On Wednesday night, for the first time in years, Sunderland will play in an FA Cup fourth-round tie at home to Premier League Fulham.
The first game ended in a well-earned and enthralling 1-1 draw which generated a great deal of excitement among the fans and media alike.
Some fans have rightly pointed out that although it was Sunderland who caught the eye at Craven Cottage, we were playing what was effectively a second-choice Fulham team.
Nonetheless, it was Marco Silva’s decision to pick the team he did and if they didn’t win, it was their problem. If he continues with the same policy for the replay - and that seems likely to be the case - then it’ll be for us to take advantage of.
The match will be broadcast on terrestrial TV which could have an impact on the attendance, but I sincerely hope that the fans turn out in large numbers and generate an atmosphere for what could be a special night.
Growing up, I would hear the great memories that older fans had of famous nights at Roker Park, such as the run to the 1973 final featuring the fifth round replay win against Manchester City.
Going back even further, there were the cup ties featuring Alan Brown’s young team in the early 1960s against the likes of Manchester United and Tottenham, which were still being talked about and written about decades later.
Somewhere along the line, and certainly during the past couple of decades, our love of the cup ended and as we failed to impress in the league during that time, we’ve rarely caught the eye of the casual observer.
Indeed, in recent times, the name of Sunderland A.F.C. has only made the headlines for the wrong and often very worst reasons, giving us the label of a ‘car-crash of a club’.
This game is a chance to show that we’re continuing to rise after some disastrous years in League One.
All the players have to do is leave nothing in the dressing room. If they do, the crowd will back them all the way, win or lose. This is an opportunity for the Lads to look the audience in the eye and say, ‘Hey, remember us? We’re back!’