Sunderland 'Til I Die Review: Heartbreak, Heroes, Villains & All The Very Best Bits

"Okay guys, I know we humiliated ourselves on a global scale with Sunderland 'Til I Die season 1, but I've got a really good feeling about next year. It'll be a story of resolve, revenge and redemption, and the Black Cats will rise once again."

Whoever sanctioned a second crack at 'Sunderland 'Til I Die' within the club needs sacking. Whichever Netflix executive convinced them to give it the green light needs a giant raise. 

That's right, everyone. The most gripping, pulsating and inevitably heartbreaking series is back on our screens for a second season, and it didn't disappoint one bit. The six episodes follow the adventures of newly-relegated Sunderland, who are aiming for promotion back to the Championship at the first time of asking. 

Patrick Bauer

The documentary also gives an in-depth look into the lives of new owner Stewart Donald and director Charlie Methven, whose job it is to lift Sunderland back to the second tier. There are laughs, cheers and ultimately tears along the way, and you have to feel sorry for those passionate Black Cats who suffer tremendously on camera for the entertainment of others. 

Unless you're a Newcastle supporter of course, then you're probably revelling in it. 

But who were the heroes of the second series? Who were the villains? And what were the standout moments of the documentary? 90min has got your back and provides you with all the answers. 


​Stewart Donald

Okay, so there may not have been a fairytale ending, and he may have made some mistakes along the way, but Stewart Donald brought passion back to Sunderland, and gave their supporters hope that they hadn't experienced in years. 

The club's owner drank beers with the fans, stood amongst the Black Cats faithful in the stands and rescued a club from financial ruin. A different outcome in the final 90 minutes of the season, and this ordinary bloke would have become a legend. Football is a cruel game. 

Aiden McGeady 

Aiden McGeady

Aiden McGeady didn't come across too well in the first season, as he spoke ill of his coaches and the club's predicament during a harrowing relegation campaign. But the winger was a changed man in season two, and he shouldered the responsibility of being the team's best attacking outlet very well. 

​A fan favourite, McGeady did everything in his power to carry Sunderland to promotion. Sadly, injury stopped him from having the effect he would have hoped to inflict on the crucial playoff final. 

Luke O'Nien

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

The kind of boy who a father-in-law would welcome into his family with open arms. Luke O'Nien was a new addition to this blockbuster cast, and his chirpy, can-do attitude was a breath of fresh air to a demoralised side. 

O'Nien represents everything that Sunderland wanted to bring to their club: energy, pride, hunger and a cheeky grin. The 25-year-old spoke candidly about the highs and lows of professional football, and he got his big moments on screen with a couple of key goals. 

A heart-warming extra in this house of the living dead. 

Sophie Ashcroft

A controversial one, admittedly. But in our opinion, if you've done enough to be made into a villain on this series, you're probably one of the good guys. Sophie Ashcroft was part of Sunderland's media team, and she was immediately outlined as the black sheep of the team. 

Eye-rolls during meetings, a negative attitude and bringing the morale down, you could be forgiven for thinking she was right to be made out as a baddie. But frankly, if your boss is Charlie Methven, who derides and demeans you at every opportunity, you'd hate your job, too. 

Her final scene shows her packing up her things - sacked, for being a bad employee. Well, that's not entirely true. Sophie now works as the Head of Marketing & Communications at The Foundation of Light, a charity run by Sunderland. She can't have being doing too badly, then. 

Joyce Rome

Don't you just want to give Joyce a hug every time she pops up on your screen? The catering queen Joyce Rome cares more than every other person at that club put together - fact. 

She didn't get to make too many appearances during the latest season, but she provided some excellent respite from several insufferable characters. Keep up the good work, Joyce! 


Charlie Methven

Where to start with this bloke? Like a bull in a china shop, Charlie Methven charged into the Stadium of Light, determined to whip everybody into shape. Unfortunately, he came across as a bit of an arsehole. And that's being kind. 

From referring to himself as a shining example to follow to disrespecting and talking down to his staff, the club's director made very few friends and plenty of enemies over the course of the year. With his David Brent-esque mannerisms and deluded sense of grandeur, Methven stuck out like a sore thumb in a documentary full of grounded and self-aware human beings. 


Josh Maja 

Josh Maja

If Josh Maja had stayed, Sunderland would surely have gone up. The forward's goals papered over the Black Cats' considerable deficiencies, and he possessed all of the attributes to become a club legend. But bigger things came a-knockin' and the young striker simply couldn't turn them down. 

​In fairness to Maja, he made a move to French Ligue 1 side Bordeaux - a clear step up. And it was a transfer which would no one would normally begrudge a player - had he not been billed as the next Niall Quinn in a Netflix documentary, with the fate of an entire city resting on his young shoulders. 

If we're honest, he wasn't the real bad guy in all of this transfer saga. 

​Josh Maja's Agent


Step forward, Josh Maja's agent. Represented by Elite Project Group Limited, Maja is ripped away from his Sunderland home, and sent to France to play in Ligue 1. Despite the club offering a lucrative new deal to the talented striker, Maja never put pen to paper and by February, he was gone. 

​Whether the starlet wanted to stay at Sunderland or not was never truly revealed, but there are no doubts that his representatives were desperate to get him out of the North East. Everything that is wrong with football. 

Jack Ross

Jack Ross

In the end, even Methven was pointing out clear flaws in Ross' tactics. The ex-Sunderland boss took the Black Cats to some incredible heights, but eventually he was found out for his poor and very basic game plans.

Sunderland often crumbled at the first sign of trouble, and if you're unable to hang onto a lead, that must fall at the manager's door. And Ross ultimately paid the price, having been sacked in October 2019. 

A man without a plan.

Best Moments 

A Bit Ibiza 

Possibly the best scene in the entire series. Director Methven, determined to make a statement of intent upon landing in Wearside, decides to change the music to which the Sunderland players walk onto the pitch. 

During a meeting filled with concealed smirks and glances of bewilderment, Methven proposes DJ Tiesto's 'Adagio For Strings' remix, and then puts the Ibiza banger on in the background to the amusement of his colleagues. Like a drunk uncle with a tie wrapped around his head at a wedding, Methven is lost in the music. 

He's brought crashing back down to earth however, when he is reminded that the PA system is rubbish anyway. 


Wembley Ticket Sales Meeting 

Portsmouth v Sunderland - Checkatrade Trophy Final

After Sunderland reach the Checkatrade final, the club's staff have a meeting to discuss ticket sales for the trip to Wembley. A chance to lift a trophy and to celebrate their success on the biggest stage. For Charlie, it's an opportunity to make some big bucks. 

A quivering staff member suggests a rewarding idea of allowing supporters who have made the effort of attending previous Checkatrade matches to have their own individual ticket phase. But his idea is shot down, stamped on, and then flushed down the toilet by Methven. 

"Love the idea, but I just want to get back onto my idea 'cause I want to make more money." 

The look of despair on that boy's face is eternal. 

Signing Will Grigg 

Shrewsbury Town v Sunderland - Sky Bet League One

After Josh Maja leaves the club, owner Stewart Donald is tasked with finding an adequate replacement. They turn to Will Grigg, presumably because he has a really catchy song. Donald tries to tempt Wigan with a bid of £1m, but it falls on deaf ears. 

Donald later calls coach Ross to see how desperate he is to sign Grigg for their promotion run-in. 

"To best honest Stewart," says Ross, "I know this is not the ideal way to look at it, but see with the offer you've put in, he's not worth any more than that - not a chance."

Sunderland then paid £4m for Grigg. Unbelievable. 

The Cryo Chamber

Last year's pantomime villain Martin Bain didn't grace our screens for season two, but he did get his moment in the sun when Donald was looking over the club's finances. The Sunderland owner revealed that the previous man in charge had installed a £100,000 cryo chamber to help player recovery. 

"They invested whatever it was, £100,000-plus on a cryo chamber for recovery," explains Donald, "I speak to the head of medical, 'Do you use it?' 'No,' [was the answer]. 'Who uses it?'

"And they said, 'Well, Martin Bain went in there for his back occasionally' was the answer that came back. I asked, 'But what players use it?' [They said], 'Oh, no one uses it'."

Hated, adored, but never ignored. 

Roll on season three.

Source : 90min