The dramatic conclusion to Sunderland A.F.C’s first season back in the championship yesterday has left our fans ecstatic. After a year that far outshined expectations, the lads secured a place in the playoffs at the last possible moment and by an extraordinary feat, are now competing to return to the Premier League already. Realistically speaking, there’s nothing better we could have hoped for.
As recently as just one year and four months ago, none of this seemed possible. Sunderland were struggling in league one, a torturous existence that marked the lowest ebb in our club’s 144 year history. We had just been hammered 6-0 by Bolton Wanderers, and it seemed as if we were doomed to never get out of the third tier. But as the saying goes, a week is a long time in football, and a year logically speaking, must be an eternity.
What has happened since to our club has been nothing sort of a miracle. Like a phoenix from the flames, Sunderland AFC have risen again and established themselves as a contender for the Premier League. We have reached the light at the end of the tunnel and cast off the darkest era. It has been an extremely painful journey which has nonetheless had a beautiful ending to it, placing us on the verge of undoing two consecutive relegations and undoing the damage of those gruesome years.
A small portion of our fans have reacted with anxiety given we could be thrust back into the Premier League so quickly, with a squad which arguably isn’t ready. Perhaps so, but only a very foolish person would turn down that opportunity at this stage, when even an unsuccessful season up there would transform the competitiveness and finances of our club. Irrespectively, the events of this year is a testament to the fact that the story of SAFC is always one of an emotional rollercoaster ride. We are either glorious, or bitterly disappointing, but never average or benign. There’s never been a dull moment in our experience because of this.
Our club may not be the most mighty, the most powerful, or the most wealthy, but it is one underlined by the prevailing hope, perseverance, solidarity and spirit of our fans, and it will be always special because of this. Here’s to our games in the playoffs, that we may once again pull off the impossible and return to the big time.