I'm in the middle of reading a Charles Dickens biography. I'm not usually big on literary references within the blog but I was reminded of this quote and thought it too good an opportunity to miss. This passage says it all about Union on a Friday night in Berlin followed by Sunderland on a Saturday afternoon in the north-east of England.
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times,it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness,it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity,it was the season of light,it was the season of darkness,it was the spring of hope,it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities.
The best of times on the pitch were at Union as we demolished Aue 3-0. The worst of times was the sad realisation that in almost a year without a Sunderland home game, I'd drifted so far from the club, that I was not bothered about the match - just seeing my mates.
The age of wisdom can be found in the two club's balance sheets. Union remain solvent, admittedly after a turbulent past. Sunderland continue to spend Millions of a Billionaire's personal fortune on chasing a dream of mid-table security and the odd European away day. The Premier League is driving away goodwill, if not fans; appearing to be a great signifier of the age of foolishness.
Belief, as I have argued before, is paramount to the football fan. Always believe, we must 'still believe', even when the German fans are taunting us with 'It's coming home', as they did against Arsenal at the Emirates recently. The incredulity was seeing three penalties in two games. It should have been at least four.
Spring poked his nose out at the Alte Försterei and the team responded with an equally dazzling performance. The Stadium of Light offered only the coat tails of winter darkness. The clouds loomed over the spaceship looking stadium. The place is a far away galaxy compared to Union's quirky home in the midst of the forest.
Hope springs eternal at Union for a 3rd place finish. However, the Unioner also hope for progress. That would be 6th and quite an achievement. It's been a winter of despair on Wearside as Martin O'Neill's men have steadily slid down the table. Inching towards the Championship - at least the rest of the season will be interesting. Was life better in The Championship, one friend asks.