I have been watching Sunderland since 1960, a 50 year roller-coaster ride that in truth has been a ride with few peaks. That 1973 (I was there!) represents the pinnacle of that 50 years is a massive disappointment for a club with the history and potential of this one. I have never been able to understand why, within that same period, teams from the North West have been so dominant when the potential for success for those from the North East is the same. To those youngsters on here (you know who you are) who are quick to castigate the apparently miserable, negativity of the pessimistic old fart posters(they know who they are!) I just hope you have more to cheer about when you look back over your own half centuries of following the lads. After a while, like me, you’ll not dare to hope too much, because it hurts too much when the hope is continually dashed. When we were relegated in 2003 I reluctantly accepted that I had witnessed the best three consecutive seasons that I was destined to see in my lifetime. I had dared to hope as the new millennium approached that this was it, this was our time. We had a fantastic new stadium representing a fresh start and a bright new future. No longer would we be the plucky underdogs or perennial yoyos, we could compete at the top table and would do so for many years to come. For me that relegation was as low as I have ever been, even worse than the 1987 relegation to division 3. I was sure that the best opportunity we’d had for a sustained period of real success had been within our grasp, had been lost, and would never be seen again. The 15 point season in 2006 (did that really happen?) only added weight to that conclusion. And yet, despite all that, once again I can’t stop the hope rising…. Do we really have a team who can thrash the current champions, unbeaten in their own back yard, and playing on the back of 9 clean sheets? Are we really unbeaten against the teams who finished 1 to 7 the previous season? Have we really bought a striker on the shortlist of WORLD footballer of the year? Do we really have a 20 year old who’s been at the club since he was 7 about to make his debut for England? Do we really have a manager who recognises young talent and gives it a chance to bloom, who recognises unfulfilled talent and lets it express itself, who can spot a bargain in the transfer market and have the courage to follow through? Do we really have one of our finest ex players working his socks off with charm, enthusiasm, clarity of purpose and total empathy with the fans as Chairman of this club? Has he really been able to persuade a hardnosed, businessman to invest millions in the team and at the same time bring financial stability to the club? Have I really seen this somewhat reclusive businessman behaving like a real fan, holding his head in his hands in disappointment or jumping out of his seat, arms raised and yelling in celebration? Please God, can I really dare I hope again….?