This morning I woke up and went outside to check on my vegetable garden. I do this every morning after planting season to see how things are growing. The butternut squash were coming up. Sunflowers were growing. Tiny poppy shoots pushed up through the soil. Rain clouds were gathering, but despite this, the air smelled distinctly of spring. It has for a while now. And with spring - usually - comes the end of the Premiership season.
On that note, today I watched Hull lose to Aston Villa.
I found myself focusing on a couple of former Sunderland players plodding their way through their paces, staring relegation in the face, and I thought, "well, this is strangely familiar." How many times have I seen this before? Indeed, how many times have I followed Sunderland down to the Championship? (A telling statement, as I`ve only seen them drop that far!) Only twice, I guess. But considering the amount of time - eight years? - that I can consider myself a supporter, that`s a lot of ups and downs. I`m so used to it, in fact, that I didn`t really think we`d be safe this early. So used to it that when we hit our winless streak this season, I was first in line calling for Bruce`s head. So used to it that it has been strange to be taking deep, relaxed breaths of late. To be enjoying the green shoots of spring. To be, well, safe.
Strange that I`m not finding myself at a slightly heightened state of anxiety. I`m not doing BBC results predictors online. I`m not biting my nails to the quick or skulking around the message boards arguing over why and how it all went wrong this season. There is a lightness in the air, even over here, far away from Wearside. I wish I could be sharing it in person.
Someone posted something about the last day`s match and organizing a cowboy-themed costume thing in tribute to Ellis Short. Sounds totally ridiculous, to be honest, but I can`t express how jealous I felt at not being able to be there - regardless of what everyone wears. Once again, the isolation I feel puts a damper on even the best of occasions. I find myself really quite desperately wanting to talk to someone in person about the season. I`d love to be able to join in on the songs and chants and jump up and down like an idiot and drink and celebrate in an actual, live group of like-minded supporters, for once.
When I was at the pub to see the Tottenham match, I was seated outside by myself on the patio (if you`ll recall). Inside, the Arsenal supporters were watching their match against Wolves. When they put one in in the dying minutes of extra time, there was an explosion of cheers, followed by a spontaneous song. I just sat there, slightly dumbfounded. I couldn`t help but feel more shitty, despite our comprehensive victory. I wanted to join in, but I obviously couldn`t and wouldn`t. I waded through to the bar, paid my tab, and went home - happy and sad, satisfied and unsatisfied.
In any case, we`re safe. And thank fuck for that. And this summer is World Cup, so I don`t have to go months without decent football. If Capello gives his head a shake and takes Bent along, that will round things off quite nicely, thank you very much.
Switching gears somewhat, I`m now happy to report that my son is now fully red and white. He refers to Sunderland as "we" and sent away for Benty`s autograph about three weeks ago. We`ve heard nothing from the club, so I`m hoping they send something soon. I don`t really care what form it comes in - just that he gets something back. Don`t they know what`s riding on this??
Here`s hoping we batter Hull this weekend and push for tenth place. Ha`way the Lads and thanks for a great end to season 09/10.