My First Game #5 - Sunderland 2-3 Tottenham Hotspur, 14/04/01

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You probably thought we'd forgotten all about this feature. Well believe me, we hadn't, it was just a multitude of other things getting in the way such as matches and managers being sacked and all that sort of thing which put thing on a hiatus.

So to bring back the feature with a bang, we have David Moore, who kindly offered his words to us on his first game from back in 2001. David's currently a student at Stratchclyde University studying History & Geography, so if you're ever in the area buy him a drink and tell him to get washed. David's also inexplicably fond of Sean Thornton, whilst Phil Bardsley takes the honour of current favourite.

The game David's here to tell us about today is certainly a memorable one, and one even I can remember, and most the time I can't even remember what day it is (just ask the rest of the team).

The least you can do for reading such a compelling tale is give the lad a follow on Twitter, so direct yourselves to @DMooreSAFC92 immediately.

Now, for the story of David's first game...

Coming from Ayr (in South West Scotland for those who don't know), it is fair to say that my choice of football team is regarded by my friends as abnormal, strange, questionable etc. I had no option about supporting my local team Ayr United, my parents had followed them for years and they had taken me to many games before I had hit my eighth birthday and realised I was hooked. However, my choice of English team was left to me to decide, and I certainly took my time.

My Dad's team were Sunderland due to his grandmother being from Gateshead, and my Mum's team in her childhood were Liverpool, although when they married she converted to Sunderland. In 1998, I got an incredibly ugly Liverpool goalie shirt and they were my team. I knew my Dad would have liked me to follow him in supporting Sunderland, but the rage and frustration I witnessed from him after they lost the Play-off Final to Charlton (resulting in him kicking the washing machine so hard that it no longer worked), rather discouraged me from choosing Sunderland! However, one day drove me away from supporting Liverpool and choosing Sunderland as my team, and that was the day of my first ever game.

As me, my parents and my 5 year old brother made the long drive down from Ayr to Sunderland, I questioned whether it would be worth it. I was not at that point a Sunderland fan, and my attention span as a nine year old was very short. As soon as I caught a glimpse of the Stadium of Light, my attitude changed completely. I had expected a ground not too different from Ayr's ramshackle (but loveable!) little rust-bucket Somerset Park, but this was in another world. We parked the car and took a walk round the outside of the SoL, and since it was only 11.30am we were the only ones there. I felt like I had found a second home, seeing all the rows of names on the bricks of people who felt about Sunderland the way my Dad did, and the way I do now. After a trip into the city centre, we headed back to the ground at about 1.30pm. I found myself surrounded by the smell of onions from burger vans, the sight of hundreds of people in red and white wandering round talking in the best accent I have ever heard, and loud men selling programmes and a magazine which had "We Beat The Mags 2-1" in big letters on the front. I loved it.

I can't emphasise enough how different the Stadium of Light is to Ayr's ground. As I went through the turnstiles and saw the seats through the passageway, my breath was literally taken from me. I will never forget the way the ground just opened up in front of me when we walked out to our seats. We were the only ones who had actually entered the ground that early so the red seats were visible all around me. We were in the South East corner and I remember the ground slowly filling up, and me getting more and more nervous. When Dance of the Knights came on, the whole ground stood and roared and I nearly had a panic attack. The quick blast of Ready To Go, the teams running out (this walking out and shaking hands nowadays is a joke), the crowd all shouting "C'MOOOOONNNNNN" at the same time, me looking around in total awe...I remember it like it was yesterday. This was not comparable with anything I'd ever experienced before. I can't remember what order they came in, but goals from Kevin Kilbane and Niall Quinn put Sunderland 2-0 up, and both times I was almost floored by the deafening roar. The Sunderland fans got right behind the team, and when the whole ground sang Red n White Army, the ground seemed to shake, or maybe that was just me! We went in 2-0 up at half time and, having already decided that Sunderland were now MY team, I thought I'd picked a winning team judging by the dominance they showed in the first half.

The second half was a collapse of epic proportions. Stephen Carr got Spurs first and I heard a roar from Spurs fans to my left, who I hadn't even known were there. From there they pounded the Sunderland net and equalised. It was no great shock when Gary Doherty popped up in the dying seconds and got the winner. Typical Sunderland, ruining my first game! My brother had no clue about what had happened and when he saw the clapping hands on the scoreboard at the end of the game, started applauding. He was the only home fan in the 48,019 crowd that appeared to approve of the performance.

We may have lost, but I had found my team. As we drove away from the ground, I looked back and asked my Mum when we would be back, would we come back for the Newcastle game 2 weeks later? Sadly the answer was no and we only get to one Sunderland game each season, but it makes every visit to the Stadium of Light feel extra special. There is nothing I like better than coming down to the Stadium of Light, I am absolutely hooked, and it is all down to that day in April 2001, my first ever Sunderland game.

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A fine tale I'm sure you'll agree. And if you want to send us your own, all you have to do is be able to put at least 500 words about the event in the right order so people can read it, and send it to rokerreport [at] gmail [dot] com

We hope to hear from more of you soon, and provide many more tales of first games from SAFC fans the world over.

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