Wise Men Say: Manchester United memories an inspiration for another Sunderland cup run

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THIS time last year, I’d have had a very sore head and a very sore voice.

My WMS colleagues and I got together and croaked our way through a podcast.

We didn’t mind. We were going to Wembley.

Growing up in this era of football, my attentions were always pointed towards the league.

Be it getting promotion, or trying to stay up, this was what was important to me as a Sunderland supporter.

When we played cup games, we’d inevitably field a weakened side or go out in the early rounds.

There was the fleeting sign of interest, and one of my favourite away days was spent witnessing Tommy Smith’s double at Birmingham, which helped us towards a disappointing FA Cup semi-final defeat in 2004.

But when we did surrender meekly in the cups, my Dad was always more disappointed than I was.

On the 23rd of January, 2014, I understood why.

I didn’t watch any of the penalties after Ki had converted his, it was just too much.

The sheer emotion of taking the lead through Phil Bardsley, only to be pegged back 60 seconds later, was taking it’s toll.

If we lost that game, I think I’d still be in recovery now.

The thought that we were on the verge of sullying the ecstasy of Bardsley’s strike was too painful.

When that ball hit the net I’ve never felt anything like it at a football match. I’m not ashamed to admit it was one of my greatest moments in memory.

I watched the feet of the people standing in the foot well behind me. I was sure Johnson would score, he didn’t.

I didn’t think Mannone would save from Rafael, he did.

I turned to see yellow shirts running to congratulate the Italian as men, women and children all around me laughed, cheered and cried.

I might have even shed a few tears myself.

It was incredible.

The experience changed my view of the way we should approach cup competitions.

I want that feeling again.

I want to go to Wembley again and share an incredible weekend with friends, family and fellow supporters.

Just as my Dad wants to relive his Porterfield moment, I want to relive my Bardsley moment.

Tomorrow, we face Fulham at the Stadium of Light.

It’s a great opportunity to get ourselves into the fifth round of the FA Cup, and last season we saw the positive effects winning in cup competitions can have on league form.

If we can build some confidence going into the massive Premier League game with Burnley next week, as well as being in the hat for the next round, there’ll be a fair few dreaming of Wembley once more.

With Gus Poyet trying to nail down his new set-up, I imagine we’ll be unlikely to see many changes in the starting 11 that turned out at Tottenham last week.

With a home debut for Jermain Defoe, there should be a bit of a buzz around the Stadium of Light.

That’s something we need to capitalise on, not only if we’re to stay up, but if we want to be in with a shout of a trophy in a few months’ time.

Trophy talk may seem unrealistic, but I’m happy to dare to dream once more.

* The Wise Men Say podcast is available from every Monday, with SAFC debate from a variety of guests and post-match reaction from Gus Poyet. You can be stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.