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Fan Letters: Readers react to Podcast calling out behaviour of some SAFC supporters at Rotherham

RR readers Bob and Daniel give opposing views on the back of the latest Roker Rapport Podcast, reacting to the behaviour of some fans that travelled down to Rotherham on Saturday... Email us:!

Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Big respect to Gav, Rich and Paddy for calling out the disgraceful behaviour of so-called fans on Saturday.

Rich, in particular, sounded shocked, but regrettably, it is all too familiar to me. I go months sometimes entire seasons and don’t see or hear anything and then we have a day like Saturday, as if to remind me, it’s never far away.

There is a core, and a loud, noisy and violent core, that still live in the 70s and 80s football world, where fans went away and did exactly what they want and have a go at anyone who gets in their way and spend the match abusing the opposition.

As I was leaving I overheard two fellas about my age - I’m 60 in a few weeks time - regaling each other of fights they had at football matches. This conversation was punctuated by shouting abuse at Rotherham fans and aggressively posturing.

I think it is only that I don’t spend time on the concourses, I don’t need a drink or to snort coke to enjoy a game of football, that I don’t see/hear more of it - I go to enjoy the game.

The racism that you heard is never far from the surface. I have heard it on a number of occasions, once, on bus ... by the bus driver, who was called out, but remained totally unapologetic.

Luton a couple of seasons ago, I heard far right chanting and celebrations of Tommy Robinson accompanying racist chants that were roundly drowned out by those around me, and the voices subsided, but could be heard in another part of the stand later in the game. This prompted me to write to the club, expressing my concerns about far right recruitment. I also did so after the Burton Albion away game a few weeks afterwards, where I overheard someone discussing far-right activities. I turned around to try to identify the person, but as ever, when you turn around to face up to them they shut up and in a crowd you can never be absolutely sure who they are.

I was disappointed that I never even got a reply, which led me to believe that the club, under Donald, didn’t want to tackle the issue.

The worst of it is that voices that start the offensive chants are usually voices my age. The kids are the only ones who laugh and then they perpetuate the songs.

These people are the knobheads who boo those who choose to take the knee.

They are ringleaders in the NW corner that used to sing “Fuck Off you stewards ... we’ll stand if we want”.

They are the purveyors of any chant that includes swearing or offensive accusations - the Charlie Wyke is a paedophile at Wigan away and of course Saturday’s disgrace.

These people who disgrace our club are anarchic. They might be racist too, but, as some of the discussion forums you have had on taking the knee have shown, racism is very complex and most racists don’t even realise or care that they are seen as being racist by others.

These anarchists associate watching football with getting pissed/stoned, being as offensive as they possibly can, knowing they are safe in the crowd, because we don’t shop our own.

Maybe, just maybe you guys have started the dialogue that will change that. My advice is, if you feel safe enough to do so, take a video - take note of seat numbers - report those idiots and then we can pressurise the club to ban them. I’ll do my best to do so and I’ll continue to call out people who disgrace our club.

As you might see, it is something close to my heart, so rant over, and once again, well done for being brave enough to devote so long on the podcast to it.

Bob Graham

Ed’s Note [Gav]: Hi Bob - cheers for writing in mate.

I don’t enjoy having to talk about these things but I have to admit, that’s probably the first time I’ve came away from a game genuinely angry with my fellow fans for their behaviour. Going off the reaction to the Podcast and some of the posts on the fans forums, me and Rich weren’t the only ones who had a bad experience on Saturday. Hopefully people will continue talking about these issues, and speaking out against people who sour the matchday experience for others.

Sunderland v Manchester City - U23 Checkatrade Trophy Quarter Final Match Photo by Mark Fletcher/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Morning Fellas,

I subscribe to your pods and a regular listener and reader of your website.

The pod this morning was awful, it came across very entitled, look at us. We’re better fans than you.

I wasn’t at Rotherham but do travel home and away and the behaviour doesn’t sound great.

Twitter says a girl got hit in the eye by a Sunderland fan so it must be true. Not everything on Twitter is true.

Grown men swearing or threatening at the football. Stop the press.

The racist abuse is awful but no good crying about it on a podcast. The racist 0.1% won’t be listening to your pod so I’m not sure of your intent behind that. Surely, calling the fella out at the time might make a tangible difference. Making that individual think about their actions.

As a fanzine you should have some element of balance. What about the past 2 years everyone has had. Friends and relatives dying and being ill. The football is a release for many people. So what if people look like ‘zombies’ as you put it.

What about all the good things the fans do?

Selling out nearly every away game

30,000 every week at home

The food bank stuff

Highest ever league one attendance

And there’s more than that.

I get it wasn’t a nice experience but you went to the football not the theatre.

I’ll keep listening to the pods but just thought I’d offer some feedback.

Thanks for the good work.

Daniel Pitt

Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for your honest feedback, Daniel. You’re entitled to interpret what Gav and I said on the pod about our first hand experiences at the Rotherham match any way you like, but let me reiterate. I am not green - I’ve been going to football for as long as I can remember. I’ve been taking my lad to away games for the last 3-4 years. I’m not averse to swearing at all, as you can hear from the pod. Saturday was something else altogether.

I’m not placing myself above anyone else, but I will always tell it like I see it - the racism, the sexually explicit chanting, the violence - if we see and hear it we’re free to talk about it, we’re not here to gloss over or make excuses for idiots. You can call it crying if you like, we call it being honest to ourselves and our values.

And until I am shown evidence that it was fabricated, I’ll believe that the young girl was hit by a coin thrown by one of our fans after the game - it absolutely fits the pattern of behaviour on show that day.

As for balance, that’s a matter of editorial judgement. We have amazing fans who do amazing things, show amazing commitment, and we always champion them. Me, Gav, Paddy, and all our other writers and podcasters are ordinary fans who want the best for the club and the fanbase. That’s it. No better than anyone else, just lads and lasses with a way with words and clear ideas about right and wrong. I hope you can continue to enjoy our articles and podcasts.

The pandemic has been bloody hard for almost everyone and you’re absolutely right that football has been a massive release for many. I have had friends whose nearest and dearest have not survived, who’ve worked like trojans to keep people safe and fed and educated. I’ve worked my arse off in my own little way, as I’m sure you have too Daniel. But that’s no excuse for that kind of behaviour and when it impacts my kid, I won’t hold back in calling it what it is - idiotic and disgraceful behaviour that has no place on the terraces or anywhere else.


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