There are iconic moments in life that people instantly remember where they were when it happened. The moon landing, the assassination of JFK, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the millennium, the death of Princess Diana, Manchester United winning the treble, Queen at Live Aid, the death of Michael Jackson, Deirdre Rachid getting sent down on Coronation Street, Donald Trump becoming president of the United States - all of them iconic moments that will be ingrained into our memories for generations.
They are the tales that we will tell our grandchildren when we’re grey and old - and there will be a select few of us that will be able to tell them of the legacy of May 9th, 2015 and when a man by the name of Daniel Anthony William Graham won the hearts of every person on Wearside with only the shimmy of his thigh on a warm Merseyside lunchtime.
For you see, Daniel Graham is one of us. He is the working man’s footballer, an everyman if you will. No airs, no graces, just the sweating brow of someone who could’ve easily polished off a full English breakfast with a cooling can of Stella Artois before squeezing into his shorts and stepping onto a Premier League field.
His adoration had to be earned, however. There were detractors when he first arrived. A checkered history with both Magpies and whatever we call Middlesbrough these days had left some doubting his credentials. This did not deter young Daniel, and three years of hard graft finally paid off at Goodison Park.
Under the stewardship of the phallic-named stalwart Dick Advocaat, Sunderland were undergoing a second annual charge to survival. A derby victory against bulldog-chewing-a-wasp-faced John Carver’s hilariously rubbish Newcastle United was followed by an almighty bodying against Crystal Palace which had left us doubting both Big Dick’s and Big Daniel’s credentials.
A credible draw at Stoke City’s hard-place-to-go-for-some-reason home and a sexy Jordi Gomez inspired 2-1 win over Southampton had provided a glimmer of hope. However, Everton at Goodison Park was next and they were actually good. Well, not that good, but certainly better than a team whose top scorer would bag five all season.
Never fear, as our knight in red and white armour would be ready to smite this blue half of Merseyside. As a wild shot from Gomez in the second half careered towards the corner flag, our quick thinking Daniel Graham expertly glides over the shot ever so slightly tensing the thigh muscle to wrong foot a flailing Tim Howard.
It’s a piece of blissful technique that only someone of the calibre of Daniel Graham can achieve. The ball bounces over the hapless Howard and kisses the blue netting of the home goal. The away end erupts in raptures. Our hero with a wag of the finger, like it was never in doubt, falls to his knees in adulation.
He cries, we cry, the nation cries the sweet tears of joy. As this every man, this man of the people, this working class hero, enters the Sunderland hall of fame and, more importantly, the hearts of every man, woman and child in the vicinity of Goodison Park.
Mothers cradle babies, fathers embrace sons, lovers fall into each other’s arms. They have witnessed a moment in history, one that will never be repeated. They whisper in disbelief to one another - “we saw it, darling, we saw it”.
So when your grandchildren look up to and say “where were you on May 9th, 2015” you can reply with a lump in your throat, “the Lower Bullens Stand”.
Thank you Daniel Anthony William Graham. Thank you for giving us this moment.
Oh and some lad called Jermain Defoe scored the second but who cares about that, right?