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Sunderland ‘Til I Die doc could be revived if club make it to Champions League

The third and final series documents the Black Cats’ 2021-22 promotion bid.

Damian Spellman
Friday 09 February 2024 09:00 GMT
The final series of Sunderland ‘Til I Die covers the club’s bid for promotion back to the Sky Bet Championship (Richard Sellers/PA)
The final series of Sunderland ‘Til I Die covers the club’s bid for promotion back to the Sky Bet Championship (Richard Sellers/PA) (PA Archive)

One of the men behind behind the acclaimed Sunderland ‘Til I Die documentary series has admitted he may have to rethink a decision to call time on it if the club make it to the Champions League.

The third and final season of the Netflix show, which charts the Black Cats’ bid to fight their way out of Sky Bet League One at the fourth attempt, is due to hit screens next Wednesday and provide viewers with the happy ending the first two did not.

Ben Turner, a partner in the Fulwell 73 production company behind the documentary and a lifelong Sunderland fan, believes the story has drawn to a natural conclusion – at least for now.

I'd never say never

Ben Turner

However, asked if there could be another chapter to be written, he told the PA news agency with a smile: “This feels like the perfect final act from the two that we’ve made. To see us finally get back into to Championship and see us win, it packages that nicely.

“Whether we start a new trilogy, a new ‘Fellowship of the Ring’, to win us the Champions League is yet to be seen. But I’d never say never.”

Ben and brother Gabe, along with friends Ben Winston and Leo Pearlman, founded Fulwell 73 – the Fulwell End was a stand at Roker Park and the club won the FA Cup in 1973 – in 2005 and embarked upon their labour of love as Sunderland attempted to drag themselves back into the Premier League in the wake of relegation at the end of the 2016-17 season.

Things were to get significantly worse before they got better, and play-off final victory over Wycombe finally allowed Turner and his partners to reflect on joy rather than disappointment.

He said: “Part of the success of Sunderland ‘Til I Die is the suffering. In terms of making the show, that was often incredibly painful, especially being Sunderland fans, however good the TV was.

“It was a real joy both to make it and also to bring that on to the screen because those moments when I’ve been with the Sunderland fans and have celebrated when something good has happened and you hug a stranger and you sing together, they’re very, very special.”

The Turner brothers grew up in the south, but did so bound to Sunderland and its football club.

Turner said: “It was my grandmother who lived in Sunderland. My dad, who is a big Sunderland fan, grew up in London and when we would all come together, it was the fact that we all supported Sunderland that was the glue for the family.

“What else are going to talk to your 70-year-old great uncle about when you’re eight years old except the fact that (Eric) Gates and (Marco) Gabbiadini look magic together and maybe this is the year?”

That bond has been strengthened by Sunderland ‘Til I Die, and it could have tangible benefits for Wearside with Fulwell 73 having submitted plans to establish a studio complex in the city which could create 8,450 jobs and bring up to £334million a year into the local economy.

Turner said: “Beyond just the show itself, it’s brought us quite deeply into contact with the area and the region and if we can have a lasting impact on it, it would dwarf the satisfaction of making a show or two, to leave some kind of legacy like that there.”

Having told Sunderland’s story, Turner would dearly love to turn his attention to two of sports biggest names as he considers future projects.

He said: “Me and Gabe, we’d love to do (Andre) Agassi – his book is unbelievable; we’d love to do Tiger Woods. And I’d love to do Sunderland winning the Champions League.”

:: Sunderland ‘Til I Die series 3 will be available on Netflix as a box set from February 13th (series one and two also still available)

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