FA Cup Replays – At Their Very Worst, as Sunderland Travelled to Blackburn in 2009

Matthew Keeling went to an FA Cup replay at Blackburn in 2009 full of hope and expectation. It did not go well.

In very much a case of, ‘hmm, why did I go to this?’, I bring you a short summary of an FA Cup replay from years gone by. Blackburn Rovers 2-1 Sunderland, in February 2009.

Having drawn 0-0 in a pulsating original tie at the Stadium of Light (22,634, by the way), Sunderland, and I, made the trip across to Lancashire on a freezing cold Wednesday night for what promised to be an absolute classic of a replay. I lied by the way; the original tie was in fact shit.

Actually, I’ve lied again because I can’t remember a single thing about it.

Anyway, I do remember the replay. Sunderland at the time were managed by Ricky Sbragia, he of eventually relegating the mags and getting a job for life fame, and Rovers by future Sunderland manager, Massive Sam Allardyce.

Sunderland handed a debut to full-back Michael Kay, in a side smattered with first team regulars and spearheaded by… Daryl Murphy and David Healy. To be fair, Healy gave us the lead early on as part of his feat of scoring in every competition that season – just once mind, and he never did score for us again.

All was well and we looked to be heading to the fifth round to face pesky Coventry City who we hate because everyone’s dad said we have to. Well, it turns out we weren’t actually as we didn’t make it to half time in front, a dreadful second half ensued and into extra time we went; mainly thanks to some fine Craig Gordon saves.

In extra time, Sbragia handed 15 minutes to Nathan Luscombe as we looked to nick the winner to avoid the dreaded penalty shootout. Turns out actually we did avoid the penalty shootout.

“Wouldn’t it be funny if they scored now and after all this we didn’t even get a p…”. Yep, Benni McCarthy (lol) on 118 minutes was on hand to dump us out of the FA Cup for another year, most of the 10,000 or so at Ewood Park went home happy and I had to explain to college why I’d gone missing on a Wednesday afternoon again.

“What was the point in this story?” I can hear you, and editor Richard Easterbrook asking. As ever, with the things I say and do, there wasn’t one. But I do hope you’ve enjoyed it.

Cheers all the best