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Michael Gray of Sunderland

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Similarities of Sunderland ‘98 - Let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself!

As the Championship remains within touching distance for the Lads, our season strikes a resemblance of a previous promotion bid - the 1997/98 campaign under Reidy!

It's been a spectacular couple of months in the north if you're of a red and white persuasion. A trophy in the cabinet, confidence brimming, team spirit at an all-time high, and those around us starting to stutter as we reach the “squeaky-bum” phase of the season.

We've not felt such optimism for as long as I can remember, not least since Roy Keane and his charges stormed up the Championship in 2007.

However, if you’re like me, you’re old enough to remember a season that bears similar hallmarks to this; a one etched in the memory of all those alive to witness it.

Rewind twenty-three years ago to the day, Peter Reid found his side in an identical position to Lee Johnson's - third in the table, two points behind second and on a fantastic run of form, with only two defeats since the turn of the year.

Soccer - Nationwide League Division One - Swindon Town v Sunderland Photo by Michael Steele/EMPICS via Getty Images

Instead of Hull and Peterborough, it was Forest and Middlesbrough who we had in our sights, as we relentlessly chased the two promotion berths on offer.

We even had an Englishman up top on course to break the 30-goal barrier, something we had not seen since Brian Clough.

It was in fact in March that we first broke into the promotion places, something which could be the situation come 5pm on Saturday.

But the one and only defeat in our final run-in – a 2-0 defeat to Ipswich – dropped us back into third and resigned us to the play-offs.

I don’t need to recount what happens next, as we’re all painfully aware of the heartbreak that followed.

And although the subsequent season became one of the most memorable in our recent history, I sincerely hope we don’t find ourselves on that same path.

Kevin Ball of Sunderland

Whilst we’ve broken a few of our hoodoos thus far – the win at Wembley being of most significance – play-offs have never been Sunderland’s forte.

It's a ‘win or bust’ situation, for which we've always suffered the latter. That empty, aching feeling from our failures is one I remember well, and not one which I wish to repeat.

Is it out the question to believe we could stay unbeaten in the remaining eleven games?


Although we've lost half of what our closest rivals have, I think it's improbable that we won't suffer at least one setback along the way.

Although that single loss proved costly in 1998, the form of those around us would indicate that no side will remain unbeaten from hereon in.

It will ultimately come down to our reaction. And if our form since the February defeat to Shrewsbury is anything to go by, it would appear we can recover instantaneously.

History always has a habit of repeating itself, so let's hope it is of 2007 and not 1998!


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