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Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship

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Fan Letters: ‘Was Stewart’s injury premeditated?’ asks RR reader Steve

Steve thinks there’s more to Ross Stewart’s injury than meets the eye, while the McClean fall out from last Saturday’s game continues. Got something to say?

Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Ally McCoist made a fair comment saying that Sunderland could get promoted. Why not?

At the start of the season, the majority of fans were saying for us to consolidate and just stop in this division. Then we made a decent start so there was an increased expectation.

We have an excellent young side, and if Stewart was fit who knows where we could be at this moment in the championship?

For fans saying that we should aim for

promotion in 2-3 years? You can’t pick and choose when you want to get promoted.

If we have an improved second half of the season with key players back from injury who knows? We all know it will be difficult as it’s a very competitive division, but ‘if’ we were to get to promoted, you adjust and deal with it then. Luton Town were in the playoffs last year and I’m sure they were not saying ‘let’s wait a few years’

We were ready to get promoted from League One after one season but it took us four years!

Joe Gosling

Ed’s Note [Martin]: We could finish anywhere this season Joe – but so could most other clubs! It’s wide open, and if we’d had some fit strikers we could be in a far healthier place than we are currently. If we get our injured players back after the World Cup and make some smart additions in January – plus the likes of Bennette, Michut, Ba and Amad becoming more acclimatised to the Championship, then we could put a good run together. Who knows?

Soccer - Football League Division One - Arsenal v Sunderland
Ally knows
Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

Could someone please tell us the truth or will Ross Stewart come out and let the Sunderland fans know what is happening?

He pulled a muscle about five weeks ago and has still not figured in the line up on match days. I’ve never known an injury take so long to heal up, is he training yet? The rumours are that he wants to move on in the new year – if this is true why have the media not asked this to him or the manager and WHY does he want a move when he’s scoring goals for fun and he’s the fan’s favourite? Was this premeditated as he walked onto the pitch for a warm-up before the game.

Steve Dee

Ed’s Note [Martin]: Got a tin foil hat handy, Steve?! It’s been the line all along that Stewart would probably be out until after the World Cup – Mowbray said as soon as he’d done it it would be eight weeks, possibly longer. I’ve certainly not heard any rumours he wants away in January. In reality, if he did want a move in January, the best way to get it would be to be on the field scoring goals. I really don’t think there’s anything to see here.

Sunderland v Rotherham United - Sky Bet Championship
Steve thinks Ross Stewart’s itching for a move away...
Photo by Mark Fletcher/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

We all accept that banter, swearing and trying to get under the skin of opposition players is all part of being a football fan.

The chanting directed at James McLean went beyond that. It was sectarian abuse, plain and simple.

As in most cases of racist and sectarian hatred the ignorance of those chanting is laughable, but that does not mean that we should ignore it.

I said to the guy sitting next to me, “why are we giving an ex-player who did ok for us so much hate?“, he replied, “ because he supports the IRA”

He has, in fact, simply refused to wear the poppy. His background and culture associate it with British rule and oppression. I wear the poppy every year but wouldn’t want to live in a Putin-style society where I feared condemnation if I ventured outside in November without wearing one.

The Queen shook the hand of Martin McGuinness, that’s good enough for me.

Let’s not kid ourselves about these issues. Football is passionate, loud and raw but we still have to be on our guard and call out behaviour that crosses the line into hatred and abuse. The most distressing thing on this I’ve heard so far is an Irish Sunderland supporter feeling so unwelcome that they have given up their season ticket.


Robert Unwin

Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - Premier League
McClean in happier times at the Stadium of Light
Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

I read Conor’s letter regarding not going back to the SoL due to the chanting at McClean; whilst this is a shame it is Conor’s decision.

However, Conor felt uncomfortable as a result of the chants from the Roker End re: the IRA and his nationality.

It is the abuse of his nationality, which interests me, as I would like to know how Conor heard it, when he adds that no one around him shouted anything because the chant I heard, from the Roker End, was only about the IRA. There was also no chanting about the Pope, which McClean said there was.

McClean posted a photo of him teaching his children, History, wearing a balaclava, during lockdown. This is one of the reasons there are IRA chants against him. It is never heard when other Irish players are at the SoL. If he can show his support for a terrorist organisation, then he should be prepared for the backlash from those who don’t support the IRA. There may even be supporters in the crowd who have had loved ones murdered by the terrorist organisation.

He puts photos on social media of him wearing a Germany and Italy shirt on days when England were playing those teams. Then he wonders why he is hated. He seems to be able to dish it out but can’t take it.

In my view, the club doesn’t need to apologise for the chanting about the IRA.


Peter Welsh

Dear Roker Report,

Chanting abuse in any shape or form from terraces should not happen, but also James McClean would do well to remember where SAFC plucked him from and help make him the player he turned out to be and no doubt the better life he has now!

Colin Childs

Ed’s Note [Martin]: There’s been a lot said about McClean over the past week, so I’ll share my thoughts on your letters, Robert, Peter and Colin together.

Firstly, and I think most importantly, no Sunderland supporter should ever feel uncomfortable about being at the Stadium of Light – or at an away game – because of the actions of other Sunderland supporters. People have felt uncomfortable with the chants etc at McClean, and we can’t disregard that; it’s not right.

McClean’s entitled to his own beliefs too – I daresay if we’d been brought up where he was and with the same things happening as he experienced, we may feel the same way. Most of us weren’t, many of us saw the other side of it, so we don’t.

The big part of this, however, is that McClean isn’t targeted by Sunderland supporter just because he refused to wear a poppy on a shirt a decade ago. (It’s worth pointing out he has said he would wear a poppy if it was just about commemorating those who fell in WW1 and WW2.) McClean felt Sunderland hung him out to dry when he made that decision – he’s said the club didn’t support him and he felt massively let down.

Over the years, he’s taken that out on Sunderland as a club, rather than the hierarchy at the time, which is a very one-dimensional way of looking at things, and completely disregards the opportunity SAFC gave him in the first place.

Since leaving the club, he’s constantly baited, belittled, mocked and insulted Sunderland and Sunderland supporters, be it on social media or when he’s played against us. And then acts like the victim when he gets stick in return.

McClean would get abuse from Sunderland supporters whatever his background was. He’s a divisive person and his beliefs are only part of that. It’s not as if it just happens when he plays Sunderland. It happens everywhere he plays – even from his own supporters at Wigan.

As a club, Sunderland has a long and proud association with Ireland, and the chants on Saturday – and James McClean – shouldn’t diminish that. Whether there were chants that abused nationality I don’t know, I wasn’t there, but if there were that’s obviously not acceptable. If Conor heard them then we have to take his word for it. If we’re solely going on McClean’s word, I’m not so sure. He’s got his own agenda.


Pause for thought


Sunderland are set for a massive summer after the inevitable sacking of Michael Beale!

Fan Letters: “The distraction of Beale is behind us”

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