Peter Lynn – Wrinkly Pete on his own description – was there in 1973 and will be there again on Sunday. Here, he takes issue with Gus Poyet’s comment that winning a cup seemed more important to Sunderland fans than staying up. Tongue in cheek, Pete also calculates how we might have left Arsenal with a point and urges the team to rise to the occasion as memorably as the class of ’73
Gus Poyet has recently been quoted as saying Premier League survival is more important than the League Cup final, “but don’t tell the people in Sunderland”.
Allowance should be made for Poyet’s comment – he added “apparently it is more important for a manager to win a cup in Sunderland” – soon after our capitulation to Arsenal, which I had the misfortune to witness in the flesh. But I feel that this grossly misrepresents Sunderland fans aspirations.
Of course anyone associated with the club is delighted that we have reached the final but not at the expense of our hard-won Premier League place.
The merest glance back over the past 40 years of Sunderland AFC history would explain why our fans are making the most of our current cup success, and yes it is success even to reach the final, irrespective of Sunday’s result.
We have been the ultimate yo-yo club during this time, gaining promotion only to be quickly relegated again. Who could avoid protecting their bruised inner soul from another shattered dream by “thinking small”.
It was after all the “Sunderland fans have too high expectations” statement that did for Steve Bruce – not his Geordie roots, as he claims since Stokoe was a Geordie too, remember.
The fact is that Sunderland fans have made do with very little, frequently speaking warmly about the two seventh place finishes under Peter Reid as real achievements!! It also explains the wonderful “gallows humour” that appears frequently amongst the away following.
So, before looking forward to Sunday, a reflection on the Arsenal debacle. We made many individual errors, only three of which cost us goals, and otherwise would have drawn with our wonder strike against their wonder team’s remaining goal….. see how well gallows humour combined with rose tinted spectacles works??
Seriously, this was a classic “before cup final” performance. Disappointing, unprofessional, as we have all seen them many times before.
So to Sunday.
I am privileged to be going, as I was in 1973.
I vividly recall thinking that we had no chance then. We were a second division team against first division giants. So how did we do it?
We had some talented players who inevitably (?) moved on to greater things but I think it was our “terrier-like” approach (“in your face” in modern parlance) that won it on the day. That, combined with superb teamwork and a desire to do everything on the pitch was what secured success and guaranteed “legend” status for life on Wearside.
Now, we also have some talented players who have to appreciate that they have a once-in-a-career opportunity to become legends on Wearside, whatever else they achieve. We have had success against Manchester City recently and must repeat our performances both individually and collectively, especially closing down their playmakers. Then anything is possible.
Ha’way the Lads.