Moving stadiums is of course a rare occasion with the vast
majority of football clubs and the last game is often a treasured affair, that
is prominent in the fan’s memories for some time to come. Sunderland’s
permanent exodus from Roker Park beckoning in the summer of 1997, of course
meant a final match, which as it happens occurred fifteen years this week, on 3
Although the game to
Everton held massive sentimental importance, arguably even more was riding on
the game in terms of the clubs future, with points vital in the penultimate
game of the season needed to give Sunderland the advantage in the relegation
battle going into the final day away at Wimbledon.
With the 2011/12 season dissolving into nothingness, I dwell
on times of past when this stage of the season held some importance. Although
not envious of those altercating with relegation or promotion this campaign,
there was something galvanizing about the rush of an end of season dog fight.
This week in 2007,
under Roy Keane, Sunderland were sixteen games unbeaten in the Coca Cola
Championshp, a run that had seen us jump into the automatic promotion places.
This seemed improbable with us sitting mid table after a 1-0 defeat at home to
Preston on Januray 6th(one of three defeats against Preston that season) Which
left the Black Cats mid table after inconsistent form under Keane, despite a
barrage of deadline day signings.
As I slumped down the other night in my chair having just returned from what seemed like a lingering journey home
from one of my most disappointing nights as a Sunderland fan, it lead me to ponder.
through worse times granted, but on Tuesday night there was a sense of belief. We were a
solitary game away from Wembley. The Sunderland faithful after many years of
mediocrity at best, could feel like the club had really accomplished something. But, Sunderland being Sunderland, we messed up a chance we rarely get.
Although I did write regarding the
FA Cup Quarter Final in last weeks edition of ‘ This Week On Wearside’, Sunderland fans have conversed in little aside from the forthcoming tie at
Everton, so perhaps another dose of FA Cup nostalgia is in order.
On Saturday there will be no need to look
at past glories, but to tide us over there is no harm in pondering on in the
mean time. 1992 was almost certainly our less acclaimed FA Cup Final appearance
as a 2nd Division side (Championship) - nevertheless getting to the
concluding round of the tournament especially as a second tier side was still a
marvellous achievement, and the journey to Wembley is still prominent in the
memories of Sunderland fans.
Although our FA Cup Quarter
Final tie away at Everton is a week on Saturday, it was all to tempting to
write about a very fond memory of mine which happened this week in 2004 (
Sunday 7 February ), also an FA Cup Quarter Final. This time at
the Stadium of Light against Sheffield United.
An annum after one of the most humiliating
seasons in our history, Sunderland fans were given a glimour of potential
success as a winnable tie at home to Sheffield United, would conceivably put us
in the hat for the Semi Final for the first time since our penultimate round
tie against Norwich City at Hilsborough in 1992.
Given the certain team we are
playing this weekend, it can be forgiven that I may subvert from the usual
format of telling you about something happening this week in the past. Instead,
the theme of a past game against our detestable neighbours.
After last week's result at West Brom, and our
recent history against Newcastle, our fans could be excused for being
pessimistic ahead of Sunday. Maybe what we need is a reminder of better times
on our excursions to the Sports Direct Arena ( in its St James’ Park days ), to
perhaps make us relish the trip rather than dread it.
week has never really been an eventful one for Sunderland AFC, but with the
departure of Niall Quinn this week it would only be fitting to outline just how
bad things were this time the season before the saviours second coming.
No quality, no dignity, no potential and no
hope. The prior pretty much sums up the 2005/06 season. On the 25
February 2006, we lost to fellow strugglers Birmingham City with a goal from
Emile Heskey. However strugglers may be a very generous term, whimperers may be
more belonging to situation of the time.
When browsing our past results from the beginning of February, one in particular caught my eye and reminiscing brought about some laughter. As an eight year old at the game, the whole atmosphere and the game itself was unique, plus a tad bizarre. However, I hardly think age made the slightest difference.
The game in question is a 3-1 defeat at home to Charlton Athletic on February 1st, 2003 (not this week I know, but you can let me off). At first glances in amongst the fixtures of the 2002/03 season, it was an all too familiar result against a mediocre Charlton side, especially considering we had lost every game from Christmas until the end of the season.
In recent years the 31st of January have brought little more than mediocre temporary additions to our squad with the likes of Tal Ben Haim, Benjani and Calum Davenport joining in what is usually a desolate month for Sunderland fans, even if the ambition was limitless in terms of potential new faces.
Even before the introduction of the winter transfer window, January 31 2001 was the setting for fan’s feelings of unfulfilled promise, and a game against Manchester United was our chance to truly stamp our authority on the Premier League.
With this week being FA Cup 4 round week, it would only be fitting to talk about FA Cups gone in this week’s blog. The Cup run of ’73 will always (until we win it again) be the most dwelled upon my Sunderland fans of that era. Even fans of this generation will have manifested Porterfield’s legendary goal and Montgomery’s incredible save at some point. If they show a morsel of interest in the club’s history, it will be imminent in their minds when even contemplating thinking about the FA Cup.
To find a significant event for Sunderland AFC that happened this week in the past, you need not go to any strenuous lengths. In fact, the departure of Darren Bent which happened a year ago this week, could to an extent be an ample factor in Steve Bruce’s eventual exit.
Rewind around twelve months back to 16 January 2011, conjure up the moment and whatever emotion accompanied Asamoah Gyan’s last minute equaliser against Newcastle. A bit of luck that we have been starved of against the Geordies, finally went our way.