Dear Ben, Gabe, Leo and James...
It’s with somewhat of a sweet paradox that you announced your thoughtful arrival in the film world with your excellent debut feature ‘In the Hands of the Gods’.
As passionate Sunderland supporters, like us, you will appreciate the irony of that very same sentence being used to describe the mysterious fate and unknown trajectory or our footballing destiny.
If there are any ‘footballing Gods’ out there and we are indeed in their hands, then surely an angelically blessed, heaven sent fate for Sunderland AFC could be written in the stars with no greater or more fateful destination than Fulwell73.
If such stars could align, then the God of football himself could not have sanctified a more momentous or appropriate sporting marriage.
I’ve included Mr. Corden in this sumptuous ode to Sunderland AFC with full knowledge of his passionate allegiance to West Ham United, but have done so for several important reasons - the main one being that I’m certain James will appreciate a club historically formed and shaped by the sweat covered, breaking backs of working class people who forged a sporting team into an iconic institution.
Now, having been sold out decades later, we are left as mere bystanders as the current steward of our beloved club forfeits our trust with selfish and pitiful fiscal decision making.
Sadly, love of the club and passionate support are mere sound-bites of an under-active yet overly-clichéd PR team who claim such boasts, but show through their actions that their intent is hollow and vacuous.
In Fulwell73’s much heralded and critically acclaimed feature, ‘The class of 92,’ Ryan Giggs lovingly retells the yarn of Sir Alex Ferguson keeping such a close eye on the youngsters at Manchester United that he personally once turned up to end a party that Giggs was throwing. Such was Sir Alex’s devotion to that crop of emerging youngsters, that he could not bear to witness them throw away their careers on addictive frivolities and empty glamour.
Well, for the Sunderland ‘Class of 18’ it’s definitely time for devoted, responsible people to take hold of this football club. New owners are urgently required to pull the plug on all the abrogating, negative noise that stands in the way of footballing progression.
If no-one steps in now, it is not beyond reason to imagine an end in sight to Sunderland’s 139 year history. Perhaps, since schoolmaster James Allan first formed Sunderland and District Teachers AFC in 1879, there has never been a time more fraught with danger and dark anticipation.
As life-long Sunderland supporters, it would be the fulfillment of a dream to be involved in the ownership of the club.
That was you guys last year, when your creative and ambitious minds showed an honourable interest in buying the club from its current owner and general pantomime villain Ellis Short. You did what all Sunderland fans would do if they found themselves in a position of economic success and global acclaim.
Our club, your club, was falling into a potential black-hole and there was a portion of your boyish, dreamy and excitable footballing souls that saw a moment - a moment when perhaps the dream was possible. A moment when the wild childhood fantasy of taking control of the club you love seemed achievable. A moment where controlling the destiny of an institution that has transfixed your senses and entwined its grip around the very fabric of who you are was actually conceivable.
Yet, a year ago when the rush of breath-taking blood had settled and your heartbeats returned to baseline, you were able to analyse the possibility objectively. For very ethical and noble reasons, you felt unable to commit the time necessary to lift the club from its kneeling position and back onto its feet.
But, if we were on our knees back then, we have nails in our coffin today.
In one of your last twitter posts, Ben, you stated simply but proudly;
Sun’land til I die.
It reminded me of the official statement made by Fulwell73 last year, as you - very sorrowfully - explained why at this time it was not possible to take over at Sunderland, but left open the direct possibility of involvement;
We will always support the lads and offer any assistance, at any level, in helping to re-establish this great club at the level it deserves to be.
That was 2017. This is a new year - a new beginning and all things can change. What wasn’t possible then may be possible today.
Think of some of those challenges you faced last year. The price for the club was too high - now it has been slashed. I am certain that if you showed genuine interest at this stage, that Mr. Short would would be so grateful that he’d happily arrange a payment plan that would be beneficial to all just to get his cursed investment erased from his business portfolio.
Last year we had a dour, flat balloon as a manager who thought he was too big for the job. This year we have a young lion just waiting for the right tools, so he can wrestle this buffalo of a club into submission and take it forward with vigour.
You are also not alone. You will be joined by a blindly loyal consortium of enthusiastic and like-minded individuals. You know - Sunderland supporters. They like you will invest what they have and will support your efforts as long as they are genuine and built on a foundation of integrity.
Look - let’s be honest. You MUST have talked about it. I’d bet all of James Corden’s annual salary that you have. James - you can afford it.
Would you feel some regret that you didn’t try?
Perhaps the current, most public face of Fulwell73, James Corden could conclude this open letter with more success than me.
The difference between doing something and not doing something, is doing something.
Ben, Gabe, Leo - gentleman of Fulwell73. Please make the difference. Do something.