Ha’way Back When: Sunderland fans’ memories of catastrophic 2011 defeat to Wigan – and the end of boss Steve Bruce

Steve Bruce puts his head in his hands after Wigan's late winner to sink Sunderland in November 2011.
Steve Bruce puts his head in his hands after Wigan's late winner to sink Sunderland in November 2011.
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Six years ago this weekend, Steve Bruce’s Sunderland reign ended in acrimony following a dismal 2-1 defeat to Wigan. The axe soon followed, with Bruce blaming his Tyneside roots for fans’ disenchantment.

We asked for readers’ memories of the game, and Bruce’s reign.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Thomas Howe: I will never forget Wes Brown falling over and leading to the 2nd Wigan goal and the whole place signing Bruce out

Craig Clark: Made terrible signings that summer that we still haven’t fully gotten over in my opinion. Looking back, the high points of his time here were as good as we’ve had it, but when it was bad, it was rotten. That Wigan exemplified how far things had turned. Definitely the right time to part ways. Had absolutely nowt to do with him being a “Geordie” - isn’t he from Corbridge?

Daniel Taylor: We were unlucky, Moses dived and bought a penalty if I remembered rightly and I remember Franco Di Santo notching. Shame Bruce got sacked really, we had higher expectations levels then with a packed out SOL and that previous season with Bents 20+ goals with Welbeck and Rose in the team was fantastic, we deserved a lot higher finish than 10th that year. Anyone own a time machine?

Gary Chapman: The sacking came after 12 horrific months. It was absolutely the right decision at the time. Disaster after disaster following it doesn’t change that. It’s a poor reflection on the club that Bruce is still clearly the most successful manager we’ve had since Reid.

Stuart Reay: He had to go. His friends on Talksport at the time said his record was good but they only looked at the points average. He started well but his last 10 months were poor. His Mag supporting youth was an excuse he pushed in the media with some success.

Andrew Wilson: That Wigan game was typical of the time under Bruce, played well first half and then Wigan changed their tactics/ formation at half time and we came out and tried to play the same way we had before the break and were on the back foot from then on. He never seemed to respond when the preferred tactic stopped working.

Andrew Davis: He allowed the team to fall apart and be dismantled without replacing any of the star players with quality. He dug his own grave and then blamed the fans for hounding him out!

Nathan Armstrong: He failed to replace Darren Bent and was dropped in it by Asamoah Gyan. Plan A when it worked was great, but when he failed he had no idea to turn things around. Could have done with stronger AMs with him. Pretty sure when we beat Liverpool at home later this season we were seventh

Frank Dembry: Actually felt sorry for Bruce. It was Bent and Gyan that let the club down more. Nothing to do with his Tyneside roots .

Terry Ward: That day was the only time I have been ashamed to be a Sunderland supporter the way he was treat and the supporters that hounded him out have got exactly what they deserve

Michael Bowers: Ended badly for him but wasn’t bad for us. His signings that summer weren’t good but still believed he was harshly treated though.

Jack Waldron: He was a good manager for us. Under his management we beat Arsenal, ended Chelsea’s home run with that famous 0-3 victory and finished tenth. We sold and lost players like Henderson, Bent, Gyan and more and didn’t replace them well.

Michael Harbron: He dismantled 1 of the best forward lineups safc ever had & didn’t replace them, that’s what cost him his job!

Keven Hanlon: At 1-1 he replaced a defender with a striker, they scored 1 minute later, then it all got rather nasty

Mal Robinson: I was in hospitality with Bobby Kerr as our guest as we sponsored David Meyler at the time. I said to Bobby about one of the first times I had in hospitality was Terry Butcher’s last game in charge at home to Southend when bricks were thrown through the windows at Roker. Wes Brown slipped over and Wigan scored in the last min for a vitriol of hate down from the stands towards Bruce and sitting in front of him you could literally feel it. Bobby turns around to me and says “you don’t have much luck in hospitality do you son?” ha! Was a funny moment in an otherwise testing time. Were SAFC correct to sack him? At the time it seemed so, in hindsight, probably not.

Dan Lightfoot: Of course his “Tyneside roots” got him sacked. Tell me, that statue outside the Stadium of Light... what’s his name? Ah yes, Mr. Bob Stokoe... a gent who was on NUFC’s books for 14 years. Steve Bruce obviously overlooked that.