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The Sunderland Experiment

July 23, 2010

As I’ve previously admitted right here on this very blog, I’ve never been much of a soccer fan.  It still hadn’t yet blown up as a huge youth sport here in America back when I was a kid, so most of my interest in the sport has been limited to the World Cup and an occasional FC Dallas game (even then, only if free tickets were involved).  But with the World Cup still fresh in the recent past, I’ve allowed myself to become intrigued with England’s soccer version of the NFL: The Premier League.

Thanks to a co-worker who is a hardcore Premier League follower, I have decided to follow the lead of The Ticket’s Craig “Junior” Miller and choose a team to root for in the upcoming Premier League season.  But while Junior limited his options to only those teams with a legitimate shot at contending for a championship (he settled on Arsenal), I decided to take the opposite tack and support and underdog who very well could get relegated (the bottom three teams at the end of each season get demoted to a lower tier).

Admittedly, my remaining selection criteria were highly superficial, at best.  I condsidered such largely insignificant things as how much I liked the logo, uniform and nickname.  I also looked at the city in which the team is based, wanting to avoid some of the larger and better-known metropolitan areas.

I came very, very close to going with Blackpool, but they had just been promoted last season for the first time ever, so their risk of relegation seems too high.  I need at least a sporting chance, which is why I decided to cast my lot with The Black Cats of Sunderland A.F.C.  Located in the City of Sunderland (population 280,207) up in far, far northeast England on the coast of the North Sea, this team was actually founded all the way back in 1879.

Their history is storied and includes six First Division (what is now known as The Premier League) championships, though the last one was in 1936.  They’ve also won two F.A. Cups, with the most recent in 1973.  So, this is a once-proud franchise desperately seeking a long-awaited return to glory.  Plus, they play their games on a pitch in the awesomely-named Stadium of Light.

Like Junior Miller, I may find that my interest will wane after several months, but the only way to find out is to give it a go.  It should be fun!

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