturday I stumbled across Sunderland. The SOL was packed. The commentators said this was the best fan base in England. The stadium was absolutely alive with energy. As I watched the match I noticed gritty play. It wasn’t pretty, but it was authentic.
At half time I read about Mackems, hardworking coal miners and the feud with Newcastle. I saw a passionate fan base with “KTF” after almost every online post. I saw a hardworking community who loved their team and it reminded me of where I grew up.
By the end of the match I was hooked. In the last year or so “KTF” appears less and less in comments and posts. Dread and apathy shroud every facet of the club. The days of energy in the SOL are gone.
If I want to watch a match I have to struggle to find another club live streaming it. To add insult to injury - the money I pay (for the iFollow streaming service, which Sunderland opted against utilising - ed.) goes to support the other club.
Why am I still supporting Sunderland? I could move on, we all have choices? It’s bad now, right?
Over the last few years I have been fortunate enough to be associated with the North American Supporters Association (SAFC NASA) as well as the Ellington Supporters Association in the UK. In these groups, I have found the fans I first read about - decent people who want the club to succeed. We struggle with managers, owners and tactics. We text, email and post. In the end, I suppose it’s like therapy.
Let’s get through these dark days together. Talk amongst ourselves. We are “better” than the club is now. We are the only thing we can control at SAFC.
Simply put, we are what still makes the club great.
You can find the NASA (North American Supporters Association) on Facebook here.