There’s something oddly comforting to know you are not alone when the wheels fall off the Sunderland bus.
To the credit of their fervour, if not their sense, SAFC supporters can jump aboard faster than Alan Pardew can come up with excuses.
Desperation for any sort of success makes one victory – such as the demolition of West Ham last Saturday – the obvious launching site for our glorious march up to the heady top places of the league in tandem with an inevitable trip to the gleaming gates of a new Wembley.
Only for such dreams to be cruelly shattered by the next game’s nightmare performance.
These days the overwhelming power of the Premier League has sadly tarnished the once-bright shine of the F.A. Cup. In an odd paradox it along with the League Cup are the only trophies that any team outside of Manchester or parts of London could have any hopes of triumph. Yet to those same teams and supporters it remains close to second rate. As though believing if we – the lesser lights – can win it then it can’t be much good. How sad.
Still, Tuesday must have hurt those poor souls who braved the cold weather to watch us go down to defeat.
But, as I mentioned earlier, there’s should be a crumb of bitter comfort in knowing they’ve lots of company.
Over 50 years, in person and in spirit, I’ve seen that bus break down. So Tuesday was more like an age old ache in the bones rather than the heart sapping trauma of years long gone.
The league has its own share of nightmares – vital promotion games against Chelsea and Cardiff at home and a relegation fight away at Everton come to mind – but for me Carlisle in January ’74 took the footballing cake for Cup heartache.
I remember coming back from the first game – a hard-fought, third round 0-0 – sure we’d do them over back at Roker Park. We didn’t, losing 0-1 in a brutal, heartless display.
What made it much worse is that we were the Cup holders. The glory of May 73 washed away by the ineptitude of virtually the same players nine months later.
I’d long since stopped going to the match with my dad. He had his seat in the Clock Stand I had my spot in the Fulwell. But we’d meet up at home and compare views on players and performances. We never agreed on a single thing, as far as I can remember.
So as I moaned on that night about how those heroes of 73 had turned to pale shadows in 74 and how disgraceful their performance had been and how it could not get any worse than this. He first listened then spoke.
“I was at Yeovil,” he said. With that I shut up.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)