Flashback 24 months. The year is 2016, Sunderland are about to seal their Premier League status yet again in emphatic style under the stewardship of Sam Allardyce. All is bright, all is rosy, things finally look like they’re going to move forward on Wearside. Then Roy Hodgson put Harry Kane on corners and the rest, as we say, is history…
Except it isn’t history, is it? Not for us Sunderland fans. I won’t bore you with the tragic tale of David Moyes, partly because we’ve all heard it before, and partly because I may have a nervous breakdown reflecting on that season.
However, he was the one who ripped out the foundations Allardyce began to build at the club, and Sunderland AFC have been on a landslide ever since. It’s hard to fathom how it could go so wrong so quickly and not even the most pessimistic Sunderland fan could’ve envisaged it accumulating to back-to-back relegations.
As expected with such a spectacular public fall from grace, the footballing world have had very little sympathy for the Black Cats, with plenty of ‘banter’ flying about across social media and beyond. If you give it then you’ve got to be able to take it too I guess, and particularly with the Geordies we’ve had our fair share of laughs over them in the past 10 years or so.
Nevertheless, some of the tragic banter displayed from some of them lot up the road cannot go without acknowledgment...
It’s not just the Mags that are having a good old chuckle at our expense either, the #TopLadLadLads twitter feeds are all aboard the Sunderland demise bandwagon too, with UniLad getting amongst it...
Sunderland fans to Newcastle fans in 2016: “Enjoy the Championship and playing away at Burton Albion!”— UNILAD Football (@UNILADFooty) April 21, 2018
2018: Burton Albion relegate Sunderland into League One, Newcastle 10th in the Premier League pic.twitter.com/9cQTp5lChh
However, the one that I and I’m sure many Sunderland fans can’t get their heads around is the grief from Manchester United fans.
For year upon year since THAT Aguero goal that led to sections of Sunderland fans doing a wee Poznan dance at United's expense, the Red Devils have jumped on every opportunity to rub salt in the wounds of Sunderland.
Even Fergie was upset by it and clearly many United fans still are to this day six years later...
So aye, we’re a laughing stock, and rightly so too may I add. I’m sure many Sunderland fans themselves have had a wee chuckle to one another during the course of the past two seasons at how catastrophically poor we are, because if you don’t laugh then you’d cry.
This, you’d hope, is what rock-bottom feels like, and it’s been a long and painful fall from grace for a once respectable club.
I am very much an optimist - even during the dark days of the last 18-24 months I’ve always had a shred of optimism (delusion) before most games.
Yet, even I struggle to see the best in the majority of staff and players at the club at this present moment. I’d like to think that they’d see that they were all responsible and played a part in the complete self-destruction of a fantastic football club. I’d like to think that they’d see the ridicule and mockery Sunderland have received from the media and beyond and feel responsible, embarrassed, and more importantly, determined to put things right again. However, I won’t hold or waste my breath on this current crop of incompetent, overpaid and overprivileged individuals.
As for us as a fanbase, well all we can do is take the stick from others on the chin, appreciate the top-notch banter, pop to the Winchester and wait for this all to blow over. Then once we’ve wetted our whistles with some fine ales, we can return to the Stadium of Light in fine voice, with a new owner who not only cares but also funds the club enough to progress and with a squad of players who will fight for the shirt and maybe have an ounce of footballing ability too.
Is that too much to ask for? Yeah, probably.