Supporting from afar

by Jonathan Sager

US-based Sunderland fan returns to blogging duty.

It’s been a while since you’ve heard from me.  It’s been a long while.  And though you haven’t seen my blogs, I’ve seen you.  I’ve paid attention to you.

During these past months, I’ve mentored a group of 7 to 8 year olds in a sport I so love.  I tried my hardest every single practice and game to be the best example for them.  At times I’ve slipped, and at times I haven’t been at my best, I know everyone can certainly relate.

Sometime during that period, I too developed a footballing injury.  As I’ve gotten older, it’s amazed me how easily I get hurt or things start to be painful.  Sometimes I think just getting out of bed in the morning I could sprain something.

I couldn’t really tell you a day or even give you the month, but sometime between the start and end of my season, I developed a neuroma.  Maybe some of you have heard of it or dealt with Morton’s neuroma.

I had never heard of it.  But I will tell you that a few days or maybe even weeks after it happened, something just felt wrong in my foot.  It burned and it ached.  It made no sense.  I hadn’t twisted it.  I hadn’t fallen wrong. 

I played it off.  I thought it was just one of those things that hurts when you get older.  But the more time went on, I found it getting worse and worse.  Three or more Tylenol a day and it wouldn’t cure it.

After going to the podiatrist and getting X-rays, he narrowed it down to the neuroma.  Now almost a week after the first round of steroids for it, I sit and I hurt still, but I see you.

Even though I’ve had this and countless other things going on, I’ve still watched you.  I’ve paid attention to the table.  I’ve checked the fixtures and when I could I watched you on television.  But it’s been a rough few months. 

Today, even though I was at work, I followed you on  When the internet when slow I followed you on my iPhone.  I think I pinched myself when I saw the alert that Adam scored.  Seriously, I was dreaming.

Or maybe I wasn’t.  Maybe it just took time for everything to jell into place.  I mean if I take a step back, maybe the pre-season was a bit tougher than  we would have liked.  The trip halfway across the world and the muggy climate. 

The additions of Adam, Danny, Carlos and Steven were welcome by far, but it takes time for everyone to come together, much like a puzzle piece finding the right side.  Getting to know one another; chemistry is a huge part of it all. 

Today it seemed like an example of what kind of team it can be when everyone plays and give their all as a team.  The old cast of characters that have become the core finally coming together with our new lads and forming a complete picture.

On Christmas Eve, I received my copy of Sunderland: The Complete Record.  After all the time I waited, I thought what a fitting gift. 

Opening it up to find signatures from Jim and Len.  Flipping through it to see my name in the roll of honour.  It was a very amazing thing.

So know, my fellow Black Cats, that I have seen you, I haven’t forgotten you.  You’ve wondered where I’ve been but I’ve been here all along, and trust me when I say that I’ll always be there, following you.

Jonathan Sager