Another Sunderland AFC Season -Black Cats Rejoice!

I have to admit it, I wasn’t very keen on the hiring of Big Sam.  To be honest though, we have seen ourselves struggle to get a top notch manager that would come in to change the culture and mentality of the club.

Certainly Martin O’Neill led the Red and White Army through the rough battleground of the Premier League as best he could but for most fans it wasn’t enough.  At some point, the time had to come when someone bigger than life had to come along and take the reins.

The PDC saga left us all wondering what the hell we had just experienced.  (Do we really have to visit that bloody scene?)

I’m not going to say that Poyet leading the “Gus Bus” wasn’t a thrill ride that left us clinging to our seats with white knuckles.

We all thought Sunderland had built something when General Advocaat rolled into Wearside with a suit on ready to lead the troops onto the pitch.

However, as much as I love this club, I spent most of last season wondering just whether it was going to end exactly the way it began the season before.  Is it going to be the same damn pattern every year?  High hopes dashed against the rocks as the ship swirls into some murky undercurrent while the team tries to swim to shore?  Was the General going to lead us out of the relegation sweepstakes that we’d been so accustomed to for what seems like eternity?

Again we all ended up shattered.  Another manager leaves the revolving door that has been affixed to the Stadium of Light outside of the manager’s office.  In comes Big Sam to save the day like Danger Mouse, when he foiled Baron Greenback’s plans.  (Yeah I grew up watching it but I don’t like the remake).  Save the day he did – but we are stuck in this terrible spiral of relegation like a runaway tornado.  Four years and four relegation battles, each one feeling more and more destined.

Yes, I will give you the fact that every pre-season there is hope.  Everyone starts with a clean slate.  All points are wiped off the board.  The seats at the SOL get a fresh coat of paint, the grass is pristine and the game has that “welcome back” feel.  A couple of games in and the old guard sees the writing on the wall.  The hope goes out with last week’s trash.

On my trip to the Sunderland game in Toronto last year I learned a lot about what it’s been like to have been at Sunderland matches for years and years.  The same things that I feel but multiplied by seasons and seasons.  It’s not that we don’t love our team, because we do.  We love the Red and White stripes.  We love the Stadium.  We love the history.  We love the rivalry with our neighbors.  We love our mascots (at least some of us do!).  We love this team so much it gets in our blood.  That’s what it comes down to.

Lately however, these patterns have appeared.  We can see the signs.  “Danger.”  “Turn back.”  “Relegation ahead.”  Or we see stretches of terrible luck like someone broke every mirror in the North East.  The questions we always ask never get answered or the answers we never like.  We come with hope and leave with promises of a better year next season.  Do we wish for too much?  Do we wish for not enough?  At the end of the 2010-2011 season, we were all talking about Europe and pushing for a spot in continental play.  Five years later we are just hoping to keep a hold of a Premier League spot.  I suppose it’s true that football shows no mercy and fortunes fade.

Another season beckons us with open arms asking us to forget our reservations and celebrate the coming joy, drama and doubt.  Another season of Sunderland football, what more could we ask for?…I don’t know…maybe a new guy up front or….