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Opinion: Sunderland fans have been starved of success - let us enjoy the Checkatrade Trophy!

Sunderland supporters have came in for a bit of stick from fans of other clubs for turning up in large numbers to get behind the team - and whilst their concerns are valid, they quite simply don’t understand how much any form of success would mean to us.

Sunderland fans at Morecambe last night

I have to admit, reading the bitterness from fan of other clubs on social media just because Sunderland supporters had the temerity to turn up and get behind their team last night away at Morecambe got my back up somewhat.

For those that didn’t receive the memo - apparently we aren’t allowed to support our team when they’re taking part in Checkatrade Trophy games. And, if you do, you’re a scab.

There’s an unwritten protest ongoing in response to the EFL’s decision to allow the U21 sides of top flight and Championship clubs enter the competition - and in fairness, to the clubs that only ever really flit between the third and fourth tier, I can genuinely understand why that might upset and anger you.

I agree that the competition is weakened because of it, and the experiment probably needs to end sooner rather than later. Fact is, the youngsters that make up these squads of the top flight clubs likely aren’t learning a great deal from playing in front of fairly small crowds, in games that many clubs don’t take seriously.

That’s where my sympathy ends, though.

Sunderland AFC

Sunderland don’t have hopes of playing in League One much longer than this sole season - god forbid we ever end up in the third tier again. It’s only happened twice in our long and storied history, and whilst I’m loving winning every week and getting to see us play at some amazing venues, from the club’s perspective it’s not great for our future if we remain here for longer than a season or two.

It’s not totally unreasonable to suggest that Sunderland may never play in this competition, in its current guise, ever again.

So for that reason and that reason alone, fans of other clubs need to understand why we don’t all necessarily share their viewpoint on the EFL Trophy - not for this season, anyhow.

For people of my age this is probably the first time in our Sunderland-supporting lives that we are genuine favourites when taking part in a cup competition. Even at this early stage, Sunderland stand a fantastic chance of winning some silverware in a Wembley final - no amount of derision and bitterness from those outside of our bubble is going to rob us of that aspiration.

Manchester City v Sunderland - Capital One Final Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images

I’m not presuming that we‘ve already won this competition - far from it - but the thought of potentially celebrating a Sunderland win at the national stadium with tens of thousands of my fellow supporters is one that I can’t help but feel excited about.

Sunderland fans have been battered from pillar to post in recent years, more so than perhaps any other fanbase, and the prospect of some success - albeit in a ‘lesser’ perceived tournament - is still incredibly salivating.

We’re enjoying our football again under Jack Ross, and that’s why almost every away allocation has been filled this season. We’re getting to visit new places or venues we’ve not had the chance to play at in years, and that’s refreshing.

The fact that over 1500 Sunderland supporters packed out the away end at Morecambe yesterday - outnumbering our opposition by almost 2:1 - is something to be proud of, not ashamed of.

I hope that we continue to take this tournament seriously, treating it with a level of respect befitting of a side that have a winning mentality, one that has aspirations of winning absolutely every competition they enter this season.

I’m sorry if that’s offensive but, to borrow a phrase, I’m not sure you really understand.

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

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