Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Beachball Curse Is Kicked into Touch; Sunderland Visit Liverpool Tomorrow with Both Clubs Still Living in the Shadow of 'That Beach Ball'. Mark Douglas Reports

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Beachball Curse Is Kicked into Touch; Sunderland Visit Liverpool Tomorrow with Both Clubs Still Living in the Shadow of 'That Beach Ball'. Mark Douglas Reports

Article excerpt

Byline: Mark Douglas

THE beach ball which bounced Liverpool out of the title race at Sunderland's expense was bought by a Wearside greengrocer for the princely sum of pounds 411.73 - but Steve Bruce believes his Black Cats paid a much bigger price for their outrageous slice of good fortune.

The red inflatable which diverted Darren Bent's shot past Pepe Reina back in October resides in the National Football museum in Preston, a permanent monument to the game's occasional flirtation with the bizarre and ridiculous.

However, it is only over the past three weeks Bruce reckons his side have been able to consign the incident to the history books.

It may sound a curious statement considering the Black Cats were the beneficiaries of that pronounced deflection, but Bruce believes the ball was a harbinger of doom for Sunderland, pointing to a catalogue of problems which easily equal Liverpool's misfortune.

up all that need in one game.

Injuries to eight key men in the meantime and a raft of suspensions, bad refereeing decisions and gutwrenching late goals undermined the progress Sunderland made with that memorable defeat of a top-four contender and sapped the credit Bruce had built up.

Bruce reckons the beach ball incident has shaped Sunderland's season just as much as it has Liverpool's.

Indeed, the Cats boss was only halfjoking when he landed the blame for Sunderland's winter of discontent at the door of the infamous ball.

He said: "It was quite a bizarre incident, wasn't it?.

"Someone has bought it since, I know they did. It is in the National Football Museum, I don't think I will be visiting it.

"Since that happened we have had no luck whatsoever.

"We seemed to have used up all that luck you need in football in that one game.

"It was dreadful for a few weeks. We lost player after player and we had terrible decisions go against us.

"It started with the Lee Cattermole injury and there was a catalogue of problems after it with sendings off, bookings and injuries.

"We had all of our luck in that game, but thankfully it has gone away. It was a bizarre moment."

At least Bruce can look back with a rueful smile now, his team having rediscovered the form which saw them hammer a huge dent in Liverpool's title ambitions.

A hugely encouraging draw at Villa Park bookended a good run of home results and Bruce is again talking of a top-10 finish - an achievement which would represent real progress for Ellis Short's investment. seemed have used luck that you in that Perhaps if Sunderland's form and fortune had not turned, he would not have welcomed the prospect of hundreds of beach balls in the away end at Anfield on Sunday.

Bruce joked "The beach ball is in the skip and we have packed it.

"I am sure there will be a few at Anfield, we are taking a few ourselves. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.