From backside to Wearside: O'Neill's moving story

Manager reveals the pain – emotional and physical – following Sunderland has caused down the years

Martin O'Neill has suffered for his support of Sunderland. As a youngster it was with the strap, in his increasing years through the expectation that whatever can go wrong eventually will.

Admirably, the Sunderland manager does not claim to have the depth of history with the club he is currently managing so successfully to compare with Tony Mowbray at Middlesbrough, with the two North-east sides meeting in a FA Cup fourth-round replay at the Riverside Stadium tonight.

But he still recalls the pain following Sunderland has put him through. "I was at boarding school and you weren't allowed radios," he said. "My mother got me a little crystal set to listen to the last bits of the game. There I was listening in, it got to the last bit and it said, 'It's been a terrible night for Sunderland.' That's great, and I think we had taken the lead as well.

"Just then the dean walked in and lifted my crystal set and I got slaps in the morning. It was the night they got beaten 5-1 at Leeds Road against Manchester United in the [1964] FA Cup quarter-final second replay."

From there comes a unique take on why he feels disaster is always waiting for him. "If I could change my life I'd like to change the way I grew up," he added. "I just think it's the Irish background thing. Disaster is around the corner. It is, it's lurking, it's incredibly negative. Am I thinking about the bad times ahead? Jesus, no. I've got to remain positive, I'm going to have to fight this negativity

"I've had some poor runs in my time, don't worry about that. I know how difficult it is. I'm not building up for the inevitable. The inevitable is inevitable, but I'm not building up for it.

"That's probably why I'm a Sunderland fan, absolutely, I couldn't have chosen a more appropriate club. That was my upbringing, supporting Sunderland and getting my crystal set nicked."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?