Sunderland ‘Til I Die, Season 2

Dept. of Hope and Heartbreak and Hope


Sunderland ’Til I Die is a must watch for every football fan. It is right up there with 2019’s Take Us Home: Leeds United. Now this isn’t a dramatic “season in review”. This isn’t about the games they won or lost. This isn’t a documentary about the big cup run that the team went on. Sunderland ’Til I Die is about all the bits in between. 

This is a series that’s about the fans that live and breathe the team. That spend their hard earned money to support their team – their boys – on away trips to non-glamorous football grounds. The same fans that sing the songs and wave the flags. The “Sunderland ’Til I Die” motto ringing strong and true. None ever flagging in their support and love for the club. Some of them may look like caricatures of English northerners, but you soon realise that this is what real people are like. And much like the town of Darwen in The English Game, football in Sunderland is more than just a game.

This is a series about the club executives that are trying to make sure the club survives financially, eking out every last cent they can, not because they want another Range Rover, but because they’re trying to ensure the club that they love gets the money it needs in order to run successfully.

Sunderland ’Til I Die focuses much of its attention on the executive level, with plenty of access to the Chairman and the executives in charge of running the club. Season 2 starts with the new owners trying to come to grips with the way the club had been run. Expensive facilities were bought but not used by the players. There were contracts in place that were completely unrealistic for a club in their current position. It focuses on all of the non-sexy bits of football. You know, the stuff that makes a club tick. Which, let me tell you, makes for great television. Especially for this football fan.

Sunderland ’Til I Die reminds you of the heartbreak that fans feel for their team. Moments when your partner leans over to tell you to calm down after a bad call on the field. Moments when you feel an injustice has been brought upon you and you wish hell on the referee or the opponent. These moments aren’t life or death, but there is nevertheless a flushing anger that rises. It is infectious. It is real.

I was listening to Barry Glendenning, a Sunderland fan and football journalist with The Guardian newspaper, as he was talking about how this series was a depressing watch for him. I suspect that it is down to the fact that he lived those moments. He was too close. As a supporter of a different club, several leagues up, and living 13,000 kilometres away, the series gave me hope. That one day we will all feel like that again; that anguish of a loss, the frustration of a missed goal, the ecstasy and jubilation of a win. It feels crass to say, but these emotions are important. They remind you that you are alive. It brings communities together, both real and imaginary. And in this trying time of COVID-19, it is well worth remembering that this too shall pass and that one day, we will all be able to sing the songs of our clubs, be it in the stadiums, or at home on the couch, several thousand kilometres away.

Sunderland ‘Til I Die
Netflix, Season 2, 6 episodes
Showrunners: Leo Perlman and Ben Turner

Bahir also wrote about Maradona in Mexico.

For more football documentaries, Bahir has you covered with a list.

Bahir likes to review movies because he can watch them at special screenings and not have to interact with large groups of people who may not agree with his idea of what a movie going experience is. Bahir likes jazz, documentaries, Ken Burns, and summer blockbuster movies. He really hopes that the HBO MAX Green Lantern series will help the character be cool again. Also don’t get him started on Jason Momoa’s Aquaman (#NotMyArthurCurry).

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