The much anticipated second series of Sunderland Till I Die hit the small screen this week, giving all football fans a reminder of just what an impact the sport can have on a community; they were also given the incentive to see the very different attitude around the club this season, now that the Netflix cameras are turned off.
There is a new manager, Charlie Methven is no longer around and Stewart Donald is looking to sell up. Even a good percentage of the playing staff has changed since that heart-breaking 2-1 defeat to Charlton in the playoff final.
Donald and Methven came into the club and footage of the pair reminded us that initially it appeared they ‘got it’. The storyline of the second series took us from that honeymoon optimism, through a promotion race in which Sunderland eventually ran out of steam and ultimately to the widely-accepted conclusion that the pair bit off more than they could chew when they first took over the club.
We had a unique position during last season with our chairman being open with supporters on social media and podcasts. This is something made clear on STID2 and, compared to this season, it feels a distant memory. Methven departed and Donald has been forced to retreat to a position we were used to seeing Ellis Short taking: one of little to no contact with fans.
The mood around the club in general feels as though it has changed a lot this season. The reaction on social media to our last match (a 2-0 defeat at a woefully out of form Bristol Rovers) made it feel as though we had made little progression since the play off final defeat to Charlton Athletic in May - if anything, we’ve made nothing but a huge backwards step since then.
With this season potentially on the brink of being voided - and thus prematurely concluded - it's hard to say if our second season in League One was one which had much positivity. I doubt many Sunderland fans would be upset if the curtains were drawn early over the 2019/20 campaign.
Although we don’t feel much beyond irritation when reflecting on our performances this season, STID2 reminded us of the fantastic supporters and non-playing staff which we have at our club, regardless of what season we’re in. From Joyce Rome in the kitchens to taxi driver Pete Farrer, we saw people who epitomise the core ethic of Sunderland fans on Wearside and across the world: just wanting to see the team graft and persevere. Even though the cameras are now turned off, these and many thousands of supporters remain and will do so forever more.
Sunderland ‘Til I Die perhaps didn’t have the script which the creators planned when Netflix signed them up for a second series, but the profundity of the tragic events that were documented gave the world an insight to the dedication of the city to its football club and, above all else, it gave us a timely reminder of how proud we should be.
Players, owners and management staff come and go on a regular basis; the fans will always be there for the team.