Match day – the nervous anticipation of what might be to come.
My dad had a season ticket in the Main Stand. He always had sausage, egg and tinned tomatoes on a Saturday lunchtime before he left for Roker. I used to listen to the commentary on Metro Radio. Charles Harrison, whose accent sounded exotically posh. Watford away, 1982 – I was sent to the shops just before kick off and when I got home we were 3-0 down. How was that possible? Worse was to come.
My job was to watch Final Scores and do our Pools coupon. Watford 8 (Eight) Sunderland 0. There was an extra indignity in seeing the number of goals spelt out.
My mam was interested in football to the extent that she wanted to know what mood my dad would be in when he came back from the match. Would it be genial or would we be treated to a lengthy post-mortem over tea – how Siddall was useless, the manager clueless, my dad would do a better job up front than Colin West.
I devoured match reports. First would be Ceefax and Teletext – always very brief. On Sunday mornings I would pick up the Sports Echo and read that cover to cover. We took the Sunday Mirror and that always covered Sunderland well.
There might well be a match report on Monday as well. If we lost I’d hope the Monday report would have found some positive signs missed on Sunday.
I lived in South Shields where everyone was red and white or black and white.
School was at the sharp end of the footballing divide. Win and we’d be cocks of the north. Lose and we’d scuttle in, avoiding the gaze of waiting Mags.
Pre-Keegan we were the best and they were rubbish; but when Keegan signed for Newcastle the Mags were unbearable and what did we have – Roger Byrne?
Tuesday there might be a midweek game but after that it was the build up to Saturday. Who was injured, who was coming back, who might step up from the reserves, who was unsettled, who was confident.
By Friday we’d all moved on from Saturday’s defeat; or we’d be wildly speculating about how we’d build on Saturday’s win to power up the league. And then it was time for my dad’s special lunch, or for us both to settle down with Charles to start the cycle over again.