STEVE Bruce luxuriated in the satisfaction of a third successive victory of the season over his previous employers yesterday and immediately dedicated the win to Hull City’s fans.
Once again, the ex-Black Cats boss had found the winning formula against the club which sacked him in November 2011.
And if revenge is a dish best served cold, then the Tynesider could savour this one especially. After taking six Premier League points from the Wearsiders this season, he had denied them an instant return to Wembley and the opportunity of an FA Cup semi-final against League One club Sheffield United.
Bruce, though, chose to concentrate on the positive emotions of the day rather than negative ones – enthusing over the joy of Hull fans, instead of the angst of Sunderland’s.
Hull’s delirious supporters invaded the pitch after clinching their first appearance in an FA Cup semi-final since 1930.
And Bruce said: “In football clubs, managers, players and coaches come and go, but the fans are always there and the people you are most happy for after this result are the supporters.
“Let’s enjoy it.
“And for those people, for those fans, I am delighted.
“I hope that for their sake we can make a big Yorkshire derby at Wembley a fantastic occasion.”
Bruce’s managerial career began at Bramall Lane in the 1998-99 season.
And should Wigan Athletic beat Arsenal in the other semi-final, Bruce will have had to achieve the distinction of beating three of his former clubs if he is to lift silverware for the Tigers this season.
It’s an appealing prospect for a man who won the FA Cup three times as a player with Manchester United but who, up until yesterday, had never been beyond the quarter-final stage as a manager.
“It’s sad that the FA Cup has lost some of its magic over the years, but I think we’ll enjoy it because at this stage it is always exciting,” he said, looking forward to the next round.
“Sheffield United gave me my chance in management a long, long time ago in a difficult period for the club.
“I saw the scenes at Bramall Lane in front of a full house in the cup, before our own game against Sunderland.
“They enjoyed it – and it will be a fantastic Yorkshire derby.
“It’s going to be a great occasion and the possibility of playing in Europe if we can get through to the final is a terrific thought.
“But we’ve got to beat Sheffield United first and that’s not going to be easy.”