In the main, it’s good fun writing these ‘On this day’ articles. A chance to dig through the archives, reminisce and sometimes discover some previously little-known detail about a player, manager or game.
Other times, it’s bloody depressing.
Today is one of those days.
It’s five years ago - yes, five years, 60 months, 1826 sleeps, five managers, two relegations and three seasons in division three - since Jermain Defoe netted a hat trick for Sam Allardyce’s Sunderland away at Swansea, to give the lads a huge 4-2 win.
It seems like a different world, a parallel universe - an existence before we had the misfortune of James Vaughan, Marc Wilson, Glenn Loovens and Charlie Wyke crossing our paths.
It was a lifetime in which Defoe - a current international and legendary Premier League striker - was leading the line. Superb movement, awareness and attitude combined with deadly finishing ability. What you wouldn’t give.
it was a time in which Yann M’Vila prompted skilfully and intelligently from midfield. A time when van Aanholt bombed forward from full back, offering a goal-scoring threat from the left side of defence. M’Vila knowingly covering the Dutchman’s attacking forays.
It was a time the attack was given a cutting edge and cunning from ‘he who can’t be named’. While off the field he most certainly wasn’t, on the field he was a class act.
it was a time during which we had probably the most perfect fit as manager in the dugout. Allardyce and Sunderland were made for each other.
It was a time of hope.
Yes, we were 19th in the table, but this win offered signs things were getting better under Allardyce. The January transfer window was open and Allardyce’s agent mates were beavering away in the background, keen for their palms to be crossed with silver.
we’d gone into the game on the back of a win - 3-1 at home to Villa, after a run of five defeats. It hadn’t been pretty, but Allardyce was focusing on shoring things up at the back - the side he’d inherited from Advocaat could certainly be described as loose.
We lined up like this:
Mannone, Jones, O’Shea, Brown, van Aanholt, Johnson, Cattermole (Rodwell 73), M’Vila, Lens (Watmore 86), Borini (Graham 83), Defoe.
Defoe opened the scoring early on, tapping in after Fabianski parried Borini’s shot, but Swansea equalised from the spot – Ayew jumping over a gnat on the pitch, and the referee controversially ruling against the said insect. Sigurdsson duly dispatched.
The game took a turn in Sunderland’s favour ten minutes before half time, Naughton seeing red after a studs-up challenge on M’Vila – at the time it was viewed as harsh, in hindsight I’m not so sure.
Despite the numerical disadvantage, Ayew scored a lovely goal before the break to put Swansea in charge, making a mug of Cattermole before drilling home across Mannone.
Parity was restored minutes into the second half, though – van Aanholt scoring a beauty which clipped off Fernandez’s back and into the top corner. The joy police – a.k.a dubious goals committee – took that one off PVA, just as they’d done the week before, too.
The extra man paid dividends and on the hour Voldemort slipped a lovely ball through to spring Defoe, who finished with ease. Replays suggest offside. We didn’t care.
The victory was sealed with five minutes remaining. The marauding van Aanholt getting into the box and setting up JD for another tap in. 4-2. Happy days.