With very little going on right now, apart from CONVID 19 and STID 2, we tasked our regular writers to look back on their time supporting the lads and name their favourite game, ground and player as well as remembering their first time watching the lads… Feel free to contribute yours to email@example.com First Game It all started for me against the old Wimbledon in December 2003. Once I got over the disappointment of Julio Arca being injured and made it all the way up to the concourse (basically Everest for a seven-year-old), I was treated to a scrappy 2-1 win over the Dons who were bound for relegation and Milton Keynes. I was under no illusions as to what I was getting myself in for as I watched Michael Proctor paper over some huge cracks with a last-minute winner. A completely forgettable game in any other circumstances, but I was happy enough to see a win on my first trip to the SOL. Favourite Game Sunderland 1-0 Newcastle, 4th April 2015. I’d managed to miss the home derby wins in 2008 and 2013, and not managed to get tickets for any of the away ones, so this was the first win against Newcastle I’d witnessed in person. That fact alone would be enough to make it a contender but watching Jermain Defoe score that volley in the Bank Holiday sunshine seals it. I’ve never experienced anything like the half time during that game; everyone in the ground knew there was only going to be one outcome. All in all, the perfect derby game.
Favourite Ground Stadium of Light. Roker Park was knocked down when I was one, and I’ve not managed to get to many away games and experience many others, but none that I’ve been to have matched the SOL. It’s got the atmosphere that the newer grounds like The Emirates lack, but it’s modern enough that it doesn’t make you feel like you’re going back in time. On the rare occasion the players on the pitch give the crowd something to get behind, the place can be a fortress and it’s special to be a part of. Favourite Player Lee Cattermole. An obvious choice, but if I picked anyone else it would be a lie. I haven’t been lucky enough to watch any great Sunderland sides with genuinely class players, but Catts is a huge figure in my time watching Sunderland. His decade at the club spanned most of my time going to games. Few kids grow up wanting to be a Lee Cattermole, but all the best teams have one. His critics would say struggled with form and injuries, and fell out of favour several times, all of which is true. Yet we managed to put a run together to survive in the league, beat Newcastle, or made the League Cup Final, Catts always played a crucial role. He managed to play his way back in from the fringes of the team on more than one occasion, and showed desire and determination when others around him couldn’t be bothered. Stay Safe, Haway the Lads