Marita Phenix: Why I fell in love with Sunderland AFC
Relegation woes are all part and parcel of being a Sunderland fan, I've been told.
"Why have you chosen to support Sunderland? Are you mad?"
These are the questions I keep getting asked, but it doesn't faze me. I'm far too emotionally invested now.
I've loved football since I was little.
As a child growing up in Singapore, one of my fondest memories was my dad getting a big Indian takeaway to watch weekend match round-ups together.
Martin Tyler was undoubtedly the voice of my childhood. At the age of eight, my mum took me to my first game (Malaysia v Singapore) and I was hooked ever since.
I lived in Kent for 16 years, so only started supporting Sunderland during the 2013-14 season. Moving up north was a massive shock to the system - things were difficult and I found myself very lonely.
But one of the things that kept me sane was football. At a time when I felt extremely displaced, I experienced a sense of belonging when I was at the Stadium of Light.
Although friends and family ensured that my transition went as smoothly as possible, it was at home games that I felt like I was part of an amazing wider community.
To date, I've been to several home games (I stopped counting after 25), three away games, two derbies and one game at Wembley!
The latter was so unforgettable. From the build-up, to walking up Wembley Way, to the flag passing over our heads, to the first goal - I was blessed to be there. My other passion is building up my Supporters' Group.
I've experienced all types of fans and have seen Arsenal, Man United and West Ham play.
But no other fans/atmosphere compare. One of the main reasons why I fell in love with Sunderland was because of their heart.
It would be boring to support a team who won every single match anyway.
* This blog was written by a Sunderland fan. Fancy having a go?
Simply email 300 words to [email protected] and we'll publish the best.