Jasmine Baba discusses taking football for granted and only realising it thanks to little moments of series two of Sunderland ‘Til I Die.
It’s been an odd few weeks, for everyone. I guess you’re allowed to feel strange during a pandemic. The lack of football being played anywhere in the world, apart from Belarus and Nicaragua, has made it even harder for me to write about.
What people don’t realise is that, I’m addicted to football. It’s the love of my life, the reason I look forward to Saturdays and the thing that keeps me going, even though I am an Arsenal fan. It’s been three weeks without the Premier League, which was then followed by nearly every other European league. Like everyone else when there’s a sudden void in your life, you look to fill that emptiness with pretty much anything else that you can.
I did that. And I was coping well until Wednesday.
Why Wednesday, 1st April? Well, the new series of Sunderland Til I Die was released on Netflix.
There were no specific events in the fly-on-the-wall documentary that had me longing to be magically transported to the Emirates, even if it was a home match to Burnley. So why had I suddenly had this ache in my heart? I made notes while watching whenever I felt this emotion.
Empty shot of the Stadium Of Light. Have you ever turned up to a stadium just a little too early, that it’s so quiet that it’s almost eerie? The excitement or nervousness that tingles down your spine as you look around and all you just see a sea of seats. I had never liked the feeling as it always made me sick but there was always something comforting to from it. Like when you’re alone outside seeing the sun rise. The concrete grey of stadiums reflecting whatever the weather was projecting that day.
The line “It means so much to me, this club.” A bit of an obvious one this but I had forgotten what my club meant to me. It might be a little bit devalued as a rich man owns my club, and as I quote from the programme “Once it’s being funded by a rich man, it’s not your club, it’s his club”.
I realise that with the state of modern English football, it’s basically the norm to be run this way, but I had mixed that up with what my club meant to me. No one can take away the memories I have of matches, moments that I shared with family members and friends through supporting a club. It’s almost sad that I’ve had to be reminded of this in this way.
Fan noises during a Sunderland match. Do you know when you play Football Manager, and something happens, and you have that very generic crowd noise emulate in your headphones or front room (I personally play computer games with headphones). Have you ever realised that when you’re in a ground, it sounds exactly alike? The tone, the depth, almost as if you were there. I know I’m starting to sound like isolation is getting to me, but there’s something so satisfying in hearing that noise whip around a stadium. The groans, the chants and the emotion in unison. Where anyone from 100s to 10,000s of people can share the same feeling in one place and release that as one is a thing of beauty.
If Sunderland Til I Die has taught me anything, it’s how much I’ve taken granted of my club and football as a whole.
Follow Jasmine on Twitter @_BabsJ