Before I say anything else, let me offer the thought that Millwall fans – decent ones, anyway, and please do not automatically assume decency and Millwall are mutually exclusive terms – have a point when they say a few missiles thrown by gormless hoodlums should not tarnish an entire club.
In the first two extracts from his book, Sing When You’re Winning, Colin Irwin trod the familiar path of Sunderland’s history: early glory, post-war turbulence and 1973 fairytale (with as much literary licence as the Brothers Grimm). He left us with the anxiety of relegation-haunted fans as kickoff neared in SAFC v Boro in Jan 2006 …
Not that the nail biting lasts for long. Sunderland forget that Emanuel Pogatetz, the big lad strolling into their penalty area when Middlesbrough are awarded a free kick just outside the box, isn’t there to discuss the latest bargains at B&Q and may have evil intent.
In the second part of our look at Colin Irwin’s visit to the Stadium of Light – in the depths of the 2005/2006 relegation season – for Sing When You’re Winning, his book on journeys into the “soul of soccer” (good alliteration, but he meant football), we hear a potted history of our club’s ups and more plentiful downs …
Sunderland were actually founded in Glasgow by an Ayrshire man, James Allan, in 1879 and their current travails are nothing new in the long and winding road that’s brought them to the Stadium of Light.
One of the giants of the early years, they hit the rocks after the Second World War. Blighted by an illegal payments scandal, they slithtered down the league and in 1958 were relegated from the top flight for the first time in their history.
They restored some pride, of course, in 1973, with one of the most startling FA Cup finals ever.