One of the best documentaries on Netflix is returning for a third instalment. Sunderland Til I Die hits the streaming service on the 13th of February. It's a brilliant series following the struggles of one of England's most historic football clubs and must watch TV for any sports fan.
Football shows are all the rage on the best streaming services these days, but before the glamour and relentless optimism of Ted Lasso and the fairytale story of Welcome to Wrexham, there was a very different kind of show that was must-watch television,
I'm talking about Sunderland 'Til I Die, a much bleaker documentary series that lingers between The Thick of it style black comedy and Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. The horror! After a four-year absence (in which time a lot has happened) the documentary series is set to return to Netflix for its third and final season on February 13th.
So what makes Sunderland 'Til I Die such essential viewing? Well with the show starting with the club being relegated from the Premier League, this is a not-so-beautiful look at the beautiful game. With the team expected to be a big fish in a small pond, things don't exactly get any better from there.
It is the best (by which I mean most honest) portrayal of fans and English football culture I've seen, but what really captured my attention was the individual story of some of the players. So often we only dwell on things in sports that go well, so hearing the stories of players like goalkeeper Jason Steele as he fights his own crisis of confidence and midfielder Jonny Williams who just can't seem stay fit is refreshing. With budgets decreasing and a team owner in dispute with the club itself, this is a unique view inside a club in crisis. There are times when you just think "how did they manage to film this without being told to go away?".
So what can we expect in the third instalment? In the present day, Sunderland have turned their fortunes around and are now a much better-run club that is moving in the right direction. To be honest, after their suffering, it's the least the fans deserve.