5. Sunderland 1-1 Everton - 2010
We begin with the only win not on the list. Our draw back in 2010 with David Moyes’ Everton didn’t produce three points, but it did come in the midst of a tremendous opening three months under the management of Martin O’Neill.
Sitting near the bottom of the table, Sunderland could be seen to be struggling, however the appointment of the Irishman brought along form that saw him pick up more points in his opening four games than Steve Bruce had managed in the opening nine. In fact, I struggle to remember getting home that night such was my happiness at the results under our new boss... but that’s another story for another day.
Truth be told, this one probably would have been miles higher up the list had Leon Osman not been tackled by a ghost in the box. Sigh.
4 . Sunderland 3-0 Bradford City - 2003
If a week in politics is a long time, then you could say two years is an age in football terms.
Two years prior, the same teams had faced off at Valley Parade. Elvis had saluted the real king, Super Kev; the England manager was in attendance and Bradford were struggling against relegation. Whilst one similarity was the Bantams continued struggle against relegation (this time to League One), the Lads lined up with Kevin Kyle rather than Kevin Phillips, and there was no England manager in sight.
Despite the change in circumstance, a dominant performance from Mick McCarthy’s promotion chasers meant that goals from Jason McAteer, Tommy Smith and Kyle put Sunderland into the play-off spots, where we’d stay until the end of the season.
3. Sunderland 1-0 Manchester City - 2012
Remember that time when, no matter how good they were, Manchester City would rock up to the Stadium of Light and get s**thoused by a single goal? Those were good days.
In fact, City’s poor form at the Stadium of Light became so common that Roberto Mancini commented his side “wouldn’t turn up” next year, would keep their energy and just hand us the three points. He was right too - we’d beat them a year later by the same scoreline.
Whilst beating City on home soil conjures up memories of Ji Dong-Won rounding Joe Hart and being smooched by a middle aged man, this win was just as important, if not as memorable, lifting us further clear of the relegation spots and temporarily halting the rot that was creeping in under Martin O’Neill.
2. Sunderland 2-0 Bradford City - 1997
Oh hello again. Yes, it’s us, Bradford City. and we love coming to the SOL to help you shake off your Christmas hangover. In fact, Saturday’s visit of the Bantams is the FOURTH time we’ve faced each other on Boxing Day - and we’ve yet to lose.
The most memorable though was actually the Stadium of Light’s first ever Boxing Day game back in 1997. The Lads had a tough start to life in Division One, but by the time this game had arrived, we were looking utterly unstoppable.
Kevin Phillips was scoring for fun, Allan Johnston was bamboozling full-backs across the league and Nicky Summerbee was placing the ball on Niall Quinn’s head from any position he fancied. We were class and we showed just how good we were on this day by blowing Chris Kamara’s Bradford away with 58 minutes.
A bullet header from Super Kev set us on our way, before a long range Johnston strike sealed the victory, with the Lads spending the majority of the second half toying with our opposition.
Same again Saturday, twenty one years on? Yes please.
1 . Sunderland 2-0 Leeds United - 2006
You can never tire of beating Leeds. It’s always enjoyable and 2006 was no different.
With the Roy Keane effect in full swing, the Lads were on a fantastic run that had given the supporters a glimmer of hope that we come into the promotion reckoning come season end - and Dennis Wise’s Leeds were no match for a dominant Sunderland side in front of a packed crowd.
An early second half goal from David Connolly set us on our way, before a typical Grant Leadbitter pearler sealed the win late on. We’d lose only two more games till season end, winning the league on the final day at Kenilworth Road. Class.