My Team & I: Sunderland


By Mike Grady

Twitter: @mikegrady87


Why Sunderland?

I have no idea. In my formative years, I had two sporting influences; my sister’s boyfriend and my cousin. They were both Newcastle United fans.

At the time Sunderland were near the bottom of the Endsleigh Divison One while ‘The Entertainers’ were competing at the zenith of the Premier League. So, it was clear why so many kids supported Newcastle, and my allegience seemed obvious.

I remember getting a black and white shirt that you had to sew the badge on to, but I never did. I never really liked that shirt, but as it was a birthday present, I couldn’t confess.

Then one day, late in the summer of 1994, I decided to support Sunderland. My first game was a few weeks later and I’ve been a fan ever ever since. Perhaps it was childhood rebellion. Perhaps it was whimsical. Whatever it was, I want to pat the seven-year-old me on the back for making a wise choice.

Favourite Player?

The shortlist would be between Julio Arca, ‘Super’ Kevin Phillips, Niall Quinn, Allan Johnston and Craig Russell.

I have fond memories of them all, but for sheer worship quality, it would have to be Julio Arca. He was from Argentina. He was a winger. He could do step-overs. Step-overs. At Sunderland.

He loved the area and the club. When Sunderland were relegated, he stayed and played in the Championship, something that Sunderland fans will never forget.

Mind you, I did name my goldfish after Allan Johnston.


Favourite Game?

Can I have two? No? Only one then? Well, since I can’t have the 2-1 win over Newcastle United in the rain at St James’ Park when Ruud Gullit dropped Alan Shearer. Sunderland fell behind to a Kieran Dyer goal behind Niall Quinn drew level. Kevin Phillips then proceeded to score from an impossible angle to win the game. Dramatic stuff.

But anyway, since I’m not having that one, I’ll tell you which one I am having. Sunderland vs Burnley from the 2006/7 season.

I travelled up from Preston where I was at university to go to this game with some friends. It was on a Friday night for the purposes of Sky and it was a classic. It was the penultimate game of the season. Sunderland went 1-0 up early on, but Burnley pulled one back and went in front just after half time.

David Connolly missed a penalty when the scores were level, but stepped up once again to make it 2-2. Bearing in mind, if Sunderland’s promotion hopes rested on this game as their rivals were playing later that weekend. When a draw looked inevitable, Sunderland broke with a counter attack before Carlos Edwards did this in the 79th minute.

Favourite Strip?

During my time? I’d say the 1997-98 away shirt. It was thick, heavy and mustard coloured. The club said it was gold. It wasn’t.

It was ridiculed by many, hated by most, but I loved it.


But of all time, it’s got to be the 1982 home shirt:


Worst Thing About Being A Sunderland Fan?

Sunderland fans have it lucky. In the last 15 years, it’s never boring; relegations promotions, Play Off semi-finals, Play-Off finals, FA Cup runs, suriving the relegation battle. It’s brilliant entertainment.

The ticket prices aren’t that bad compared to other clubs, I paid £23 to see Blackpool, relatively easy to get to with good views and a cracking atmosphere on its day. They do offers for kids and season tickets can be be paid for in instalments and interest free. Don’t get me wrong, it should be cheaper, but it could be a lot more expensive.

I’m really struggling to think of anything, to be honest. For want of a better answer, let’s say the apparent reluctance for some of the bigger-name players to move to the North East. It’s a beautiful part of the world.

Funniest Moment?

Looking back, Sunderland scoring three own-goals in twelve first-half minutes against Charlton was quite funny. Not at the time, mind.

Kevin Kilbane losing his shorts was another comedy classic, but the one that always makes me smile is when Sunderland played Wigan.

Ryan Taylor took a knock and rolled off the pitch and onto the sidelines opposite the dug outs. It didn’t look that bad and then the physio trotted over. There was a fan in front of me who must have been in his 80s and he started getting agitated.

“Ryan Taylor? More like Diane Taylor you pansy!” It was family-friendly abuse that made the physio chuckle so much he couldn’t treat Taylor, who was, despite his obvious pain, also laughing.

Favourite Moment?

The recent 3-0 win over Chelsea has to be up there, it was the best I’d seen Sunderland play in a decade.

Niall Quinn’s testimonial, when he donated £1m to charity was pretty special, though my favourite moment is the first time I stepped into Roker Park.

I was seven, so I’d hardly been in the same room as 50 people, never mind 20,000. It was incredible, intimidating and intoxicating. And it was only against Wolves.

One Response to “My Team & I: Sunderland”

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Andy Hudson, Scott Johnston. Scott Johnston said: New My Team & I-Sunderland by @mikegrady87 is it better than the Newcastle 1 by @HuddoHudson you decide! […]

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