That’s cheating – the headline – because the star of SAFC is whoever, young or old, wins us three points at home to Fulham tomorrow. But Luke Harvey is a new star of Salut! Sunderland. He’s a poor deluded soul on two counts: he supports Sunderland (condemning him to a life of disappointment) and is a journalism student (no money in it unless he becomes Piers Morgan). No matter, he’s agreed to write for us to ease the burden on Pete Sixsmith and the ageing editor. This is Luke’s first offering (he may even add a photo later) …
Fulham bring me a lot of fond memories, not particularly as a Sunderland fan – but as a football fan in general.
They seem to embody everything I believe a football team should be about, a hard working and talented group who are lead by an experienced manager capable of masterminding a victory over any team.
It’s rare to hear about crowd trouble down at Craven Cottage, and it’s an old-fashioned stadium that has stood the test of time and still carries a lot of charm with it to this day. A definite on my list of stadiums I’d like to visit.
Fulham also provided me with one of my earlier football memories. As a fan I was delighted that the team I played for had a link with Sunderland, I was more excited on the bus from Carlisle to Sunderland when I discovered I had front row seats. It’s something I wouldn’t be interested in now, but as a 12-year-old boy going to what was at the time his second Sunderland match, it was pretty spectacular.
As it was, on January 19 2002, we split the points in a 1-1 draw. I don’t recall much from the match myself – except it was very cold, I remember touching the ball as it came out for a throw but I was unable to throw it back to Kevin Phillips because I was stuffing my face with starburst at the time. Stats on the internet would show that we seemed to get the better of our southern opponents, but still only managed to come away with a point.
Steed Malbranque, who will line up for us on Sunday, was the enemy that day as he fired Fulham in front early on. Some 8 years later he has crossed over to the Red and White side and over time he may have lost a yard or two of pace, something he didn’t particularly have in abundance to begin with. Phillips was our hero, as per usual, with an equaliser that gave us the 1-1 draw. It’s a result I’d probably take on Sunday, but obviously my insides are screaming for three points.
We’re in a horrible rut just now, things don’t seem to be improving and when we do put in a determined display the following one is often a performance lacking in ideas or creativity.
I’m an eternal optimist but even I can’t help but approach this match with trepidation, the last few months of football have offered me nothing but heartache and disappointment so far. Fulham are coming off the back of dumping out reigning Europa League champions, Shakhtar Donetsk and their contingent of Brazilian players, and will probably be quite fired up with a showdown with Juventus now scheduled.
We won’t be fielding any Brazilians of our own, and our best hope is that after a week rest, we’ll be raring to go against a hopefully distracted, and possibly jet-lagged Fulham side.