My seventh heaven

MartinBy Martin Emmerson of BBC Radio Newcastle*

Here are our promotions in full – given that we had never needed one before our first relegation from the top flight in 1958

1963-64 Promoted under Alan Brown who then left that summer to join Sheffield Wednesday.

1975-76 Went up under Bob Stokoe as champions after six seasons down.

1979-80 Up under Ken Knighton. Unbeaten in last 14 games.

1987-88 Up from Third Division under Denis Smith after one year down – as champions.

1989-90 Went up under Smith again after losing play-off final to Swindon, who were denied promotion for financial irregularities.

1995-96 Up under Peter Reid for the first time – as champions!

1998-99 Reidy again – as champions – with a record 105 points – two seasons after relegation.

2004-05 Up under Mick McCarthy as champions two season after relegation.

2006-07 Up already, and can they finish as champions yet again? All to be decided on Sunday: Sunderland away to relegated Luton, Birmingham at Preston, who need a win for the play-offs.

This is the seventh I’ve seen since 1980, the year we secured promotion by beating West Ham two nil at Roker Park after the Hammers had beaten Arsenal in the FA Cup Final a couple of days earlier.

There were about 50,000 in Roker Park that night and the place was jumping. I remember my grandad saying he would jump off the bridge if we didn’t go up. I thought it a strange thing to say because I hadn’t contemplated defeat that day, only victory.

But of all the promotions, I think this one is the best because of all of the things that went before it. We were a club in crisis having gone down with another embarrassing points haul, we lost our first five games and even in September people were worrying this could be another relegation season. Just look at what has happened to Leeds this season!

I firmly believe we will go up to stay up this time. We don’t have the scourge of Bob Murray hanging over us any more.

I’m glad we escaped the lottery of the play-offs because that would have ended in disaster.

And from taking over as manager it took Roy Keane 37 games to get us top.

Now have a look at these links for more on the joy of promotion and despair of the play-offs:

* Martin Emmerson is a lifelong Sunderland supporter. His previous BBC roles included what he regarded as the next best thing to playing for his home town club – commentating on its games. He has been known to challenge Salut! Sunderland at badminton, but modesty precludes any reference here to the outcome

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