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Beginning, middle and end: SAFC 365 takes you through the ages at Sunderland AFC

The new Sunderland anthology – a book for old and new supporters alike! 

I sometimes have to check myself when talking to the younger lads and apprentices at work about football, trying to remind myself that Sunderland AFC is a very different club now to how it has been in the past.

Take the Roy Keane years for example, which for me can sometimes feel like only yesterday. By that stage in my life, I was already paying a mortgage and bringing up a family, and because I still am, it feels like that renaissance took place a lot more recently than it actually did. I am at a point however where for some of my colleagues, who during the intervening years have been through several other stages of their life and done a lot of growing up, it classes as the distant past, and whilst that is of course sobering it is a nice reminder of how the club’s support is generational and continues to evolve.

I do find myself though referencing players or games from that era, only to be reminded that young adults were often too little to experience it first-hand or truly appreciate it.

Parts of the ‘Sunderland story’ that I assume everybody went through together are in fact nothing more than clips on YouTube to some, just as the tales of ups and downs during the 1970s and 80s were something that got passed down to me whilst waiting outside the newsagent for the Sports Echo to arrive on a Saturday night.

Blackburn Rovers v Sunderland - Premier League Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Next time we are in the Stadium of Light there’ll be a large proportion for whom it is the only home they have ever known, and see a live top-flight game in the pub afterwards as second nature almost.

For those of us in that boat and that wish to know how these things came to be, SAFC 365 has the background – readers will learn that Sir Bob Murray was a main protagonist in both as it happens, including a long since forgotten shared stadium venture, and that some of his concerns about the proposed Premier League have since been proven to be quite prescient.

The anthology, put together by Roker Report and A Love Supreme, with a foreword by Peter Reid and some stunning illustration from Dave Wright, covers all the main aspects of Sunderland’s history, charting with it the wider changes in the game. Staff that want to relate to their old git workmates, and those with a historical eye or simply want to relive the moments they remember most fondly, will all find something that piques their interest.

With an entry for each day of the year, January starts strongly with a famous South Korean-inspired victory, the birth of a 1990s cup run and the culmination almost of another run two decades later. Going back to the TV theme, there is even a story from 1904 touching on the earliest forms of coverage!

All profits from sales go to the magnificent Sunderland Community Soup Kitchen, who carry out vital work throughout the year.

It is during December and Christmas however that it is most recognised, a time when the difference between those with and those without is most keenly felt. Spirits may be raised by reading of a 1995 demolition on the way to promotion and several derby day successes in that month, but the main story here is the kitchen’s continued work and how it can be supported by supporters young and old.

Soccer - FA Barclays Premiership - Sunderland v Blackburn Rovers - The Stadium of Light
Sir Bob takes in a game, having seen the way the sport was going...
Photo by Mike Egerton - PA Images via Getty Images

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