Sunderland ‘till I die. – By @RobCHeimann
By Rob Heimann
Sunderland ‘till I die.
I don’t like club football. I don’t like what it has become. I don’t like the lack of players’ sportsmanship, their mewling entitled attitude. The posturing business men who buy clubs as if they were fashion accessories. I hate the unfairness of the spoilt players; who earn more in a season then most of their fans will earn in a lifetime. I hate that racism that exists on the terraces. I hate that I’m getting all gammon about this.
I used to watch football when I was in primary school. I supported Liverpool, Michael Owens, David James and Robbie Fowler were my favourite players. For about three years in a row I completed the Liverpool sections in the (panini?) sticker books. I don’t watch anymore but I will get swept up in the international stuff because despite the nonsense that is Fifa international, particularly the world cup has a kind of magic to it. It’s one of the few times I get national pride.
So watched something I wouldn’t normally watch. A sports documentary. Not just that but one about Sunderland FC, a club I had zero interest in and zero knowledge about. Well that changed.
I started watching the day after boxing day, I think. I was still in a food and alcohol miasma at that point. The first twenty minutes weren’t great, it opened in with a church service that felt very staged and didn’t endear me. Then slowly as characters/people were introduced I started to see there was an actual story here. The second episode I watched a few days later and I was struck by the true fanaticism of the fans, yeah I know that all clubs have this but there was a real earnestness to them that was kinda beautiful. And the fact that they cared made me care.
I didn’t know about the the rough time (to put it mildly) Sunderland had of it over the last couple of years. I kept waiting for a change of fortune. I was railing at the short sightedness of some of the decision making and the pettiness of the scouts! My god how do I care so much about this!
Listen even if you’re not a fan of sport, watch this. It is a fantastic story. I want to say more but I don’t want to spoil things. There is another series in production and I’m considering going to a football match for the first time in about fifteen years.
Possibly the most interesting thing to come out of this is that it has affected my thinking in terms of writing to persuade, particularly when I was writing copy for a campaign for the green party. I wanted to speak to and with the passion the Sunderland fans have.