Pete Sixsmith was at both of those games affecting SAFC and stayed to the bitter end, along with a few hundred others (or so it seemed). This time a scoreline with four goals for the away team left him smiling …
Two more wins, two more wins……….
That would almost certainly keep Sunderland in the Premier League for another season of looking over our shoulders at the bottom 3. For Shildon, it would guarantee their first Northern League Championship since 1937 – the year that Raich Carter, Bobby Gurney and Eddie Birbanks brought the FA Cup back to Wearside for the first time.
Sunderland have six games to play in order to achieve those two wins and virtually guarantee that financial bonanza for one more season before the money goes mad and the employees are lighting cigars with £20 notes and buying champagne in bottles the size of Brendan Rogers ego.
Of course, where those two wins will come from is harder to pinpoint. Will it be in The Potteries, an area where we have done well at Vale Park in the past but abysmally at The Victoria Ground and The Britannia Stadium? Will we gain revenge over Southampton who lost three games at The Stadium of Light last year and took it out on us at St Mary’s in October by humiliating us a la West Ham and Watford?
Could it be at Goodison Park where a Ki penalty saw us to a win that sparked off a mini revival last season (we drew at Cardiff) but another ground where we have had precious little success over the last 50 years? I do remember Michael Bridges scoring twice there in a 3-2 win in 1997 and Lionel Perez making a stunning penalty save from Duncan Ferguson. Pete Horan and I shared a pint with Paul Bracewell and Jimmy Gabriel in The Park at Birkdale after the game. Oh, and we were relegated at the end of the season.
The final home game is against Leicester City who are on a roll at the moment, having won their last three games and, even when they lose, do it by the odd goal and not by a margin of there or four or eight.
The last two games see us travel to Ashburton Grove and Stamford Bridge, so we all know what to expect there – and it won’t be Arsene Wenger defending his record to Monty and Rupert, nor will it be Jose Mourinho and his wretched assistant berating the referee.
You may have deduced from those paragraphs that I consider that I am more likely to be looking up the train times to Charlton rather than Chelsea and checking the Good Beer Guide entries for Sheffield and not Southampton. Saturday will not see me supping pre match pints of Bass in Uttoxeter and then moving on to the Six Towns that make up Stoke on Trent. It will see me lunching in Shildon’s premier Italian restaurant (indeed Shildon’s only Italian restaurant) with Pete Horan before a leisurely 150 yard stroll round to Dean Street, passing the corner of Primitive Street where M Salut and I sold programmes many, many years ago.
The Railwaymen won a distinctly non-competitive game at Meadow Park, Ryhope on Tuesday night by 4 goals to 1. Three of them came in the opening twenty minutes and of those three, two were self-inflicted wounds by the Sunderland RCA players.
The opener was a header by the full back, the second came from Shildon centre forward Paul Connor (at £80,000 still Rochdale’s record signing) while the third was a wonderful catalogue of errors by RCA keeper Carl Norris, reminiscent of my days on Shildon Rec and playing (that’s one word for it – Ed) for Shildon Sunderland Supporters. He managed to drop a cross and, in attempting to retrieve it, turned a half circle facing his goal. On seeing the ball he gave it a healthy double punch hoping it would clear the bar. It didn’t. 3-0 to Shildon.
Gordon Armstrong’s son, James, was playing for RCA and had a decent game, pulling a goal back near the end, although by that time Connor had made it 4 and Norris had made a couple of fine saves.
Title rivals Marske, finished their season against relegated Celtic Nation, who turned up with a bare 11 and were walloped 8-0 on the Yorkshire coast, leaving the Railwaymen with a simple task – beat Durham City and Bedlington Terriers and the title remains in South West Durham. Fail to win both and it goes to North Yorkshire for the first time since Whitby Town won it in 1997 – the year Sunderland were relegated despite never having been in the bottom three all season.
It’s good when a whole season comes down to the last two games as it shows that the league is competitive. If, like the Championship, there are four teams in with a chance of the title with two to go, it’s even more exciting. We may find that out next season.