Wake Up Call

Last updated : 27 February 2007 By Adam King

As far as the sleeping giants go, there are several usual suspects. Along with ourselves, the top of most peoples list tends to be littered with the likes Leeds, Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Nottingham Forest etc. However, if you actually look into it (and as was highlighted on the message board recently) Sunderland are the biggest snoozers of the lot, being ranked 6th in the 'Historical Rankings' of English football. Now, considering our indifferent form for the best part of the last 40 years, that's some nap. It goes to show just how 'steeped in history' we actually are, considering European Cup winners like Forest come in further down the rankings than us. It also makes it a bigger shame that our club, once labelled 'The Bank of England Club' due to its habit of snapping up the majority best players at the highest prices, has had to endure such a lull in success.

Clubs like Sheffield Wednesday, Derby, Wolves and Leeds all have major fan-bases and decent stadiums but, in all areas Sunderland would generally come out on top. The Stadium of Light is truly a world class arena, and the support, while a little wounded in recent years, is widely recognised as huge, but given a taste of success would be actually scary. The term giant suddenly becomes pretty appropriate. The only thing we don't have in common with the Leeds and Derbys of this world is that we haven't translated these elements into any form of glory.

The likes of Sheffield Wednesday and Wolves are big clubs, but they seem - to me, to be 'old' clubs. They're always the ones mentioned in grainy black and white footage at the start of FA Cup campaigns on the BBC. You know the sort, posh commentator shouting 'and in the 54th minute, Johnny Simpkins-Royce scores a real snorter! Well done that chap!' They don't seem to have been given that new dawn, that modernisation that Sunderland has been given in recent times. I can't imagine them ever being at the very top again, but that's just my opinion.

In my mind, Leeds aren't even a sleeping giant. Leeds are the Michael Carroll of football. If you don't know Mr Carroll, he was the grinning, swearing, finger flicking, sometime bin-man and full time berk who won £9.7m on the lottery a few years back. He loved playing the big time Charlie and basically spent most of his new found wealth on rubbish gold jewellery, a flash house and smashing up stock cars in his lovely new big backyard. He ended up skint as a result. Blowing scandalous amounts of cash on expensive tasteless tat that lasts 5 minutes and ending up a penniless, messy wreck after 15mins of fame - sound familiar? Hello Leeds fans!

Derby have a fair bit of history but they are represented by what is, essentially, a sheep, and their most famous fan is Christopher Biggins so they can't be taken into account. Nottingham Forest have a good claim, the mighty Cloughie (the best manager Sunderland never had) worked wonders there, but they seem to be in more of a coma recently (and their badge looks like an atom bomb going off on a bacon frazzle - look it up, I promise you!)

The truth is, all of these clubs are bigger than approximately two thirds of the sides currently sitting in the Premiership, and the situation some of these clubs have found themselves in is a crying shame (although the Leeds thing is really rather funny isn't it) but the league would be a better place with them all in the top flight. Clubs like Wigan, Charlton, Bolton and even Chelsea just don't have that footballing history that makes a club a bit special. I won't even start on Middlesbrough; anyway, we've already covered Yorkshire clubs. Even the likes of Carlisle and Bristol City ranked pretty highly in the latest poll - I assume some people have a strange sense of humour.

Most clubs never snap out of this downward slide, lets face it, how many big clubs have 'woken up' recently (without the help of Russian billionaire gangsters, sorry, businessmen)? But one such giant seems to be on the stir, a bit groggy at first, granted. But he's up and looking lively now, and how long before he's on the march, whistling 'Danny Boy' as he squares up to the biggest and best again at long last. He's got money in his pocket and a fair bit of power behind him these days, he's looking pretty threatening again.

It all feels a lot like that scene from Jurassic Park. I can hear the noises, I can feel the footsteps, and it's all getting a lot louder and a lot closer every single week. Something's definitely stirring.

Ladies and gentlemen, I give you Sunderland AFC - the boys are back in town.