Something weird's happening to me, it’s the start of a worrying new trend, and it may have already happened to you.
Since starting my new job there’ve been a lot of new introductions. People learning who I am, where I’m from, my hobbies...
And then they find out I’m a Sunderland supporter.
In seasons not long gone, the room would crackle with people wanting to talk about everything from Altidore’s awkwardness and Di Canio’s kneecaps. From Vergini’s ultimate OG to Short’s purse strings. Sunderland were the punchline and every man and his poodle would fall over to get there first.
But this time, they all went quiet.
Maybe it’s a freak incident and it's just that... none of these people seem have met a Sunderland fan before. And they don't know the correct etiquette when meeting one.
A quick refresher of how it should work. When someone reveals they’re red and white, the standard procedure is:
2. Pretend to be sorry for us.
3. Laugh again.
4. “Chris Coleman, eh?”
5. Quick pop at Cattermole.
7. Buy us a drink.
It’s not how I wish things were (our supporters deserve a side that commands respect) but it’s the way things are.
Or at least, it’s how I thought it was.
Rivals laugh at us when things go bad, but as Sunderland fans many of us have learned to laugh with them when things go even worse. We always support the club but as the side plumbed new depths of unjustified idiocrasy, things became so ridiculous you couldn’t even recognise it. A chuckle of disbelief.
Yet here we are – we’ve found a whole new level. Laughter has been replaced by pity.
The club, as the wider public knows it, is literally beyond a joke.
It’s the most bizarre situation, but I actually miss the laughter. If people stop making fun of the side then it’s a sign our struggles are no longer unusual.
I was actually thinking about this the other day when I heard a song on the radio that really underlined the whole thing – Send In The Clowns (i.e. that one from the weird clown car advert).
This isn’t a song recommendation (seriously it’s the most miserable thing I’ve heard on the airwaves since Chris Moyles) but more an observation…
"Isn't it rich, isn't it queer…
Losing my timing this late in my career.
And where are the clowns?
Quick, send in the clowns!
Don't bother – they’re here."
Sometimes, you've got to laugh. Right?