Hello all at ALS and all in Sunderland. It's taken me a few days to think about this and I suppose that, as I'm getting on a bit I have more choice than much younger supporters but here goes...
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I don't want to remember it really as it causes me great upset even today. The match was Everton v Sunderland on 23rd December 1967. I was 9 years old and my dad took me over from our home in Birkenhead to see the game. I'll try to keep it short, my Grandad (on my dad's side) was from Sunderland, and we had other family from Sunderland and the love of the city and the football club was kindly passed down to me. Somehow, we ended up in the Gladwys Street End (I don't know how but there was no segregation then) and the lads got beat 3-0. Despite this, I was hooked on Sunderland. Always have been, always will be.
On our way home I can clearly recall my dad pushing and lifting me on to the bus due to the volume of people trying to get on. It seemed that hundreds of people were trying to get on. There were bus conductors then and when he asked by dad for the fare, my dad put his hand into his pocket only to find that his wallet had been stolen. An Everton fan had stolen it. They knew we were Sunderland supporters as I had my Sunderland scarf on. A number of so-called Everton fans were laughing. I can't remember how we got home but I do remember the bus conductor taking pity on my dad. Maybe he let us off with the fare. My dad then had to explain to my mum what had happened. Just before Christmas. Awful. Just awful.
Needless to say, I have an intense hatred for Everton to this day. Why, oh why, did Jordan Pickford sign for them. Anyone other team apart from them Jordan. I still have my scarf from that game.
Again, this is difficult as there are a number to choose from but if I may I would like to choose two. The first was Manchester United v Sunderland 11th May 1968. An aunt of mine got me and my dad tickets for this match as she was a season ticket holder at Old Trafford. God only knows why. Anyway, I was 10 then and to see the lads at such a big ground was amazing. We won 2-1 with Colin Suggett and George Mulhall scoring. I was off my head. I just couldn't stop myself, jumping up and down with my dad sitting about six seats away doing the same. I think we were the only Sunderland supporters in the stand. A certain George Best scored for them. Oh! Happy days.
My second and probably most favourite game is the one away to Wrexham 5th May 1979. We were trying to get promoted from the Second Division and it all hinged on the final games. We needed to win to be in with a chance of promotion really and rely on other results going our way. Stoke had a tricky away game at Notts County (how times change.) It was 0-0 at half time, the same at Notts County so still all to play for. Wrexham scored early in the second half and with about 12 minutes to go it looked as if we wouldn't make it despite having lots of pressure. Then a free kick was given on the right. Up stepped Kevin Arnott to put in a great cross for Wilf Rostron to head home. Bedlam. Absolute bedlam. I can't remember how many Sunderland supporters were there but I reckon at least 15,000. We filled most of the racecourse ground. Then Wrexham broke away, down the left and a good cross was put in the middle for Dixie McNeill to send a bullet header in. But no. Barry Siddall made a brilliant point blank save, pushing the ball over the bar. Barry caught the resulting corner and immediately threw the ball out to Rostron on the left who ran into the Wrexham half passed across to Wayne Entwhistle who headed it on to Alan Brown. The Wrexham centre half should have cleared it, but the ball went between his legs and there was Alan to bang it in and he ran the length of the pitch celebrating. Pandemonium. Shear Pandemonium. Two goals in the space of about four or five minutes. From being at the front of the crowd, we ended up at the back. We hugged so many supporters that day, complete strangers but we were as one. It ended up 2-1 to the lads and for a brief few minutes we all thought we had made it. After what seemed ages, news filtered through that Stoke had scored with two minutes to go too and had beaten Notts County 1-0. You could hear a pin drop. We had finished fourth, only a point behind Stoke. If my memory serves me right, I think there were only three points between the top four clubs. I just stood, looked at my dad without a word spoken. Shattered dreams. We went home in silence but once home we both said how proud we were. A never to be forgotten day. Thank you dad. Hope you are looking down on the lads now from heaven.
Before I go on, it really goes without saying that the 1973 FA Cup final has to be mentioned. Quite simply, a wonderful, wonderful day also never to be forgotten.
I don't really have a favourite, but I like smaller grounds because we create such a noise that the locals just don't know what to think. I also like to go to Old Trafford but only because we always sing louder than them and I love it when we beat them.
Where do I begin? So many to choose from. My first favourite was Colin Suggett. I wanted to play like him. I even wanted to go in goal (which I hated really) because I wanted to be like Jim Montgomery. I could name many players. I was in love with Nick Pickering for God's sake. Shaun Elliott was another favourite. Gordon Chisholm, Chris Turner, George Mulhall, Colin Todd, Joe Bolton, the entire 1973 cup winning team, Gary Rowell. However, if I had to pick one it would be Jermain Defoe. He just got it from day one of being at Sunderland. He was a true ambassador for the club and for Bradley. I've not even mentioned Super Kevin Phillips and of course Sir Niall.
So, there you have it. Sorry to have gone on a lot but hope you've enjoyed the ride.
Ha'way the lads. Keep safe everyone.
PS: A cousin of mine played for the lads which also made me proud. Mind you, he also played for Man Utd which I hated! If you are wondering who it was, it was Peter Davenport.