Me fellow marras,
Today, as we commemorate the birth of Christ - by drinking far too much booze and giving hard-to-buy-for male family members Lynx Africa gift sets that they will never use - we should reflect back on what has been a truly tumultuous year on and off the field for Sunderland AFC.
We began 2018 with hope - Chris Coleman was the man tasked with steering us clear of relegation and, well, he didn’t. We endured almost five months of banter until we were relegated to the third tier of English football by Darren Bent and Burton Albion, a fitting end to what was a truly horrendous reign as owner for Ellis Short.
But, as luck would have it, new gaffers arrived on the scene just as the season ended, and it turns out that they aren’t here to run the club into the ground, which is nice.
With Donald, Methven and co we’ve reached the end of this most embarrassing of years with our respect and dignity almost restored. On Boxing Day the Stadium will be almost close to sold out - a truly remarkable feat when you consider just how low we were at the end of last season.
Away from Sunderland there’s been Brexit, Brexit and more Brexit... England’s summer of love as Gareth Southgate somehow managed to have the entire nation believing that football was coming home... Prince Harry got married and we didn’t even get a bloody day off work... Russian spies poisoning people... drones bringing an entire city to a halt... oh, did I mention Brexit?!
And Netflix... well, that was a scream. The entire world were opened up to just how bad Sunderland were last season through the brilliant ‘Sunderland Til I Die’ docuseries, which in fairness has seen the club and the supporters gain sympathy more than anything else. Any club watching should use it as a guide on how not to run your club in 2019 - unless you’re Karl Oyston, in which case you probably got some sick sense of pleasure from watching a football club melt beneath the feet of its supporters.
But let’s not dwell too much on the past. It’s the present and the future that are most important - particularly to anyone involved with Sunderland AFC right now, with the club moving forward at pace with unbelievable positivity.
It wouldn’t be fair though to go on without mentioning those that have passed during 2018. Former captain Stan Anderson sadly departed in June, whilst Liam Miller tragically lost his fight with cancer at the age of just 36 - a reminder to us all that you just don’t know what’s around the corner.
I’d also like to reserve a mention for Sunderland super-fan Keith Charlton, a well known MLF who we lost suddenly in November.
Many more loved and adored Sunderland folk have passed on this year, and we can only hope that they rest easy knowing the club are headed back on the straight and narrow. Hopefully, 2019 will continue in a similar fashion to the way this year has ended - with passion, hope and determination.
To all Sunderland fans across the world, I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and a prosperous 2019.