Former Sunderland boss Malcolm Crosby hopes it’s a ‘lucky sign’ that Jack Ross’ Black Cats face Port Vale this weekend.
Crosby’s team of 1992 FA Cup finalists disposed of the Valiants to spark an amazing cup run to Wembley and he’s keeping his fingers crossed it’s same again this Sunday.
And unlike his own time at the club, Crosby feels a cup run this season would be a benefit for Sunderland rather than distraction.
“I’d love it if Port Vale was the start of something special for Sunderland again because I think this is a very interesting time for the club,” he said.
“Ask any manager and they will probably say that they would want a cup run - it generates money and that helps the budget and obviously it means you keep winning matches as well.
“Looking at Sunderland, I think they will do well this season.
“I have seen Luton and I liked them, and Blackpool looked decent, but Sunderland are the strongest side I’ve seen in this division.
“I can see why Sunderland are doing well - Chris Maguire and Josh Maja make things happen, and they are good going forward, they also have a solid back line, and I like the goalkeeper.
“There is a good attitude as well and that is very important. Sometimes teams with good attitudes can maybe not play too well, but they can still grind out results.
“Of course, when you are winning games it helps build a good team spirit and the opposite is also true; when you are not winning games, everything becomes harder.
“But when the team spirit is good, you can sometimes go on runs even when you are not playing well, and think to yourself ‘How the hell did we win that?’”
Crosby features in a new unique book bringing together the thoughts and reflections of six Sunderland managers spanning almost 40 years.
And he is looking forward to visiting Sunderland next Friday where he’ll join Peter Reid as special guests at the launch of new book, Tales From the Red and Whites 3: ‘The Managers’
Ahead of the launch, Crosby believes team spirit and winning mentality means involvement in the FA Cup should not be an issue when it comes to their future league form.
“When you are near to the top of the table, winning can become a good habit, so I don’t think it would affect them in the same way as it did when I was at Sunderland in 1992.
“We had to play 10 games in a month at the end of a season though, remember?
“That wouldn’t happen today and besides clubs have bigger squads nowadays,” he added.
Crosby remembers that 1992 game against Port Vale as providing the perfect start to the run that followed - Sunderland winning 3-0 and talisman striker Johnny Byrne getting on the scoresheet.
“My first match in charge of Sunderland was Barnsley at home on New Year’s Day which we won 2-0 and then, just a few days later we played Port Vale in the Cup.
“John Rudge was the Port Vale manager at the time and he had a decent side.
“They had a few Cup runs themselves, and they had knocked Tottenham out a few years before. “About a month later we played in the league and drew 1-1, so it wasn’t an easy draw for us by any means.
“We won comfortably in the end but, obviously, none of us thought we would go all the way to the final at that time!”
Published this month, Tales From the Red and Whites 3: ‘The Managers’features interviews with Ken Knighton, Lawrie McMenemy, Malcolm Crosby, Peter Reid, Gus Poyet and Simon Grayson.
Former Sunderland Echo sports writer Graeme Anderson has once again teamed up with club historian Rob Mason and award-winning author Lance Hardy to produce the volume.
And two of the managers - Reid and Crosby - will be at the book launch next Friday, November 16th at the Stadium of Light, alongside all three authors plus host for the night, BBC Radio Newcastle’s Nick Barnes.
Graeme, who wrote for the Echo from 1987-2014, said: “We’re chuffed Peter and Malcolm are joining us to meet supporters and spend the night discussing a lot of the stuff that goes on behind the scenes.
“It was great that all the managers in the book were happy to sit down and give us their thoughts on what happened then, as well as how they see things now, in many cases decades later.”
* Tickets for the event can be bought here:
Malcolm Crosby has revealed that arguably the most dramatic moment of Sunderland’s 1992 FA Cup run - Gordon Armstrong’s towering header at Roker Park to send the club into the semi-finals of the competition - astonished him more than anyone else in the ground.
That’s because the Sunderland boss had watched the routine practiced dozens of times on the training ground and was convinced it would never come off in a match situation!
Armstrong’s last-minute winner in the FA Cup quarter-final - when the midfielder rose majestically to head Brian Atkinson’s corner past the despairing dive of Chelsea keeper Dave Beasant - was the goal of a lifetime.
For Sunderland fans lucky enough to be in the 26,000 crowd, it was an unforgettable moment still talked about today - the old ground exploding in celebrations and joy which had to be seen to be believed.
Crosby, who will be at the Stadium of Light next Friday to meet fans and talk about his cup-run memories, said: “It was a wonderful goal and it was all about the two of them - Atky and Gordon.
“It was all about them practising and practising and practising after training.”
The former coach laughs: “They used to do that corner all the time, again and again, and again, and I would always say to them: ‘What are you two doing?
“You will never score from that!
“A header from the 18-yard line, no chance!
“But they had the courage at that time, at that stage in the game to do that.
“ It was all down to them.
“It was just as they did it on the training ground, and it came off at a vital moment in a massive game.
“When it went in, it was just a ‘Wow’ moment - especially for me!
“It was a truly, truly great goal.”
Crosby certainly wasn’t immune to the fervour and the fever of the fans who celebrated both the goal and the victory minutes afterwards, on an amazing run which took the club all the way to an FA Cup final.
“Old stadiums always seemed better than the modern ones when they were full for night games,” he says.
“And to win a match like that, under the lights at Roker Park, it was just fantastic, it really was.”