Lee Cattermole vs West Brom - 2014/15
What a maverick of a man Lee Cattermole is. Those high waisted shorts, the cheeky little grin and the warmth of feeling that surrounded his knee high tackles that sent players into orbit. God, I miss him - don’t you?
I know it seems like forever ago, but once upon a time Lee Barry didn’t score any goals - like, at all, ever - and all people ever wanted was to see him on the end of a tap in, or for the ball to rebound off his arse, just so we could say “I saw Catts score a goal”.
Back in 2014 we’d just come off the back off the greatest of great escapes, positivity was flowing through our veins like champagne down the throat of our favourite Smoggie on his wedding day (congrats by the way Lee, if you’re reading), and life was pretty perfect.
What could have possibly made life any sweeter at that point? Lee Baz smacking in a bullet of a 25-yarder only six minutes into the new season.
Lynden Gooch vs Charlton, 2018/19
Every year when opening day comes around, fans across the country clamour for the return of the beautiful game, but on Wearside the start of last season was about so much more than that. We needed to kick start a new era, blow away the cobwebs and start a new dawn.
Typically, as Sunderland seem to love to do, the wind was knocked from our sails within five mins, Chris Maguire gifting Charlton the chance to open the scoring from the spot following a clumsy foul.
But this wasn’t to be a typical Sunderland tale. We roared back in the second half, equalising through Josh Maja midway through the second half before the handsome little American Lynden Gooch headed home a goal that was shrouded in unrivaled joy, ecstasy and, perhaps most importantly, hope.
Jermain Defoe vs Man City, 2016/17
I don’t like writing about the David Moyes era at any point if the truth is told, as the thought of our dour faced former manager is enough to make me want to stick my face into a blender.
Truth is though, the opening goal of the Moyes era was a pretty damn good memory! Live on Sky, we’d had to deal with the drivel spouted by them all week as they gushed over the appointment of managerial God Pep Guardiola and how poor little Sunderland would feel the wrath of the Spanish mastermind.
So when we performed admirably at the Etihad and Jermain Defoe made £52m international centre-back John Stones look like a lost toddler in Tesco and promptly planted home in front of the travelling faithful, it made for some pretty splendid scenes!
Seb Larsson vs Liverpool, 2011/12
I often recall the moment Wearside fell in love with the Swedish beauty Seb Larsson. The perfectly slicked hairstyle, the way our new away shirt brought out the colour in his eyes and the way he smashed home a scissor kick in front of a packed out away end at Anfield. My God, what a hunk.
Another away day when Sunderland seemed nothing more than a passing thought to the outside world, after all Liverpool had just signed all the big names like Jordan Henderson, Luis Suarez and... Charlie Adam?
Alas, we needn’t have had any fear - the day actually ended up being great fun! Suarez smashed the ball into row Z from twelve yards out and we took home a lovely Swedish blonde - and a valuable point.
Michael Chopra vs Tottenham Hotspur, 2007/8
When it comes to the opening day of 2007, I’d trade a kidney to have a real-life Bill Murray Groundhog Day moment and just relieve the second the ball landed at the feet of Michael Chopra on August 11th 2007 over and over again. What a day.
There’s not been many better moments at the Stadium of Light than this goal, let alone better opening day goals.
You see, under Roy Keane, Sunderland truly believed, not just as a fan-base, but as a city. He had built this steely determination and set a standard that made us stick out our chests and roar a little louder than we had done in decades.
It didn’t matter how late into the game a match was, or who the opponents were, with Roy - we could do whatever we pleased, and so it came to pass when Spurs came to Wearside on the glorious day twelve years ago.
The best opening day at the Stadium of Light ever? You bet.