The latest instalment in behind the scenes professional football comes in the form of Sunderland Till I Die. The 8 episode series is produced by Fulwell 73. The company name is inspired by Sunderlands former stadium and 1973 FA cup final success. This series takes you on a journey through the highs and lows of Sunderlands ’17/18 season following relegation from the Premier League the year before.
The documentary starts off with many fans inside a church engaged in prayer to get Sunderland back to where fans feel they belong. Sunderland Football Club isn’t just a football club but way of life for fans up in the the North East, it really is Sunderland Til I Die for them.
Pre-season occurs, showing the optimism and positivity around the club despite the events that happened the year prior. As a viewer you really feel that just from the start of the first episode that they will go straight back up and that they have everything in place for a return to the Premier League. However, things don’t start off too well for Sunderland, several losses and lack of transfer activity shows you that professional football isn't all winning and multi-million pound signings like its made out to be.
A run of poor of form, a small squad and some overpaid unmotivated players soon took its tole on the club and Sunderland found themselves the wrong side of the table. Pressure starts to mount on manager Simon Grayson, who reveals he’s didn’t realise the true issues at the club until he started there. After continued bad results at the club and the Black Cats still being in the relegation zone the club part ways with Grayson. This part of the documentary I found to be particularly eye-opening as you realise just how much football really is a results business and there is no time to waste.
After a recruitment process occurs, Chris Colemans finds himself the new man in charge of the Championship side. Things start off well for the Welsh manager with a couple wins and they start to climb a few places up the table. However Sunderland return to their old form and things get worse again. I am not a Sunderland fan myself and knew the outcome of the season as it had already happened but still found myself hoping they would win games and somehow stay up.
The series is very intriguing one for many reasons. One being after having watched All or Nothing: Manchester City it paints a picture that professional football clubs are happy, positive places to be with millions of pounds being spent like its nothing. However, Sunderland ’Til I Die, shows a completely opposite side to that. That it can be doom and gloom and the life of a footballer isn’t as easy as it may seem.
Producers Fulwell 73 have done very well portraying the good and bad points of a football club. It had me watching the full series within a day due to the addictiveness of each episode. I would definitely recommend to this anyone, even if you are not a hardened football fan. You will receive an insightful view on a professional football club but not as you may expect.