Remember that time we didn’t lose every week and were actually capable of putting together back to back wins? I do, actually.
Cast your minds back to February 2012, just before Sunderland took on Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium. We had enjoyed a superb January, winning four games out of a possible five in the Premier League with the only defeat coming away at Chelsea.
We kicked off the year with an excellent 1-0 win over Man City at the Stadium of Light which even prompted one delirious supporter to have a bit neck on with goal scorer Ji Dong Won. This result was followed up with a convincing 4-1 away victory at Wigan and further triumphs over Norwich and Swansea followed. The party with Marty was in full swing.
The next lambs to the slaughter were Stoke City who came into the game on the back of defeats to West Brom and Manchester United. The United result particularly annoyed their then manager Tony Pulis, who bemoaned refereeing decisions costing his side. There would be much more of that later.
It wasn’t quite a cold Tuesday night but the conditions that awaited Sunderland in Staffordshire were to prove extremely testing. Snow covered the pitch on a bitterly cold February afternoon and sleet tumbled down at regular intervals.
The conditions, coupled with Tony Pulis being in the home dugout meant there was never any realistic prospect of this game topping the match of the day running order. But with the game limping towards half time with little goalmouth action at either end, Robert Huth was sent off for a challenge on David Meyler.
This sparked a great deal of controversy with Tony Pulis accusing Meyler of play-acting. I think he’s talking about Meyler anyway, because in typical Pulis style, he childishly chose to neglect using the Sunderland midfielders name in his post-match assessment:
The referee hasn't taken the conditions into consideration. The player rolls around and stays down.
But Robert hasn't touched him. The player tries to get him sent off. It's a disease that's creeping into the game.
Obviously the Stoke manager’s ignorance extended to ignoring Meyler’s turbulent time with injures when making his comments about play acting. Of course, him complaining about cynical play when he builds football teams in that image was also rather hypocritical.
In the second half Sunderland made their extra man advantage count as Stephane Sessengnon slipped an inviting ball through to James McClean, who out-muscled Andy Wilkinson to slot the ball beyond Thomas Sorensen to give us a precious lead.
Stoke had much of the possession late on in the game but Sunderland dealt with their pressure with relative comfort, with Simon Mignolet only having to make a few routine saves to ensure we came away with all three points.
Oh, what we would give for a comfortable away win this weekend at the Potteries - a Mark Hughes meltdown would also be an extremely entertaining extra.