Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rivals Cup Exploits Put Heat on United

Newspaper article Evening Chronicle (Newcastle, England)

Rivals Cup Exploits Put Heat on United

Article excerpt

Byline: By John Gibson

Middlesbrough have won their first trophy in 128 years, a unique occasion heralded by an unlikely hero borne shoulder-high into the arms of history.

Not skipper Gareth Southgate, nor goalscorers Joseph Job or Bolo Zenden, not even manager Steve McClaren but chairman Steve Gibson, previously reclusive enough to have been residing down a hole in Afghanistan with Bin Laden.

That a team and its fans should hail a chairman so enthusiastically, instead of merely using him as a scapegoat when necessary, is testament to a job magnificently done. Without Steve Gibson there would have been no Boro.

But we digress...

Boro win their first cup, Sunderland are in the quarter-finals of the FA Cup with a great opportunity to make the semis, Newcastle Falcons must only beat a bunch of part-time Brummie-bashers to reach the Powergen Cup final at Twickenham.

There's a need for shades up here in the North East to protect the eye from glinting silver.

Newcastle United, out of the lot domestically, had better have a real crack at the UEFA Cup, that's all I can say!

But this is FA Cup weekend and Sunderland v Sheffield United at the Stadium of Light on Sunday. While peerless Arsenal and fading champions Manchester United remain the most obvious final contestants, should they stay apart, the gates have swung invitingly open even for those from Division One.

Sunderland, having taken care of Premier League Birmingham over three and a half hours of blood and sweat, will transport their Stokoe Cup spirit into further battle.

That is their major strength, the collective asset that can overcome other obstacles.

Jason McAteer and Jeff Whitley displayed just such great tenacity in the last round at their home stadium when they strangled the life out of Birmingham's midfield.

Workrate was of the highest order as willing legs combined with eyebrow-raising passing ability to give Sunderland the significant edge over both games. …

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