A week of retrospect has ensued after another failed attempt to get out of the darkness of the abyss that is League One football.
However, something feels a bit different this time.
Thanksgiving in 2020 left us little to be thankful about in regards to the state of Sunderland AFC. And if I’m honest, I would’ve snatched at the opportunity to even be present in the playoff semi-final.
The Madrox-Parkinson power couple had us at an all-time low. Literally and emotionally.
However, as I’ve written before, the rebuild process that has begun by our young, new owner is, I believe, a formula for long-term success.
Something that I’ve noticed in the last several weeks that is hugely needed, I think, and something that is vital for the success of that formula.
Fan support is something that drew me to the club in the first place, and something that was so endearing to watch from across the pond... and something that made me feel the deep connection I know have with Sunderland. But, what I’ve noticed in the last few years, as accented and emphasized this past weekend, is that support and passion has been largely replaced with cynicism, bitterness and vitriol.
Don’t get me wrong, there has been more than enough worthy of some healthy criticism - and everyone is entitled to their dissent. But there’s been an overall shift in attitude towards the club that must shift back for the sake of everyone involved in the club and its support.
The KLD, Speakman and Johnson era has been accented by one consistent word that has spread throughout every decision thus far - culture. The board, backroom staff, and coaching team are all trying to implement a massive culture change for the club, but it cannot stop there.
We must not let the embarrassment of successive drops, multiple third-tier seasons, failed managerial appointments, and abysmal ownership decisions turn our support into resentment.
If we need to take anything away from Saturday, it’s that a stadia in full voice and fanfare worldwide DOES in fact have an impact on the pitch. We may never hire anyone for the club, fill out a team sheet, sign a new player, or take a penalty, but we do have a part to play.
“Sunderland Til I Die” has turned from a chant of pride into a dirge. The Red and White Army has turned into the “How very Sunderland” choir. This is not the club I fell in love with; it’s not the fans that inspired me to join the song.
We finally have an owner and structure who are making the right moves and trying to change the toxic culture that was exposed on Netflix. Now it’s time for the supporters to do the same. Let’s all pick ourselves up, swallow our heartache, and happy clap our club back where they belong.
“We Go Again.”