Sunderland fans must support friends and families in the unwavering manner with which we support our football team
This sounds simple enough, but in a region where football plays a vital role in our everyday lives, the prospect of months without it doesn’t sound particularly appealing.
Football is the glue that binds our social groups and despite our lack of success on the field, gives us all something to talk about at bus stops, at work and makes taxi journeys go that bit quicker.
The lack of on field action will certainly be a miss in that regard, but the impact of the Coronavirus will have greater consequences for the region as a whole.
As a city, we will no longer be welcoming thousands of fans from surrounding areas and beyond for the foreseeable future.
The bars and restaurants, who rely on that extra custom will directly suffer from a lack of matches and will find it increasingly difficult as time goes on.
Football also provides salvation to numerous people throughout the city, matchday is a chance to catch up with friends and relatives and it is a massive factor behind tackling social isolation and giving people a routine.
If we can learn anything from football during these troubled times, it is the sense of community and strength in adversity.
We must support our friends and our families in the unwavering manner with which we support our football team.
With self isolation looking like a daily reality for some of us, I would urge people to check on their friends who are suffering from mental health problems and provide a sympathetic ear.
One of the reasons I’m so proud to be a Mackem is the community feel to the area and the generosity of spirit that the vast majority of people show on a daily basis.
Support your friends as much as you support the lads on a Saturday and we will get through this together.
Football will return one day and when it does, that pre-match pint will taste all the better. Mine’s a Double Maxim.
Throughout my childhood, my mother would often tell me to ‘be careful what I wished for.’
At the time, I found it highly irritating, but on Saturday, as I scrolled through Netflix for what seemed like the 10th time of the afternoon, I was starting to think she had a point.
Just a few days previously, in the middle of a marathon journey back from Bristol I uttered the words, ‘just scrap the season, I really can’t be bothered with being let down anymore.’
But at 2pm on Saturday when there was no team news to get annoyed by and the afternoon dragged on with little in the way of distraction, I was already starting to feel nostalgic for a Charlie Wyke miscontrol or a long overdue substitution from Phil Parkinson.
If the defeat at Bristol Rovers is to be the last action I see from Sunderland this season, at least I can say it was an eventful 18 hours or so.
As I boarded the mini-bus at 11am I should have known I was in for a real life representation of Murphy’s Law.
The first thing I observed was the presence of a cassette player at the front of the bus, although at least the accompanying CD player upgraded the technology from BC to AD.
The journey didn’t start ideally, as we travelled the scenic route to swap drivers at Tebay services, the window in the centre of the bus roof flew open.
Several attempts later, the window was eventually slammed shut and thankfully the glitch was not repeated, but for the remainder of the journey it juddered uncertainly.
After a number of comfort breaks, traffic jams and the driver turning the wrong way down a residential street, we arrived at the ground with half an hour to go until kick off.
Once inside, I witnessed a very moderate, niggly Bristol Rovers side overpower a directionless, awful Sunderland side to record the hosts second win in 19 games.
As the pop classic, turned terrace chant goes, things could only get better surely? Well that’s what I thought anyway.
Once the other buses pulled away from the ground, the news filtered through that one of our number had managed to lock himself inside a toilet cubicle inside the Memorial Stadium.
Thankfully, after a little over half an hour he was freed by maintenance staff and we were on our way home, but the incident did rather sum up the day's events.
After repeatedly losing radio reception, the driver decided to take advantage of the CD player to keep himself entertained.
Unfortunately, he played the same CD on repeat for the entirety of the journey home to the point where hearing any easy listening 80’s music will leave me with PTSD.
Other than that, the journey home was rather uneventful, although the driver was obviously participating in a Guiness World Book of Records attempt to surpass as many English County borders as possible in one drive and we were once again united with Cumbrian fell roads in the early hours of the morning.
When I eventually arrived home at around 5am, I was firmly of the opinion that I would be happy not to see another game of football this year.
Perhaps, I should be careful what I wish for after all…