I’ll never forget the summer of 2011. Me, Ana and the kids toured the north east of the United States, taking in games at MLS clubs New York Red Bull and Philadelphia Union and getting the full baseball experience at New York Yankees, New York Mets and Boston Red Sox. We were there to experience the sports event USA-style. Three years earlier we’d been to Chicago and fell in love with the Cubbies. I mean, what’s not to like for a Sunderland fan: they haven’t won a trophy since 1908 but have the most wonderful fans? Like we Mackems they take an existentialist approach to their devotion. The punishment is good for the soul. The defeats prepare you for life’s ups and downs.
For most of the clubs I know, maintaining or increasing attendances will be their biggest challenge in the season ahead. Achieving sporting glory will always be the ultimate objective, but most of us know that this is as likely as 6 numbers coming up on Saturday night. What matters is sustainability and I know, without any doubt whatsoever, that a club that builds engagement on shared values, delivers consistently positive experiences and acts with the supporter’s best interests at heart will thrive - regardless of how well it performs on the pitch. Mark Bradley blogs here...
When I was young my Mam (we don’t have Mums in the north east of England) was a secretary and owned a typewriter at home. I think it was an old Smith Corona one, but I may be mistaken. But the truth is, I was very rarely mistaken since in order to avoid emulating Edwyn Collins and ‘rip it up and start again’ (and also in the absence of a delete button, of course) I would type very slowly and laboriously. Tippex did arrive at one point, but even with that famous correcting liquid applied, my finished articles and short stories would look like a bunch of deliquent sparrows had held a dirty protest on them.
My friend John Hughes and I used to talk about those posters you’d see in business premises proudly proclaiming ‘new’ corporate values. You know the sort of thing: bright colourful things aimed at arousing people with concepts such as ‘team work’, ‘passion’ or some other superficial nonsense. John would greet such a sight with a practised sigh (he is a Newcastle United fan after all) and declare that anything nailed to a wall wasn’t likely to live for long, because he believed that values have to be lived to be effective.
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