Thomas Sorensen

Retro Red and White

by Stuart Vose

Delve into edition from QPR's visit in 1998.

Red and White returned for the opening day of the 1998-99 season as Sunderland started the new campaign with a 1-0 win over QPR.

The Black Cats would win promotion with a mammoth 105 points at the end of the season, making up for the disappointment of the heartbreaking play-off loss to Charlton.

Captain Kevin Ball kicked off the first edition with a strong start to his skipper’s column as he praised the club’s “phenomenal” support at Wembley.

He added: “Wembley is history now. We’ve got it all to do to make this our year.

“There are a lot of teams aiming for promotion and every game is going to present us with a challenge.

“We must be focused from day one to reach our goal.”

Manager Peter Reid tasked his side with living up to the bookies’ expectations after being installed as favourites to win the title.

Speaking in his pre-match notes, he said: “I know we are the favourites…but I don’t always go with that. You have to go out and do it on the park.

“Being the bookies’ favourites doesn’t give you any advantage when you are playing football matches – everyone will be trying to beat us.”

Danny Dichio and Michael Gray also kicked off the season with interviews, with the latter reflecting on the strength of support he received following his play-off penalty miss.

“Everyone has been fantastic,” he said. “The amount of letters of support I received was incredible. There were so many it was impossible to write back to everybody but I would like to take this opportunity to thank them all sincerely.”

New signing Paul Butler, bought for almost £1m from Bury, was also introduced, as were the new crop of youth signings which included Jonjo Dickman, Simon Ramsden and Brendan McGill.

But perhaps the most important summer arrival of all was tucked away on page 11 as Thomas Sorensen reflected on his move from Danish club OB Odense.

“I was highly impressed by both Peter Reid and what the club had to offer,” said the stopper, who would go on to become one of the club’s most popular keepers ever.