Today Sunderland travel to Carrow Road to compete for perhaps the most pointless trophy in modern-day football - The friendship trophy. But the Trophy’s origin is one that both sets of fans should be proud of.
Historically we’ve struggled against Norwich City, especially at Carrow Road having won only 5 times on their ground since the 1960s (that’s 30 attempts). Despite that, the last time we ventured to East Anglia the lads ran out comfortable 3-0 winners in a classic relegation “6-pointer” that all but confirmed the canaries relegation to the Championship. A very memorable day for us Sunderland supporters indeed as we reclaimed the coveted “Friendship Trophy”. Oh, and took a huge step towards escaping relegation.
Devised in the year 1985, the trophy was created by supporters of both clubs after the Milk Cup final at Wembley which Norwich City won 1-0 over Sunderland, courtesy of a Gordan Chisholm own goal. The game was played in front of a reported 100,000 spectators and news coverage at the time saluted both sets of supporters for their sporting attitude and mutual respect at a time in English football when hooliganism was a serious problem.
Jim Reynolds, who reported the match for the Glasgow Herald, said “this was the good side of football” and told of how Norwich City captain Dave Watson actually lead his team to the Sunderland fans to salute their support in what must have been an incredible day to be a part of. Then Norwich manger Ken Brown also commented:
The Sunderland supporters were magnificent and everyone seemed to mix, it was light-hearted and very nice.
That Sunderland support had spent the afternoon drinking and mingling with Norwich supporters and after the game when canaries fans sang “we won the cup”, we responded with “we scored the goal”.
So as we prepare to defend the Friendship Trophy on Saturday, let’s look back the last time these two sides met.
April 16th 2016, Norwich City 0-3 Sunderland
Sam Allardyce’s 462nd Premier League game as a manager (putting him fourth on the list of Premier League games managed) was one of his most important as the lads faced a Norwich side who were in the same relegation battle and one place above us in the table, 17th. Victory here meant Sunderland claimed their first league win at Carrow Road since March of 1985.
This game saw Jermain Defoe strike for the 13th time in the league as he was joined on the score sheet by Fabio Borini and Duncan Watmore. The latter being the only one of the three to still be at the club.
Whilst the win didn’t quite move us out of the relegation zone it did put us a single point behind the canaries with a game in hand and was an important factor in our eventual survival.
The game might always be remembered though thanks to Big Sam’s antics on the touchline. During a small skirmish in front of the dugouts, Allardyce momentarily lost it and sent Cameron Jerome absolutely flying back towards his bench.
Hopefully this weekend’s trip down south brings a repeat of that result and we successfully retain the Friendship Trophy. If you’re travelling down to Carrow Road on Saturday remember that small piece of history these clubs share and enjoy the trip. After all, it is one of the top destinations in our definitive away day guide.