One Hundred Years to the day since we beat Newcastle 9-1 at St James’s*, Pete Sixsmith takes a look back at Roy Keane’s One Hundred Days at Sunderland ….
(* scroll down or click here to read Colin Randall’s heart-warming account of that famous victory)
As the Keane era ends, I thought it might be a good idea (and a chance to recycle some old comments) to look back at the Roy Keane Highs and Lows. Things that stand out for me are, in no particular order:
Derby and Leeds (away); I think it made us realise that we had a manager who could bring in decent players (Miller, Kavanagh, Wallace, Connolly) and that he could encourage them to play simple pass and move football. Great away followings too.
Sheffield Wednesday (away); the first sound of “na na na nah, Keano” as we blasted the Owls out of sight on and off the pitch. And don’t forget the air-guitar contest. So funny!
Wolves (home); a pulsating, absorbing game that ended with us grabbing a vital win and that showed that we had improved a 1000% since September.
Luton (away); just the most fun you could ever have without taking your clothes off as we ran riot.
Spurs (home); a great end to the game and the belief that we were good enough to stay up stayed with us all season. “Chopra’s one of us” (now sung in a Welsh accent).
Villa (away); dug in to get that all important first away win. Team showed character and the fans’ performance was one of the finest I have seen/heard in 45 years of following the team. We roared them home.
Boro (home); last minute winner to set the seal on a great day. Saw Keane in Director’s Lounge; no-one approached him and he didn’t approach anyone. Takes on a whole new significance now.
Newcastle (home); no need to explain.
Kenwyne Jones; the first real centre forward since Quinny and a potential superstar either with us or higher up the food chain. Love watching him when he is fit and looking forward to even more under our new manager.
Andy Reid; a pleasure to see such a lovely footballer and someone who enjoys working with the ball rather than just passing it on. The signing that cemented our Premier League place last year.
Carlos Edwards; scored the best two goals I have seen in years at Southampton and at home to Burnley. Keane took a chance on a player no-one else was prepared to gamble on.
Visiting Ireland; Roy’s arrival gave me the chance to visit Cork, re-visit Galway and discover Athlone. Loved the two trips (even the 6 hour bus journey from Belfast to Athlone) and realised that the Irish are never afraid to offer opinions. There will be some red and white shirts going to the Irish charity shops now; and a savage reduction in 60 year olds from Cork claiming to be Roy’s dad.
His Press Conferences; I never attended one, but he treated the football press with all the contempt that they sometimes deserve. You could watch it on TV and know that we had a manager who had strong views and would not compromise them.
Plenty of others: 8,000 fans at Oakwell, realising that good players wanted to sign for us, drinking coffee from a Keane mug at work.
A few lows: Palace (away); always the worst place to go to and on a cold, foggy Friday, I feared that our promotion campaign had stalled as we played like drains.
Everton (away); an embarrassing afternoon, sat amongst Evetonians and only partly compensated by copious pints of Cains Bitter.
Newcastle (away); a surrender to a team of half-wits which sowed doubts in a lot of people’s minds.
Bolton (home); after this one, we realised his time was up, which is why Thursday came as no great surprise.
Greg Halford, Rade Prica, David Healy, Ian Harte, Russell Anderson; lots of money spent on players that not even the likes of Useless Terry Butcher and whippet racer and pigeon fancier Mick Buxton would have signed.
The way that he went; not with all guns blazing like Clint Eastwood, but with a rather feeble text message, reminiscent of Charles Hawtry. Still, it was a great experience, a bit like an affair with an exciting and unpredictable lover, who you know will let you down, but what the hell, let’s enjoy it while it lasts.
Thanks for the memories, Roy.