PRIDE, PAS­SION, PAIN & LOTS OF SUF­FER­ING ALL DOC­U­MENTED

SUN­DER­LAND ‘TIL I DIE: CLUB’S PAS­SION­ATE FAN­BASE AT HEART OF NET­FLIX SERIES AS FIRST EPISODE GOES

Sunderland Echo - - Sport - By Richard Men­n­ear richard.men­n­[email protected]­me­dia.co.uk @RichMen­n­ear

As the clos­ing cred­its started rolling, ap­plause rang out amongst the au­di­ence at Sun­der­land’s Em­pire The­atre.

Film crews have been film­ing be­hind the scenes at Sun­der­land AFC since the sum­mer of 2017 and the fruits of their labour will be avail­able in full on Net­flix from Fri­day, De­cem­ber 14.

Eight episodes in to­tal show­cas­ing one of the most dra­matic sea­sons in the club’s his­tory, ar­guably the worst too as the Black Cats suf­fered a suc­ces­sive rel­e­ga­tion to the third tier fol­low­ing rel­e­ga­tion from the Premier League the sea­son be­fore.

You may won­der why any­one of a red and white per­sua­sion would want to re­live the events of the 2017-18, given how it un­folded.

Yet, the doc­u­men­tary mak­ers be­hind ‘Sun­der­land ‘Til I Die’ - which is pro­duced by Ful­well73 - have done a suen perb job en­cap­su­lat­ing what it means to be a Sun­der­land fan.

The fans are at the heart of the first series. The pain and the suf­fer­ing they go through on and off the ter­races but above all the love, pride and pas­sion they have for the club at the heart of their city.

And more than 200 sea­son ticket hold­ers and other in­vited guests - in­clud­ing mem­bers of the cur­rent first team - had the chance ofas­neakpre­viewofepisode one at the Em­pire.

It went down a storm. Fo­cus­ing on pre-sea­son, THAT 5-0 friendly de­feat to Celtic and Darron Gib­son’s drunk- rant on the eve of the new sea­son, it is com­pelling view­ing.

Ev­ery­one knows how the story ends. Yet, you can’t take your eyes off it, the insight from those key fig­ures in­volved be­hind the scenes, for­mer chief ex­ec­u­tive Mar­tin Bain, ex-man­ager Si­mon Grayson and the play­ers in­volved.

The stars of the show are the Sun­der­land fans, though. They are the heart­beat be­hind the club and their pas­sion shines through in the first episode.

It is a must watch. It will put Sun­der­land in the global spot­light and it would be fas­ci­nat­ing to see what au­di­ences in the US and Asia make of it all.

It was cer­tainly a hit with Sun­der­land fans on Wed­nes­day night.

“Well done ev­ery­one at Ful­well73 tears were run­ning down my face. It re­ally showed the pas­sion of the club I love Sun­der­land AFC,” re­flected David Fen­wick.

An­other fan, Alex Louise, tweeted: “Wow . . . If the first episode is any­thing to go by then the Sun­der­land Til I Die doc­u­men­tary is go­ing to be amaz­ing! Fan­tas­tic work at Ful­well73 show­ing the true side of our beau­ti­ful club #safc”.

The evening was hosted by Look North’s Jeff Brown. Ahead of the screen­ing mem­bers of the 2018-19 squad took to the stage, to ap­plause given their good form this sea­son.

I can’t imag­ine what the re­cep­tion would have been for last sea­son’s squad.

Pre-sea­son footage of Di­dier Ndong, Papy Djilo­bodji, Wahbi Khazri, Jack Rod­well and Lamine Kone a stark re­minder of how far the club has come in just over a year.

Ful­well73 is made up of boy­hood Sun­der­land fans in­clud­ing ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer Leo Pearl­man, who took to the stage to in­tro­duce the screen­ing.

Around 40 min­utes later ap­plause rang out. The series shows all the raw emo­tions you would ex­pect given the drama of last sea­son, a fas­ci­nat­ing insight into the emo­tions of those at the heart of it.

A trailer show­cas­ing what fans can ex­pect in series two - which has a work­ing ti­tle of The Come­back and is be­ing filmed this sea­son- was fol­lowed by a Q&A with Ben Turner, of Ful­well73, series pro­ducer Dave Soutar, skip­per Ge­orge Honey­man and club leg­end Kevin Ball.

The pro­duc­ers gave an insight into the ac­cess they had been given and prais­ing ev­ery­one in­volved for their help and open­ness.

The series will be sure to give fans an insight into how a

Jeff Brown hosts the pre­view of Sun­der­land ’Til I Die, on stage with (left to right): film-mak­ers Ben Turner and

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