To listen to my Bristol Rovers-supporting or Bristol-dwelling friends and acquaintances, Sunderland vs Rovers is the mother of all home bankers.
We’re up against a basket case of a club playing atrocious football and shipping goals as if for fun. What could possibly go wrong?
Your guess is as good as mine, but could be a prize-winner. Will we put the cup reverse behind us, take advantage of Pompey’s defeat in the league on the same night that we offered such a meek challenge to Walsall and score a hatful? Or will we slip and slither on every banana skin ever placed on a football pitch with that efefct?
We have an amusing and informative’Who are You?’ with a Rovers fan, Doug Shields, lined up for tomorrow (he’s looking forward less to the game than to his night out in N**cas**e) and even a candidate for the return game, who remembers the infamous occasion (1988, the last time we were in the third tier) when they walloped us 4-0 and our players trashed their dressing room thinking that this amounted to a late comeback. Still, we went up as champs so the hammering and the tantrum were mere blemishes on the season and our club’s reputation.
The prize for Saturday’s game, once again since no one predicted we’d go down 1-0 in the cup replay, is that second copy that came our way from Tales From the Red and Whites of the third volume of the Sunderland series, Managers, a superb read on the SAFC times of Ken Knighton, Lawrie McMenemy, Malcolm Crosby, Peter Reid, Gustavo Poyet and Simon Grayson. Each is interviewed and speaks “openly and honestly” to the authors, Lance Hardy, Graeme Anderson and Rob Mason.
As has become our custom when offering copies of the book, there will be no alternative prize should a Rovers fan win the competition. He or she would have to settle for a good read or find a suitable home for it.
The rules, as expanded post-Accrington, are that the first reader to post the correct scoreline shall win but must have a UK postal delivery address. If the match is abandoned, as happened last weekend, the competition is abandoned, too.
Have a go. And Ha’way the Lads.