In the semi-final of the ToteSport Cup on May 4, Sunderland Reserves will play Preston Reserves.
Pete Sixsmith would doubtless have done his utmost to be there, along with a few hundred other hardy souls to whom reserve team football offers a fascinating insight into the way things are going through the club.
But no. The match, yet another Reserves match that is and it had to be this rather important one, will be held behind closed doors at the Academy of Light.
SAFC has had to brush up its excuse-making skills just lately, so here goes with this one: the Academy is “not set up for competitive matches which might attract hundreds of fans,” says the Sunderland Echo, and we must all blame the weather.
The club is quoted as saying: “Unprecedented winter weather led to a large number of fixtures being postponed across the reserve league and many clubs are now having to deal with a severe fixture backlog. Ordinarily the Totesport Cup game would have been an evening kick-off with supporters afforded the usual access, however the afternoon time slot was the only one agreeable to both clubs in this instance.
“Naturally we regret that supporters will not be able to attend the game but the fixture had to be played as soon as practicable and this is the only solution available to us.”
We will just have to take it as read
* that the club spared no effort in scouring Wearside for a suitable ground where an afternoon match could be played, and used all powers of persuasion possible to convince PNE that the game should be played in public
* that with no subsequent Premier game due at the Stadium of Light until May 14, it was truly impossible to stage a reserve game there on May 4
* that opponents can insist on a game not being played in the evening