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Fan Letters: Thoughts on ‘buffoon’ Martin Bain, ‘clueless’ Simon Grayson, & Sunderland Til I Die

RR reader Scott has some very honest opinions on Martin Bain, Simon Grayson and the ‘Sunderland Til I Die’ documentary. What do you think? Email us: - we’ll include your message in the next edition!

Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

HAWAY Roker Report,

My name is Scott Smith, my username is HAWAY THE SCOTT. My dad was born and raised in Sunderland... Thorney Close actually. He came to Canada in 1973 as an electrician to find work, and it was a few years later that I was born.

My dad and I are extremely close and his passion is Sunderland AFC. His passions became my passions, and I live, breathe, and bleed for this club. I have only been to one Sunderland match in my entire life. In 1987, I came to Roker Park to watch us take on Oxford. Strange how things run in cycles, as like now, that was the last time we were in the 3rd division. I don’t see my dad often, as he lives in another province, but he’s spending Christmas with me this year. I’ve been waiting for him to show up before watching Sunderland Till I Die so we can watch it together.

With that, I’d like to give my opinion on the first 2 episodes, as that’s all I’ve been able to watch to this point.

While it’s hard to watch at times, knowing the end result, I find myself with goosebumps watching this series. As I live in Canada, I’m used to being a one-man Sunderland Army. I’m used to taking the insults from the few friends I have that do watch football. I’m always defending the club. But this series puts you right in the heart of the action. I get goosebumps watching the SOL faithful screaming and cheering together in a wall of energy. It’s incredible to watch for someone like me who is trying desperately to get back across the pond to the motherland to watch some matches at the SOL. I want so badly to be a part of the crowd. To take in the energy and support from what I consider to be my family, watching fans scream and celebrate while other fans behind them smile. It’s something completely foreign to me, that many Lads fans together. Surrounded by a sea of fans that understand not only the club, but they understand the feeling of belonging being a fan of this great club.

Martin Bain is a buffoon. I see how tied his hands are, but he seems like a used car salesman, he’s happy with a salary like that, I don’t believe a word when he says he cares about the club. Glad he’s gone.

Simon Grayson was in well over his head. The one line he said after we lost 5-0 to Celtic, “Perhaps I assumed that the players knew what they were doing” told me everything I needed to know about him. He simply wasn’t prepared, not like Jack Ross seems to be. Yet another bad choice of manager from a horrible CEO.

Another thing that struck me, is how affected some of the players were by the anger of the crowd. Some of them seem genuinely hurt. This surprised me as I don’t get to see that side of things, so up close like so many of you do because I live overseas and watch all the games on the telly. This series drops you right into the fervour and madness that is the Sunderland Army.

I can’t take my eyes off of this compelling, visceral journey even though I know it ends in more heartbreak. Watching the fans up close on match day makes me sure I’m a Lads fan as every game I buy and watch on the telly, I’m jumping around and screaming at the screen. Such is life being a Sunderland fan in Canada.

As I gear up to watch the next 2 games with my dad for the first time in YEARS, The big match against Portsmouth, and the massive Boxing Day match, I wanted to end this with a message of how lucky you all are to be able to go to games. How lucky you are to be surrounded by Sunderland fans who get you and the club. This series makes me realize how alone I can feel by myself over here defending the club, turning when we score to hug no one, because I’m the only one I know who lives for the club. Never stop supporting the club. You all do us fans overseas around the world proud.

I’m loving this series, I’m loving this season, and I wanted you all to know what it’s meant to me to be dropped right into the heart of the stadium on matchday. It’s a strange feeling seeing so many Sunderland fans, at home, cheering and celebrating. It feels like seeing my mothership. It’s certainly solidified my desire to get over there one day and be a part of it all in the SOL surrounded by my people.

HAWAY THE LADS! Lets push on, keep winning, and get out of this league at the first opportunity. Always remember how lucky you all are to be able to go, live, to matches.

Scott Smith

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Lovely words Scott, particularly about your Dad. I sometimes do think fans that live nearby can take their ability to support for granted - those that have decided against going to games regularly, who have been badly hurt by the plight of the club in recent years. I don’t blame them, but I do wish that they’d give the new-look Sunderland a chance again. Many of them are this Boxing Day - I hope they stick around for the games that follow.

You’re pretty much spot on with your assessment of the first few episodes of the Netflix series too. I saw many people giving Martin Bain credit after they had watched him in the series but I just thought he came across as bumbling, clueless, vain and far too negative.

He had a poor job but he never tackled the job head on in the way we’ve seen Charlie Methven do it, for example. He rarely faced the fans and that led to a lot of frustration.

If you ever get yourself across to Sunderland soon, keep us informed!

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