Despite the agony, Sunderland AFC remains Wearside's beating heart as passionate fans return to the Stadium of Light

First came the ecstasy, then came the agony...

Tuesday, 25th May 2021, 3:56 pm

That was ‘typical Sunderland’, wasn’t it?

They provided a glimmer of hope… the comeback was on, the scores were level and 10,000 fans had something to believe in. But it wasn’t to be.

It’s always the hope that we can’t stand.

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SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - MAY 22: A Sunderland fan celebrates after the first Sunderland goal during the Sky Bet League One Play-off Semi Final 2nd Leg match between Sunderland and Lincoln City at Stadium of Light on May 22, 2021 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Saturday, however, was about so much more than a simple 90 minutes of football.

‘I will still support them through thick and thin no matter what,’ declared an elderly woman on the morning bus from Grangetown to Park Lane.

At least 70-years-old and donning a red and white striped facemask, the excitement was palpable in her voice as she discussed who she was meeting before heading over to the ground.

The game against Lincoln City at the Stadium of Light represented a welcome return to normality following 14 months of darkness – and marked the restoration of one of life's great pleasures: the pre-match routine.

Pints. Chips. Debate. Colour. Culture. Passion. Reality. Order. Sanity. Restored.

And as a throng of Mackems descended on the city centre and made their way to pubs to meet friends and family, there was a buzz in the air. And it was lovely to experience it. Make no mistake, there was a carnival atmosphere despite Sunderland heading into the tie two goals down.

Indeed, it is sometimes difficult to put into words what football means to this city without sounding cliche but without it, what have we got left?

The beautiful game is undoubtedly Wearside’s beating heart and that was reflected in the enthusiasm shown by the masses of Sunderland fans rushing over the stadium with renewed vigour.

Never again will we take the walk over the bridge and across the sheepfolds for granted.

Lee Johnson called for a cauldron of noise and my word did he get one. Who knew 10,000 fans could make such a racket?

Our lives have changed in many different ways due to the pandemic but our love for Sunderland remains. Win, lose or draw. Premier League, Championship or League One.

The unbreakable bond between the club and its supporters remains very much intact.

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