clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

The Road To Wembley: MK Dons

New, comment

Our week long build up to the Capital One cup final begins with a look back on how we actually got there - The Road To Wembley. We start, obviously, with what was our first cup tie of the season. How different it could have all been...

Mark Runnacles

It's amazing to think we're actually in the Capital One cup final when you look back at this game. With just 13 minutes remaining on the clock, we were 0-2 down and set to crash out to lower league opposition. All too familiar? Certainly. But the lads fought back and with a bit of help from the much maligned Connor Wickham we ran out 4-2 winners.

This is the first in a series of features this week in which we offer up a few more personal thoughts surrounding the general events of the games in question. Enjoy!

Michael Graham:

To this day I still don't know what possessed me to stick around for the last 20 minutes against MK Dons. I've never been one for early exits, but I don't mind admitting I was strongly tempted to abandon the cause that night.

In fact, shortly after we went 2-0 down I can vividly remember thinking to myself how attendance for this game would become almost a Sunderland badge of honour in future years for when debate turned at how much suffering Sunderland like to put you through: "You think that was bad? Should've been at the MK Dons game marra..."

Looking back on the game now it almost feels like taking a peek at a parallel universe.

Jozy Altidore was confident and striking the ball cleanly. Paolo Di Canio was prowling the touchline. The 4-4-2 system couldn't have been more rigid if it was the closest thing to hand when Darth Vadar had a carbonite freezing machine to test. David Moberg Karlsson and Cabral actually existed. Vito Mannone wasn't magnificent.

I know I felt very little connection with the team on the pitch that night. It didn't feel like Sunderland. I suppose that it never really did in the Di Canio days and that was the bulk of the problem.

But perhaps my strongest recollection of that night was that it was Jozy Altidore who got us back into the game. He had already thwacked a 25 yard screamer off the post and MK Don's seemed resolved to kick him out of the game. Perhaps they knew what was to come.

But the more he was kicked, the stronger he became. He scored the goal that started the comeback and played a huge role in the goal-blitz that followed.

I know I have a lot more patience in Altidore than most others and I know that night has a lot to do with it. People will say it was 'only' against League One opposition but it was his attitude that endeared him, not so much his ability. His head refused to drop when the rest couldn't even be bothered to raise their heads and show a little pride in the first place.

When I take to my seat at Wembley, I won't forget who dragged us back into the competition that night when the final seemed as far away as it possibly could have been.

Gareth Barker:

It's often suggested that some of the crowd that attend cup games come to have a good old moan. Now, I'm not saying that's a fair reflection of reality. Nor am I saying it's my opinion. However, on this particular occasion, the group of gentlemen sitting behind me certainly did their best to perpetuate the myth.

To be fair, you probably couldn't blame them for the initial moan-fest. It was awful. We conceded two diabolical goals and looked set to be "concentrating on the league" once more. The twisting from this particular group of middle aged men seemed to reach it's peak at around the 60 minute mark - "Should have bloody stayed in and watched the Discovery Channel, this is an absolute waste of time and money etc…" and so he went on.

Things took a turn for the bizarre during Altidore's goal. The fact we'd got back into the game seemed to rile one of these gentlemen even more so than before. Firstly, they refused to celebrate the goal. Then they decided to use the fact Jozy had scored on this occasion, to criticise him for not scoring earlier in the game.

By the time Connor Wickham had put us in front, they were absolutely mortified. Sitting like they'd just seen us surrender a two goal advantage in the last ten minutes of a game, rather than the opposite. I was delighted we were in front, but I was furious that these morons sitting behind me were more bothered about being right than actually winning the game. They wanted us to lose just to hammer home the point that we were rubbish. Yes, we were rubbish that night, but to go to the game and be genuinely gutted we've won? Christ on a bike.

Into the last throws of the game and Adam Johnson races into the box and smashes in the final goal of the game, 4-2, game over. Into the next round. Let's forget this ever happened and move on. But again, no celebrations or joy. I turned around and clapped in the blokes face saying "never mind, never mind eh?" He wasn't too chuffed, probably a stupid thing to do as well. But it was quite satisfying and made the first 77 minutes of the game worthwhile.

We'd won and these people had acted like total morons. I hope someone more deserving than them got cup final tickets, because on the evidence of their 'support' they should be embarrassed to even show their face in a pub to watch the game, never mind Wembley.