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Five Of The Best: When Sunderland Toppled United Five Times In A Row

Ahead of this weekend's game with Manchester United we take a historical look at the fixture, and recall a happier time when we actually sued to bear them... five times in a row to be exact! Come check out the match reports from the time with our resident expert, Mark Metcalf.

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Our resident historian Mark Metcalf has provided us with some great historical insight into this weekend's clash with Manchester United. This time looking back at the late 1940's and early 1950's when Sunderland went to Old Trafford and won five on the bounce. Here's a selection of match reports from those games;

1948/49 - Manchester United 1-2 Sunderland
1949/50 - Manchester United 1-3 Sunderland
1950/51 - Manchester United 3-5 Sunderland
1951/52 - Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland
1952/53 - Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland

Manchester United 1-3 Sunderland
(Pearson 56, Carey OG 9, Davis 15, Shackleton 37)
1st October 1949, League Division One

Manchester United: Crompton, Carey, Aston, Lowrie, Chilton, Cockburn, Delaney, Pearson, Rowley, Buckle, Mitten.

Sunderland: Mapson, Stelling, Hudgell, Watson, Hall, Wright (A), Wright (T), Broadis, Davis, Shackleton, Reynolds.

Brilliant displays by Watson and Arthur Wright at Old Trafford blotted out Pearson and Buckle Uniteds inside forwards and set the seal on a sound Sunderland victory to prove that when wing half backs take control there is little doubt about the ultimate result. At Derby a fortnight ago one saw £24,000 Morris and £15,000 Steele completely put out of the game for 45 minutes and then allowed to wriggle out of the relentless grip to virtually switch the verdict from defeat to victory.

Against Manchester Watson and Wright never relaxed their grip not even in the vital 15 minute period of the second half when United in reply to Sunderland's three first half goals scored through Pearson and were hitting back with all they had in their endeavour to batter down Sunderland's rearguard. There was no faltering, half backs and inside forwards coming back to repel the Lancashire invaders. Then once more Sunderland took control and finished just as they had started masters of the situation.

It was a game in which teamwork played a prominent part in the Wearsiders first win on foreign soil but their third in three seasons against United in Manchester.

First Carey helped the ball in, one that would have beaten Compton anyway for he was well out of the way of Davis' shot in the 9th minute. The Sunderland leader made it two in the 15th minute when he eluded Chilton and met a perfect Reynolds centre first time. Goal of the match came in the 37th minute from Shackleton but the credit must go to Broadis for he engineered the goal and began the move from his own 18-yard line.

Rarely have Sunderland made so few mistakes as they did in this game and every man played his part in the great victory. To say they had the great Carey and his international partner Aston frequently going the wrong way is praise enough.

Manchester United 3-5 Sunderland
(Aston 2, Bogan 35, 86, Bingham 3, Broadis 29, 30, 43, Davis 63)
26th December 1950, League Division One

Manchester United: Allen, Carey, McGlen, Gibson, Chilton, Cockburn, Bogan, McShane, Aston, Pearson, Rowley.

Sunderland: Mapson, Hedley, Hudgell, McLain, Walsh, Wright (A), Bingham, Wright (T), Davis, Broadis, Watson.

Sunderland's dream of a bright Christmas came true with a vengeance. This win in Manchester completed the Wearsiders first double of the season. It also meant that they took full points from their three holiday games.

Considering the condition of the pitch which was like a skating rink, Sunderland played excellent football and fully deserved to beat United who at times looked completely demoralised.

Ford was out with a thigh injury and Kirtley went down with flu the day previous so that Davis reverted to centre forward with T. Wright inside right and Bingham on the wing. Before the match the one bright spot was the return of Broadis and what a great advantage that turned out to be.

Seemingly untroubled by the conditions Broadis roamed in and out, split the united defence with neat passes and crowned a fine display by scoring three goals. It was as a team however that Sunderland shone. They employed the right tactics from the start and were always in command.

Yet the home team scored first Aston netting after 2 minutes as he had done at Roker the day previous. Sunderland equalised a minute later through Bingham - his first in English league Football. From then on it was Sunderland nearly all through, though the visitors defence did have a shaky quarter hour just after the interval.

Yet Sunderland increased their lead to three and the game was virtually over with 27 minutes to go. After that however United had the additional mortification of missing a penalty, Rowley shooting straight at Mapson.

Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland
(Davis 68)
20th October 1951, League Division One

Manchester United: Allen, Carey, Redman, Gibson, Chilton, McGlen, Berry, Downie, Rowley, Pearson, McShane.

Sunderland: Mapson, Stelling, Hudgell, Watson, Hall, Wright (A), Bingham, Kirtley, Davis, Shackleton, McSeveney.

Sunderland toppled United from the top of the table by this victory. The remarkable thing is that Sunderland have now won six of their last seven games at Old Trafford and all when United have looked much stronger team. Yet of all the Wearsiders recent victories on this ground the latest one came as the most surprising to the home camp.

After the game home directors admitted the win was merited but were all at a loss to understand Sunderland's lowly position in the table and even more baffled by the reports that the Wearsiders had been slow hand-clapped on their own ground a week previous. Their form is most puzzling. Without being brilliant the team was vastly superior to that which met Stoke. It was almost unrecognisable.

Many Sunderland supporters made the journey no doubt to see John McSeveney the clubs new signing on his debut. They saw the young Scot give a promising display in circumstances that might well have been too much for him. Not only did he face an experienced player in Carey but also the tempo of the game was in itself a baptism of fire. McSeveny who had not been South of the border before last Wednesday admitted he found the match atmosphere a little overwhelming at first but no one watching would have thought so.

Cool but determined the young winger settled down quickly and though he owed something to the able schooling of Wright and Shackleton he soon showed he was able to stand on his own two feet. On the other flank Bingham was back to his best form, and Kirtley too sparkled, so altogether Sunderland's attack was something of a triumph of youth.

If Shackleton had been in the sort of form he has been in recent games Sunderland might well have had a hatful of goals. As it was they had to be satisfied with Davis's winner in the 68th minute. Disappointing as was the United forward line the Wearsiders defence gave a really sound display.

Outstanding was Wright and Hall. The former battled on well after two nasty knocks in the second half but on an even more heroic performance was that of Stelling who stuck to his task despite injuring a leg muscle in the first minute of the game.

Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland
(Ford 23)
27th September 1952, League Division One

Manchester United: Wood, McNulty, Aston, Chilton, Jones, Gibson, Berry, Downie, Clempson, Pearson, Byrne.

Sunderland: Threadgold, Stelling, Hedley, Watson, Hall, Wright (A), Wright (T), Kirtley, Ford, Shackleton, Reynolds.

Threadgold of Sunderland and Wood of United, both goalkeepers in their first season in First Division football were stars of this game at Old Trafford which might have produced a rich crop of goals. With the turf soft and greasy conditions as well in favour of the forwards, only one goal was scored with that coming from Ford in the 23rd minute. Sufficient to give the Wearsiders victory.

Both sets of forwards failed to make the best use of their chances but even so these two young goalkeepers had enough opportunities to demonstrate that they promise to be outstanding in a field where good performances are proverbially "Ten a penny". The rest of Sunderland's performance was scarcely reflected by the score. The league champions were spread-eagled time after time in the first hour and yet in the closing stages Sunderland, with Reynolds out of the game as a limping passenger, had to resort to spoiling tactics to hold on to the lead.

On his earlier form a fit Reynolds might well have kept Sunderland attacking to the end for in addition to having two good shots saved the winger put over many dangerous centres. Different in method but equally effective Tommy Wright on the other flank made Ford's goal and saw a shot of his own hit the post. Between these interesting wingers the inside trio had a nice blend of craft and dash.

All this was admirably supported by the wing-halves, while in defence Stelling played almost as big a part as Threadgold A pity though that Sunderland did not fully accept a good opportunity to improve their unimpressive goal average.


If you want to treat yourself to one of Mark's many football books, such as his fully authorised Stan Anderson biography, (and we highly recommend you do) then you can find them at online retailers such as Amazon. His Sunderland specific stuff can also be found at the ALS shop.

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