clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile
Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg

Filed under:

Editorial: We finally have our club back

This version of Sunderland is not the same as the one that sunk to our lowest point after years of neglect. This is our Sunderland. We’ve finally got our club back.

Photo by Alex Dodd - CameraSport via Getty Images

I think I can say that, reflecting back on it a few days later, Saturday was probably one of my favourite ever days at the Stadium of Light. I couldn’t honestly choose what my favourite was - there have been some crackers over the years, but they all hold a special place in my heart for differing reasons. Saturday was special, though.

Everyone bought into it. Tickets sold out in almost an hour after going on general sale, and the later kick off certainly helped the atmosphere on what was a pleasant, sunny day on Wearside - the extra two hours in the pub helped ensure our fans were in good spirits before, during and after the game.

It was unusual to see the ground so full so early. Even the usual late stragglers made sure they were in their seats so that they could soak up the atmosphere and get involved. The flags, surfers and banners added to the occasion and ensured that there was a big match feel about the place - I can only imagine how the players felt walking out onto the pitch and seeing and hearing it all as Ready To Go rang around the Stadium of Light at about 25 past 5.

Even on the concourse before the game the atmosphere was bouncing. People were on the shoulders of their mates waving their scarves, singing and dancing as the red pyrotechnic smoke filled the air. It was the same at half time, no doubt abetted by the excellent goal near the end of the half which gave us all the hope and confidence we needed going into the second period.

The singing was non-stop. Sometimes the atmosphere in the ground can feel flat and uninspiring but when everyone is fully bought into what’s occurring, there’s no doubt that the sound of the Sunderland supporters is loud enough to rival that of any other fanbase on their day. We were electric. We were confident. We were buzzing.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by George Wood/Getty Images

And whilst Luton started the game with fervor and intensity, the reaction to going behind after eleven minutes was overwhelmingly positive. We’re a fanbase that has become accustomed to watching this team come from behind to score and win games. We knew full well that Luton weren’t going to shut us out, because we always score.

And we did. Amad’s thunder-strike was batted towards the Luton goal with the confidence and quality of a player who does that multiple times every day. It was automation. He was repeating something that he’s practically perfected, and there was no doubting that once it left his foot it was going to end up in the back of the net.

That collective confidence has pushed Sunderland to this point. And Amad, who was lost before he came here. And Pierre Ekwah, who rather remarkably completed the first ninety minutes of his professional career. And Niall Huggins, who was thrown into the situation having barely kicked a ball for two years. And Jack Clarke, who did the exact same shimmy, shift and cross that he does every single week that nobody has the ability to stop him from doing. And Trai Hume, whose complete lack of experience is masked by his upbringing in the notoriously tough Northern Irish footballing system, where he had to learn to become a man much earlier than most who’ve came through in England.

And it goes on, and on, and on. So many examples of how mentally resilient this squad is.

All led by a man who oozes maturity and working class humility. Tony Mowbray is absolutely perfect for Sunderland, and knows exactly what he’s doing.

Sunderland v Luton Town: Sky Bet Championship Play-Off Semi-Final First Leg Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

This is our Sunderland. This is the version of Sunderland that we’ve been telling everyone else about for years. The one we said we knew we could become if the stars aligned.

This version of Sunderland is dangerous. At the minute we feel unstoppable.

We’ve been called a sleeping giant before, and I guess the scenes before, during and after Saturday’s game would suggest that this sleeping giant has well and truly been awoken from its slumber.

Sunderland are back. We’ve got our club back. There are so many people we could and should thank, but I might just save that for another day, once the season is finally over. And whether that comes on Tuesday or in a couple of weeks at Wembley is largely irrelevant. What we’ve managed to achieve this season has gone completely over and above my expectations, and despite being totally staggered by the position we’ve found ourselves in, none of this happened by mistake. It was by design. We’ve earned our place.

Sunderland used to be a figure of fun - a club that merely existed so that others could take the piss. We were an example to everyone else of how not to function. We were a shell. We were a rotting mess, dying in the third tier of English football, right before our very eyes (and the Netflix cameras).

Not anymore. Sunderland is the football club that all other clubs outside of the elite should envy. We are a shining example of how to do things the right way. All achieved in such a short space of time, all things considered.

Days like Saturday don’t come along often, but I have a good feeling that even better times are still around the corner. I honestly couldn’t be any prouder of my boys.

I’m so unbelievably proud. You should be too. If you stuck around and stuck by this club through the hard times, you should be proud that you played your part in some way.


On This Day (4 June 1955): ‘6ix’ goals shared in Toronto!


Fan Letters: “Ross Stewart is the best striker in the league, but we coped well without him”


Roker Roundtable: Youth v experience - how might Sunderland’s summer transfer business play out?

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Roker Report Daily Roundup newsletter!

A daily roundup of Sunderland news from Roker Report