The summer time of 1997 turned into certainly one of major change at the club. We swapped Avec for Aasics, Vaux for Lambtons, and our former domestic at Roker Park for the Stadium of light – a shiny new facility that would (optimistically) herald the sunrise of a a hit new technology on the club.
The frustration of Premire League relegation turned into quick forgotten as we settled into our new surroundings, and proceeded to release a very sturdy task for an immediate return to the pinnacle-flight.
Sunderland’s season could ultimately end at the final hurdle, with heartbreak under Wembley’s twin Towers, but whilst Sheffield United arrived for the play-off semi-very last 2d leg, the structural tension of the stadium’s roof become given an intensive exam from the first whistle to the remaining.
The noise that nighttime was not anything quick of thunderous, with forty one,000 enthusiasts carrying the group on a wave of sheer, unbridled ardour. it might in the long run work, as Kevin Phillips scored a crucial goal, and Lionel Perez wrote his personal little chapter into Sunderland folklore with a significant overall performance between the sticks, helping us to secure a three-2 aggregate victory and a passage to the play-off final.
This hammering of Gianluca Vialli’s cosmopolitan crew of superstars more than made up for the opposite fixture on the hole day of the season. clean from the record-breaking merchandising marketing campaign, Sunderland had visited Stamford Bridge in August and have been soundly beaten, with Gus Poyet scoring a awesome purpose, leaving the newly-promoted squad rather bruised. Peter Reid’s religion was unshakeable, but. He knew we’d come true, and when Vialli delivered Chelsea to Wearside, the crew lived up to his perception.
Niall Quinn terrorised the Chelsea defence all afternoon, scoring goals, and Kevin Phillips netted twice, the primary of which was one of the all-time amazing Sunderland dreams, an arcing, swerving 1/2-volley that left Ed de Goey clutching at thin air, and every fan in the stadium open-mouthed at what they’d simply seen. In those early years, before the term became an empty cliché, the SOL frequently did resemble a citadel, and this turned into a shining example of what ought to occur while the whole lot came together for 90 mins.