Whether it’s Aiden McGeady throwing Chris Coleman under a bus, Jimmy Sinclair and his scouting team appearing absolutely clueless when offering Zlatan Ibrahimovic as a viable transfer target, Martin Bain looking particularly incompetent when Jack Rodwell kills his transfer plans after deciding to see out his contract, Jason Steele claiming he had no idea he had been dropped before being reinstated as first choice keeper, or Simon Grayson flipping a chart and demanding hard work for the working classes, Netflix’s documentary about the club’s exploits last season is engrossing from start to finish.
And in spite of all the negatives that will ultimately emerge from the documentary, there is but one thing that remains wholly undamaged by the series’ prying lenses - the fans.
In the face of all the drama, the gut-wrenching, anger-inducing, idiocy that burned bright behind closed doors and on the pitch before us - we, the fans, come out of the series as honest and passionate as we all know to be true.
Of course, there are moments where supporters denounce the side’s performance as a “shower of sh*te” and exclaim that those on the pitch aren’t “fit to wear the shirt.”
At one point there’s anger aimed at the camera crew following the club’s exploits; there’s also booing and calls for Grayson to be removed from his position - amplified for effect, of course.
But what else would you expect from a group of people so badly neglected, so badly mistreated?
During a latter episode, one fan asks: “Do the players realise what all this is about?” while in an earlier one, another boldly states to Martin Bain that “We can’t walk away from this football club!” The fans’ input throughout the series is simply brilliant. There’s a brutally honest element to our fans that really brings out our collective humility.
There’s no false pretenses, conceit or arrogance.
After all, we’re just working class people looking for hard workin... ah, reet.
But in all seriousness, it’s hard not to feel a swell of pride surge from within as Lads and Lasses pour their hearts out for all to see. How they turned up in their masses week in and week out, despite the horrific situation in which we found ourselves, is mind-boggling.
When talking about our working-class roots, fans talk about the club seemingly being part of our very fibre as a people. There’s a sense that supporting this club is just in your blood, and it’s a statement that likely echoes within all of us.
There’s a particular few moments where Joyce and Andy - two workers at the Academy of Light - discuss what it means to be a fan: “You don’t have to be here, but you love them, don’t ya?”
Has there ever been a truer word uttered when discussing the love of Mackems and their club?
There this deep, visceral, almost primal sense of tribalism that just exists with much more fervor up in our corner of paradise versus anywhere else in the country. As the series notes, it’s likely due to our industrial past; nearly everyone knows someone who worked down the mines, or at Pyrex, or on the cranes, or in the shipyards - and the sense of community found in those walks of life was second to none.
That lives on in our club. This sense of people coming together, supporting one another and a symbol of their hometown; Sunderland ‘Til I Die just gets that, and shows it with a truly brilliant sense of originality.
Keep the Faith! We’ve uttered it for years, it’s about time someone shows the world it’s true.