Howdy all, it's time for another contribution to our excellent My First Game feature - the feature where we take your memories and put them on screen for the world to read.
If you want to contribute your own, we just want 500 words (or more) on your first game. The feeling, the emotion, what made you fall in love with Sunderland AFC? Mail them to firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll happily stick them up on the site.
Anyway, time for today's and it comes from Michael Hunt, who you can find in the Premier Concourse next season after being booted out of his previous seat as the away fans have been moved. Or you might find him in The Avenue, or as he and his mates still nostalgically call it, The Clipper prematch, no doubt eulogizing about former heroes Gary Bennett and Kevin Ball, or new heroes like Stephane Sessegnon and Jack Colback.
My experience of watching football was consigned to two Scottish Third Division matches at Links Park, the home of Montrose. I had been on holiday there in the summer and had taken in Montrose v Stranraer and the local derby with Brechin City. This got me wanting more when I got home and it was time to head to Roker Park.
My first game at Sunderland coincided with our return to the top flight under Denis Smith. Football was at new high due to England's relative success under Bobby Robson at the World Cup earlier that year. I was 14 and the time had come to visit Roker Park for the first time. My Grandad had spoken at length about Roker Park and the atmosphere, where he stood, his favourite players etc. It was September, the cricket season was over and it was Everton at home. Time to go and experience it for myself.
Myself, my twin brother and a few friends made the trip down to Seaburn on the train from Heworth (no luxury of the Metro in those days). The trip down to the ground was uneventful. The ground was so old looking I thought but it had character. It looked like a football ground with the floodlights and terraces. As with most supporters at Roker Park you start at the Roker End and that is where we chose to go. The Fulwell would come later. £3 entry and in we went.
The real excitement of the day for me was the realisation that these players who I had only ever seen on the television would be yards in front of me, Gabbiadini, Davenport, Norman etc. were right in front of me. Everton had a cracking side, if ageing a bit with Southall (fresh from his one man protest the week earlier), Ratcliffe, Sharp and Newell. The atmosphere hit me as well. This was the First Division and the stakes were high. Yes we were fortunate to be there thanks to Swindon's financial inappropriateness but we were holding our own. Defeats against Norwich and Chelsea aside, we had started well, drawing at home against Spurs with Lineker and Gascoigne fresh from the World Cup unable to break us down. And of course we had beaten Manchester United 2-1 only weeks earlier thanks to Benno and his Brazilian type flick over Pallister and calm side foot into the corner past Sealey. We could beat Everton couldn't we?
Well, not quite but we gave it a good go. I still remember to this day the noise when Gabbiadini went through and the ‘GO ON' from the Roker End and that atmosphere has stuck with me forever. I can't remember that much about the game except that we drew 2-2 with Davenport and Gabbiadini for us and Sharp and Newell for them. The scoring was all over by half time and it ended a stalemate. I remember going home with a mixture of emotions. Disappointed we didn't win but also excited at having been there and witnessed it. I could tell my Grandad all about it next time I saw him. Most importantly though was the anticipation of the next game. I had to be there. I was hooked. It was Liverpool at home and they were the best team in the country at that time. Unfortunately that game wasn't like my first. Train journey, walk to the ground, queue to get in, sold out. Train journey home. It wasn't meant to be like that.
My first game left me with another problem. An obsession of all things SAFC. After that Liverpool debacle I didn't miss another home game that season and bought my first season ticket the year after. Of course we got relegated on the last day of the season in true Sunderland style but that couldn't keep me away. And so the journey began.
Superb work from Michael, and we thank him very much for sharing. To share your own, just email us email@example.com and we'll be happy to put it up on the site.