Wise Men Say – Sunderland ‘Til I Die Review
Wise men say only fools rush in… but I can’t help falling in love with Sunderland AFC. The Netflix original docu-series Sunderland Til I Die showcases the Sunderland football club from England’s North-East, and their demise all the way down to the third division of professional football. The show displays how much pressure is on the owners and executives of the club from the passionate fans of a working-class town.
In season 1, the club began a new journey in the English Football League (EFL) Championship after being relegated from the Premier League. A new manager in Simon Grayson and a squad filled with players who genuinely believed they were too good for the club; the odds were against the ‘Black Cats’ to fight for promotion back to the Premier League. What happened next was not expected, they were relegated from the Championship to League One as they suffered back-to-back relegations.
Owner at the time, Ellis Short, was under a stack of financial pressure and the fans were demanding that Short sells the club immediately. Fans were pictured in season one protesting the hierarchy of the club and many of the players felt the heat as well. Sunderland is not the nicest place in the world and majority of residents are working class people, some can barely even afford to buy a season ticket, but their pure passion for the club is the reason they keep coming week after week.
In season 2, Short sold the club to English investors Stewart Donald and Charlie Methven. The fans had a new sense of life under the new ownership.
Donald and Mevthen got to work straight away where they quickly adjusted the club’s expenses after realising that they were in over 30 million pounds of debt. They were quick to get the fans on board, as they called fans to help renovate the ‘Stadium of Light’ and replaced the worn seats with fresh new red and white seats.
Fans were quick to show the owners their appreciation by packing the Stadium for the opening day where they would pick up a last gasp win over Oxford United. With transfer drama surrounding young star Josh Maja and his eventual decision to leave the club was not greeted kindly by the supporters.
Sunderland’s form all season was very inconsistent which frustrated the fans, they made it to the play-offs after missing automatic promotion (finishing first or second) which many expected, but a play-off series win against fellow heavyweights Portsmouth FC led the fans with a sense of hope.
An eventual play-off final defeat to Charlton Athletic in the last kick of the game meant Sunderland had to spend another season in League One.
The series was an absolute masterpiece and you could ride every wave of emotion with every party involved. You got a real feel as to what it’s like to be a part of a huge organisation and the pressure the hierarchy feel to perform.
It is the equivalent of the Yankees being demoted to the minors and running a whole series on how they will build back up to the top. Sunderland are too big for League One and their fans are too passionate to be languishing in the lower divisions.
The fans are so reliant on the success of Sunderland and were even seen praying for success in church, which proves that it is a lot more than a sport for many in the city.
Sunderland deserve a team their wonderful city should be proud of, the series as a whole perfectly represents Sunderland as a club and a city and is definitely a must watch for all sport lovers.
Check out the trailer for season 2 below: