Sunderland fans told Newcastle supporters in 2016 to ‘Enjoy Burton’ and 3 years later we still are…
Sunderland fans told Newcastle supporters to ‘enjoy Burton’ in May 2016.
The Mackems surviving in the Premier League at the expense of the Magpies, with Championship football awaiting Rafa Benitez, his team and the fans.
Coming from the other direction, Burton were at the same time getting promoted from League One. The minnows having enjoyed a remarkable rise from non-league to become arguably the smallest club to ever compete in the second tier of English football.
The mighty Newcastle United having to play Burton Albion in the same league, absolutely hilarious and the Sunderland fans milked it.
Newcastle fans did indeed enjoy Burton, beating them home and away, to pick up six points on the way to finishing as champions in May 2017.
Rafa’s excellent job in taking Newcastle up as champions was met with derision from many Mackems that he hadn’t done it even easier fashion, one infamous comment declaring: ‘If we were playing the likes of Burton Albion every week, we would be top of the league as well.’
It is funny how quickly things can change and Sunderland fans did indeed get a very rapid opportunity to play and beat ‘the likes of Burton Albion’ every week.
As Newcastle finished top of the Championship in 2016/17, Sunderland were busy ending up rock bottom of the Premier League.
In that Championship season of 2017/18, Sunderland fans did indeed ‘enjoy’ playing Burton Albion, at least for the first 90 minutes.
The Mackems winning their first ever league meeting with Burton 2-0 away from home on 25 November 2017. The only problem was that this was their first win in 17 Championship games and only their second in the opening 19 league matches.
Moving swiftly forward to 21 April 2018 and Sunderland had only managed four more wins in their next 24 games after beating Burton.
With three games remaining, Sunderland faced Nigel Clough’s team at the Stadium of Light.
Defeat for either would effectively mean relegation, whilst if other results went against them, it could even be mathematically certain for either of them.
If you could have written the script, it wouldn’t have been better.
Fact definitely stranger than fiction.
Sunderland went ahead through a McNair goal on 34 minutes.
With only five minutes remaining, the Mackems were still in front.
On 86 minutes former Sunderland striker Darren Bent pounced to score only his second goal of the season.
The farce only got better, as two minutes into injury time, Boyce put the visitors in front!
Sunderland weren’t taking this lying down though and made sure there was a final hilarious punchline…
Only five minutes of extra time had been added but into the sixth minute Sunderland equalised, only for the referee to then rule it out, apparently for handball.
This led to very angry scenes with McGeady and Cattermole both booked as the final whistle went.
Sunderland not mathematically down unless results had gone against them elsewhere…
Birmingham went a goal down at home to Sheffield United but came back to win 2-1, meaning the Mackems could no longer catch them.
Looking at the league table after those Saturday afternoon’s games, it looked at first glance as though Sunderland could, mathematically, still survive.
However, Burton played Bolton the next weekend and a draw means Sunderland can’t catch them, whilst a win for Burton would mean the Mackems couldn’t match them.
So…Sunderland were down and ‘enjoying’ Burton had taken on a whole new meaning.
As it happened, whilst Sunderland ended up rock bottom of a league once again, Burton were also relegated alongside them.
Once again, the Sunderland fans got the chance to ‘enjoy’ Burton and now they could beat the likes of them every week in League One.
The script yet again didn’t let Newcastle fans down, as Burton beat Sunderland 2-1 and then drew 1-1 in April 2019, those lost points helping to ensure Sunderland missed automatic promotion, the Wearsiders missing out in the play-offs.
Fast forward now to the present day and Sunderland faced Burton at home on Tuesday night.
New manger Phil Parkinson has already done a marvellous job, overseeing Sunderland knocked out of three cup competitions inside six weeks so at least they can concentrate on the league.
Tuesday night though saw Parkinson lead his team to a 2-1 home defeat to Burton, meaning only two league wins in six games since he joined, meaning Sunderland are now a massive 14 points off Wycombe at the top of the table, languishing in 11th place.
For Newcastle fans it is a bit of a strange experience. Sunderland now so wrecked, that enjoying their situation has now become a bit of an empty feeling, up to a point…
As football fans, we all realise at some point that you can take nothing for granted.
Though not one of those Mackems who were shouting ‘Enjoy Burton’ only three and a half years ago, could have ever imagined just how badly they would be forced to eat those words, time and time again.
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