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Roker Report’s Alternative Christmas Speech: 2019

Merry Christmas, everyone. What a year it has been for us Sunderland fans - let’s hope that 2020 is more prosperous.

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Final - Manchester City v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium Photo by Andrew Matthews/PA Images via Getty Images

Hew lads and lasses,

What a year it’s been eh? Planet Earth seems to have pressed the button labelled ”f*ck it” as it descends into its own greed-driven chaos.

The President of America still thinks guns are good - despite there being more mass-shootings than days of the year - whilst also managing to get into a heated argument with a teenage girl speaking in her second language, whilst the Russians have meddled with everything from worldwide elections to the bobsleigh. Lewis Hamilton was still brilliant at driving cars and buying jets, England won the CWC in dazzling fashion - just enough to pique the nations interest in cricket, for it to be dashed immediately with an abysmal Ashes. After that, South Africa swept all before them aside and won the Rugby World Cup, and Tiger Woods defied all logic to secure another Masters title. As we hurtled to the tail-end of the year, back in Blighty we were spoiled for choice in our third General Election in five years and decided the only way to heal the division this country is beset in was to elect Boris Johnson... and Epstein didn’t kill himself.

Back at Sunderland things started out a bit more hopeful, as a New Year's Day trip to Blackpool beckoned for 8000 intrepid travellers. A kick up the backside from automatic promotion with games in hand, a 1-0 win was the last true joy many of us would feel. Soon after Maja hastily departed to help service an ongoing debt relating to a fat Tunisian who was good at corners, whilst the name Ricky Alvarez made its way back into headlines as someone, somewhere decided we hadn’t quite suffered enough.

Fulham v Sunderland - FA Cup Fourth Round Replay Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

New faces have arrived over the year, however.

Will Grigg has brought goals* (*not many) and Grant Leadbitter has brought absolutely no pace or height into a side lacking both. To bolster the forward line Kaz Sterling was brought in, presumably to keep someone’s seat warm on the bench, whilst Jimmy Dunne arrived to remind us that Flanagan and Baldwin could at least kick a ball in the right direction. Eventually then Sunderland failed and despite having two blasts as Wembley, the best thing about the trips to the capital were the two nights at Trafalgar Square and upsetting Londoners - and even that had worn thin come the second outing.

As one season ended in failure a new one dawned, as did renewed optimism. More fool us. Before long Jack Ross was out of his job after a summer of disruption and the heady notion of being owned by a consortium who would have been the second richest club owners in England. In typical fashion, after a summer of confusion and disruption all we got was a £10m loan and this lousy T-shirt.

“Underlying performance data” soon replaced “skullduggery” as Sunderland's favourite saying. Shortly after began the Phil Parkinson era, and as my mother would say; “if you have nothing nice to say, say nothing at all” - so yeah. Forward passes, forward runs.

So now we find ourselves here, the end of the year.

Well, at least we’ve made it, so that’s something.

What 2020 holds for us, nobody really knows, Sunderland seems at as much a loss as society does and nobody knows where to turn. All we can hope for now is a miracle of a turnaround whereby everything seems to get its sh*t together and tracking in the right direction. Failing that, the threat of nuclear war still hangs above our heads, so it could all be over in am instant anyway.

All I know is that despite the perpetual crisis everything seems to be in that “things will get better” stage, eventually. It can’t really get much worse.

So here’s to you all - as long as we stick together, we’ll be alright.