The Championship season can be long and brutal, with teams trekking up and down the land on some lengthy away days. Sunderland’s geography puts us in a place where few away days are a short trip from the North East, but to call our next four games on the road ‘long distance’ would be the understatement of the century.
After our near 700 mile round trip to Swansea on Saturday, the next destination for Tony Mowbray’s side is Plymouth, which for fans coming from the North East will be around an 800 mile return journey. Our allocation of 1,500 or so will no doubt sell out, and that’s a testament to fans based all over the country, not just the north east.
December will kick off with a shorter trip of around 600 miles there and back to east London to face Millwall. The London-based fans will be no doubt keen to get to this one, and the fact this is our shortest away trip in the next six weeks is nothing short of crazy.
A fortnight after the London trip, fans will be heading South West again to Bristol. A lovely city, but one located around 320 miles away from the Stadium of Light. This trip taking place less than 10 days before Christmas is rough for a fanbase that will have cocked up hundreds of miles in the weeks leading up to it, but few clubs placed in this position would take half as many fans to these games as we likely will.
Other than Middlesbrough and the couple in Yorkshire, most of our away trips are relatively lengthy. Anything in the midlands, London or even the North West can be a fair trek from the North East, but if there’s one thing we Sunderland fans do well it’s back our team on the road. I had the pleasure of being part of the 4,000 in attendance at Bristol City last season to watch the Lads wrap up a 3-2 win, we may not get this allocation again but thousands will make the journey however many tickets we are given.
A big aspect of our brilliant away day following is of course the number of ‘exiled’ fans we have. I’m one of thousands across the country who find it easier, logistically, to get to away games and with so many huge trips from the North East coming up, it’s an ample chance for non-local fans to get in and watch us in action.
Being part of a Sunderland away day following is one of the best feelings in football, and when you look around at your fellow fans, especially in an away end of a ground hundreds of miles away from Wearside, you realise just how much effort Sunderland fans put into following our side.
Thousands of fans will head to these four long distance away days, with more than a few booking in all four. Travelling well over 2,000 miles in six weeks so close to Christmas is further testament to just how impressive our fan base is and how, through good times and bad, the club often is undeserving.