With six League One matches remaining in the 2018-19 season we’re into the final straight, and our fate will be decided during the next month as the battle for automatic promotion comes to an enthralling climax.
After two successive relegations, and a feeling that we as supporters lost our connection to the club, we have roared our way back, rising from the ashes to recapture what makes our club so special.
The summer of 2018 felt like a long one, with news that Chris Coleman was gone and that Ellis Short was selling the club to Stewart Donald coming before the 2017-18 season even ended.
We had a summer of upheaval, a new manager and pretty much a new squad (oh, and don’t forget those podcasts...) but all of that culminated in that opening game against Charlton on a stunning summer afternoon in front of the TV cameras.
How would we play? How many fans would be there? What happens if we concede?
In true Sunderland fashion it was never going to be easy.
Lyle Taylor, a man we courted and nearly signed that summer, scored the opening goal. The fans, though? They made a noise that was only comparable to the old Roker Roar, getting behind the team and firing them towards three points that showed after years of decline we were on our way back.
Make The SOL Great Again
We’ve all had that conversation with a friend who maybe doesn’t support Sunderland.
You’re talking about football, and then they drop in the, ‘well, you’ve got a stadium full of pink seats’. It was a running joke that whenever Sunderland were losing a game - and as a result fans streamed out the stadium - a sea of empty pink seats were left sticking out like a sore thumb.
But, our new owners committed to changing the seats and restoring pride back into the hub of our city and over the summer and as a club – players, employees, owners and fans – we turned the Stadium of Light red and white once more.
The Gift Of Football
When Simon Baty tweeted saying that he wanted to buy tickets for those less fortunate to attend Sunderland’s game against Bradford City, it was something that could easily have been lost to the twitter universe.
But for Sunderland fans, well, they decided to get behind the initiative and show how special they truly are.
Over 2,000 tickets were donated to the Foundation of Light and they distributed them within the local community to ensured nobody missed out at Christmas.
If anything it proved that Sunderland, as a club, had its fire back, and it was that kind act that so many of you contributed to.
@stewartdonald3 is there a way I could give the gift of football by buying an adult and 2 kids tickets for Boxing Day that can be given via the Foundation of Light to the right people? Might make Charlie happy with target 40K!— Simon Baty (@SimonRBaty) November 29, 2018
Remember when Charlie Methven set a target to try and get 40,000 supporters through the gates for the Boxing Day game against Bradford?
Most people felt that it was ambitious to say the least.
Well, we smashed that target – and then added another 6,000 to it!
Yes, over 46,000 Sunderland fans came together for a magnificent occasion at the Stadium of Light as we beat Leeds United’s previous modern-day record for the highest attendance at this level.
We had the third highest attendance in the country that day, and even surpassed Tottenham’s Boxing Day attendance at Wembley Stadium - not bad for a club in the third tier, but not surprising as we continued to fuel the Lads’ promotion charge.
The entire weekend was an example of how a full city can transport itself to another place for a weekend of well-natured partying and celebrating.
We took over Trafalgar Square, we brought over 40,000 to the game and we had a brilliant time showing the world just how much fire and passion we have as a club.
This is even more impressive when you see that our Checkatrade Trophy Final attracted more people than both FA Cup semi finals this past weekend.
Sunderland’s Wembley weekend was special, and it was made special because of the mackem supporters. We took over London and we fired it up with a Wearside flame.
Remember when Sunderland won just one home game in a full calendar year?
Yeah, I try to forget that too.
But here we are, undefeated at home during the current campaign! It would have been beyond imagination had you even dared to think about it when we lost to Burton on the day our relegation to the third tier was confirmed - it’s quite remarkable, really.
If you ever needed evidence that Sunderland has its fire back, then this is it.
We went from a club that was the laughing stock of the nation to a club that is roaring its way back to where it belongs.
Our fire is back.
But now it is time to fire up our city once again to ensure we get over the line.