Mitch Marshall says…
Our 2013 FA Cup third round replay against Bolton Wanderers might seem like an odd choice for my favourite tie at this stage of the competition.
A Marvin Sordell double at the Stadium of Light sent us out after we’d been very lucky to avoid a similar fate in the first leg. For the majority of the two games, our team didn’t look bothered about a cup run, as has often been the case during my fifteen or so years of watching the Lads regularly.
However, both games stand out because they cemented my development as a full-on Sunderland nut.
The first game was my first proper away trip and being part of a massive travelling support was incredibly exciting at the time.
The match was only enlivened by our two late goals, both of which were good strikes from Craig Gardner and Connor Wickham, as I recall. Both were players I really admired as they could produce moments of quality to light up games- even if they did so all too rarely on reflection.
The buzz from this adventure had barely worn off when my parents told me that I’d been chosen to be a mascot for the replay.
Meeting all the players and Martin O’Neill, having a kickabout on the hallowed Stadium of Light turf and being given a full free kit more than made up for a lacklustre performance from the team itself.
If the first leg had shown me the excitement of going away from home and getting a late result, the return fixture highlighted the disappointment that often accompanied following Sunderland over the years to come. However, it also confirmed the Stadium of Light as the magical place I already thought it to be.
This isn’t much of a defence of the FA Cup third round, but it’ll always hold a special place in my heart and without it, my experience of being a Sunderland fan would have been a bit less rich.
Andrew Smithson says…
A few games jumped out for me: Port Vale in 1992, Manchester United in 1996 and Rotherham United in 1998.
The Port Vale game was the start of our run to the final but it sticks out as it was the only time I went to a game with my mam. Neither of my parents are into football but they made sure I got to see Sunderland whenever they could, and for that I’ll always be grateful.
The Man Utd one was classic FA Cup: a glamour tie against the big boys and we pushed them hard.
I watched the first game via a beamback at the Crowtree Leisure Centre and the place was absolutely wild; people were going mental when we scored and I don’t think I’ll ever forget that atmosphere.
Rotherham is another game that I’ll always look back on fondly.
I was on the terrace behind the goal and again the place was jumping. I was with my mates and we were watching the Lads cruise into the next round. It was a great trip and a similar away win on Saturday would do very nicely!
Ant Waterson says…
I’ve got to go for Arsenal away in 1997.
I attended the game at Highbury with my dad and it turned into a great trilogy of matches against the Gunners.
We went behind early on through a John Hartson header but we fought back and equalised through Micky Gray, cueing a hilarious celebration dedicated to the injured Kevin Ball.
We held on for a draw and beat Arsenal in the league a week later. Unfortunately, we lost the replay 2-0 at Roker Park, but it was the night of a very famous Dennis Bergkamp goal that was applauded by the Fulwell End.