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Tuesday, October 31, 2006

WHAT'S THAT COMING OVER THE HILL?: Sunderland 1 : Cardiff 2

With a round trip of 600 miles, Sunderland is one of City’s furthest away games. The idea of driving up and back in one hit did not come into the equation and flying would prove expensive, so with two days leave booked me and Squirrel headed north for a mid week weekend break.

The drive was not bad, the five hours plus behind the wheel flew past, but then I always enjoy going away (it is the coming back that can sometimes be gruelling). We landed at the B&B with plenty of time to kill before the game so had a bit of a look around and sunk a few beers.

The couple of hours before the game found us in the Wheatsheaf, probably the nearest pub to the ground. The majority in the pub were Sunderland fans, but there were quite a few City in there and the atmosphere was extremely friendly.

Its cold oop north

We eventually headed for the ground, by the time we got in the thousand or so that had made the trip from South Wales were already in full song, warming up the bitterly cold northern night. The ‘Stadium of Light’ is allegedly one of the best grounds in the country, I suppose it was quite decent, but maybe I had built up a picture of something more spectacular and was a little disappointed. With a capacity of 49,000 and Sunderland now half way down the Championship, I doubt it fills up like it used to when they were in the Premiership. 26,000 turned out on this cold Tuesday night but the ground looked half empty. Chants of “They’re here, they’re there, they’re every f*ckin’ where… empty seats, empty seats” brought a smile to my face, only Cardiff can make ‘em up like that.

City fans wave 'cheerio' to the Sunderland fans departing early.

The game kicked off and it was a matter of minutes before Chopra banged in the first one. The City fans went wild and belted out their remix of the Automatic Chart hit ‘Monster’… “What’s that coming over the hill, its Michael Chopra!”. I nipped to the bog and when I got back Sunderland had equalised. No matter, still top of the league. The pressure kept on and Chopra eventually knocked in the winner and City again went wild with chants of “that’s why we’re top of the league”. I don’t know how long it will last but best to join in and make the most of it.

After the game some of the famous Geordie Hospitality had disappeared on the streets and it was getting a bit leery. There were plenty of old bill about and for about an hour there were gangs running about for no apparent reason, and the sound of police dogs and sirens went on for ages. I think it was just the Sunderland ‘Yoof’, making a show, because as far as I could see there was no real agro.

Then back to the ‘Wheatsheaf’ for another pint, where the grown ups were slightly miserable because of the defeat, but far less hostile.


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