The eyes of Sunderland supporters still light up with glee when waxing lyrical about the free scoring promotion team of the 1998-99 season and the second half of the season promotion surge of 2006-07. But, oddly, the promotion season of 2004-05 has been slightly lost in time.
There are a number of explanations for this, it is hard to look back on that season without also remembering the horror show that was the 2005-06 season. But even at the time there was a sense of apathy around the club - despite consistent good form throughout the season the average attendance was just 28,820. This is not a dig at our support and many clubs in the Championship could only dream of such figures but when compared to 2006-07 when we only recorded one sub 30,000 crowd in the second half of the season it is perhaps surprising.
Despite this, Sunderland were impressive for large parts of the season. Although we started slowly, we never lost back to back games all season and won 13 matches on the road. Mick McCarthy’s side also ended the season with a goal difference of plus 35. When you also consider that our total spend for that season was just £200,000, winning the league in such a manager was an excellent achievement.
Going into the Queen’s Park Rangers game at Loftus Road we were top of the table after a six match winning streak, including emphatic home wins against Plymouth and Rotherham. But in true Sunderland style they didn’t do things the easy way. The visitors fell behind after Danny Shittu headed Rangers ahead from just eight yards.
This prompted Mick McCarthy to read the riot act at half time which in summed up in his typically blunt style;
I told them they were awful and I threw my notes away at half-time. I used a torrent of bad language in the dressing room, before we set about discussing how we could improve things. I used a torrent of bad language in the dressing room, before we set about discussing how we could improve.
This old school approach obviously worked as Sunderland were level less than a minute into the second half as Andy Welsh volleyed the ball past Simon Royce in the Queen’s Park Rangers goal.
This started something of an onslaught by Sunderland which was acknowledged by QPR boss, Ian Hollaway, commenting; "In the second half, they came at us like a red-and-white swarm and showed unbelievable desire."
This pressure paid off just after the hour mark when Chris Brown slotted home a Dean Whitehead pass to put the Wearsiders in front.
The points were secured in the 76th minute when Julio Arca followed up a Marcus Stewart shot which was initially well saved by Royce. This victory maintained Sunderland’s place at the top of the table where they would remain for the rest of the season.
No doubt, the spirits of the traveling red and white army would have only increased upon hearing of the news from St James Park that day.
As the Black Cats topped the table in the capital, Kieron Dyer and Lee Bowyer were getting sent off for fighting with each other on the pitch. This was also the same day that Steven Taylor did his best impression of being shot by a sniper after clearly handling the ball on the line.
Proof indeed that no matter what state we are in as a club, Newcastle will always provide us with a bit of light relief, I suppose we should appreciate them for that.