Last Saturday’s 2-0 defeat to Lincoln City was a hard pill to swallow for most of us. It was a match in which we rolled over and died, never getting going against a side which was on a shocking run of form. The Imps’ first goal was gifted to them through yet another individual mistake from Jon McLaughlin, with the second being born from giving the ball away far too easily in midfield and being hit on the break.
It was arguably one of Sunderland’s worst performances since dropping into the third tier. Around 2000 travelling fans were in attendance, and for the first time in a while I noticed a flutter of voices on social media calling for those fans who travelled to be refunded. In doing so, opening a debate which supporters of most football clubs have considered at one point or another.
Going to an away day is, as we all know, an event. The early start, the new town, the new stadium and the drinks (if that wets your whistle) are all byproducts of watching your team on the road. Most importantly, each decision to pay to travel to away games is an individual’s choice. Nobody is forced into going on an away day, unless you are being held captive by a group of niche kidnappers. Therefore, the argument that a club should reimburse fans after a poor performance on the road is a weak one.
Most away days are relatively costly. Transport, food and drink on top of the match ticket (which has varied in price depending on the opposition since our fall to League One) can come to a good amount. However, going to watch your team is a hobby and one which we all should take up knowing that there are no certainties. No matter how frustrating following Sunderland can be, it is something which we can opt out of.
Personally, in the case of most away days I’ve indulged in, the day out and the pub trips have been far better than the match itself. Obviously, this isn’t the case with every team, but every supporter going to an away game should know that the result is never a formality. There is the saying ‘win or lose, we’re on the booze’. It is apt for most away trips and sums up the mentality which supporters should have when going to any football match, home or away.
I get the frustration from watching Sunderland play but let’s be honest: if the club had refunded travelling fans every time the point was made the club would go out of business.
Nobody likes going to an away game when your side fails to turn up and gets thumped. However, it is an outcome which every fan should consider when purchasing the ticket. Especially Sunderland fans. You wouldn’t go and demand a refund after a disappointing film or theatre show, these two aren’t too dissimilar to going to a football game. At the end of the day, all three are attended for entertainment.
The Lincoln game still feels like the dying embers of a bad hangover. If we had the opportunity to carry on ‘hair of the dog style’, as in have another league match which was closer on the horizon than a fortnight away, we could try to get back to winning ways that little bit quicker. Instead, the home game against Fleetwood Town has been called off and there is now what feels like an age until our League One campaign continues. Will we put in another shocking away performance next time out?
Honestly, who knows with Sunderland?
If we do then there will be no doubt further claims that the club should cough up for the players poor showing - as if Sunderland playing badly is a surprise to anyone.