If Martin Bain was the undoubted star of Sunderland 'Til I Die Season 1, then Charlie Methven takes the throne for Season 2. The second season of the brilliant documentary series following the misfortunes of Sunderland AFC has been on Netflix for a few weeks now and one man has been the topic of conversation since the release.
Methven, a part-owner and Executive Director at club under new owner Stewart Donald, runs the marketing side of the club in the show, which takes place across the 2018-19 season.
While the majority of what he'll be remembered for are genuinely hilarious "posh boy up North" moments and a serious air of the David Brents about him, the dirty little secret with Charlie Methven was that he was actually right about most things. Be it his staff's deficiencies, his belief in the Sunderland fan base to come through, or him seeing what was going wrong on the field, he was generally proven correct. As well as all that, he behaved like a real football fan on nearly every occasion.
That said, he'd still make you cringe a good ten times an episode.
We've gone back over the series to find his best moments, be they good, bad or simply cringeworthy.
The Best Moments of Charlie Methven:
The Music Meeting:
If you haven't watched the show, this is the one that's most likely to have gotten through to you. Charlie wants to make the Stadium of Light a fortress again and the way to do that is to change the stadium music.
Charlie has gathered his marketing team who've been so comfortable for too long. "They need to understand and see what 'good' looks like."
This is how I do it when I'm the DJ. You gotta try to build people up and you gotta try to get the atmosphere building through a track. If you try to think about the atmosphere that Chris and I agree that we're trying to create, we want to see rocking in there. And a bit... a little bit mad. A little bit like Sunderland fans take pride in the fact that this place is going to be a bit noisier, a bit more in your face.
The fun doesn't end there with the stadium's new sounds.
"It's a bit Ibiza"
Charlie goes to the ground to explain to the stadium PA announcer exactly what he's looking for.
"I don't want people to feel like they're being totally assaulted but at the same time, it needs to have a bit of thump to it."
A Club atmosphere?
"A very large scale one. You know those massive raves? It wasn't in any nightclub, sometimes it was, but it was quite a lot bigger than that. It's a bit Ibiza."
It's what Charlie can do to play his part in making the Stadium of Light great again.
We want this to be a venue, and we want this to be a place, where away fans, and away players, and away managers think 'when you go to Sunderland, as they say up here, you get nowt! Everything's against you. The crowd's against you. The music is loud. The atmosphere is massive. It's all set up for the home team.'
And that just hasn't been the case here for the last 10 years. What used to be a very intimidating place has become a soft touch. And if we're going to have a successful season this season, Sunderland simply cannot afford to have the disastrous home record they've had in the last 10 years. It's got to become a fortress.
And I'm not saying that the music is the determining factor in that. The players and the management are the determining factor in that. But everything that we can do to gain an advantage, we need to do.
Six Points Down South:
Sunderland start the season very well and Charlie is rightly excited.
The genuinely good job he did at the fans forum night:
What looked like a genuinely terrifying experience, Methven took the questions of a huge number of beer drinking Sunderland fans to outline the new ownership's vision for the club and left with the respect of those fans.
The Staff Meeting:
Implementing a culture change in a workplace is never easy. Charlie's efforts with the Sunderland staff definitely don't seem to be met with enthusiasm early in the process.
"Any questions? We're just your colleagues."
The saga of League One's Biggest Ever Crowd:
It's not so much a moment but nearly a full episode centres around Charlie's ambition to not just beat Leeds' single game record for a third level attendance. He didn't want to just beat it though. He wanted to smash it, getting 40,000 into the Stadium of Light for their Boxing Day fixture.
Charlie spent the episode dealing with a rather dismissive and seemingly unambitious staff, as well as calling the ticket office for updates every five minutes.
In the end, there was a rather angry marketing meeting where threats were made of redundancies if ideas were not forthcoming and improvements weren't made.
"Where are the ideas? I don't know."
When Boxing Day does eventually come around, Charlie's in a good mood.
That's because The Stadium of Light is full and it's been a job well done.
Later though, Charlie has a quite angry and very awkward argument with the long suffering Sophie on the pitch when the staff are unable to give him an attendance figure at half time.
Charlie Methven hasn’t come out of this show very well 😂😂 pic.twitter.com/DY8siQRx3E
— steve wraith (@stevewraith) April 1, 2020
Not Charlie's best side this. In the end, he gets his moment of glory with over 46,000 packed into the ground.
As a southern boy up North, Charlie has fallen in love with the place.
The Northeast gets an awful lot of bad press from people who've never been here before but on mornings like this, you just think, 'I'm lucky to be here,' because it's just absolutely beautiful. There's no way that in when I'm in the south I have this kind of lifestyle.
His description of how Londoners react to him being in Sunderland though is possibly his most wonderfully Brentian moment in the entire series.
The Checkatrade Trophy Final:
The EFL Trophy final gave us two of the great Charlie moments of the series.
A trip to Wembley gave our hero the chance to do what he does best - sell some tickets. When the club's Supporter Liaison Officer suggests a reward for fans who've been to previous games in the competition, he gets swiftly interrupted by the man in charge.
"Love the idea but sorry, just want to get back on to my idea because I want to make more money."
Classic Charlie. In fairness, he wants to earn a million quid for the game. "It pays for half of Will Grigg!"
In the game itself against Portsmouth, Sunderland play a stormer in the first half and go in 1-0 up after an Aiden McGeady free kick, as Charlie manspains the performance to his wife.
It's the second half where Charlie comes to the fore, and in fairness, he does it by behaving like a very normal football fan. As the game goes against Sunderland and manager Jack Ross doesn't change things, Charlie finds it very hard to contain himself with his wife having to warn him to calm down at one stage. We've all been there.
This bit of Sunderland Til I Die has got me in absolute stitches 😂 pic.twitter.com/3dPR8AZwIZ
— bailz (@jwbailz) April 1, 2020
Having fallen behind, Sunderland then of course equalise in the last minute.
Sunderland would go on to lose on penalties, another Wembley defeat, and Charlie had been on the journey of his life with all of the other fans.
End of season tears:
It wasn't to be the last time Sunderland suffered Wembley defeat that season and the second time was a whole lot worse. They were beaten by Charlton in the League One Playoff final and dreams of promotion were shattered. The season was over. They would remain n the third tier of English football.
After the game, Charlie had a drink with a consoling colleague and then stood alone, looking into space, holding back the tear. It was a genuinely sad moment caught brilliantly by the film crew, capturing the emotional loneliness of a Wembley defeat.
And so Sunderland remain in League One, suspended in a season that may never end. Unfortunately, Charlie Methven is no longer part of their struggle. He departed the club in December with his wife due to give birth to their first child.
We await eagerly the next big character to assume control and turn around the failed culture of Sunderland AFC on Season 3 of Sunderland 'Til I Die.