Eleven long years have passed since we endured the (Tim) Krul torture of watching Joey Barton, Andy Carroll, and Kevin Nolan rip the still-beating heart out of Sunderland fans. But there’s no hiding from it... we have to face our worst fears!
The seasonal puns almost write themselves, but unfortunately, today I will be drawing on every hackneyed Halloween cliche as I summon up the ghost of a game many of us hoped would remain dead and buried forever.
The Black Cats crossed their neighbours path in seventh place in the Premier League, a point above Newcastle and, although October has begun with a string of draws, we’d managed to eke out a one-nil win over Aston Villa the previous week and were unbeaten in seven league games.
The Magpies, on the other hand, were having an eerily tough time of it, with rumours that Chris Hughton may even be facing the chop had this game been lost by the home side.
The likable manager’s fears were unfounded, as the black and whites drew first blood with an overhead kick from captain Nolan, and he grabbed a second as the zombified Sunderland defence stood and watched in horror as the ball dropped to his feet in the middle of the box after we failed to properly clear our lines.
The specter of Shola Ameobi had haunted Wearside for the past few seasons, the local lad having scored four goals in his previous three derby appearances, and scored a penalty just before half time when Nedum Onouha brought down Jonas Gutierrez in the box, and added a screamer of a fourth on 70 minutes after
Between Ameobi’s brace, Titus Bramble saw red for a foul when Carroll was through on goal, which meant the game was killed off long before the end. The shocking afternoon for Steve Bruce’s men only got worse after that, Nolan completing his hattrick with a close-range header on 75 minutes to make it 5-0.
Sunderland did claw back a consolation goal in the 90th minute, with Darren Bent turning the ball home from close range.
Six players yellow carded, one sent off... a proper horror-show of a performance, but it was ultimately ill-discipline that let down Sunderland that day. Newcastle went up to seventh. By the end of the season, we’d regained that one point advantage over our local rivals to finish in tenth place in the League.
If you’re brave enough, you can pick over the bones of the game in the crypt of the Premier League website.