My first game that I remember properly was against Liverpool at the Stadium of Light in the 2010-2011 season, when we witnessed one of Steve Bruce’s annual spectacular dips in form.
I was looking forward to seeing the lads at home, and before Kevin Friend decided to ruin it, was pretty good. Liverpool earned a deserved 2-0 win, but Friend’s laughable decision to give Liverpool a penalty when John Mensah fouled Jay Spearing outside the box is best forgotten about - the less said about that shambles, the better.
That said, I’m going to share my memories of my first ever away game, which thankfully had a much happier ending.
Steve Bruce had since departed Sunderland and Martin O’Neill had arrived. We enjoyed a decent little cup run that season, and one of the stops on our way to the quarter finals was and away replay at Middlesbrough. Their fans may have been more excited about the occasion than ours, but I was still looking forward to it.
The first game ended 1-1, which saw Fraizer Campbell rescue Sunderland after a fairly even contest at the Stadium of Light.
The 2011-12 season was the first season that I had a season card, so how I managed to get a ticket for the replay I don’t know, but of course I wasn’t complaining.
After finishing college on the day, I met with one of my friends at the Stadium of Light ready to depart the old-looking double decker buses to Boro. Upon arriving at the stadium, it already had the feel of a cup tie as it was away at a Championship side looking to knock out a Premier League team.
The game itself was quite even, but came to life when Jack Colback scored a fantastic volley from around twenty yards which clipped the underside of the bar as it went in.
I actually missed the goal as I went to do some private business and as I returned I heard a massive cheer and roar from the Sunderland fans, only to see Colback’s goal replayed on the TV.
At half time I had to walk through a crowd of away supporters to talk to my friend, only to creep back to my seat less than ten minutes later.
After Boro leveled in the second-half, the tie was edgy and nervous as it entered extra-time.
At one point the game looked like it was heading towards a penalty shoot-out but Stephane Sessegnon had other ideas.He created the goal as well as scored it. Connor Wickham couldn’t get a shot away in the box, so Sessegnon drilled the ball home to send us wild.
The game wasn’t a classic, but the nature of the late extra-time winner was a memory I’ll never forget.