Jonny Hawley says...
There have been plenty of great moments down the years but I’m going for one that stuck with me for no real reason, which was Fabio Borini’s first-time ripper from outside the box in October 2013.
The goal itself was pure quality, barring Jozy Altidore’s first touch/layoff, and Borini introducing himself to the Stadium of Light with a twenty-yard screamer felt like the perfect preview of the Italian’s season to come. The man for the clutch moments, including the second derby later that season, starting his campaign how he meant to go on.
I think the wider reason this sticks with me so much is that it feels like this is where the best derby run we’ve ever seen was born.
The 3-0 under Paolo di Canio could’ve easily been a fluke (‘new manager bounce’, Sunderland scrapping against the drop, Newcastle having recently been in Europe) but this one really knocked the stuffing out of them.
All of a sudden it was back-to-back wins, both under managers who were taking charge of their second games for us, and it was done in front of our own fans this time. Also, we hadn’t even won a game yet that season, which shows just how petrified they always were of us!
We all know the story of ‘six in a row’, but I feel like this often gets buried beneath the 3-0’s, the knee slide, and all that jazz. Borini was the first loanee I properly fell in love with, and this was the first moment that he took our collective breath away.
I also recorded the match on Sky Sports and played the goal back about a hundred times the next morning, so I think it may be burned into my retinas at this point!
Joseph Tulip says…
It’s a classic but for me, nothing can top the first of the back-to-back 2-1 victories at St James’ Park back in August 1999.
We were flying at the time, just three months after our record-breaking promotion and were taking the Premier League by storm.
The game could’ve easily been abandoned due to a waterlogged pitch caused by torrential rain, but after going a goal behind thanks to Kieron Dyer, we responded in style with goals from Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips.
With Newcastle fans wringing out their shirts in the rain, Phillips’ famous chipped winning goal and knee slide really signalled our arrival in the top flight and after years in the shadow of the Magpies, nobody was underestimating Peter Reid’s side as we went on to finish seventh.
Kelvin Beattie says...
The 1989/1990 playoff game at St James’ Park has parallels with the upcoming tie.
We’d drawn the first leg 0-0 at Roker Park and the disappointment of Paul Hardyman’s penalty being saved and his red card for trying to dropkick John Burridge’s head from his shoulders was exacerbated by the celebrating barcodes in the Roker End.
They clearly thought they had the tie in the bag and were favourites to go through, but I wasn’t convinced we were out of it.
We’d been a tad erratic away from home all season, with a couple of 5-0 hammerings, but I’d also witnessed some classy away performances as Eric Gates and Marco Gabbiadini, fed by Paul Bracewell, Gordon Armstrong and Gary Owers, produced goals and wins.
They were backed up by a defence that was as hard and mean on its day as any I’ve witnessed in fifty eight years of coming through the gates!
My Toon-supporting pals were cock-a-hoop and confident that we’d missed our chance at Roker, but I’d seen our game at Newcastle earlier in the season and thought we were the better team.
I also felt Newcastle had entered the playoffs in poor form, with only one win in their previous five games.
I managed to get a ticket for the Gallowgate that night and I have to say that my enjoyment of our performance and the result was enhanced by the growing realisation of those around me that their wheels were coming off.
Within five minutes of the game starting, the mood was changing around me.
We were snapping into challenges all over the pitch; Bracewell was right on it and our willingness to throw bodies into blocks and tackles out of possession, as well as moving the ball quickly and accurately despite the weather and a cabbage patch of a pitch, unnerved not only the Newcastle crowd but their team as well.
Gates’ goal on thirteen minutes was no shock, Gabbiadini’s goal was classic breakaway ‘G-Force’, and the pitch invasion- whilst disappointing- was oddly entertaining on the night.
We beat them and beat them well, and their overconfidence, poor form and inability to match our tenacity and stamina was their undoing.
A big slice of this on Saturday would go down well.
I hope our supporters can get right behind the Lads as we did in 1989/1990, because it can and does make a difference!
Michael Dunne says...
I’ll never forget Kieran Richardson’s free kick against Newcastle during our 2-1 win in 2008.
Going into the game, it had been several years since we’d beaten them at the Stadium of Light and there was a lot of pressure on us to get the win.
Roy Keane certainly had the team up for it and we put in an inspired performance.
During his time at Sunderland, El-Hadji Diouf didn’t turn in many good performances but I recall how well he played in this game and as the match entered its final stages, it was Diouf’s driving run that won a free kick just outside the Newcastle box.
After a long wait, Kieran Richardson stepped forward and with memories of his free kick fiasco against Fulham the week previous, there was an air of expectation.
What a free kick it was, as he walloped the ball into the back of the Newcastle net before Shay Given could even move.
As a fourteen-year-old, the joyous collective roar as it went in was one of the best moments in my early years supporting the team.