Throughout my SAFC-supporting life, there have been numerous occasions where I’ve questioned my life choices.
Just a couple of months ago I rushed straight from work to witness Sunderland 0-1 Oldham in the first knockout phase of the Papa Johns Trophy, and a friend and I once decided to sack off a 9am university lecture and instead travel to the South Coast to watch us lose to Southampton in the Capital One Cup under David Moyes.
Back in August 2013, while my level of dedication wasn’t quite on a par with the aforementioned life choices, the levels of sadness were definitely up there.
My Dad and I decided to make the trip to Scarborough and take in all four days of Yorkshire vs Durham in the County Championship and as a result, we were staying in nearby Filey when Sunderland took on MK Dons in the second round of the Capital One Cup.
Unfortunately, we hadn’t taken a digital radio with us and rather than simply staying in and watching Sky Sports News, I walked to a nearby park which overlooked the North Yorkshire coast which was the only place I could get a signal for Radio Newcastle on my phone.
Although it was a pleasant enough evening, I still felt like something of a trainspotter sitting resolutely on a park bench in order to listen to a low key cup tie on the radio.
MK Dons started with Patrick Bamford and Dele Alli amongst their ranks on the night and the former put MK in front with just a few minutes on the clock.
After a disappointing 45 minutes, instead of simply subbing the underpar Ji Dong Wong he decided to hang him out to dry by bringing him off early in the second half for Connor Wickham…but more about him later.
Just minutes later, Cabral was dispossessed in midfield, allowing Izale McLeod to run the length of the half unopposed and chip over an advancing Vito Mannone.
As the game trickled towards what I thought would be an inevitable conclusion, I looked at the picturesque, coastal scenery and cursed myself for allowing SAFC to once again spoil what should have been a nice time.
Just as I was about to give up on Sunderland for the evening, Jozy Altidore scored a third of his combined total in red and white to give us hope with 12 minutes to go.
Seven minutes later and it looked as though the lads had forced extra time as Connor Wickham converted Ondrej Celustka’s cut back.
The hardy souls who hadn’t left early were further rewarded as the game entered stoppage time, Jozy Altidore popped a quick free kick to Wickham whose speculative effort deflected off an MK defender and nestled in the bottom corner.
Pathetically, as Nick Barnes and Gary Bennett’s shouted with excitement through my headphones, I leapt off the park bench and punched the air in delight accompanied with a loud exclamation of, ‘fucking yessssss, you useless bastards!!’ which quite understandably startled a fairly elderly gentleman walking a Jack Russell terrier through the park.
At this point I felt it was best to walk back to the holiday cottage myself and my family were staying in for the week, but I didn’t even make it through the front door before Adam Johnson rounded off the scoring from a tight angle.
Upon my return, my dad simply said, ‘2-0 or did we manage to fuck it up some more?’ and even when I happily replied that we won 4-2 he failed to match my enthusiasm, as he quipped, ‘it’s not like we’re gonna end up getting to Wembley is it?’