Whilst we're riding the high of having a new manager at the helm, and following the Charlie Hurley history lessons of last week, we're delighted that we can bring you this wonderful excerpt from Dennis Tueart's wonderful book "My Football Journey" which is out in all good book shops now.
Not only that, but with Christmas just around the corner and you no doubt looking to get something for that special SAFC fan in your family, or even yourself, we're bringing you an exceptional offer.
Head to the publishers website here - http://www.visionsp.co.uk/ssb/viewitem.asp?id=190 - then pop the book in your basket and enter the promotional code "ROKER" to get the book for £15.00 instead of £18.99!
So that's the business side of things taken care of, now lets let Dennis talk you through one of the most memorable games in SAFC's history...
By the time we faced City at Maine Road, the team had a much more settled look about it, something we hadn't had the luxury of for years. Bob took us to one of his old bolt holes in Blackpool during the week before the City match. I remember running along the beach, gulping down the fresh sea air and craning my neck to look at the Tower. There was nothing too high maintenance on the agenda. He even let us have fish and chips to get in the seaside spirit. It was good fun. Bob didn't give us the lowdown on City, it wasn't really his style, and we'd seen them enough on TV. To be honest, he didn't really need to gee us up and get us motivated too much, because Malcolm Allison did that for him when he began mouthing off in the press.
We'd been in Division Two for three seasons by then, and it was joyful to be facing genuine quality opposition. And it was Manchester City, in their sky-blue shirts, that electrified me as soon as we went into battle against them. There was an aura about them. Playing for City during the late 1960s and early 1970s must have been wonderful. They won the league in 1968, the FA Cup in 1969, and the League and Cup Winners' Cup a year later. Malcolm Allison's partnership with Joe Mercer was perfect for City. Joe - wise old head that he was - could rein in Malcolm's enthusiasm and, as it turned out, fatal weakness for flair players. I rated the holy trinity of Colin Bell, Mike Summerbee and Franny Lee as highly as Manchester United's glamorous three of Denis Law, George Best and Bobby Charlton, and I was desperate to pit my wits against them.
By the time we came to play them, though, it had been three years since they'd won any silverware, and Malcolm was under pressure. In the papers that week, he boasted of what his side was going to do to us, and of how we wouldn't be able to live with City and their attacking force, but it seemed to me a bit desperate. I'd heard through the grapevine that the root cause of the discontent at City was Rodney Marsh. Malcolm had brought in Rodney from QPR during the latter stages of the previous season when City were charging away with the title. It was a costly misjudgement, and Malcolm and Joe had fallen out massively over it. Malcolm reckoned Rodney was the final piece of the jigsaw, but in my view in fact all Rodney did was disrupt the flow of the team and an already settled system. Within a year of facing City in the FA Cup, I would begin to see the effect that Rodney had on the team for myself, but for now, I could only base my judgement on playing for the opposition.
There were 55,000 inside Maine Road that afternoon, and I knew that this would be the biggest game of my career to date. The Match Of The Day cameras were there, and I felt that at 23, this was my big chance to perform on the big stage. Bob urged us to go out and enjoy ourselves, and to play our naturally attacking game. I don't think we could have played any other way. When we ran out, we could see swathes of red-and-white all around the ground. An estimated 12,000-odd Sunderland fans made what was effectively a pilgrimage to Manchester that day, which made the whole place buzz. I think we surprised City, because we really went for it.
Allison had said that because his team had knocked out Liverpool the round before, "little" Sunderland wouldn't offer too much of a threat. A few years before, he'd claimed that City would be the first football team to play on the moon. You couldn't knock him for trying to knock United off their perch and paint Manchester sky blue, but I later found out that the City players were often a bit embarrassed by Malcolm's comments and boasts. His "little Sunderland" jibes certainly fired us up. It was a freezing day and, just up the road in Salford, United's game had been called off, so a lot of Old Trafford regulars travelled to Maine Road to support us. You could hear the chants of "Sunderland United" all through the game.
City put us under huge pressure in the first few minutes. Mike Doyle fed Tony Towers, and he scored. Rodney Marsh was doing his usual thing, indulging himself with the odd flick here, the occasional nutmeg there, but his tricks came to very little, and when City failed to put daylight between them and us we got stronger and stronger as a unit. Several of our players really came of age that day, and our midfielder Micky Horswill was definitely one of those.
I went in hard on their goalie, Joe Corrigan, when I chased a loose ball. From the resulting free-kick Corrigan passed the ball to Derek Jeffries on the edge of the box, who didn't really want it there, and Micky steamed through and nabbed the ball before firing into the roof of Corrigan's net. City were rocked back on their heels.
Bob did his usual thing at half-time, urging us to carry on the way we were playing, and telling us that if we plugged away our just reward would come. When it did, the manner of it surprised everyone. City were trying really hard to press their home advantage, and carried on knocking it deep. When one of their moves broke down, Dick Malone quickly knocked the ball out to me in midfield. Maine Road had the largest pitch in the country in those days, and the space really seemed to open up for me. I spotted Billy Hughes galloping forward, and nudged it in his direction. We'd broken away so fast that no one was up to support Billy, although Vic Halom, desperately trying to keep pace with him, was steaming forward as quickly as he could. Billy twisted past City defender Derek Jeffries, teased him left then right, and unleashed a fire cracker into Corrigan's net. It was nothing less than we deserved, and I could see City players shooting each other nervous glances. They knew they were in a fire fight.
Late on, from a City corner, Monty struggled to get sight of Summerbee's cross. Marsh was standing in his way. Even in those days, when you could get away with a lot more on the pitch than you can today, I knew that Rodney was breaking the rules, and that the ref should have blown up with the ball in mid-flight. But he didn't, and Monty could only palm Summerbee's corner into the roof of the net. 2-2. City didn't celebrate too hard. I think they knew they'd got out of jail, and the ref blew up soon afterwards. In the dressing room after the game, the mood wasn't downbeat at all. It wasn't like we were thinking that we'd blown it at all. I knew that, if we played like that at Roker, we'd go through. No fear. Monty was actually laughing away after the error, claiming that he would be getting a cut of the profits from the Roker replay. No one had a go at him. We weren't that type of team. I was just delighted that we'd played so well, and that we'd given an indication of our potential.
After the game in Manchester, we headed north and went for a meal in Harrogate up in Yorkshire. The coach dropped us back at Roker Park just after midnight, and the sight that greeted us was unlike anything we'd seen before. This time, when I looked out of the coach window, I saw that the queue for tickets for the replay wasn't so much snaking around the block, as wrapping itself around the ground twice over. It was a freezing night, the coldest of the year so far, and fans, waiting for the tickets to go on sale at 9am the following morning, were huddled under the stands to get some protection from the cold. Burger vans worked through the night, and locals living around the ground opened their doors to make tea for the frozen fans. I was speechless. We all were. I realised that the whole community was behind us. Six weeks before, we'd struggled to get 12,000 to come to Roker to watch us. By 11.00 the following morning, all 49,000 home tickets for the replay had sold out. Now I knew that Bob Stokoe had unlocked something, however inadvertently. Roker Park was about to roar once more.
When City came to town for the replay four days later, there was a cold North Sea wind billowing in over the Roker End. I thought that I'd become hardened against the elements in the North East, but that night against City was more extreme than anything I'd experienced before. The wind howled - quite literally - around the streets surrounding the ground. Tiles were blown off the top of nearby houses. Dustbins were blown over, and all the paper rubbish, old newspapers and betting slips, swirled around in a gale. I felt like it might cut me in two, but that night the chill factor, the smell of that turf, the faint scent of the sea and the electricity from the crowd under the lights combined to produce the most vibrant and spellbinding atmosphere I ever experienced in football. They still talk about that night up in Sunderland today, and I'll certainly never forget it as long as I live. We also knew that the traditional Monday lunchtime radio FA Cup draw had given us Luton Town at home if we could beat City.
I'm not sure that anyone really knows how many fans were inside Roker that night. The gates were locked half an hour before kickoff, and officially there were just over 50,000 inside, but there were stories of turnstile operators letting more in than that. As soon as we walked out onto the pitch, I could see our fans crammed in on the terraces at both the Roker End and the Fulwell End. It was an incredible atmosphere. I couldn't hear myself think, let alone speak, and early on I saw guys like Summerbee and Bell, who'd played in Wembley Finals and Manchester derbies, shake their heads at the sheer ferocity of the place. Because of the wind and the noise we had to change our tactics. You couldn't hear, you couldn't think, and you had no time on the ball, because if you did dally around with it a City player would steam in on you. So from the off, we went straight for City's jugular, ran hard at them, moved the ball about between us as fast as possible and tried to get it forward as soon as we could.
Early on, City's class showed. Marsh hit the bar, and then Colin Bell rampaged through and put the ball just wide. Quality oozed out of their team, but nothing was going to stop us on this incredible night. I remember that the Roker floodlights seemed to give the green turf, our red-and-white shirts and City's sky-blue shirts a luminous, technicolor glow. I loved it. After weathering the City storm, we threaded a beautiful string of passes together which cut City apart. Porterfield to Guthrie out wide on the left. Square to Billy Hughes, and on to Horswill, and then to Kerr, with a smart flick out right to Vic Halom. Vic took a step back to give himself a bit more time and rifled in a 25-yard shot into Corrigan's net.
Even through the din, I could hear Corrigan scream at his defenders to "Leave it!" He got a right mouthful from his team-mates afterwards. He probably didn't think Vic would do a whole lot of damage from out there.
There was no way we were going to blow it after that. After Vic scored, he was laughing his head off, Billy Hughes was cackling like a maniac, and we all screamed our heads off and disappeared into a forest of arms and heads as we mobbed Vic. A few minutes later, Billy Hughes rifled in a second after a fantastic interchange of passes between him and Bobby Kerr. Two up at half-time, and we were in dreamland.
During the interval, our dressing room was bouncing with excitement. I felt like a kid let loose in a sweet shop, because this was the kind of night that I'd always dreamed of, but which had been sorely lacking at the club during my time at Sunderland. Bob told us to stay calm and not to get carried away, and reminded us that City still posed a threat. He was right, too. Ten minutes in, Franny Lee slid in to pull a goal back, and for the first time that night a hush fell inside Roker Park. I got a little nervous, but I knew, and we all knew, that we could finish it.
Red-and-white shirts were flying around everywhere in our penalty box to block Summerbee and charge down shots from Colin Bell, and then we'd try to hit them on the break. I made a couple of block tackles, and dropped back a bit to help out the
Ten minutes from the end, I received the ball out on the right, cut into the area, took aim, and fired. Joe Corrigan palmed the ball out to Billy Hughes, who slid in and scored. It was pandemonium, absolute pandemonium. We were through. In the bath afterwards, Billy Hughes, his long black hair plastered to his face, stood up and shouted, "We're gonna win the cup. We are gonna win the cup." Bobby Kerr, always a realist, always controlled, reminded everyone that we were only in the quarterfinals, and that we shouldn't get carried away. I was shouting my head off after the best night of my career so far and, like everyone else, told Bobby not to be so bloody miserable. Even though he was right.
‘Big Mal' stuck his head around the dressing room door. "You fully deserved the win," he said, before adding drily, "Next time, it might be better if I keep my gob shut for once!" ‘
Crash - Out Go City!' ran one tabloid headline. I loved reading it, and our odds were cut from 250-1 to 100-1. But we were still rank outsiders. As Malcolm Allison pointed out, Leeds and Arsenal, the two previous winners of the competition, were alive and very much kicking. And what hope did little Sunderland have against those two, even if we did beat Second Division Luton Town at Roker Park in the quarter-finals? Few, it seemed, believed we even had half a chance. Except for us, of course....
Remember to head to http://www.visionsp.co.uk/ssb/viewitem.asp?id=190 - and pop the book in your basket, enter the promotional code "ROKER" to get the book for £15.00 instead of £18.99!