Vinjay is a devoted Blackburn Rovers fan, owner of the Rovers fan site www.brfcattitude.com, and just a little shy (“just refer to me as Vinjay”). He is also a man with very little time for Roy Keane. Whatever we think about it, he is entitled to his view – from which I have omitted only a potentially libellous reference (along with an equally actionable snipe at Wayne Rooney).
But what of this week’s two games against Rovers? Our present predicament, next to the bottom of the Premier League after a miserable run, is just the sort of thing we hoped was a thing of the past. Just as Blackburn at home (Carling Cup) on Wednesday, then away in the Premier League on Saturday, are the sort of games about which we should no longer be thinking: “I’d settle for a defeat in the league cup provided we can get three points at the weekend.” We ought to regard both as eminently winnable. But I wonder how many Sunderland fans are thinking just that.
We wanted a Rovers fan to preview each of the two games and eventually found the second one, who promises to deliver after the Carling Cup game. In the meantime, Vinjay’s response has been turned into into a two-parter, with the follow-up likely to be published tomorrow (Tues) or Wednesday. Here’s the first….
When I think of Sunderland, the prominent memory would be the outstanding 4-4 draw against Charlton.
Unlike the cowardly Nicolas Anelka in last season’s European Cup Final, Michael Gray (who later played for Rovers and is pictured courtesy of A Love Supreme) has never been labelled as a world class European striker.
I recall watching him step up and correctly predicting he would fail with the kick and subsequently that happened. I felt sorry for Sunderland and neither club deserved to lose that game. I have a mental image right now of Alan Curbishley celebrating their win. I think that’s the only notable thing the overrated Curbishley has ever won. I’m sure older BRFC fans felt more sympathy having experienced great trauma in the playoffs prior to the birth of the “new Blackburn Rovers” and Jack Walker’s funding.
In the same season BRFC had an outstanding start with brilliant football being played and were in the top three up until around February.
Then a combination of training methods tiredness and Alan Fettis (absolutely dreadful goalkeeper who put in several disastrous performances in the second half of 97-98 saw a downturn into sixth place. Even so, it is still my favourite season as well as my first.
My first memory of a BRFC v Sunderland fixture would be the 1-0 win in the 1999 FA Cup fixture at Ewood.
Keith Gillespie got the winner if I recall correctly though it was underserved. Sunderland were impressive and it wasn’t any surprise that they did so well upon winning promotion.
Kevin Phillips and Niall Quinn were one of the best partnerships in the country at the time and that was before winning promotion. 98-99 for me was the season from hell and the exact opposite of how good 97-98 had been.
99-2000 saw Sunderland show their Premier League credentials. BRFC had a dreadful season though unlike now I didn’t really get angry easily then.
There were a couple of exceptions with a dreadful 2-0 home defeat by QPR which even I couldn’t make excuses for (I made excuses for the players all the time then but not any more) and a 1-0 defeat by Crewe which was the most underserved scoreline I’ve ever seen.
By 2001 both clubs were in the same league for the first time since I began supporting BRFC.
2001-2002 saw Sunderland winning 3-0 at Ewood with an inspired performance from Quinn.
Though BRFC were awful that day but not as awful as Sunderland the following season. The opening game of 2002-2003 was against Sunderland and I felt optimistic as many fans often do on the opening day.
The result was disappointing and the BRFC debut of the Cole and Yorke partership was a letdown. Sunderland were the joke of the league and hilariously appointed Howard Wilkinson.
The FA Cup was a disappointment having come back from 3-1 down at Ewood the replay saw a win for Sunderland on penalties. I think Rovers had equalised in the final minute in both games so it was a massive blow to ultimately get knocked out.
BRFC then had two very poor seasons while Sunderland suffered a playoff semi final defeat to Crystal Palace before winning automatic promotion.
Unfortunately Sunderland were an even bigger joke in 05-06 and I felt a little sympathetic towards the suffering you must have endured.
Though Derby managed to do even worse and people seem to be forgetting Sunderland’s disasters now. I think the only time (other than an away fixture in 00-01) I have seen a postponement at Ewood was prior to a night game against Sunderland.
I was highly angered about that though I recall some BRFC supporters complimenting your fans for being good natured about it all. Though I suppose you perhaps felt slightly relieved considering your terrible form! The rearranged fixture was a fairly straightforward win for Rovers. Stephen Reid scored the winner at SOL.
06-07 of course saw massive change at your club while BRFC were in similar top half form as they are now. I felt extreme dislike in Sunderland’s direction for the first time though that was more due to the appointment of Roy Keane whom I personally detest. Then you managed a respectable showing in 07-08 though Rovers won both games against Sunderland in the league.
So going into both upcoming games I see nothing to be afraid of (which is also the case with many other EPL sides) though I don’t expect either game to be easy. Craig Gordon looks like he will be a very good goalkeeper for your club.
And the questions will have to wait until part two…..