Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Special Night

I walked down to 'The Sea View' to watch the second leg of the Semi-Final between Sunderland and Manchester United. There was a spring in my step as I pulled the door open in anticipation of a big screen. All I saw was a very nice fireplace and a group of locals who turned to gaze at me. Sensing that the place wasn't big enough to hold a big screen and seeing no Sky Sports signs anywhere, I turned and hoofed it to the "Hartwood'. Sure enough, they had a big screen...but they weren't able to show live sport. I asked who would be showing the match. "The Sea View", she said. "No", I said. "Yes", she said. I was hot when I pulled the door open at 'The Sea View', and everyone looked at me again. I smiled and delved further into the room and noticed a glow in one of the rooms. My heart sang as I was told the game will be shown in a few minutes.

As I sat down, I chatted to a couple who were about to have a meal. We exchanged life stories (as you do) and I told them about the temple which was just up the road. They agreed it was a spectacular place and were disappointed to have missed out on the open house for the general public. Then the match started. They were Man.U fans and I wasn't, but we still enjoyed the game...and what a game it was.

By the end of the match, the place was crammed with people and I was the only Sunderland supporter. So imagine the scene when Sunderland scored with two minutes to go in the second period of extra time. My arms were the only ones raised and a couldn't conceal the scream, made all the louder by the silence around me.

Imagine their joy and laughter when they scored in the last minute of extra time sending the game into penalties.

The penalty shoot-out will go down in history as the worst penalty shoot-out in history and everyone's nerves were in tatters before a penalty was eventually scored. Both teams squandered their chances. It was down to the last penalty. If they scored, we would be out of it and if they missed, we'd be in our first final in 22 years. Everyone in that room had their hands on their heads...some barely able to look.

Their penalty was saved! The place erupted!  I was overjoyed! I just couldn't help applauding my team. No one else could believe it, but they were such good sports, they let me live.

I'm still smiling and I've been back an hour.

This is the sign on my door as I arrived home...

This was a very special evening for me. I know it's just a game of football, but I just can't help getting excited when a team like mine... that I've supported since a nipper, rises to a big occasion and repays all of those hours, weeks, months and years of under-achieving. We beat the big money boys.

I know we haven't won the final, nor is it likely we will, but we are happy with getting there and will enjoy the day.

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