Tony Gillan: Enforced fun at Sunderland? You must be clackers!

An emotional Charlie Hurley
An emotional Charlie Hurley
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Cast your mind back to May 7 this year. What a day.

Sunderland twice went behind to Chelsea in a sold-out Stadium of Light, but came back to secure a stunning win over top class opposition, bagging a very important three points on a superbly exciting afternoon.

The noise generated was incredible. The atmosphere was better than at any stadium, in any Premier League fixture last season.

You could have chopped it up and added brown sauce. Ah, memories.

But does anyone remember thinking: “This is all well and good, but if only we had some cardboard clackers”?

These abhorrent items were dished out before the Hull game on Saturday.

No one has been able to explain the “thinking” behind it.

It would be unfair to name the individual responsible; even if we knew who it was.

Of more concern is that the club evidently has a six-year-old among its employees.

People and only people contribute to the atmosphere in a stadium: the players and the fans.

The premeditated distribution of litter contributed nothing but irritation.

Various artificial methods have been used to “create atmosphere” over the years and every one of them was cobblers.

At various clubs they have included cheerleaders, mascots, free scarves and – at the instigation of Satan himself – drums.

No club that allows, let alone encourages, drums is worthy of anything except contempt.

In the early days of the Stadium of Light, every Sunderland goal was met with a burst of I Feel Good by James Brown.

You may remember it. If you do I hope your toes have uncurled by now.

Football is too intense to withstand enforced “fun”. Beating Hull 3-0 made for a buoyant city on Saturday evening.

But had the result gone the wrong way then many a clacker would have been used for purposes that were not intended.

Please, in future leave the supporters to their own devices.

In 2000 the club had a vote to establish an official nickname. Yuk! How can it be a nickname as well as “official”? Nicknames are organic, not “decided”.

The “Black Cats” moniker is only ever used by the media – not the supporters.

I have yet to hear anyone refer to themselves as a “Black Cats fan”.

Clackers, nicknames, theme music, dancers, vuvuzelas, the England “band”. Each idea is an exercise in unalloyed naffness.

There is only one guaranteed method of improving atmosphere, and any fan could reveal it with no consultation fee involved.

Play better football.

PS. I am aware that the clackers were part of an otherwise successful Charlie Hurley Day.

For less excruciating methods of honouring the great man, visit www.charliehurleystatue.co.uk