Dear Roker Report,
This year will be the 50th since I saw my first game at Roker Park.
I have had plenty ups and a whole lot more downs in that time but for some reason this season is different. The uncertainty and inconsistency this season and the thought of a second season in league one just simply hurts.
I have always known that as a Sunderland supporter we carry a unique burden of hope in the face of adversity as defined by ITHICS. But on Tuesday night when Gillingham made it 2-2, for the first time I can remember I didn’t want the hope any more and I switched off the radio. The automatic promotion dream had become a nightmare and I couldn’t bear to listen to us failing again.
Then some time after 10pm I got a message from my son. “Perfect. Back to winning ways” followed by “Barnsley and Portsmouth both drew”.
For just about 45 minutes I had escaped the fate that came my way when I was born in Sunderland and I had given up the hope because sometimes it brings with it too great an emotional burden.
Now it is Friday night. Tomorrow the season continues with us away at low placed Bristol Rovers while Portsmouth play Barnsley and all I can think is if we win and Portsmouth win we are one point behind Barnsley with a game in hand.
Truly it is the hope I can’t stand - but I’m glad it’s back.
Sunderland to win the league suddenly sounds like a good bet again.
Ed’s Note [JN]: Hopefully you’re right! I think we can see the late comeback against Accrington, subsequent back-to-back wins in the league for the first time since November and a week where every result went our way as the latest turning-point in the season. It’s still incredibly close, but hopefully the Lads have enough quality to get the job done.
For what it’s worth I’m thoroughly enjoying this season. Aye League One is both a bit crap as well as a massive breath of fresh air - but financially we need to get out of here as soon as possible.
Dear Roker Report,
I am saddened by the casual, complacent and un-reflexive responses to the fans from the US that thoughtfully opened this debate.
Race may not quite play out in Sunderland, and indeed, in the UK generally in the same way that it does in the States. However, insidious forms of nativism certainly abound.
I have lost count of the number of times when in these pages and on the terraces the presence of that non-specific category of people described as “foreign mercenaries” is invoked to describe the woes of our team.
For sure, there have been plenty mercenaries, drawing large salaries and offering little in the way of effort in return. However, just as many of this group have been native countrymen as they have been migrants.
The narrative is utterly discriminatory, serving to demean the, often brilliant contributions of continental players such as Yann M’Vila for example. It is, frankly, tantamount to racism.
Ed’s Note [JN]: Thanks for your letter. I think this does exist, of course it does, racism is an easy insult and scapegoat for the worst people to use. However, the previous letter inferred this was almost on an institutional and endemic bases, which is plain wrong.
If racism didn’t exist, we wouldn’t be having these conversations. Unfortunately, it does in all of it’s most blatantly abhorrent and stealthy forms. While Sunderland is not an institutionally racist area, it does exist and of course needs stemmed out.
While I disagreed with the previous letter I do share a concern with you: just how easy it was for many to bat away racism as if it simply does not exist. This is downright wrong and counter-productive to overcoming the issue.