"We could all do a blog on our favourite Sunderland game of the season," read the WhatsApp message. Champion. I'd almost prefer Moyes, Rodwell and Gibson to re-join us and see them singing that bastard 'Allez Allez Allez' song that's been ringing round my head since Wembley and won't go away at the unveiling, while wearing Mag tracksuits, than write another word about 2018-19. But don't say I'm not a team player, so here goes.
The season has had its moments but as the worst in our history it's hard finding too many highs. Last time we were in the third tier I could have picked any game, such was the choice (for the anoraks among you, York, Bristol Rovers and Aldershot away are probably the only three which don't make the cut). This time around, it’s not so easy. There’s no obvious contender. As a result I'm struggling to recall too many highlights, so picking a favourite game is a tough one.
I got a strange kick out of Bristol Rovers at home. We weren’t great against a struggling team, the match itself was scabby and it’s probably the coldest I’ve ever been but I was warmed by the natural ability of Josh Maja, who nailed us three points we wouldn't have got on another day. Selling him didn’t half cost us. But I’m someone who’s always buzzed off away matches more, so I’ll go for one of those as my game of the season, AFC Wimbledon.
Back in August, we travelled to south London with confidence after a productive couple of games. The previous weekend we’d humped Scunny with probably our best home show of the season, then followed up with a confident win at Gillingham. Seven goals scored in 180 minutes and only one conceded surely meant we were starting to tick?
The journey down went well, the weather was good, and even though the nearest pub was a bit of a trek away and there was only one member of staff who seemed tuned in to what the job involved, it was hard not to feel good about life as I put a few away pre-match. Then the game started and we were lousy, just didn’t get going in the first half. What we were facing was hardly a surprise, a team who were quick to get in our faces and close down spaces, but we didn’t react quickly enough and found ourselves behind inside 10 minutes. We couldn’t have any complaints and most of us watching, whether it was in our section or among the home fans, would agree we were lucky it wasn’t more than 1-0 at half-time.
Thankfully, we got it together in the second half. Although not entirely convincing, we managed to show a bit of composure on the ball and produced a bit more quality and a few chances. Lee Cattermole squeezed in the equaliser from a tight angle after the ball broke to him then, as the home side tired, escaped the attentions of the home defence to fire in the winner following a decent ball from Chris Maguire. Like him or loathe him, it’s a rare day when Catts scores twice in a game, so witnessing it in the flesh was canny. Chuck in the fact we even got a glimpse of the Lesser Spotted Dylan McGeouch in action and it was a good game to be at, if not a red letter day. He didn't do a lot, but I wasn't going to let that get in the way of another welcome positive.
The talk heading home was of momentum. But it soon stalled. Next up Max Power get the first of his three red cards in less than two months and we picked up just two points from games against Oxford, Fleetwood and Burton. So much for momentum then...
So, there you go, Wimbledon was about as good as last season got. And to me, that feels like admitting that a piss-stained pair of beige Farahs are the best thing in your wardrobe.