When I look at the Championship today, it makes me think of the story of the Prodigal Son.

The prodigal son came from a rich family: the one who cashed in his inheritance early, only to blow it all on an ill-thought through series of investments and gambles.  The prodigal son finds himself hitting a low, destitute and eating from pigswill troughs to survive.

Family members who felt wronged by him taking his rewards early, urge that he should remain an outcast.

However, the bonds of family eventually prevail, and the prodigal son is welcomed back into the fold, because without the prodigal son, the family cannot truly be complete.

And my word, haven’t Sunderland been prodigal in recent years as they blew their funds on their comedy capers. And how their fans, so long in denial of this behaviour, deserve to be brought to heel and to become outcasts!

“Enjoy Burton!” the Mackems shouted in 2016, and I certainly did, as a great away performance by Nigel Clough’s team at Oakwell this week, left a hapless Sunderland rooted to the bottom of the second tier.

“6 in a row!” they rejoiced in telling us, whilst denying us the chance to put things right by threatening to wink out of existence entirely.

“Why aren’t you walking it?” they ironically asked in February 2017, only finding in October the same year that you can’t take any games for granted in the league with the world’s most lucrative prize.

Sunderland are in a mess after a decade of profligate living.  And schadenfreude means that it’s easy to simply laugh at them as they slide towards League one, irrelevance and perhaps even extinction.   But to me, Sunderland are now the prodigal son, and until we welcome them back to the fold, the family can never be complete.

We’ve one of the healthiest local football scenes in England, with Whitley Bay, North Shields and South Shields all making their mark nationally and their players moving on and up to better things (good luck Alex Kempster!)    Blyth Spartans’ mighty giant killing act broadcast live across the world was the epitome of the north east football family – healthy competition and mutual respect that helps us all get the best out of the game.

When Borussia Dortmund faced liquidation over an unpaid wage bill, Bayern Munchen famously stepped in with a donation because they believed that European football was better for more German top teams, even when it was their deadly rival.  I believe that English football, and even the performance of the England team, can only benefit from more north east teams, even when that means saving Sunderland.

The north east is a region that is forged on solidarity, and the great chronicler of north east cultural history Dan Jackson reminds us that our partisan rivalries are a recent confection, with our (great-)grandfathers regularly attending both Sunderland and Newcastle home games. Solidarity tells me that it is time to welcome the prodigal son back to the family, and to start hoping that Sunderland can turn things round and avoid the drop.

The Mackems deserve our pity after eating for so long at the pigswill trough of their incompetent regime.

North east football will never be complete until Sunderland can sort their act out, become a competitive if challenging member of our family, and I am prepared to cheer them on towards that.

You can follow Paul on Twitter @heravalue

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  • paul mclaughlan

    Sorry I just find it too funny.

  • ross richardson

    And if the boot was on the other foot, you think we’d get any sympathy??? I doubt it.

    • MadMag83


  • John D Williams

    The problem everyone has here. The LOYAL Sunderland supporters are just like us extremely passionate about their own team. Follow them through thin and thinner and share banter with us. What you have is mindless idiots who say they support Newcastle or Sunderland half who have never been to either ground writing the biggest load of P*** on websites. I would rather Sunderland and Middlesborough were in the premier league.

    • SH.ER

      Your logic SUCK [email protected] !!!!
      So by your stinky logic there can only be 50k NUFC fans, the ones who only go to matches…. get lost will you, pathetic
      The Premier League attract TV viewers from all around the world more than ANY other league in the entire world, they are not fans??

      • ghostrider

        Actually I don’t think he’s quite saying that.

    • Jezza

      Excellent comment.

  • Rich Lawson

    Ellis Short is a billionaire who invests in sports franchises without knowing anything about the teams he has bought,He can walk away and leave them as just another line in the accounts.How many times has he been to Roker Plight to watch them ? To many mega rich owners have no interest in football and just see it as a possible profit maker.Hello Ashley (Blackburn,Hull etc).As for our decent amateur teams,why does this not pass over into NUFC’s youth set up ?

    • Cockneytrev

      “As for decent amateur teams etc”
      It’s the whole coaching set up,, we look for pace and power in youngsters,, I watched Alex Kempster from being young at cramlington juniors and he was always a talent, but slight,,
      these type of players are consistently overlooked, even the top junior teams in the area, are like this, ( with the exception of maybe Newcastle City)
      Messi would never have made it in this country as he was such a small child.
      Good luck to Alex I hope he ends having a great career..

      • Cockneytrev

        Sorry Alex was at wallsend , but trained with mickey cairns at cramlington

      • Rich Lawson

        ”It’s the whole coaching set up” Exactly.

  • Wor Lass

    I`m with John, below. I remember the mackems` reaction (the real people who support the club as opposed to the muppets) to the MH17 disaster. A bit like our reaction to Bradley Lowery. When the chips are down we`re just football supporters. We want to be on top and have the chance to rub their noses in it but we need them at least close to us or the rivalry just goes. NE football will always be stronger and more exciting if Newcastle, Sunderland and Middlesboro (and Leeds) are in the top flight – as long as we`re doing best, of course.

  • thewildchimp

    Sadly, that’s the way modern sports leagues function (the good ones, that is) – one club takes the fall so another can rise in the ranks. For Sunderland it is a bit harsh, but with no good players and no funds to hire them – it’s the only outcome. Even if they did have money, they’d do an ‘Ashley’ and waste it, for their owner is equally inept.
    Don’t wish them ill, even though some of them rented a plane to wish us a merry downfall, partially because it’s not humane, partially because we might end up in the same boat the very next season.

  • Monkseaton Magpies

    Great article in the Chronicle today on how Short has refused to reinvest money in players and Ashley did hence we went back up. Sunderland have nothing to do with us so if they go in the third division so be it could not care less if we never play them again.

    • Guest 2

      At it again I see.
      What money did he ‘reinvest’? He made a £30 million profit from Summer 2016 and of the 33 million loaned by St James Holdings in Dec 2016, 18 million went straight to Ashley and the other 15 was for club expenses (due to the relegation).
      He allowed no signings in January ’17 and we had a net spend of only £11.5 million last summer, followed by three loan signings this January and one is still injured.
      Can you count? Do you have more than a single brain cell? Are you actually nowt more than a Mackem troll?

      • GToon

        I envy the people like this bloke. That’s eleven years of being happy with NUFC under Ashley that I have missed out on.

        • Jezza

          He’s happy with NUFC under Ashley because he’s a Manchester supporter.

      • Cockneytrev

        Well said,,
        He’s not even a Newcastle fan,, just a sad troll,,

      • Jezza

        He’s not a Mackem troll, he’s a Manchester troll. A season ticket holder at Old Trafford.

    • TheFatController

      If they re-do Silence of the Lambs, and replace Hannibal Lecter with the even more bizarrely deranged and anti-social Monkseaton Magpie, who would you like to play you …?

  • Steve Smith

    F**k them. They’re not going to disappear. They’re just not going to be playing in the top 2 leagues.

    It would be a different story if their pink seat stadium was getting bulldozed. It isn’t.

    They’re suffering karma for being such muppets for the last few years.

  • molend

    It’s a no-brainer. Look at Lancashire. Even Accrington (pop. two men and a dog) has a team in the league. Teams from there have won half the top division titles since the league started. Gateshead, Hartlepool, Ashington, Blyth, Whitley Bay nowhere near. In an ideal world, Gateshead would be in the Premiership. We’d win some, we’d lose some, but the rivalry would be good for NUFC. At the moment, it’s too easy for the wasters in charge. If you’re starving and your only option is lousy fish and chips, you’ll take it. But if there’s an Indian and a Chinese next door, then the batter, vinegar and newspaper have got to be just right.

    • MadMag83

      Whilst I agree a strong local rivalry is healthy, I don’t think it is pivotal to success. It could be argued that if more local teams were successful, Newcastle might actually have less fans.

      • molend

        Fair point, but what I’m suggesting is that it might generate more fans. Manchester, for example, isn’t that much bigger than greater Newcastle and Gateshead, but look at the attendances of the two clubs there. Liverpool/Everton.

        • MadMag83

          The likes of Man Utd and Liverpool have large numbers of fans who aren’t from their local catchment areas though. They have significant numbers of fans who travel a fair distance for home games. It’s likely that this is due to a number of factors such as success, geography and transportation. You do have to wonder if there would be thousands of Cockneys thundering up the motorway to Newcastle if we were a dominant force.

          • molend

            Rob Lee did.

          • MadMag83

            😂😂😂 Tell him to bring his boots next time, he’d walk into this team.

          • molend

            Ooh, you are awful. But I like you

        • Geordiegiants

          Citeh don’t sell anywhere close to their capacity, and there would only be 30/40, 50 thousand at a push Manure fans if it were locals only.

      • Jezza

        Can’t agree with that. Nobody from Tyneside is going to support Sunderland rather than Newcastle no matter how well or badly either team was doing.

        • MadMag83

          That’s not quite what I meant Jezza. I was thinking more of say Gateshead or people who live in the wider catchment area of Newcastle and Sunderland, towns that don’t have a professional football club of note.

  • Jonas

    Wrong. We don’t need them. The same cannot be said of them, just look at the gates when they play us compared to the rest. Were the gage through which they appraise things and the focus for a large percentage. They as good as didnt exist during the Keegan era. Wasn’t too bad was it.

    their owner has proved, after being conned into buying the club,to be incompetent but he’s not malevolent like Ashley. They’re far worse, worse than we’ve ever been, but out owner is still far worse.

  • GToon

    I’d rather play them than not. Whatever that might mean in terms of leagues etc I don’t know. I’m enjoying their season though and would laugh if they went down again. However I’d rather have three Northeast teams in the EPL than ones from the south and south coast, places where football doesn’t matter as much.

    • Jezza

      Agreed entirely. The North East has always been the most passionate football hotbed in the country and it is in nobody’s interest to see the region become a footballing wilderness.

  • Nut

    I think I have a master devious plan afoot, Elis Short has said he will let the club go for £1 to a bidder willing to take on board the debts.

    So as Newcastle fans we buy the club, we then create a feeder club for Newcastle United, this would be the ultimate humiliation surely for any Sunderland fan, to be owned by newcastle fans and run as the feeder club to Newcastle.

    Technically there would be nothing to stop this as Newcastle is a completely seperate entity and it would just be Newcastle fans buying the club.

    I don’t think Uefa/FA have ever seen this so there would be no previous to go on.

    Then those same fans would make the club available as a vehicle much like a b team for Newcastle to use to bring tallent through.

    Personally I think it’s a brilliant idea.

    • MadMag83

      So long as that “talent” isn’t the next Colback…

    • Jonas

      Were not much less likely to chip and buy it than their fans – massive part of the problem is their ‘fans’ don’t want to put their hands in their pockets in the first place.

    • John

      You do realise we would have to raise £100m for shorts debts aswell?

  • robbersdog

    Sunderland? F*ck ’em – I hope they tumble through leagues 1 and 2 and end up as a semi-pro team in the Vanarama.

  • East Durham Mag

    No sympathy been laughing all day

  • Andy Mac

    The difference between the two of us, despite having two shlte owners, is that players see NUFC as a big club falling on hard times. Makems on the other hand are a small club competing with so many others all vying for a tilt at the top.

    Even in the Championship there are clubs who are arguably bigger than the unwashed. Wolves, Sheffield Utd, Derby not to mention Leeds and oh those sad muppets from Villa park.

    The Makems level is probably a top six EFL/bottom six PL side. What it would need to move them upwards is either money from the Arabs or a *Dave Whelan” type who loves the club and is prepared to shove a huge wedge into moving it forwards

    • John

      You should google British teams on merit in terms of what they’ve won. You’ll see Sunderland is higher than you think, actually higher than us with 6 top tier titles.

      • Cockneytrev

        getting the feeling your not even a Newcastle fan,,, your only ever negative about us, I’ve never read one positive post by you that would imply you support Newcastle,, even the obvious trolls on here are sometimes positive about us,,,

        • X,WHY,Y MAN.

          Why do people always revert to saying things like your not a fan for making a comment ?
          You cannot ignore or reinvent history because it is there to see regardless of your allegiances to a particular club.

          • Cockneytrev

            I can agree with someone making a comment, against how Newcastle play, or the fact that they played badly, but when every comment is obviously negative against NUFC and no respect is given to the likes of shearer, Keegan, Rafa and this is a constant in their posts, I’ll point it out,,
            not ONE true Newcastle fan can constantly slag off legends of the club (Rafa not yet) and if their posts often have a slant or bias towards other teams or an anti nufc agenda,, then I’ll also point this out.
            There are far too many sad trolls come on here and spout off their💩,, if that guy is a Newcastle supporter,,, I appologise..
            But you read his previous posts and make your own mind up, he hasn’t a good word to say about the club….

      • Andy Mac

        Agreed the makems used to be a big club but can you argue that now or even within the last 20 years ? NUFC on the other hand have it within them to regain those cherished top four places and maybe a trophy but there has to be a change of ownership for that to happen.

        Even with the muppets we’ve had running this club in the PL era we’ve still managed 9 top 7 finishes (4 top 4) within that time period. So just imagine if we’d had an owner with genuine ambition instead of Fatman ?

      • Jonas

        Only including titles is a little selective. We’ve won more trophies and are bigger in every other way.
        Notts Country and Blackburn have won titles more than Spurs.
        neither are in danger of being thought of as big clubs.

    • X,WHY,Y MAN.

      The fact is historically they are a big club in terms of winning things and were once dubbed “The Bank Of England Club”, Due to their buying power in back in the day.
      Apparently the crowds that used to get into Roker Park back then were some size by todays standards.

  • Fisherking

    Hate the scum brought my kids up to hate them don’t associate with any of them I’m old school supporter hope they go down the league’s i will have my Derby day when they play forest hall

    • paul mclaughlan


    • Jezza

      Comments like this really make Newcastle fans look very bad. Hating people and calling them scum just because they support a certain football team and/or live in a certain city says far more about you than it does about Sunderland supporters.

      • Ben Jones

        Well said Jezza

  • Scott Robinson

    I might have a look in the pound shop to see what is a better bargain for a £1 than SAFC. An eat by 2017 Toblerone. A 3 box set of matches. A can of WD40. If I bought SAFC I would have to venture into Sunderland, the city of vultures, so I might keep my £1 for the poundland sale.

  • TheFatController

    Pardew has experience of the third tier, and should be free soon….

    • Jezza

      As a Newcastle fan the thought of Pardew being free soon fills me with dread. I’ve got a pretty shrewd idea which North East club the Silver Pox could well be managing next season and I’ll give you a clue, it’s not Sunderland.

  • Reggae86

    I just don’t even give them a second thought anymore. They gloated and it blew up in their faces, and now they’re of zero relevance as far as I’m concerned.

  • John

    I think it’s a funny one, we sit here and moan about our owner like he’s the worst thing in the world.. then we laugh at a club who’s owner has driven them into the ground. We go down we get £60m reinvestment. They go down and get £1.25m investment. It could’ve been easily us. And if you read the boards, a lot of their fans are boycotting Ellis Short. We twist about Ashley then turn out every week to line his pockets.

    • Geordiegiants

      So good luck to them if they can manage to buy their club back for the fans. The problem being the inbred thick as f’ck spectators will not even try and get a fans group together and sort anything out.

  • Geordiegiants

    If it happened to us I wouldn’t be upset. I have said for a while that if it happened, the fans would be able to afford buy the club, we have enough loyal supporters that would put money in. It’s the only way we would’ve get our club back. I’m a Newcastle fan, that means in any league.

    • John

      Buy the club? Are you simple? You think for arguments sake 100,000 fans couldn’t raise £300m to buy the club with Ashley’s loans? That’s £3000 per fan. Then overheads? Then to buy players?

      • Geordiegiants

        Am I simple????
        Which club would cost £300m if it was in the third division??????????
        Really have you even thought about what I wrote or what you read before you started calling people names????????

  • magpies

    Anyway, what´g going to be written on the banner for the fly ovet St James´ this year?


    I could forgive my prodigal son if he blew all his bit BUT there would be no forgiving him if he turned into a Macum.
    Long may there slide into oblivion continue.