The autumn of 2019 was arguably the most depressing period in the proud history of Sunderland AFC.
We were managed by Phil Parkinson, a man who definitely buys a just ham sandwich on white bread (with a packet of ready salted crisps and a bottle of mineral water for his Tesco meal deal) every single day.
Joel Lynch, who looked more like a dodgy tradesman than a footballer and now turns out for Crawley Town in Leaue Two played for the lads on a regular basis and Geroge Dobson closed down opponents with the hopelessness of a man in desperate pursuit of a £20 note he’d just dopped out of his pocket.
Every game during that period seemed to take place in miserable weather and our performances on the pitch were enough to extinguish the enthusiasm of even our most optimistic supporters.
Even by those standards our one all draw with Coventry on 23rd November felt like a low point.
It was hammering down with rain, pretty much dark at kick off and Coventry absolutely played us off the park during the first half.
Mercifully we were only a goal down at the break after we conceded yet another soft goal and in the second half Coventry, for some reason seemed content with their lot and simply sat in for the rest of the game.
Still, we didn’t create much and only a long range Aiden McGeady strike remotely troubled their ‘keeper.
In the 89th minute however, we did force the equaliser after a goalmouth scramble fell to Benji Kimpioka who showed a rare moment of composure and slotted the ball home to level things up.
In his post match interview, Phil Parkinson described this moment as ‘lighting up the stadium’, which just about summed up how low standards had gotten under this complete and utter loser.
Just four days prior to this game, we had been knocked out of the FA Cup by Gillingham without registering a shot on target, ensuring that we crashed out of a third competition since his arrival at the club…just over a month previously,
Defeat to Burton Albion followed the Tuesday after the Coventry game described here and we would win just once more before 2019 drew to a depressing conclusion.
Things on Wearside were so bad during that period, that if someone had offered me the chance to live through a global pandemic to ensure that I would never have to watch a Phil Parkinson Sunderland side in the flesh ever again, I would have probably taken it.
No matter how this weekend goes you can thank your lucky stars that chapter in the club’s history is over.