WHEN Sunderland won what would turn out to be the second of four consecutive derby victories last year, we followed it up with an away game at Hull City.
Following Steve Bruce’s bitter exit from the Stadium Light three years ago, his obsession with us and his time here has taken root, grown and blossomed to the point that many of us would like to see his Hull side beaten more than any other; Newcastle aside, of course.
At one time we couldn’t buy a derby win, but now that hex has come to an end, unfortunately it’s Hull City who appear to be the recipient of its powers. Three times we met them last season and three times we lost, including that game directly after the 2-1 home defeat of Newcastle.
In those three games against Bruce’s side we scored a total of nil, nothing, nada, zero.
We had three men sent off across the fixtures, two in the first meeting, one in the second and none in the third.
The more players we had on the pitch, the worse the result.
That doesn’t just have he whiff of a jinx, it positively reeks of one.
However, this is a different Sunderland that will come head to head with Bruce’s men today, and a different Hull City too.
Compared to last year, our position and points total going into Christmas is much better, while they are suffering one of those typical Bruce slumps we know all too well.
While our ex-manager may like to think his “Geordie roots” were the cause of the Stadium of Light faithful turning on him, the reality is that the sort of situation developing on Humberside at present is the real reason we’d had enough.
Hull’s record this season is dreadful. They sit second bottom in the table. Their form in 2014 as whole is even worse. Sound familiar?
Whatever Bruce might like to tell anyone who’ll listen, Ellis Short nipped his Sunderland tenure in the bud before this kind of thing happened on Wearside.
The side he’d constructed was awful, looking desperately clueless, but we were just about keeping our head above water. Had we stuck with him, I’ve no doubt the situation unfolding at Hull now would also have occurred here three years ago.
Today, he’ll be met with a sour reception and the sole reason for that will be Steve Bruce himself.
Had he left with dignity, Sunderland supporters would almost certainly not have looked back on his tenure particularly fondly, but they’d have respected the 10th-place finish that he obsesses over.
Instead, his bitterness has left a rancid taste in our mouths.
This afternoon, it’s time for Poyet’s men to lay the ghost of Bruce’s time on Wearside to rest, while leaving severe doubts over his future at Hull.
If he takes them down or gets the boot, there’ll be no Geordie roots to blame this time, just his own failings as a manager. Maybe such an opportunity to reflect might actually do him some good.
* 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 stream it direct from wisemensay.co.uk or subscribe to it on iTunes.