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Fans Around The World! Next stop - We meet Sunderland fan Azlynn from Wisconsin, USA

The next stop on Roker Report’s trip around the world to meet as many MLF’s as we can takes us to Wisconsin, USA to meet Azlynn, who discovered Sunderland during the Premier League days back in the 1990s!

Photo by Marc Atkins/Getty Images

Where are you from, then, and how did you end up becoming a Sunderland supporter?! There can’t be many Lads fans where you are from...

I currently live in Portage, Wisconsin.

My journey began around 1995 at about the age of 10.

I remember seeing Sunderland play for the first time on tv at my grandmother’s house on a channel called Fox Sports World (I believe it is still around, but since renamed) as they showed Premier League games back then. I was not a fan at first, but over the years the team grew on me as I tried to keep tabs on the team’s fortunes as best I could (this was before the internet became widespread). Throughout the aughts that interest grew into an invested curiosity as I tried to find a team to support.

It wasn’t until around 2015 that I finally gave in, especially after reading into the team’s history as it’s very similar to that of the Green Bay Packers.

I admitted that not only am I a supporter, but most likely have been one since that fateful day as a child when I randomly found Sunderland AFC on my grandmother’s TV.

I’ve been very closely following the team’s trials and tribulations ever since.

Tennessee Titans v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

How do you follow Sunderland now we’re not in the Premier League? Is it a case of buying the stream and getting up in the middle of the night to watch the games?

Now that Sunderland are not in the Premier League, I primarily keep track of the team through Roker Report, and the games I follow along thanks to your live tweets of the games, the Sunderland AFC website, and this season I’ve started listening in on a YouTube watch-along stream thanks to SAFC Fan TV.

I also listen to the Roker Report podcasts.

I am generally able to catch most games as there is only a six-hour time difference between Sunderland and Wisconsin, so games for me are either in the mornings or early afternoon. I cannot work it into my budget to purchase the live stream of Sunderland’s games, but that is something I am hoping to correct by the start of next season.

Sunderland v Blackpool - Sky Bet League One Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

You’ve written to us previously to say how you opposed the now debunked idea of the Super League, which was driven by the owners who also control American sports teams. You said that you support Green Bay Packers in the NFL, who are unique in terms of being a fan-owned team in a franchise league. Do American fans of European football find like you find themselves having to explain the idea of promotion and relegation to those around you?

Not as much as you’d think.

I am blessed with having many sports-minded friends around me, so they’ve had a general/vague idea of what promotion and relegation is.

So, I just explain that it’s similar to what happens with individual players in MLB, but with whole teams being promoted/relegated (demoted) instead. I’ve actually had to do more explaining what the English football pyramid is than anything.

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Bury v Sunderland Photo by Michael Steele/EMPICS via Getty Images

I know we’ve got a fair few fans across North America. The club’s NASA Branch and the “Sons of Liberty” group are well established and pretty well known. Are you in contact with any other fans on the west coast?

Unfortunately, I am not.

My support of Sunderland firmly took hold largely during my time living in Florida, and the pandemic did not help matters much.

Now that I’m back in my home state of Wisconsin I am hoping that I can find a place to watch games with fellow supporters (once restrictions on gatherings are lifted) and branch out from there.

I know that the club’s NASA branch will be a big help in that endeavour as well!

Have you ever been to the Stadium of Light? And if not, in normal times, do you go to watch local association football clubs in your city or community?

I have not been to the Stadium of Light, but would absolutely LOVE to be able to catch a game there at some point in the future!

As far as watching some football locally, the pandemic really hampered any plans to do that. I do plan on attending at least a game or two of my now local team, Forward Madison FC (the Flamingos) of American soccer’s (football’s name over here) League One (also American football/soccer’s third tier).

I highly suggest looking them up as there is already a very loyal and rabid fanbase, the team plays in a smaller but amazing and unique stadium with an otherworldly kit to boot!

Hopefully Sunderland AFC are able to come over in the future for a friendly!

The team has already hosted a few friendlies with bigger European clubs - the first that comes to mind was Hertha Berlin the year before the pandemic. Tons of positives were said and people always seem to enjoy it when they visit Wisconsin.

As we say, when you’ve said Wisconsin, you’ve said it all!


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