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Opinion: “Sunderland’s season starts here - literally for me, but figuratively for Sunderland!”

“There is nothing easy about being a Sunderland fan, but I can’t wait for the next game...” writes Mark Roberts.

Photo by Ashley Allen - The FA/The FA via Getty Images

There is nothing easy about being a Sunderland fan - not from when I first travelled to see them at Roker Park, and certainly not now (though, there were three terrific years during Peter Reid’s tenure, which I still remember fondly, as well as the record six in a row against some local team whom I don’t feel like mentioning...).

Through rebooking holidays from COVID times and my stupidity with not realising what the ridiculous Qatar World Cup would do to the fixtures, my season starts with our next game.

So... what have I missed this season? Shit loads.


Timeline

Back on the 30th of July, there seemed like a feeling of cautious optimism, which in truth mirrored my feelings. My head was saying anything above relegation would be great but my heart was saying playoffs. The RR did a piece on ‘Sunderland 2022/2023 Season Predictions: Ready for the Championship!’ where the average predicted position was about 10th. At the time I thought that would be fine for me and I feel the same now.

31st July. Sunderland 1 – Coventry 1. Location: Florida. The time is 7am. There is nothing like a clean slate, the blanket of unerring optimism that you immerse yourself in. Come on Sunlun! I was up at 6, Sunderland bucket hat, a bit early for a beer so the coffee would suffice. 12 minutes in, watching Jack Clarke score a back post header. Although as the time ticked on, Coventry grew into the game… but I had to leave at 80 minutes and I was happy in my ignorance, for a while.

6th August. Bristol 2 – Sunderland 3. Location: Florida. What a game! Everyone is salivating over Ellis Simms, long may it last. Get in. There is a definite possibility that we can manage in this league. First 3 points of the season.

Bristol City v Sunderland - Sky Bet Championship Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

13th August. Sunderland 2 – 2 QPR. Location: over the Atlantic somewhere. After the fact catch up on the game on YouTube, Twitter, and RR, finding that we should have never lost, great performance for most of the game but no game management at the end. Dieng!!! 2 points dropped. I am not commenting on the shite performance in the cup.

17th August. Sheffield United 2 -1. Location: in the Bay of Biscay. Another catch-up, the first defeat of the season, but many reasons not to feel disappointed. A good team, a silly sending-off but only beat by 1. Goal difference can always be a deciding factor, but hopefully not.

20th August. Stoke 0 -1 Sunderland. Location: San Sebastian, Spain. Managed to watch most of the game on the iPad with several San Miguels and a few beers too. A game of two halves, poor in the first half but LND scores… should have won easily in the end, but another big 3 points. Clarke, Stewart, and Pattison stood out as I can remember.

25th August. I was reading the odds of AN becoming Stoke manager, 4-1 and like many Sunderland fans, I laughed it off. Fucking Stoke, having a laugh…

26th August. AN goes to Stoke. Not so funny today. I’m on holiday and I am in a bad mood. Fucking Stoke! I get pissed with the ex-captain of Newquay in the campsite bar.

27th Norwich 1- 0 Sunderland. Location: Same place. The red mist lifts and collective ‘Fuck Alex Neil’ unites most of the fans in a stand of support for each other. We are Sunderland, and we have this football team for life. The supporters are the only ones with any longevity, loyalty, and emotional investment. We are also fickle and forgiving but wear a tin hat on the 4th of March Mr. Neil you are in for a reception. How we lost the game is beyond me. Fantastic response from every player in red and white, pity Canning wasn’t suitably swayed by the players or the crowd in action to affect the game or move off his arse.

Sunderland v Norwich City - Sky Bet Championship - Stadium of Light Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

30th August. Tony Mowbray. I don’t know how I feel about Tony. Time will tell, but I’ll give him a chance. He is making the right noises, but it is a results game. Glad it was a quick appointment though.

31st August Sunderland 3 – 0 Rotherham. Nr Baritz France. The best game so far this season, Clarke and Stewart immense. I couldn’t find or get the match on so I followed it mainly on Twitter. Great result but I was watching the mags and Liverpool, which until the 97th minute it was disappointing. Difficult to take in as it was late and beer was cheap. Had to ring a few people to find out how good it was…then if you compare it to last season. I was unfortunately in the home end of the New York stadium with a couple of Rotherham fans (not friends in the 90), although the first half wasn’t great the second was an unmitigated disaster, and ultimately start of the end for LJ. Hoffmann, Flanaghan, Doyle, and Cirkin were tortured, the midfield went missing and McGeady was sent off for a daft challenge when already cautioned! The return leg at the SOL ended in a draw but we were second best. The improvement is massive, we have come a long way.

5th September Middlesborough 1- 0 Sunderland. Home. Just when things look positive again. Rocked by the LND injury. Gutted and then follows a pretty poor performance across the board. They are a big team (in height, not stature), they were one of the pre-season favorites and Wilder claimed they have been unlucky. It probably felt much worse; as it was our faux derby, and it was the first time they had a decent crowd in years and we don’t like ‘boro’ or the way they speak, or the smog or the Tees flyover or fucking Parmos.

The result pales into insignificance compared to the outcomes of the game. I know that we will give the lads 100% but all the talk is about who is going to replace Stewart.

There is nothing easy about being a Sunderland fan, but I can’t wait for the next game...

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