The start of a busy 11-day spell for Sunderland takes Jack Ross’s side to the Kassam Stadium for the second leg of this season’s home-and-away Donald derby.
Our owner’s connections and allegiance to the opponents are well known.
He and Charlie Methven, minority shareholder and executive director, have shown heartening commitment to SAFC since taking over from the absent and disillusioned Ellis Short. But both are fervent OUFC supporters and will remain so to their dying days even though they have – literally – bought into the passion and yearning for success on Wearside.
Donald and Methven’s mixed emotions will be easy to imagine as they watch on Saturday, Oxford anxious to pull clear from the bottom positions and Sunderland striving for another three points towards the promotion they set as the target for their first season in charge.
Our part in the affair, as supporters, is simpler. We just want those points – and we know it is is unlikely to be a doddle. And there are then three equally important League One games, all at home, in quick succession – Blackpool, Accringon Stanley and Gillingham on Feb 12, 15 and 19: a trio of fixtures that could define our season.
Guess the Score in the Oxford game and there’ll be a prize for the winner, whoever he or she supports. A Sunderland fan who is first to post the correct scoreline (and have a UK delivery address) will win this mug …
As past winners will tell you, the winner chooses which five names appear on the shirts in the dressing room image. Pete Sixsmith, who accurately predicted the 2-0 defeat of Man City Under 21s in the Checkatrade quarterfinals, is a thoroughly modern man so chose Harvey, Hurley, McNab, Crossan and Mulhall; someone else – Paul Devine, a multiple winner – has gone for the names of family pets.
An Oxford-supporting or neutral winner would be found a suitable alternative.
Ha’way the Lads.