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Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship

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Opinion: “During home games, let’s sing about our own team, and not the opposition players”

On Saturday, there was almost as much focus on Wigan’s players as there was on our team. As Michael Dunne writes, it created an atmosphere that was less than welcoming

Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Well, that was enjoyable, wasn't it?

The three points gained on Saturday feel extra special, considering we went behind in the first half, and it could’ve been one of those days when the victory eluded us.

At times the atmosphere against Wigan was very good, and it proved that raucous backing at the Stadium of Light really does help the players. Indeed, after the game, Dennis Cirkin and Tony Mowbray admitted as much.

That being said, I feel it could have been better.

Too often, some of the songs were directed at the opposition players, such as Charlie Wyke, Max Power and in particular, James McClean.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Michael Driver/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In my opinion, positive vocal backing of our own players should be the focus.

During my journey over from Ireland, Niall Quinn was on our flight with his family. He was travelling to Sunderland to mark twenty years since his retirement from football and was likely invited to the game as a guest of the club.

With that in mind, it was the perfect occasion for the ‘Spirit of 37’ group to arrange a display in his honour, which they duly tried to do. This would’ve been a great occasion on which to chant his name and give him the reception he deserved, but unfortunately, another Irish player was the main focus of our fans for ninety minutes.

I do not particularly want to bring politics and James McClean’s beliefs into the argument, but some of our own supporters seemed determined to do it themselves.

Anyone who was at the match would’ve heard the boos, the jeers and anti-IRA chanting that was audible throughout the ninety minutes.

The issues of beliefs, history and political views have been spoken about before and I do not want to get into it, but I do wonder why we waste our time booing a player who hasn’t played for our club in almost ten years.

Why do we sing anti-IRA songs or abuse one player for ninety minutes? Can we not sing about players that currently play for us, and have we not got enough to be positive about?

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

I feel like the atmosphere it creates is embarrassing, narrow-minded and a little bit tiresome. It doesn’t look or sound positive, and in all honesty, I wondered what Quinn must’ve made of it.

The second half performance against Wigan was fantastic, and when you consider how it unfolded, I felt that it could’ve been the perfect opportunity to raise the roof and show Quinny that we are slowly getting back to the level of excitement we had when he played for us, and also during his time as chairman.

I sit in the South East Corner and it seemed to me that fans simply chose to feel offended, or wanted to sound intimidating. In particular, two lads who were no older than fifteen or sixteen seemed to enjoy reciting one particular song for the entire game.

Naturally, these lads are not likely to know what they were chanting about. They were young, impressionable, and would’ve doubtless listened to what was being sung around them before following suit. I am also sure that there were plenty of boys just like them sitting all around the stadium.

As a fanbase, we are responsible for our own behaviour and for the atmosphere we create. We should question the content of the songs, the ethics around them, and their suitability for such an occasion.

There were dozens of things that could have been sung about on Saturday- Patrick Roberts, Tony Mowbray, Dennis Cirkin and Quinn, among others- but when the final whistle went and the players were applauding the crowd, the first song I heard was ‘F*** the IRA’ as McClean trotted off the pitch.

As a Sunderland fan, I didn’t feel that it reflected well on our fans, and that we should leave politics out of it and support our team.

When we do it properly, we are very, very good at it.

Sunderland v Wigan Athletic - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images
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