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FA Carling Premiership, 27/11/99
Tall tales
By Pete Fincham

I hate Sunderland. Suddenly they get thirty thousand fans from absolutely nowhere and regain their status as one of the biggest clubs in the country. This only a couple of years after near bankruptcy and an empty Joker Park to the extent that the home fans used to come into the away end as it was more fun! I just thought I would say that!

My all-time favourite trip to Sunderland is one of my truly great memories from my dubious existence as a football fan. It was January 1993, snowing, freezing cold and even though our away form was pretty poor to say the least, a few of us at Hull got together and trekked up to Sunderland for what we assumed would be another hammering against a Northern side. We really were crap on our travels under Perryman, and later Roeder. Throughout my whole University life I think I can remember each infrequent victory in Division 1, but the losses just merge into each other.

Anyhow, we got up there and went into the ground just before kick off where about a hundred and fifty other Hornets had made the trip. After all it was winter, it was a Wednesday and it was Sunderland! Somehow we went into the lead through a fine Harry Willis header - yes, the same Harry Willis who could miss from a yard! 1-0! Shit! The Roker roar was a quiet murmur and, even though Terry Butcher was trying to get them going, the Maccums were fed up! But didn't we sing and sing! 2-0, Furlong from a yard out! I was hoarse, I couldn't speak. We were pissing all over them! Simon Shepherd was pulling off heroics in the goal, and on the terraces the coins were raining down as fast as the sleet. It was chaos.

Sunderland pulled one back with about ten to go, but we held out for the remaining minutes to send the Maccums home penniless (having thrown all they had at us) and us home considerably richer in terms of spirit and finances!

A few years later we took only a hundred and ten to Joker Park but it was as fun - we lost that time but we were 2-0 down from the first leg anyhow. It is not the football you go for, is it!?

Anyway, the next day, after the 2-1 win, I had to present a criminal law seminar on something or other. Having walked into the room to present my earth shattering paper on whatever it was (quite how I got a 2:2 and not a 1st I will never know!), I found that I genuinely could not speak. The problem was I had only done rough notes (in the car going up to the match, I seem to recall) so could not present a coherent written paper either. This was not the last time I got failed on a seminar because of Watford.

Thought: It may seem a heavy price to pay, but it is always worth it.