It’s been noted by many fans that the national media simply haven’t given Sunderland’s demise the coverage it so rightly deserves.
Years of mismanagement, wasteful spending, a revolving door of managers and players, botched recruitment and business strategies, embarrassing cover-ups and absent ownership have taken their toll, yet Sunderland have somehow emerged as nothing more than a cheap laughing stock.
Like some petty court Jester, the men in red and white have been mocked and held in contempt by many media personalities. Subsequently, the club’s free-fall from grace hasn’t been thoroughly examined by many, and as such fan apathy has grown considering few have bothered to spend their limited time and efforts on researching a club sounding its own death knell with a cacophony of implosions.
In turn, a feeling of insular helplessness has smothered those bearing witness to this slide into oblivion, with many believing nothing can be done to arrest our woes.
It’s been nothing short of pitiful.
However, believe it or not, just yesterday George Caulkin wrote this piece for the Times where he looked to cast light on the shadows that have blanketed our club’s misfortunes.
Caulkin was impressively direct in his criticism of Ellis Short, and despite the fact his tale of despondency won’t raise many eyebrows in the North East, it was reassuring to see a well-informed and much respected journalist confirm that our fervent disapproval is indeed righteous:
Even in November, a division below and with Simon Grayson sacked, Short did it again. He talked about reporters “guessing or making it up,” about the chants of “Are you watching Ellis Short,” now an established match-day tradition, and which, newly relocated to the United States, he was no longer present to hear. Nothing would get better until the team improved, he said. “That’s the important thing and although I understand the frustration, I hope that all us can focus on that.”
Yet why should that be a compromise that supporters need to respect? Why, when they have watched their team win two home league games over 14 miserable months? When, after their grisly embrace with relegation from the Premier League, they are now second bottom of the Championship? When is it acceptable to focus on dissent, to think about something better? In League One? League Two? When you decide it is acceptable?
Caulkin was scathing in his pointed critique of Short’s tenure, and rightly so as the fans of this wonderful club deserve so much more. Our loyalty has been nothing short of heart-breaking in a sense; especially when you consider that awfully haunting statistic of two home wins in just over a year.
Caulkin seems eager to encourage Sunderland fans to take a long, hard look at our current position before asking ourselves when is enough, enough?
In a way it’s quite damning that a national journalist has to reassure our displays of ire. Of course we should be fed up and demanding better, but for whatever reason we simply haven’t acted.
Whether that apathy has come from a gradual erosion of confidence, fear of backlash, or due to leading rhetoric is up for debate; however, Caulkin wants us to know that it’s alright to be upset and that our disapproval should be encouraged:
There is nothing wrong with expecting more from a club, of believing in something, in asking for accountability. Or even in craving fun. As that old song had it, the one which fans serenaded Reid and his players, “Oh I could fly without wings, on the back of Reidy’s kings.” All supporters should dream. And for those who doubt the wisdom of protest, of making noise, Sunderland were once renowned for their Roker Roar. Make enough of it and they will be heard.
Ultimately, the fact that Caulkin has raised the issues at Sunderland is a positive piece of journalism that is much appreciated by fans who have been desperate for others to understand the symptoms behind our worrying demise.
With familiar and respected figures offering their support to our disenfranchised collective, perhaps room will be created whereby positive, structured action can take place? One can certainly hope.
My hope is that Caulkin’s piece at the very least fans the flames of national interest in one of the nation’s most historic, well-respected and embarrassingly mishandled clubs. Scrutiny, discourse, and potentially organized action, are exactly what we need if the club is to recover from what feels akin to a crippling disease.
Caulkin’s article certainly goes some way to opening a much-needed analysis of Sunderland’s worsening worries by those across the footballing world.