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Ranking The 5 Biggest Rivals Of Sunderland

3. Sunderland vs Coventry City

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The rivalry between the clubs stems back to one evening in May 1977. On a Thursday night, the final set of relegation games were to be played. Sunderland, Coventry City and Bristol City were level on points, but Coventry had the worst goal difference. Coventry were to play at home against Bristol City, whilst Sunderland were playing at Goodison Park.

Coventry simply had to win, as both Sunderland and Bristol City were safe with a draw. In fact, Sunderland could afford to lose, provided the game between Coventry and Bristol had a winner. The night began in controversial circumstances as Jimmy Hill, Coventry’s managing director, had the game delayed by more than 10 minutes, officially because of crowd congestion. The home side raced into a two-goal lead but Bristol made it 2-2 with 12 minutes to go. By that time, the game at Goodison was finished with Sunderland losing 2-0.

Jimmy Hill made sure that the result was announced so that both sets of supporters and players knew they were safe if the game ended 2-2. For the remaining time, neither side made a competitive effort to win the football match. Sunderland were relegated.

Sunderland fans still believe that if the announcement wasn’t made, Bristol would have beaten Coventry and the latter would have relegated with Sunderland avoiding the drop. As a result, Coventry is still one of the biggest rivals of Sunderland.

2. Sunderland vs Middlesbrough

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The Tees–Wear derby is the name given to the rivalry between Middlesbrough and Sunderland. They are separated by 2 rivers and 30 miles, in the North East of England. There have been plenty of memorable meetings with Middlesbrough over the years with both clubs either battling for promotion or to avoid relegation in the same seasons. The 1990s was a case in point with Boro and Sunderland suffering relegation in 1997 and both chasing promotion the following season.

There’s also the fact that supporters of both clubs often live near each other and also work together, adding extra spice to derbies. For example, there are a lot of Sunderland fans who live in Billingham. Factor in the overzealous treatment Boro fans have endured on several occasions at the Stadium of Light and you have the perfect breeding ground for a bitter rivalry.

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