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Following Sunderland: More than just the football

I’ve had some great days watching Sunderland, and while the results have often been disappointing, the experiences and memories more than make up for the misery.

For many football fans, a look back at the last decade will be a chance to reflect on progression for their club. For Sunderland, it has been ten years of a steady decline which became more reckless and uncontrollable towards the end.

It has been a mostly horrific decade on the pitch for Sunderland, but despite the 2010s fizzling out to a disappointing conclusion, the decade as a whole has been one which I can look back on with fondness.

Over the last ten years I’ve been able to visit new grounds, new towns, meet other Sunderland fans across the land, and enjoy some of the best days out I have ever had.

Sunderland football club has provided me the chance to go to Wembley twice with my Dad and the chance to see one of my closest friends from school in some of the most random towns and cities across the UK.

The 2010’s may not have been kind on the pitch, but off it it has given me some fantastic days out.

Drinking champagne from the bottle in Trafalgar Square, surrounded by thousands of Mackems in the misty red of smoke flares was up there with the best moments for me being a Sunderland fan.

It didn’t really matter about the defeat to Portsmouth the following day, its not like I’d never seen Sunderland lose before. I was disappointed, but defeat is a familiar concept for Sunderland fans.

Watching Sunderland this decade has been a roller coaster on a mostly downward trajectory, but I would change nothing about it. I admittedly have been unable to get to as many away matches as I would have liked, but getting to at least three or four a season for the last few years has been the aim and each one has been as good as the rest.

As my Dad often says, a Sunderland away match is about the day out as much as the match itself. Shrewsbury, Walsall, Coventry, Norwich, Oxford and soon Milton Keynes will have been conquered in the last three seasons. Are they as glamorous as Liverpool, London and Manchester? Obviously not. Have Sunderland fared well at any of the latter three cities? Absolutely not.

Watching Sunderland with my dad has always been something special. Since moving away first to university and now for work it has meant so much more. It doesn’t matter if the team we watch is shite because it’s our team.

It’s the team that I started to support because my dad supported them, it’s in my blood. Here’s to another decade of following the side which has given me some of the best days out I’ve ever had with some of the best people around.