I was listening to the FA Cup third round draw on Sunday whilst shaving at the same time, 14 of the 32 ties had been drawn.
The biggest talking point so far in the proceedings having been Arteta pitted at home to Klippety.
Then I heard, “Number 38, that’s Sunderland” from the lass that was compering the draw, that caught my attention as I stopped the action with the razor momentarily (just as well!), before hearing, “Number 27”.
I didn’t need the lass to confirm it was Sunderland v Newcastle and as I stared at my foamed up face in the mirror, which had broken into a grin as wide as the Tyne, I shouted “Get in yer dancer” or words to that effect (knowing what I really said would be edited out by the Editor).
I shouted to the lad “We’ve got the Mackems away in the cup”, he was still in bed despite past 1pm, but that roused him and he immediately began quizzing me about whether we would be able to get tickets.
Whilst I can vaguely recall us losing on penalties in 1979 in the League Cup second round to our neighbours from Wearside, that 7-6 penalty shootout heartache coming after 2-2 draws in both legs, other encounters against that lot in the two major cups (Not the Texaco and Anglo-Scottish) have been non-existent during my time on the planet.
Putting the odd trip to Wembley aside, the fact that the two clubs rarely get that far in either of the domestic cup competitions since the year of my birth (1969) helps explain, albeit to a limited extent only, why we haven’t lined up against each other in either for such a long time.
In the eighties, we had all Liverpool League Cup and FA Cup finals and last season saw the FA Cup final playing host to the Manchester derby.
Those are the stand out local derbies, given they were played at Wembley in the final no less, but there have been a number of other memorable derbies in the cups down the years, far too many to mention – so I’ll pick out a few.
Wembley also played host to the North London and Steel City derbies in the FA Cup semi-finals of 1993, and if you want some true romance, how about the time Southampton edged past Pompey in the FA Cup fourth round with a last minute winner at Fratton Park in 1984? Or does anyone recall the time that Port Vale emerged victorious in the Potteries derby in a replay in the 1992 adaptation of the FA Cup?
The nearest I can recall to us getting paired against the Mackems in the FA Cup was in 1983. We’d drawn our third round tie on the south coast at the Goldstone Ground, whilst they’d drawn a blank against Man City at Roker Park. The cup draw, live from Lancaster Gate on the Monday lunchtime pitted Brighton or Newcastle at home to Man City or Sunderland.
Cue all manner of excitement and anticipation from me and my teenage friends as we relished what we believed to be the realistic prospect of a Sunderland v Newcastle derby, ahead of our replay against Brighton. In the end it was disappointment all round, as the Seagulls faced off against the Citizens in the next round, our participation in the oldest cup competition in the world snuffed out by some appalling refereeing from a certain Trelford Mills, I still haven’t forgiven him!
In researching this article, I found that Southampton and Portsmouth have actually squared up to each other on four separate occasions in the FA Cup since 1984 and it’s only four years since they met in the League Cup.
My point? That these highly charged affairs do happen, but putting aside that near miss in 1983, if you’re talking the FA Cup, the records will show that the last time we faced the Mackems was in 1956, some sixty eight years ago.
In January, we will face Sunderland for the fifth time in the competition’s illustrious 143 year history. On the other four occasions, we ran out winners in 1902 and 1909 (after a replay) but I’m sad to report that in 1913, we lost in a second replay before losing again in that ‘most recent’ encounter in the quarter finals of 1956, less than a year after we’d won the FA Cup for a record equalling sixth time.
So it’s all square at two each, ahead of next month’s mouthwatering encounter.
I know some readers of The Mag have mixed feelings about coming out of the hat against the Mackems, but I can honestly say that I’m delighted we are making the short trip to the Stadium of Light and given where both clubs are at, we have a very good chance of totally and utterly humiliating them in their own backyard.
My only reservation is that we could pick up further injuries that we can ill afford and they’ll no doubt be relishing the prospect of clattering into the likes of Bruno and Flash.
Leaving those very real risks to one side, I am 100% confident we will win comfortably and in doing so, will edge 3-2 in front in our FA Cup encounters against the Mackems. HTL.