Dear Roker Report,
I just read the fan letter from the guy who has supported Sunderland for 44 years and attended the Sheffield Wednesday away game. He talked about how the fans turned on the players in after the first goal which was scored in the first few minutes of the game.
Like this supporter, I appreciate the fans who spend significant money traveling and supporting our beloved team but it is also true that a number of these fans expect nothing less than victory and dominance over our opposition in every game. If this is not achieved then the players who are not playing up to their expectations are declared a disgrace and told that they are shit and not worth the support.
This is nothing less than a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a section of the fans are not willing to support the team unless they win and dominate every minute of every game then they should stay home.
I have been a Sunderland fan for almost half a century. When I moved to Canada in 1981, I thought it was going to be impossible to continue my support without being able to be at games and be a part of the action. I was wrong. I have continued my love for the club and have encouraged several Canadians to become Sunderland fans. These days I watch and cheer from a far-off land using SAFSEE to get my fix.
I really get it that fans expect Sunderland to be up there in the league with our neighbours to the north. I do too. The thing is we aren’t because we haven’t played better than the rest of the League 1 teams on a consistent basis for an entire season.
Our fans are the best in the land when we are playing well but a small portion let their support slip into anger and vitriolic aggression when things don’t go well. These fans need to realize it is this very negativity that is stopping the players from getting their form back. Being a supporter means getting behind the team during bad spells as well as when things go well.
If you tell someone they do a shit job enough times then that’s what they will do the next time they go to work. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Thanks for writing in Derek, and I hope you’re keeping safe and well as I know that your adopted country is suffering the impact of extreme weather events. We are all entitled to express our frustrations at the performance of the side, but I’ve never quite got the point of abusing or booing players who’re representing our club. But I think there’s also a big difference between whinging and moaning and the kinds of violent abuse and racism that has been seen and heard at recent away games.
We know that there are a few notable examples of footballers who haven’t given their all for the shirt and the badge, but they are few and far between. The Lads and Lasses need our vocal support and respond to it.
Dear Roker Report,
On the first motion at the RAWA meeting the non-taking of the knee. First let me assume the Sunderland players and supporters are not racist, after all we’ve had many brilliant black players in our team over the years. Also, I want people to know I respect individual choice.
However, I’m concerned about the impression not taking the knee gives. It can be interpreted as racist when the lads just stand there and no explanation is given. This presents a stick to the press and opposing supporters to beat us with regardless of the truth, and worse, encourages our opponents on the day to believe they’re playing racists and add an edge to their game which we don’t need to let them have.
On these grounds alone I would implore the lads to take the knee anyway and ask Sunderland supporters not to boo them for it mainly on the above considerations. This whole thing will fade into the history books soon enough.
Ed’s Note [Rich]: Hi Peter, thanks for your letter. Your points are very well made and were reflected at the RAWA meeting by all those who spoke on this issue. I too have always believed that the vast majority of our fans are appalled by racism, and I also assume that our men’s senior team is not a hotbed of prejudice either. However, the sight of Fred Alves taking the knee alone is not one I am comfortable with at all, I do think that there may be a job for the PFA and football’s anti-racism campaigns to ensure that the dressingroom is aware of the meaning and implication of this simple and peaceful gesture.