During our last two visits to the Kassam Stadium we’d noticed, with a bit of a wry smile, that the “car park end” contained a few tree stumps, each of which had some enterprising soul stood on it to obtain a free view of the match. Good for them, we thought. One of our coaches even parked up alongside the fence, allowing those inside to peep over and follow proceedings from the comfort of their coach seats. Even gooder for them, we thought.
Some folks obviously remembered those free vantage points more than others, and if you were watching the Lads do the business on September 19th – and if not, why not? – you can’t have failed to notice a white van in the car park. A very noticeable white van, as it had a git big Sunderland flag on the side, and the roof was covered with Sunderland fans, complete with step ladders to allow an even better view. They weren’t the only SAFC fans in attendance, as others were scattered around the car park. We’ll get in where a draught couldn’t, man! The TV cameras picked up on that, as did social media, and another Sunderland awayday legend was born.
ALS managed to track down one of those others in “attendance”, Evan Watson, and here’s how his cunning plan to see the Lads came together…
Well I’m from Sunderland but don’t live there anymore so it was my idea to try and see the game. I invited one of my mates, Jonny, to come along as well even though he isn’t a massive football fan. He’s not from Sunderland but fancied the day out just for the craic. I never really thought about the police being there, to be honest, I didn’t really know what to expect. It was about a four-hour journey on the bus away, so I thought I may as well go as I knew there were only three stands at Oxford so we might be able to see in. I knew if we were just standing outside and in our individual bubbles then surely the police couldn’t stop us. Well, that’s what I thought, I don’t know but it never really crossed my mind that they’d stop us.
There were a few Oxford fans, but I would say there were more Sunderland…. especially as a lot of them left when we scored the second! I would say around ten or twelve Sunderland fans - which is absolutely class considering the distance and the circumstances.
The view was a bit limited, but we managed to stand on top of the tree stumps and could see most of the players. All I saw of the goals was the net rippling in front of us though. I think the lads on the van had a better view!
But the day itself was class! I was just looking at who we were playing, saw it was Oxford, knew they had a stand missing and I knew we were only a four hour bus ride away, so decided I may as well give it a go. It was a good day out and quite surprising seeing the amount of SAFC fans that were there. To get the three points was class, although I couldn’t see much of Gooch’s goal. I saw the net ripple and the players celebrating – but I saw it afterwards and it was a class goal. It was great getting a clap off the players after the match - it was just nice to see everyone appreciating how mad and passionate Sunderland fans are as well, with all the pictures and comments on social media and stuff. At the end everyone was clapping and singing and it was great. I’m glad the players appreciated the support that had travelled all the way as well.
There you have it, then. The car park at Oxford joins the Wigan Mudslide, the Bury Conga, and a whole host of other memorable events in the litany of craziness by Sunderland fans. I wish I’d thought of it.