We’re all just fans here at Roker Report, coming from widely ranging backgrounds, age groups and parts of the world. But what brings us all here is the football club that we happen to support - Sunderland, of course.
And amongst the 20 or so contributors that we have are some 5 or 6 university students. Whilst writing about their club is - first and foremost - a passion, having your work read by thousands of people every day looks good for the old portfolio.
So yesterday I took in a game between Sunderland U23s and Spurs U23s from an unfamiliar position - the press box. Accompanied by fellow Roker Reporter James Copley, who is studying for a Masters in Sports Journalism this coming year, we were kindly given access to the press area for the game so that we could cover it properly for once. We’re hoping to have someone at most of the home U23s games from the site going forward, plus maybe even a few of the away fixtures if possible. For the older lads like me its a nice treat, and for the lads and lasses that are studying it’s fantastic experience for them as they strive towards making a career out of journalism somewhere down the line. And for the readers it gives you a level of access and coverage for the U23s games that you don’t perhaps get from the newspapers and official club channels.
It was a nice change for me personally as I usually tend to cover these fixtures from the stands, off my phone. Being able to do things properly meant I could actually concentrate on watching the game for once!
The match itself, at the beginning, was pretty dull and the opening hour of action just felt like a training ground game so that the first teamers could get some minutes under their belts. Bryan Oviedo and Jack Rodwell barely broke into a sweat and it wasn’t until they left the field just after the sixty-minute mark that Sunderland were able to actually start playing.
Canny view, the pitch looks good.— Roker Report (@RokerReport) August 11, 2017
Looking forward to some 60 yard Donny Love rakers this evening. pic.twitter.com/u3IZwtVhN2
The energy from the youngsters in that final half an hour of the game was infectious, and with Simon Grayson watching on from the stands it was clear that they were giving their all in order to impress him.
In particular, Ethan Robson and Tom Beadling - two of the more ‘senior’ of the U23s - were outstanding, and certainly gave a good account of themselves. They must look at the success of George Honeyman, playing and scoring during the week at Bury, hoping that their chance too is coming soon.
Whilst this football club has many flaws, I think it’s fair to say that we have a superb youth set up and the one saving grace of this traumatic relegation from the Premier League could be that a higher percentage of our talented youngsters might actually be given opportunities to succeed in our first team.
There were only around 300 fans in attendance last night and I implore anyone reading this to get along to the games when you can to take in some of the football from our U23s side.
They’re next at home on the 24th of September, against West Ham. Get yourself along. It’s a cheap trip out for you and the kids - especially if you are a season card holder as you get in for free - and some of the football on display is, honestly, impressive.
They play entertaining stuff, give their all for the shirt and really want to succeed at this football club. Some increased support from the fanbase might even lead to some success for them in both the Premier League and the International Cup this coming season - who knows.