January 2011 Archives
Now watching Grimsby Town's youth team on a cold winter's evening in front of row upon row of empty seats at St James' Park isn't everybody's idea of a Thursday night out - but for just over 1,000 Toon fans and the families and friends of the players at the heart of the action, you could say it means the world to those trying to make a dream become a reality.
Last night with the game drifting towards a penalty shoot-out the game was crying out for a last action hero, and in the shape of blond haired midfield dynamo Ben Sayer it got one.
Early observations of 17-year-old Sayer for us ageing hacks were that the Geordie lad looked and played like a young Alan Pardew with his hard working display catching the eye early on.
I didn't agree with it, but somebody said to me the other day that Sunderland would have to better the 5-1 demolition at St James' Park back in October in order to fully claim the local bragging rights this week!
For me, a double over the Wearsiders wipes out memories of Stevenage and lays the foundations to really kick on for the rest of the season.
Sunderland have won just once in 30 years in this fixture and have a lot of catching up to on that score and there's no doubt Steve Bruce will be desperate for revenge on Sunday after his side were demoralised at St James' Park earlier in the season.
In a week of gloom, it was certainly good to see our maverick sports writer John "Gibbo" Gibson celebrate his 70th birthday.
Here's a legend who didn't let Stevenage get him too down in the dumps, after all he survived Hereford in 1972 to see the Mags go on and play in the Champions League.
I have to say, in the years I've been covering Newcastle United, this larger than life character seems to hit the nail on the head every time when it comes to the Magpies.
And rightly so, after all we are talking about a bloke who has covered the Magpies for almost SIX decades - and unlike most of us, he's seen the black and whites actually pick up a trophy, back in 1969 when he covered every kick of the Fairs Cup victory.
Let's make no bones about, Newcastle United were lucky to be classed as second best at Broadhall Way.
Stevenage were simply miles ahead of United and outfought, outthought and overall out played the Magpies in Hertfordshire.
If it was the stuff of dreams for Stevenage, this was United's worst nightmare.