Sunderland Opinion – It was our day, a weekend to cherish

Matthew Keeling looks back on a special weekend supporting the Black Cats

It was our day.

A sunny afternoon in late May. Nigh on 50,000 fans from Sunderland making their way down to the Capital, all thinking the same thing; “Maybe this time, it will be our time”.

It’s been quite simply, a hell of a ride. And I mean, quite literally, the last four years have been complete hell. With the novelty quickly wearing off, the first failed play-off campaign felt like some sort of bottoming out. A new low? As low as it could get? Not even close. The following campaign riddled with misery, humiliating defeats, and finishing in eighth place (wahoo!) courtesy of a curtailed season and PPG. Ah well, we’ll get right next season yeah?

Wrong. A season played entirely behind closed doors, watching on streams in a time of untold misery for pretty much everyone. Of course, we lost to Lincoln City in the play-off semi-final. The Papa Johns’ Trophy a mere glimmer of light in the most miserable time in the existence of Sunderland AFC. We’d broken the Wembley curse at least, as Max Power lifted the cup, as we watched us beat Tranmere Rovers 1-0 in our living rooms.

Still, a fresh start, fans are back in and a start to the 2021-22 season that saw us top League One – remarkably, for the very first time since relegation. Naturally it didn’t last; one more sacked manager, 6-0 thumpings losing at home to the bottom club in the division. This was, surely, as low as it could get? For once yes, it was.

Enter Alex Neil and just one defeat later, we’ve finished in fifth place ready to take on Sheffield Wednesday for a place in another play-off final. The out of body experience as Patrick Roberts smashed in the equaliser at Hillsborough will simply live with me forever. As will the weekend that was to follow.

I couldn’t speak about the game beforehand as it was just making me completely sick with nerves. I won’t go on about the game too much as that’s out there for you all to watch over, and over, and over again.

I want to just say a few things about what the weekend meant to me.

For all of you that listen to the Wise Men Say Podcast, thank you. It’s something I completely love and will be forever grateful for the opportunities it has given me. Thank you for putting up with me. It takes up time, we all give up so much time and this weekend it hit home just how many people appreciate what we do.

In the Globe on Baker Street (and I’m so sorry I can’t name check you), someone said to me:

“Even when we are shit, you have made it okay.”

And I’ve been thinking about that a lot. The fact that me and my fellow idiots, frankly a bunch of absolute losers, can make people feel like this, it means the world to me. I’m sorry for making you eat mints – but I did tell you they would be lucky. If you signed my address book I love you.

I am going to cherish this weekend forever. Ultimately it’s the first step back, but it’s such a gargantuan one. It was our time, and for once, it was us. I’ll see you over the summer for a pint and a mint, thank you to each and every one of you for sharing four years of complete hell with me.

All you good, good people x