Sunderland fans rarely enjoy April.
It is the cruelest month according to poet of yore, TS Eliot. We’re either struggling to go up or struggling to stay up. We’re rarely mid-table and rarely certain of promotion. We have plenty of experience of being relegated in April, but that’s not enjoyable either.
So this April is par for the course. Turn the clock back a few days and it looked as though we had hit form at the right time and would romp to promotion.
But that would not be the Sunderland way - it’s much better to have a couple of dodgy home results, including a breathtakingly incompetent defeat to Coventry, and let other teams close the gap.
Portsmouth and Charlton should be out of sight but now they are right back in the frame. We are still in the driving seat but it doesn’t feel that way.
Perhaps we’ll continue this poor run and by Tuesday we’ll be resigned to the play-offs.
The Sunderland way would be to take four points from the next two games and then set up a tight finish, with everything going to the wire at Southend on 4th May. Southend may well be relegated by then so should it be an easy away win. Shouldn’t it?
It’s no surprise that the atmosphere at the Stadium of Light can be nervous, especially at this time of year. Fans are desperate for the team to just get a result, so seeing them go 3-1 down is not likely to generate a great atmosphere. 2,500 away fans seeing a famous victory will make a lot of noise.
I don’t see why this should cause such an existential crisis amongst the fan base.
There have been many contributions to the debate on how to generate more atmosphere in the ground. One is to move the away fans.
I agree – there was a better atmosphere when they were in the South Stand in my view, but that’s not going to happen without moving loads of season ticket holders and the club is clearly not interested.
Another idea was to ask South Stand singers to slow down their songs. Get real. Every generation of fans has its obscure player chants which, in my youth, you only picked up if you stood in the back of the Fulwell or went to away games.
My favourite was the one about Denis Smith going to town to buy a Lamborghini. No-one suggested that one should be slowed down.
Then there’s the drum.
For me, drums belong in the same category as clappers and pre-match dance troupes. They’re an admission of failure, the mark of small-time clubs who need some local DJ to ‘show our visitors a genuine Bournemouth / Swindon / Reading welcome’, as an encouragement to the local 11-year olds to wave coloured sticks in the air and squeal at the away fans.
If we end up with a drum, why stop there?
With the Premier Concourse shut, why not install a church organ and have someone play an accompaniment to the action on the pitch. Some quiet tones when the ball is moving listlessly in midfield, mild peril when the opposition break forward, a funeral march when they score, something triumphant for when we win. It would be a talking point.
No-one needs a drum in a football ground, ever.
However, where has the air horn gone?
There’s no better way of getting a chant started than with an air horn. Were they banned in the 90s? If we really want a better atmosphere let’s have air horns in each part of the ground. Better still, can we just go 2-0 up after 15 minutes against Doncaster and Portsmouth and cruise to victory?
That’s the best way of getting the crowd going.