Monsieur Salut introduces another prize Guess the Score ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup 3rd Round to at home to Burnley, against whom we have something to prove (though most of us might feel strongly that the point should be made, and three points taken, when the return league fixture comes round in March) …
No one won the three-for-two New Year Guess the Score, in which readers were asked to predict both the Burnley and Liverpool scorelines and – if right – win three mugs.
That is hardly surprising since only in the deepest recesses of pessimistic hearts would a Sunderland supporter (most entrants always being SAFC) would the prospect of a crushing defeat at Turf Moor seem a) a likely outcome and b) one respectable to predict.
That said, there were those who felt we’d lose that one and there were also a few who considered a draw at home to Liverpool a feasible result. Chris Boyle was the first, just ahead of John McCormick, to go for 2-2 and will receive a mug in due course.
Now time for the FA Cup. Although Monsieur Salut expects to be present, even Pete Sixsmith may have found a better offer (Shildon at home to Atherton Colliery in the FA Cup Vase) and we would be fools to expect a bumper attendance.
It would be pleasing to win, especially if we did so without sustaining yet more injuries and even more so if victory came in a fashion that fired up the participating SAFC players for the much more important task of Premier League survival, two of the forthcoming January games – Stoke City away and Southampton at home – of surely huge significance. The cup, in that context, hardly begins to matter.
Or does it?
Take Andy Robinson, our Burnley “Who are You?” interviewee last week and a very good one, too. We’d agreed he would also answer questions about the cup game and these answers, plus his view of the 4-1 win for his side in the league game, will form the basis of this week’s feature.
But Andy’s view on league versus cup is interesting enough to offer a sneak preview:
Say you were offered the (FA Cup) trophy but also relegation. Close-run thing or an easy decision one way or the other?
I would exchange an FA Cup win for relegation all day long. As fans we should live for moments of glory not mid table mediocrity, easy decision!
At first glance, I was surprised. But then, when we look back over however long we have supported Sunderland, there hasn’t been much to get extraordinarily excited about.
Promotions can be exhilarating, especially when won in style as under Peter Reid (his 1999 one) and Roy Keane. But they necessarily follow relegations and are accompanied by fears, usually well-founded though 2000 and 2001 were great exceptions, of struggles to come.
Our 2013-14 exploits do not offer like-for-like comparison.
We reached a Wembley final but it was the League Cup not the FA Cup, we lost anyway (albeit gamely) and a wonderful weekend was tarnished by the gnawing doubt, fuelled by an abysmal display in the Premier League at Arsenal a week earlier, that we here doomed to relegation. In the end, the way we achieved safety, with those fabulous wins at Old Trafford and Stamford Bridge, made me feel a lot better than I think I would have done had we won the cup and gone down.
So yes, in short, I would welcome a decent FA Cup run, marvellous if it went all the way, but not at the expense of our top-flight status. Not too much to ask for is it, if I resolve in return – it being that time of the year – to help old ladies cross the road and let people in at junctions?
Ha’way the Lads – and have a go in the FA Cup Guess the Score. Burnley fans are as ever invited to take part: one of the mugs you see somewhere above will go to the reader who is first to post the correct score before kickoff (UK delivery address essential).