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Sunderland fans are magic!

“Sunderland AFC may not be excelling as a footballing club, but the people who follow the team are absolutely magic; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise” writes Paddy Hollis.

Sunderland v Ipswich Town - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that this year has been one of the worst in recent memory. The various coronavirus lockdowns have hit many people hard, and the time for unity and coming together has never been more needed. When the call was made to step up and help out, Sunderland fans answered emphatically.

Last year, the Roker Report Christmas appeal raised over £19,000 - a superb effort given the time of the year. Fast-forward twelve months, and after a year of job losses, lockdown and financial uncertainty, the 2020 appeal stands at well over £25,000.

During this year, we have become disconnected with our football club. First through the poor performances which were put in before lockdown in March, and then secondly through being unable to be physically at the Stadium of Light.

During the early stages of this season, Sunderland AFC would have been at the bottom of a very long list of priorities. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that issues with tactics and form on the pitch pale in comparison to those of the real world.

Almost derelict Stadium of Light. Photo by Dave Howarth/EMPICS/PA Images via Getty Images

The huge effort with the fundraiser has been followed by a drive through food bank at the Stadium of Light, further showing the support the people of Sunderland want to give to each other. It restores faith in humanity after a year which has given so many of us reasons to lose it.

One of the best parts about a Sunderland defeat was knowing that there were thousands of others around the world who were sharing in your frustration. When it comes to supporting these two fantastic causes, it turns out we have this kind of ‘all in the same boat’ attitude.

We have been apart from friends and family for much of this year, and for most of us going to the match was the only way we would see each other. What we can’t do together as a fan base in a stadium, we can do online for the best of reasons.

Sunderland v Rotherham - Sky Bet League One Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Seeing the amount rise over the last couple of weeks to far more than last year’s total has shown how fantastic people can be. There have been financial struggles this year, and no doubt there will be plenty more to come, but our fan base will stick together for as long as it needs to.

Both instances of fundraising and donations have brought out the best from people associated with Sunderland; wherever they may be. In a country where food banks and soup kitchens shouldn’t even exist, our fan base is doing all it can to support those most in need in 2020.

Sunderland AFC may not be excelling as a footballing club, but the people who follow the team are absolutely magic; don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.