Nowt much surprises me about Sunderland anymore, but that’s because you think you’ve seen it all - including watching a dog celebrate a goal from the stands.
On this day ten years ago we managed to beat Queens Park Rangers 3-2 at Loftus Road, chucking away a two-goal lead in the second half before netting a late winner that sent the travelling fans (and canines) home feeling extremely happy.
The 19th minute opener from Arsenal loanee Nicklas Bendtner was a fine header from close range, and as the players ran off towards the fans in the stand away to the right-hand side of the pitch, Billy Longworth and his trusted sidekick Jarvis joined in with the celebrations.
The video of the pair celebrating went viral, sparking a mini-media frenzy that had fans all over the world wondering how the hell someone managed to sneak a dog into a football stadium.
Speaking days later to the Northern Echo, Mr Longworth - a huge Sunderland supporter who lives in Shildon - explained how his bestie into the ground:
For the QPR match, I had my train ticket and my match ticket bought, so I thought might as well go down with Jarvis and see if we could get in. I told the stewards there that I couldn’t leave him on his own.
But the QPR people were brilliant. They told me stewards would keep an eye on him during the game – they understood I had come a long way.
I told them I would leave if he started to play up, but he didn’t. There were loads of kids near me and they were all coming over to see Jarvis.
I follow Sunderland all over, but this past year I’ve had to miss a few matches.
I just can’t leave Jarvis on his own. I don’t like doing it. I love him to bits.
I took him to a couple of places during the pre-season games at Kilmarnock and York and they let him in.
My attitude is that if you approach people in the right manner, they will be okay with you.
I’d take him to every game if I could do, but I know they have to stick by the rules.
And it seems like Jarvis was Sunderland’s lucky mascot on the day - though, it wasn’t all plain sailing for Martin O’Neill’s side in the capital.
Having held our lead through the remainder of the half, we managed to nab a second just eight minutes into the second 45 - Stephané Sessegnon racing through on goal to slam the ball past Paddy Kenny, sending the keeper the wrong way with a fantastic finish.
QPR were undeterred, and just ten minutes later got one back - Heider Helguson sliding in to meet Faurlin’s cross from close range, before Neil Warnock’s side drew level moments later through a Jamie Mackie header that left Westwood stranded.
Whilst the game was neck and neck, it was Sunderland who managed to grab the winner - a goal in the 89th minute through an unlikely source, Wes Brown, who got on the end of Kieran Richardson’s corner to hand all three points to the away side.
In the context of the season, it was a pretty important victory for O’Neill, who had only taken charge of the side for the first time ten days earlier. It lifted us up to 15th, setting us away on a steady ascent up the table that only really stuttered as we entered the final few weeks of the season.
They were three important points, and with lucky mascot Jarvis in the stands, Sunderland sat above Queens Park Rangers going into the Christmas period - spreading festive cheer to each and every Lads fan watching the game around the world!
QPR manager Neil Warnock:
I’ve never felt so disappointed. The lads were fantastic but all three goals were very poor. I don’t want to go into them publicly.
They got out of prison. You can accept losing to the better side and fantastic goals but we were the better side and the goals were poor.
We’ve had so many blows, daggers in the heart, but I’ll sort it out in January.
Sunderland manager Martin O’Neill:
There’s still plenty of work to do and the players accept that. We’re delighted with the win.
We had a great response and at 2-0 we were in a great position but we won the game twice.
It’s pleasing. It hasn’t cured all our woes but we’re delighted.