Dear Roker Report,
I’ve supported Sunderland all of my life and I’ve just about had enough of them.
My son [aged 6] has started to get the bug. The school he attends has secured cheaper match tickets – which is a welcome return – because attending the match as a single parent with children has now become an almost unaffordable luxury.
Like many people in our area and our fan base, I am feeling the pinch in our pockets and the high rising costs of living.
My son's birthday is next week and the only thing he asked for was this season's Sunderland shirt with Jermain Defoe's name and number – it’s literally everything he’s asked for since Jermain come back. Now I don’t have much disposable income, but I did everything I could to save up and buy him what he wanted – this included going to the club shop on the day of the last home game to get the shirt with Defoe’s name on the back and put it away until his birthday. Because the club shop is closed 99% of the time and I can’t afford the extortionate postage costs. I live in Southwick, it should not cost a fiver to deliver a shirt up the bank. Why isn’t the shop open more often?
What I am wondering is what I do now?
The club pushed their PR campaign when Jermain come home. One last dance, buy a ticket and see his homecoming and now 6 games later he’s gone with very little explanation. My son was gutted when he read the news and no longer wants his name on the shirt for his birthday. So I contacted the club, explained the situation, that I have a brand new shirt with tags with a now-retired player on his back. What can I do, will you refund me, will you exchange it? And of course, their response like you expect was basically “tough luck we can’t do anything, you can’t have a refund or exchange as it's customised”.
Just how much money have they fleeced out of the fan base? How many parents have gone out and bought a Jermain Defoe shirt for children who he has since let down just a couple of weeks later because he couldn’t be bothered anymore? An explanation is needed as to why the club thinks this latest stunt is acceptable.
I now find myself in a position where I am skint, with a shirt which isn’t good for use anymore and the club have washed their hands with it all.
One last dance? More like one last chance this season to rob the fans blind.
As for Jermain Defoe. A big thank you to you, lined your pockets even further, topped your pension fund up even more. When you’re sat in the heated Sky or BBC studios with your complimentary food having a laugh, think of those Sunderland fans who went out and spent a fortune on your retirement tour.
The manner in which you walked out on us the last time was poor, however, this time it’s absolutely appalling.
You and the club should be ashamed.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: I really feel for you Helen, and I’m sure there are a lot of people with similar stories. Neither the club nor Defoe have come out of this looking at all good – I find it baffling that he didn’t stick it out for another four weeks. The club surely have to do the honourable thing here and replace the shirt for you. We’ve made contact with Chris Waters at the club on your behalf hopefully they’ll do the right thing – if anyone can sort it out Chris will, he’s one of the good guys. I hope it gets sorted for you and your son has a cracking birthday.
Dear Roker Report,
My older brother took me to Roker Park for the first time in around 1965. I don’t remember anything of the game, but recall being quite ‘frightened’ for want of a better word at the noise of the crowd and the crush of people.
Yes, the ubiquitous memories of smells of tobacco, beer and Bovril... but my most vivid, everlasting memory of standing in the padlock, was at the final whistle, when I swear my feet didn’t touch the ground all the way out, being trapped between men’s arms and bodies, my ears being squashed as I was ‘picked up’ by a massed throng! I could see my brother ahead, and just hoped this human tide would carry me in the same direction.
I was always told that the best way to get your children to follow any football team was to take them to a match. So despite being a ‘Geordie ‘ (in the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s everyone in the North East was a Geordie) all my family support Sunderland. I now live in Worcestershire and take my stepson to matches. He wears a Sunderland top at school and has a Sunderland sports bag. When questioned by confused friends, he retorts “At least I follow a team I actually go and watch and have family connections to, and I’m not just a glory hunter!” (My teaching!)
I’ve just ‘renewed’ my season ticket for the first time since 2003 when I moved south, after having held a one from around 1992, and bought my stepson one too. The cost of especially an under 16 card made it financially good sense, even if we only travel for half the home games as we normally do. I have felt guilty at times introducing him to what might be a life of supporting misery! But when it’s good... it’s good!
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Nice work, John – those good times are made all the better by having gone through the bad times... I hope!
Dear Roker Report,
Just renewed for the 38th season!
I must be mad.
Me, my wife and our sons all still sit together in the north stand as we have ever since we moved into the Stadium of Light.
I hope it’s in the Championship but if it’s not then that’s okay. I get to spend time with my family doing something we love. That’s enough for me.
Ed’s Note [Martin]: Ultimately that’s what it’s all about Pat – but if we’re playing well and winning it makes it all the more enjoyable!