As those final, glorious minutes ticked down far too quickly I found myself trying to remember how I felt all those long, long years ago.
Back in 1966 when goals from George Mulhall, Neil Martin and John O’Hare last saw us win 0-3 at St James’ Park.
An impossible task. As a kid of ten you really don’t understand. It takes decades of hurt, false promises and even occasional humiliation to work their way into your soul before you can truly relish such glorious redemption.
For just as the dawn was symbollically cracking here in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains, David Vaughan lashed in that stunner to seal the deal and send the black and white hordes off to look for a Bigg Market bin to bash – might as well spend the rest of the day among the rubbish, I suppose.
This has been a season of immense disappointment, watching such awfully dull fare, that the law of averages would suggest we deserved some excitement, some joy. But the law of averages doesn’t always work for Sunderland. This time we got payback and then some.
Watching our new manager cavorting around the touchline and then giving the type of salute to the fans that heals whatever wounds his initial appointment may have caused were moments that will live forever in SAFC folklore, no matter what tears the future will bring.
Because this was a day to savour. We were owed this day – one which reminds us why we bother. A day that will be remembered whatever happens in the next five games of this previously torturous season.
For football is essentially a simple game yet the minds and hearts of the men who play it are not.
All season we have played scared. The former manager, a nice man with a good brain, in the end simply didn’t believe. Fearing the worst he set us up not to get beat. Invariably we did.
This new bloke believes we can win and sets us up to do so. Same players, different result. Such belief is a powerful emotion. Long term you need more than emotion, but in a relegation dogfight you’ll get nowhere fast without it.
And thankfully there seems more to him that just passion. His desire to get back to work and have the players study the game to look for mistakes speaks volumes about an approach markedly absent in our history.
Just over a year ago we went into a Cup replay game with Everton on just such a high. It didn’t work out and ever since we have crumbled piece by piece, game by game.
After watching Sunderland for fifty years the possibility that it could happen yet again can hardly be dismissed. But you get the feeling that Paolo Di Canio’s faith is made of much sterner stuff. Or perhaps he is simply crazy. Either way we’ll take him.
(Our Canadian Correspondent)