Ha’way the Lads, but also – yet again – Ha’way the Lasses as the Sunderland women’s football club goes from strength to strength …
On the masculine front, we can safely assume Martin O’Neill will be telling the players to forget about the cup and concentrate on Blackburn Rovers tomorrow night, with QPR at home still to come before we face Everton again.
As for the media’s obsession with the possibility of an all-Merseyside semi-final, so much the better if it puts Everton under a spot more pressure. It won’t be easy next Tuesday – playing Everton rarely is for us – but having done all that hard work at Goodison, we should have enough to see us through.
A win at Ewood Park tomorrow night could put us eighth again, though we need a pre-replay favour from David Moyes as Everton would need to avoid defeat at Swansea for us to climb a place.
If getting a draw at Everton was a commendable performance, spare a thought also for the Sunderland Women’s Football Club, which continues to play as if it had its rightful place in the FA Women’s Super League, with a league title and cup semi-final both within reach.
Like the Lads, the Lasses are in the 6th round of their cup and will play at Birmingham City – yes, from the Super League, as are all remaining clubs except Sunderland and Blackburn Rovers – on March 25. A win there would not only be a great achievement in itself; it would deliver another sharp slap in the face to the FA.
And in the women’s Premier League, Sunderland are four points from retaining the title they won last season after a 2-0 victory at Charlton with goals from Natalie Gutteridge and Rachel Furness. Natalie’s mum, Susan, who runs the club’s website*, tells me: “Here’s hoping for a double final this year (men and women) – but the girls have a very hard game on Sunday v Birmingham.”
Are you scratching your heads and wondering why, as champions, they did not go up to the Super League? That’s because it’s an exclusive club, from which Sunderland will remain excluded until the league goes ahead with planned changes.
* Sunderland Women’s Football Club has previously given Salut! Sunderland permission to reproduce photos. The club’s site is at http://www.sunderlandwfc.co.uk/