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The Sunderland Flu

The Sunderland Flu

I feel sick.

This has happened to me before, this sickness.

These are the symptoms: a feeling of optimism, followed by elation, followed by anxiety, followed by rage, followed by a sour stomach, followed by depression. I wish I knew how to manage this sickness, because it seems to come over me whenever Sunderland play lately. Or when they concede a goal in the last minute of stoppage time against Pompey. And I can`t stop watching Sunderland. I honestly can`t. It`s like a compulsion.

I am an addict.

What`s that they say? If you do the same thing over and over again expecting a different result, then you are insane. I`m starting to think this applies here. I desperately want to have a sit-down with a lifelong Sunderland supporter who has the perspective of decades and ask him/her how they do it? How does one maintain hope, or support, or any sense of optimism in the face of so much mediocrity? All the false dawns? All the relegation battles?

How should I be a Sunderland supporter? Why should I be a Sunderland supporter? I don`t have to do this to myself anymore. So why should I?

Why does anyone give their time, money, and energy to such a cause. Are we, as Sunderland supporters, going to eternally tilt at windmills or will there come a day when all that effort pays off?

I have a friend here in LA who works at Tiffany & Co. One afternoon he waited on Peter Kenyon and Bruce Buck. Making small-talk, he asked them what they did for a living and Bruce mentioned that they worked for Chelsea. Eric - my friend - brightened and mentioned that he had a friend - me - who was a Sunderland supporter. Kenyon chuckled and Bruce said, "Yeah, Sunderland are like the Milwaukee Brewers of the Premiership."

Very funny.

For those of you who aren`t familiar with American Baseball, let me clarify. Milwaukee: a medium-sized town in the state of Wisconsin. The Brewers: a small-market team laboring away in Milwaukee. Solid support. Nice club. Perennial strugglers.

Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Manny Ramirez: these players will never play for Milwaukee.

Is this what I have to look forward to? A life of supporting the Milwaukee Brewers of England? I know I`m asking a lot of questions this time 'round, but I`m looking for suggestions. And I`m serious: how do I continue to support a team this dedicated to dashing my hopes and maintain my health and sanity? Because after the last three matches, I`m back to the old worries.

I`m sending out an SOS. I welcome your thoughts.

Click here to join in the debate on the club forum.

Writer:JJ Burch
Date:Thursday February 11 2010
Time: 3:12PM


After watching Wolves and West Ham do what we can't, win a game, it really is worrying times for all Mackems across the globe. I feel sorry for Sunderland fans who pay their money only to be given the same dissapointment every season. Maybe we are cursed...
11/02/2010 15:15:00
Cursed is right. I agree that the real victims are the season ticket-holders.
11/02/2010 19:09:00
Good piece jj.. And that is exactly how I feel. I keep telling myself that other clubs fans go through the same but I don't think they do do they? The amount of times our hopes are raised then dashed is incredible. Being cursed is a ludicrous idea...but its the only explanation I can ever come up with.
11/02/2010 19:24:00
Hate to say it but maybe we just aren't a Premiership club. Whenever we are in the Championship we are always optimistic of achieving promotion. Yeah, it lacks the glamour and quality of the Premiership but its still entertaining enough and we go through the season feeling optimism rather than a sense of impending doom. There are fans of Championship clubs who are happy with being there. It provides enough drama and excitement too - remember Carlos Edwards' screamer Vs. Burnley?! Thats one of my favourite Sunderland memories. I don't know... I'm going insane at the moment. I'm clutching at straws.
12/02/2010 17:25:00
Maybe you're right, AJ. I remember that Edwards goal like it was yesterday. Got up from the sofa, screaming like a maniac, and ran across the living room and nearly passed out from the headrush. Really would like more moments like that, but as you say, maybe they're not to be had in the Prem. I just don't think I could bear watching us fall down lower than the Championship though -- although I don't suppose I have a choice in terms of supporting any other club, now do I? I can't. The thought of pulling on a different strip makes me physically ill. How did this happen???!!!!
13/02/2010 05:31:00
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