On Carrow Road, The Clash and Bobby Kerr
Some road trips can never be forgotten.
While many memories fade, others, the ones which really meant something, sharpen with the pain of passing years.
That one touches a nerve.
Three of us, piled into an old, red mini, made the trip for the last but one game of that extraordinary 1976-77 season.
Armed only with the cassette deck volume control and a home made tape of the just-released album The Clash. With Joe Strummer screaming through the rolled-down windows that he and his mates came from Garageland we meandered from pub to pub across rural Norfolk until we joined the red and white hordes descending on Carrow Road.
Away games were always a dicey affair back then. The practiced crowd control of today wasn't in place and you could easily end up in bovver before feeling the fond embrace of other drunken Sunderland fans.
We shouldn't have worried.
We took over the place, confident that a season which had gone from despair at Christmas-time to utter joy at seeing youngsters Arnott, Rowell and Elliott transform a team into a goal scoring machine.
We couldn't score at all. Then suddenly we scored four, then six and then, unbelievably, another six. Glory days indeed as we inched away from the bottom spot we'd claimed as our birthright for the agonizing first half of that season.
Norwich was to be the final piece of a gloriously puzzling season which had somehow made a goalscoring hero out of Mel Holden.
But we are Sunderland. Nothing comes easy. Didn't then, doesn't now.
So being two down with about ten minutes to play was sadly typical. But just as typical, when all looked lost and Division Two was calling out its familiar refrain, we rallied.
Gary Rowell, not yet a legend, but showing why he would become one, pulled one back. Time ticked away and as we collectively squinted down the field up popped Bobby Kerr, on as a substitute for Tony Towers.
In our time honoured way we went mental and sang and sang and sang his name. Looking back it was a final, fitting tribute to a great player.
Of course Bobby played quite a few more games the following season but that goal was his swan song. His last gift to us.
All those games he played over a decade. The last minute winner on his debut, his amazing goal record for the first dozen or so games, the two broken legs, the long road back and and then, unbelievably, lifting the Cup at Wembley.
But that late-Saturday afternoon at Carrow Road in mid-May 1977 all we cared about, as the final whistle blew, was that Bobby Kerr, almost forgotten among the young, fresh faces that had burst on the scene, had saved our season.
Only one more point. Or even a defeat by our two relegation rivals who were to play each other that same upcoming Thursday night.
So, onto Goodison to end a quite remarkable season.
Nothing could stop us. We would stay up and the future was bright.
Up stepped Jimmy Hill.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)