Dear Roker Report,
I was very interested to read Dale High’s letter as I can closely identify with his situation. I have been a Sunderland fan since attending my first ever game, at Roker Park, aged 7, in 1971.
Eighteen months ago, my autistic son - whose love of, and now, obsession with, football began at a similar age (he’s 12 now) - having by then picked up on dad’s passion for Sunderland, announced he wanted me to take him to the games. Happily, and to my understandable relief, he appears to be relatively unscarred by the horrors we’ve witnessed together both last season and this (though I can’t help but feel waves of ‘guilt’ at his immediate, and excessive, introduction to the pain and disappointment that is part and parcel of being a Sunderland fan) and - to my astonishment, given the circumstances - continues to love the matchday experience.
Nevertheless, and in spite of his autism, he recognises how ‘crap’ we are (he points this out frequently!). Naturally, he doesn’t understand the ‘why’, and almost inevitably this frequently leads to visibly crushing disappointment and a ‘Spanish Inquisition’-type barrage of questions. And there have been several times where - like Dale’s little boy - he has asked “Shall we go now, dad?” (sometimes long before the final whistle) in response to our numerous on-field shortcomings.
I suppose my personal agonies over Sunderland’s plight are magnified somewhat by concerns over the potential effect that successive relegations (and after a shocking 2018 to date, this is surely now a mere formality) - in his first two seasons attending games - may have on my son. For example, changing his favourite team (though I could hardly blame him, were that to happen).
Fair to say, then - and there will be many who feel the same way - that I am at my lowest ebb as a die-hard Sunderland fan. I foresee no end to the misery until Short and Bain, along with all the garbage in the playing squad, are gone from our Club, and pray that all these things happen in the summer and that new owners can immediately begin the long process of restoring Sunderland AFC to the levels we reached under Peter Reid.
Ed’s note: It’s a very real concern that I am sure you have seen shared on these very pages over recent weeks. We’ve had lots of letters from parents concerned that their love of the club won’t be particularly infectious when it comes to their kids. Another relegation could kill off a significant portion of the fanbase, and that could prove to be disastrous.
Dear Roker Report,
I’ve been Sunderland born and bred for forty years now.
I was there last time we dropped to the third tier back in 1987; we were relegated but with Denis Smith, Viv Busby, Marco, Gatesy and two promotions - via the play offs - we showed that it can be done.
Right now, we need a figure head like SuperKev or Niall Quinn to get us firing again. As Quinny once famously said it’s a ‘magic carpet ride’ we all need in order to pull us back together. Maybe relegation will end up being for the best, and we’ll get a new owner.
I can’t see Chris Coleman sticking around. We need a total rebuild - it might take five years, but it’ll be worth it come 3/4 seasons. We must take it on the chin and rebuild from the bottom, so keep the faith.
Lee Mac (Sunderland till we die)