Sunderland historian looks back at 20 games that lit up the Stadium of Light

Kevin Phillips scores in rout over Chelsea in 1999.
Kevin Phillips scores in rout over Chelsea in 1999.
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Historian Bob Graham has seen the good, the bad and the ugly as a Sunderland fan for 67 years.

Here, he looks back at his top 20 games at the Stadium of Light.

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17:  Darren Bent of Sunderland watches as his shot goes between Glen Johnson and Pepe Reina of Liverpool and in to the goal off of a balloon, during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and  Liverpool at the Stadium of Light on October 17, 2009 in Sunderland, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Darren Bent;Glen Johnson;Pepe Reina

SUNDERLAND, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 17: Darren Bent of Sunderland watches as his shot goes between Glen Johnson and Pepe Reina of Liverpool and in to the goal off of a balloon, during the Barclays Premier League match between Sunderland and Liverpool at the Stadium of Light on October 17, 2009 in Sunderland, England. (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Darren Bent;Glen Johnson;Pepe Reina

Sunderland 2 Bradford City 0

Friday, December 26 1997

Nationwide Football League Division One

Attendance 40,055

Bob Graham.

Bob Graham.

On the back of five wins in a row, Sunderland entertained Chris Kamara’s Bradford City, who included ex-players Jamie Lawrence and Peter Beagrie.

They soon found themselves one down to a Kevin Phillips goal after 11 minutes.

Thirteen minutes into the second half, Allan Johnston made the game safe in a one-sided encounter.

Sunderland 2 Sheffield United 0

Wednesday, May 13, 1998

Nationwide Football League Division One – promotion play-off semi-final second leg

Attendance 40,092

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, a Nicky Marker own goal following an Allan Johnston shot on 21 minutes was nothing to the eruption that came after Kevin Phillips netted in the 38th minute.

This was the night the ‘Roker Roar’ moved to the Stadium of Light and ‘The Roof Came Off’.

Sunderland 5 Tranmere Rovers 0

Saturday, August 22, 1998

Nationwide Football League Division One

Attendance 34,155

Leading 2-0 at half-time with goals from Kevin Phillips (17 min) and Danny Dichio (45 min), Sunderland just kept on coming in the second half.

John Mullin (48), Danny Dichio’s second (79) and Paul Butler (84) made it a five-goal romp and a very unhappy return for ex-player Craig Russell.

Sunderland 7 Oxford United 0

Saturday, September 19, 1998

Nationwide Football League Division One

Attendance 34,567

Michael Bridges (3, 55), Michael Gray (6), Danny Dichio (35 pen, 66) and Alex Rae (53, 82) made up for the ‘missing’ Niall Quinn and Kevin Phillips strike force, while Oxford’s Martin Gray suffered at the hands of his former team-mates.

Sunderland 4 Chelsea 1

Saturday, December 4, 1999

FA Carling Premiership

Attendance 41,377

Having lost 4-0 at Stamford Bridge in the opening game of the season, the supporters were in total shock after Niall Quinn (1,38) and Kevin Phillips (23,36) gave The Lads a 4-0 half-time lead.

Both Desailly and Harley were subbed during the interval by Terry and Goldbaek, but Chelsea could only manage the one reply, future Sunderland manager Gus Poyet netting on 81 minutes.

Sunderland 2 Manchester United 2

Tuesday, December 28, 1999

FA Carling Premiership

Attendance 42,026

With Sunderland needing a win to go top of the Premiership, Gavin McCann got us off to a great start, scoring after only two minutes. And when Niall Quinn added a second after 13 minutes, things looked good.

Future Sunderland manager Roy Keane pulled one back after 27 minutes but it looked as though we would see it through to the end until a controversial free-kick awarded by referee Jeff Winter saw Nicky Butt equalise, leaving us fourth in the league.

Sunderland 2 Newcastle United 2

Saturday, February 5, 2000

FA Carling Premiership

Attendance 42,192

Trailing 2-0 after only 21 minutes, a quick reply on 22 minutes by Kevin Phillips kept The Lads in the game until half-time.

More pressure in the second half brought an 82nd minute equaliser and a second for Phillips brought the home crowd to their feet and causing ‘the roof to come off’ again.

In the dying minutes. only a terrific save from Newcastle’s Steve Harper prevented what would have been a fantastic comeback.

Sunderland 4 Ipswich Town 1

Monday, January 1, 2001

FA Carling Premiership 2000-01

Attendance 46,053

Ex-Sunderland full-back George Burley brought his high-flying Ipswich Town team to the Stadium of Light, including Titus Bramble and Marcus Stewart.

And it was Stewart who put them ahead after only five minutes. Julio Arca replied after 25 minutes leaving it 1-1 at half-time. Kevin Phillips (57), Danny Dichio (63) and sub Stephan Schwarz (87) put the game out of Ipswich’s reach.

Sunderland 2 Fulham 1

Thursday, May 4, 2006

Barclays Premiership 2005-06

Attendance 28,226

After the match had to be abandoned, with Fulham leading 1-0, because the pitch was deemed dangerous, this re-arranged fixture gave Sunderland another – and their last – chance to record their first win at the Stadium of Light all season.

With Kevin Ball in charge after the departure of Mick McCarthy, Sunderland took the lead on 32 minutes with an Anthony Le Tallac goal.

In the second half, Chris Brown got a second after 57 minutes with Tomaz Radzinski getting one back for Fulham on 76 minutes.

Sunderland 3 Burnley 2

Friday, April 27, 2007

Coca-Cola Championship

Attendance 44,448

The final home game of the season saw Daryl Murphy open the scoring on 14 minutes but an Andy Gray penalty saw the first half finish all square. Wade Elliott put Burnley ahead on 50 minutes only for David Connolly to level the scores on 54 minutes from the penalty spot.

After 80 minutes, we had the goal of the season contender when Carlos Edwards unleashed an unstoppable shot from 30 yards to win all three points and push us a game closer to winning the Championship.

Sunderland 2 West Ham United 1

Saturday, March 29, 2008

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 45,690

An early Freddie Ljungberg goal after 18 minutes put West Ham ahead but this was soon wiped out by Kenwyne Jones after 29 minutes. It was even from then on until right at the death Andy Reid brought the crowd to their feet with a 90th-minute winner.

Sunderland 3 Middlesbrough 2

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 45,059

A must-win game saw Tuncay Sanli give Middlesbrough the lead after only four minutes but Danny Higginbotham equalised almost immediately. Michael Chopra gave us the lead right on half-time. Middlesbrough were level on 73 minutes when Afonso Alves netted but right at the death Daryl Murphy made sure all three points were going to Sunderland – and Premier League football was maintained.

Sunderland 2 Newcastle United 1

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 47,936

Newcastle manager Joe Kinnear found his side one down after 20 minutes when Dijbril Cisse opened the scoring.

Ten minutes later Shola Ameobi brought the sides level.

In the second half, after 75 minutes, Kieran Richardson’s stunning free kick brought ‘the roof off’ yet again!

Sunderland 1 Liverpool 0

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 47,327

A ‘beach ball assist’ resulted in a shot from Darren Bent ending up in the Liverpool net – leaving both Pepe Reina and Glen Johnson somewhat bemused!

It proved to be the only goal of the game as Sunderland picked up three points.

Bolo Zenden made his debut when he replaced Lee Cattermole after 58 minutes, though referee Mike Jones and the Liverpool fan who threw the ball onto the pitch may well remember it better!

Sunderland 3 Tottenham Hotspur 1

Saturday April 3, 2010

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 43,184

A bright start from Sunderland saw them jump into a two-goal lead after only 29 minutes, Darren Bent getting both (1, 29 pen).

Spurs hit back in the second half with a goal from Peter Crouch on 72 minutes but the goal of the game came on 86 minutes when Bolo Zenden hit a volley that screamed into the top corner of the goal with goalkeeper Heurelho Gomes helpless.

Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 40,625

It was backs-against-the-wall stuff for almost all of the game and with the final whistle only seconds away, there was a huge sigh of relief when Seb Larsson carried the ball to the halfway line – playing it up the left wing before collapsing with tiredness in the centre circle. A quick one-two between Stephan Sessegon and substitute Ji Dong-won saw the latter round City keeper Joe Hart and net the winner to incredible celebrations.

Sunderland 2 West Brom 0

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 45,181

The last home game of the season saw both clubs needing the three points – meaning the normally boring 0-0 draw was the last thing on their minds.

West Brom, however, settled for the nil with Jack Colback (13) and Fabio Borini (31) sealing the game in the first half.

Sunderland 1 Newcastle United 0

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 47,563

Newcastle came into this game having lost the previous four derby games and this one was to be no different.

Jermain Defoe’s stunning volley on 45 minutes not only sealed the game but was responsible for ‘the roof coming off’ yet again.

Sunderland 3 Chelsea 2

Saturday, May 7, 2016

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 47,050

Sunderland trailed 2-1 at half-time. Diego Costa had the visitors ahead only for Wahbi Khazri to volley a beauty on 41 minutes.

There was still time though for Nemanja Matic to restore the lead and leave Sunderland a mountain to climb in the second half.

But 22 minutes into the second half, Fabio Borini grabbed an equaliser and three minutes later Jemain Defoe raised the roof again by firing Sunderland ahead.

Despite Chelsea’s pressure, they failed to get back into the game and lost John Terry to two yellow cards in the final three minutes.

Sunderland 3 Everton 0

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Barclays Premier League

Attendance 46,454

Four days after beating Chelsea 3-2, Roberto Martinez’s Everton were put to the sword with an emphatic 3-0 victory with goals from Patrick Van Aanholt (38) and Lamine Kone (42) giving us a two-goal cushion at half-time. Ten minutes into the second half, Kone struck again, guaranteeing survival and condemning our neighbours up the road to Championship Football.