Last week, when we were talking about Niall Quinn, I was crucified in our Roker Report group chat for referring to the people who had vivid memories of Quinny as ‘elders’.
However, I’m going to make them feel even older now, as I look back to April 2011, and our 4-2 home victory over the Latics.
I was only seven years old at the time, but I remember the 2010/11 season very well- not least because it was the season during which my love for Sunderland really started.
I had been at the home game with Manchester City, when Darren Bent scored a last-minute penalty, and it was also the season when I attended my first ever Tyne-Wear derby, but it was the game against Wigan at the Stadium of Light that really got me hooked.
The team that day was filled with players that I adored; players that I looked up to as I was starting to dream of being a footballer, as every kid does.
Previously, my family and I met Simon Mignolet’s parents in a B&B down by the seafront, so I felt like I had a connection with him, and being a young goalkeeper myself, the Belgian was one of my heroes.
Elsewhere, Jordan Henderson was living every young Sunderland fan’s dream; Lee Cattermole was becoming a stalwart in our midfield, Ahmed Elmohamady was our ‘Egyptian Beckham’, and there was also Stephane Sessegnon, Danny Welbeck, Asamoah Gyan, and Steed Malbranque- who was ageing but still magical.
I even loved Cristian Riveros (who was on the bench that day) for some reason!
Sunderland starting XI: Mignolet; Bardsley (Ferdinand, 10), Turner, Onuoha; Cattermole, Henderson, Colback, Elmohamady; Sessegnon; Welbeck (Malbranque, 25) Gyan (Muntari, 64)
Looking back on it, I should hate this team, because if I didn’t love them, I wouldn’t have had to deal with the stress of the last seven or eight years.
Another memory of this fixture is the 2-1 win on the opening day of the 2021/2022 season.
After Max Power, Charlie Wyke and Jordan Jones had joined Wigan earlier that summer, everyone anticipated the same thing and when the visitors scored early on, people expected them to get a few more.
However, this was a new Sunderland side, and Ross Stewart won us a penalty immediately from kick off which Aiden McGeady slotted away. Following Wyke’s thirty-one goal season, Stewart had massive boots to fill but from this game on, everyone knew that he was arguably a better all-round striker than Wyke.
The Scot scored the winner which set us on our way to promotion, an achievement that was absolutely imperative for the future of the club, both on and off the pitch.
Sunderland starting XI: Burge; Winchester (Diamond, 76), Flanagan, Doyle, Neil; Evans, O’Nien; Gooch, Embleton (Wright, 86), McGeady (O’Brien, 74); Stewart.