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Roker Report’s Alternative Christmas Speech: 2020

Merry Christmas, Lads ‘n’ Lasses. This year has been a challenge for everyone, not just Sunderland supporters - here’s hoping that 2021 is a good one.

Soccer - Capital One Cup - Final - Manchester City v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images

Hew Lads & Lasses,

Merry Christmas - finally, we’re here.

At the risk of making a grand understatement, what a year it has been.

Ultimately this year has been a test, but you didn’t need me to tell you that. As a different kind of uncertainty threatened to blight the landscape of 2020 another swept forth and ensured that any thoughts if Brexit were put on the back burner.

Because of this, we as a nation had an opportunity to take stock of what really was important and unsurprisingly, football fell foul of such a list. As football entered its longest break since the Second World War, a nation learned a lot about itself. We once again realised just how lucky we are to have, and how important our NHS is, we found homes for the homeless as easily as those who govern us found multi-million pound PPE contracts for their mates, and we realised that baking bread probably isn’t quite as easy as what it seems.

As we embraced our new normal without football, we were allowed to take stock of what is around us. Those confined to their homes were not abandoned, those not stuck indoors found a new appreciation for the world around us.

Sunderland v AFC Wimbledon - Sky Bet League One Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Together we embraced the challenges before us and united under a banner of a rainbow. Together, we found the true value of a hug, how precious time with loved ones is and that pubs are somehow the cornerstone of the economy.

Of course, as we learned to live under these circumstances we tentatively popped our head above the parapet and took steps to establishing a sense of normality. Bubble became the word on everyone’s lips for the first time since 2010, and we rejoiced as gyms, bars and restaurants opened their doors. Then, after complaining for so long about a lack of football, it came back. However, this is Sunderland and any dreams of a new beginning in a post-Covid world were immediately dashed as we remembered Phil Parkinson was our gaffer.

In a crazy year, all that is left for me to say are these thoughts on what has been an unprecedented 12 months.

Thank you to our amazing NHS staff - in the midst of a global pandemic, you never stopped. Draped in insufficient PPE (if you were lucky) you all put yourselves front and centre without being asked. You all sacrificed hours, days and weeks of your life to help fight this virus.

You put yourselves through hell and back to save our loved ones, whilst all the time putting yourselves at risk. Clapping on our doorstep may not have paid the bills, but for people as helpless as ourselves it was the best we could do.

NHS England Starts Covid-19 Vaccination Campaign “n Photo by Hugh Hastings/Getty Images

Thank you to all the other key workers - the unsung heroes (and not just because I am one), with little thanks and without the spotlight thousands of you got cracking when others wouldn’t. It may not seem much but going house to house, place to place or just dealing with the general public during a pandemic isn’t the most relaxing of tasks.

With scant reward you have embraced a sense of duty to keep the wheels of this country firmly in motion.

Thank you to everyone - as a country we have banded together, raised money for charity and evoked a sense of community. Together we have looked after one another, whether it be delivering shopping, waving to loved ones through a window or just staying indoors. Thank you for keeping each other safe and sane, even if your Zoom quizzes were shit.

To those who did anything to help our annual fundraiser - thank you isn’t enough. We took what we had last year and ran with it, but it was your generosity that made it all possible. Thank you to every person who donated, who liked, shared, retweeted or anything else. Without you, we wouldn’t have been able to achieve such grand sums of money. Rest assured, every penny raised will see a worthy cause.

And finally, to those who have lost loved ones, of whom there will be many - please accept our condolences and best wishes. May the memory of your loved ones live forever within you.

With that, all at Roker Report wish you all the very best for 2021, in a hope that it shall fare far better than this year. Stay safe.

Merry Christmas, Nadolig Llawen, Nollaig Shona duit

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