Salut! Sunderland wishes all readers a happy Christmas and fabulous new year
Pete Sixsmith continues his recollections of memorable Sunderland games played over the Christmas period …
2 26/12/00 Bradford City (a) Won 4-1
I include this one because it brings back fond memories of a lovely friend who died this year and also because it was the perfect day out, involving a superb breakfast, two games and Yorkshire fish and chips.
The breakfast was prepared by Sue Horan in her kitchen in Darlington. I turned up to collect Pete and was faced with probably the best fry up I have ever had. Borrowdale’s sausage (a secret Shildon recipe handed down over the years), organic eggs, proper bacon from Godfrey Card’s butchers in Shildon, grilled tomatoes and lashings of the strong tea that Sue was renowned for.
The first game was a local derby between Harrogate Town and Guiseley in the Northern Premier League. There was a good holiday crowd at Wetherby Road and the game was a tight one, ending up 1-1. From the genteel spa town to the raucous city took but half an hour in the trusty Clio and we arrived at Valley Parade in ample time to wolf down the sandwiches that Sue had provided us with.
This was City’s second and last season in the Premier League and the beginnings of their demise which saw them spend far too long in the bottom division.
Bradford is a city that has a fair share of blighted sports teams; Park Avenue left the Football League and their ground, Northern went bust before being re-born as the Bulls and going bust again and Yorkshire stopped playing cricket there.
Richard Dunn (boxer, not the Irish centre half) is their most famous sporting son of recent times, which tells you all you need to know.
They were managed by Jim Jeffries when we pitched up, having parted company with Paul Jewell. They had a chairman called Geoffrey Richmond who had made his money out of Ronson Lighters and who had reached the stage where he thought he knew plenty about football. He didn’t and had sanctioned the signings of players like Dan Petercu, Benito Carbone and Stan Collymore, none of whom contributed much to the Bantams struggle against the drop. Only Carbone saw the season out.
The 4-1 win was a comfortable one and it took us to the giddy heights of third in the Premier League table with only Arsenal and Manchester United above us.
Kevin Phillips rattled home a hat trick with Quinny getting the other one. The mood as we trooped out of that awful, narrow terrace was one of jubilation and optimism as it looked as if we were getting ready to become one of the big beasts in the Premier League.
The team that day was Sorenson; Williams, Thome, Craddock, Gray; Arca, McCann, Rae, Kilbane, Quinn, Phillips. Not a bad line up at all and ever so slightly stronger than the current one.
Fish and chips at Murgatroyd’s on the way home rounded off a perfect Boxing Day. What a joy it was to be a Sunderland supporter that day and that era.
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