A few weeks ago - on the eve of this new season - I wrote about the diminished values, the lost values, and how their loss was a tragedy for our club. The values on which the Stadium of Light was built - the vision of Sir Bob Murray, a man of County Durham, and the values which Irishman Niall Quinn reignited.
The values which were then set on fire and burned away under the soul destroying corporate ineptitude of the American, Ellis Short.
After the takeover, Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven had a new idea - a “one club” philosophy. But what would their values be?
I concluded my July article hoping that their values were true, hoping that the new philosophy and their values would work but not quite sure what their values actually were. I was hoping that it wasn't a soundbite like “The Big Society” from another Oxfordshire resident.
Everything in late July was new, it was fresh. The new owners’ enthusiasm had captured people’s attention but it was too early to know if there was any substance to it.
Was it more marketing guff, a different brand of corporatism to what Short delivered? At that time we hoped - we gave them a chance, we watched and we waited, though we didn't yet know.
Well, the weeks that followed have given us clues to the answer.
Charlie Methven’s belligerent media and in-person messaging, Stewart Donald’s vision communicated so well and so passionately across fan-led outlets as well as traditional platforms, Tony Davidson’s local knowledge and hard work, Jack Ross’s calm assurance and the absence of any bullshit were all positives.
But what does it mean? What are their values? What is the one club philosophy?
These blokes from Oxford in their chinos and their loafers. They may as well come from a different country to the North East of England. Would their values be our values, whatever they may be?
Hit that like button for Juan! #SAFC #HawayTheLaxs pic.twitter.com/1f2XzJQX5W— Sunderland AFC (@SunderlandAFC) August 19, 2018
Methven’s statement that, “Sunderland is an old fashioned football club” is so simple and so true and resonates with our values, our club, our father’s club, our grandfather’s club.
The engagement with businesses, small, medium and large - the businesses of the city and its surrounding areas bringing everyone together.
This can only help our profile, help confidence, confidence which has been too often crippled by negativity and feelings of disadvantage and despair. Charlie Methven makes you believe - he makes you certain that you will succeed.
Furthermore, Juan Sartori showing a bit of daftness in the South Stand was fantastic to witness. Showing pleasure amongst people, enjoying people’s company, having a laugh, it is a North-Eastern value - part of the North-Eastern culture. The man from Uruguay clearly gets that and seems to genuinely love it.
Stewart Donald showed his values by visiting a long serving fan at his home. He didn't have to, but in so doing he showed that he understands the value of the community that binds us, the values of tradition that tie us, the value of history that made us. The club. The one club approach guiding the present and the future.
One club, yet there are many different ways of showing your values as something resembling an old-fashioned football club. Belligerence, fight, fun, and a shared community working together. There is nothing new here, just old fashioned core values of hard-work and care.
It is still early days - and there will be difficult days ahead - but if the new team can consistently deliver on these values then how can they fail to deliver the ‘one club’, the better club, the caring club that we all grew up with?