Top Ten: The Most Memorable SAFC Season Finales

As the season comes to an end, we bring your our favourite season finale's.

As we look ahead to the Sunday's final game of the season, where Sunderland could have a big say in what half of Manchester the Premier League trophy will end up this year, or more than likely not, we here at Roker Report began to turn our attention to previous fixtures which marked the end of the term, be they important or just entertaining. With that we decided to present said matches in the form of a top ten that we can all have a bit of an argument over!

10. Manchester United vs Sunderland - 1968

With a nod to the weekend's fixture there are some interesting similarities with the final game of the 1967/68 season when Sunderland travelled to Old Trafford to face Manchester United. SAFC's 2-1 win over their host that afternoon handed the Championship that year to their arch rivals Manchester City, could the same be on the cards this year?

9. Manchester City vs Sunderland - 1991

Whilst the the result would compound Sunderland to a heartbreaking relegation this is a fixture that stands out in Sunderland folklore. The away side were leading at halftime, but goals from David White and a brace from a certain Niall Quinn were enough to secure fifth place for city, their highest league finish for thirteen years. This was also the fixture that kickstarted Niall's love affair with the Black Cats courtesy of the remarkable support from the travelling hoardes.

8. Sunderland vs Leicester - 1984

Sunderland went into the last game of the 1983/84 season with a slight chance of relegation, however Bryan "Pop" Robson had other ideas. Pop was playing his last game in the red and white stripes and ensured an emotional day as his goal helped to seal a 2-0 win and also made him the oldest player to ever score for the lads - a ripe old age of 38 years and 183 days.

7. Sunderland vs Stoke - 2005

Mick McCarthy's Sunderland side took the Championship title with an impressive ninety-four points, in no small part thanks to Marcus Stewart's goals. The last game of the season saw a bumper crowd at the Stadium of Light create a cracking atmosphere to celebrate the successful season and say farewell to Stewart. Stoke did their best to spoil the party and put up a resilient display before the home side broke the deadlock after fifty-five minutes with a rare goal for Paul Robinson.

6. West Ham vs Sunderland - 2011

Sunderland were sat in the top seven of the Premier League at Christmas of 2010 and January of 2011 saw and upturn in results which gave the fans reason to be hopeful. However the acrimonious departure of Darren Bent and a large number of injuries culminated in a worrying decline in form. By May SAFC were sat in 14th and were no longer dreaming of Europe but looking over their shoulder at the Championship.

A trip to the Capital was on the agenda for the last game of the season and by hook and crook, the Sunderland fans that paid the Hammers' extortionate ticket prices were well rewarded with a comfortable 3-0 win, which combined with other results saw the Black Cats miraculously finish in the top ten. Even Christian Riveros scored!

5. Sunderland vs Chelsea - 2009

Sunderland went in to the final game of the 2008/09 season with their Premier League status unsure. Caretaker boss Ricky Sbragia had been doing all he could to motivate his inherited squad, but the endeavour and fight had seemingly already been lost from his players. Not on the final day however. Sunderland put in a performance which must have frustrated the stand-in gaffer as if they had matched this workrate over the previous games of his tenure the club's survival may have been secured weeks previously.

Whilst Sunderland would ultimately go on to lose the fixture 3-2 it was a result from the midlands that would help to seal their survival as arch rivals Newcastle succumbed to Aston Villa and found themselves facing Championship football the following term.

Yes, call it petty if you like but our Magpie friends had long enjoyed Sunderland's perpetual "yo-yo'ing" between the leagues and it felt good to have the shoe on the other foot for a change.

4. Luton Town vs Sunderland - 2007

2006/07 was a season that no Sunderland fan will forget in a hurry, a real rollercoaster of a ride, as Roy Keane transformed a struggling squad into worthy League Champions. The culmination of a superb season saw thousands upon thousands of Mackems invade Luton and enjoy an emphatic 5-0 win. The victory saw Keane's side pip Birmingham to the title and also showcased Nyron's singing skills post match in a rather fetching trilby.

3. Sunderland vs Birmingham - 1999

Following the heartbreak of the Play-Off defeat, Peter Reid's Sunderland vowed to come back hungrier and more determined than ever, a feat they certainly achieved as the Black Cat's ran away with the First Division championship, racking up an incredible 105 points along the way.

It was also fitting that Quinn and Phillips both grabbed a goal in a 2-0 win over their midlands opponents on the final day of that season, the pair had been in devastating form that term and played huge parts in SAFC's return to the Premier League.

2. Sunderland vs Liverpool - 1997

Yes, I know it wasn't a league fixture, but not only did this match see the culmination of Sunderland's relegation from the Premier League after an agonisingly brief return to the top flight, but it also heralded the end of an era. This is a term that is often thrown about with little care and attention, but it truly did see the curtain fall on almost a century's worth of history that old Roker Park had hosted.

The game itself was also symbolic of the very first game to be held at Roker and was a fitting end to the much loved, yet painfully decrepit ground. The time had come to move on and look to the future, an immediate future under Reid that was a lot more bright that we possibly expected.

John Mullin wrote his name into the SAFC history books with the last goal at Roker Park as Sunderland emerged 1-0 victors on the day, just as they had 99 years previous.

1. Sunderland vs Charlton - 1998

As heartbreaking as it was at the time, Sunderland played their part in what is often thought of as one of the greatest games to be played at the hallowed Twin Towers. Clive Mendonca, a Sunderland boy, would break SAFC hearts with the first hat-trick in a play-off final to help his side to four goals, whilst Sunderland would manage four of their own through Nicky Summerbee, Kevin Phillips and a Niall Quinn brace.

We all know what happened with the subsequent penalty shoot out, but what a game and a catalyst for a remarkable following season.

A mighty fine list I'm sure you'll agree... or do you? Vote for your favourite in the poll below!

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