I wish I could have been there on Saturday.
(NB: put on this song using this link and read on)
Watching the game on some dodgy stream, some 255 miles away from that hallowed stretch of turf, I couldn’t help but shed a tear of joy – and pride.
Never in my wildest dreams would I have imagined falling in love with that Sunderland starting XI, a team that gained just 3 points from the first 9 games. 27 games later, and that old song rings true:
“Wise men say, only fools rush in…”
Not often is it such a pleasant experience to watch my beloved Sunderland in front of university friends from around the country, each supporting their individual teams. In fact, the very first time I did so, Southampton shipped 8 goals past us, each more ridiculous and more ridiculing than the last. They all laughed at me that day.
But rarely have I been so proud to call myself a Sunderland fan as I was last Saturday.
Rory Smith in the Times yesterday
… it grew louder and louder amplified by its own echo transforming into something else entirely, a feedback loop of hope and joy, relief and defiance, a raw energising power. It swept down from the stands and it crashed into the pitch. It seemed to take in a physical form. Sam Allardyce saw it as ‘a wall of noise’, Guus Hiddink only saw ‘a 12th man’.
It moved Jermaine Defoe to tears. ‘Don’t tell anyone’ he told a group of reporters after the game. ‘It is hard not to cry. It is crazy. When the fans roar like that, you find something, you find an energy. It was even louder than the Derby. Look at the stars Chelsea have in their team. I can imagine they are like ‘wow’. The noise was frightening. I got goosebumps.’
It looked amazing. It sounded incredible. Why should we be surprised that Jermain Defoe, an incredible modern professional footballer, was moved to tears by the 48,000 strong love-song of the home fans? With support like that, Chelsea didn’t stand a chance. And neither will Everton.
Last Saturday, my friends finally understood why I don that red and white shirt every Saturday afternoon, why I put up with season after season of frustration, of one step forward and two steps back, why I am proud to call myself a Sunderland fan.
Let’s finish the job on Wednesday night.