Forget any diluted, stage managed Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur ‘behind the curtain’ peeks, Sunderland ‘Til I Die is up there with any supreme sporting documentaries that have been produced.
Being a supporter of one of their biggest rivals, I tried to keep my partisan opinion in check as the cameras take a candid look at the steady decline of Sunderland FC. This is a brutal uncovering, documenting years of terrible mismanagement, abuse of power, aggrandised privilege and slapstick decision making.
The story starts as the team have been relegated from the English Premier League after a lacklustre season and amidst a takeover by Oxfordshire businessman Stewart Donald. His consortium undoubtedly have good intentions for the club but being a millionaire at a club formerly owned by a billionaire unveils some harsh truths.
It doesn’t take long for comparisons with The Office to begin in my head as I sat at the screen thinking “nope, that decision won’t end well” and more often than not, my prophecies are proven right.
The beauty of this series is the wide range of people that agree to participate as subjects- from supporters to club staff to multi-millionaire footballers. As with any mismanaged sports team, it’s the fans that bare the brunt of awful decisions made at boardroom level however, knowing what I do about the football landscape in the UK, I struggled to empathise with some of the interviewees that seemed to think Sunderland AFC have a god given right to play at the top end of the Premier League!
One season of this show should have been enough for any sensible owner to decide they would no longer air dirty laundry in public- especially given the way season 1 ends, however someone advised him to grant even more far reaching access to camera crews in season 2! You can only imagine how that turns out.
The ultimate documentary tragi-comedy which will have you gripped (especially if you love your football) and an excellent use of 11 long hours during lockdown.
Viewed: April 2020