5. Preston North End 3-3 Sunderland, 4th Round, 1955
Believe it or not, this fixture was a fairly mouthwatering prospect in the '50's.
Sunderland were still in their 'Bank of England Club' phase and had the 'Clown Prince of Soccer' Len Shackleton up front, whilst Preston had their most beloved player Tom Finney out on the wing. Sunderland would eventually reach the semi final stage of the FA Cup this season and, were it not for Manchester City beating them 1-0, would have set up a final against Newcastle. They would see off Preston in the replay following this match on their way to the Semis with a 2-0 win at Roker Park, but first fixture was the more exciting tie.
As already mentioned, both sides were considerable forces at the time and it made for a thrilling encounter with goals flying in from all angles. England international Finney gave Preston the lead just before the half hour but it only lasted four minutes, after South African Ted Purdon pulled Sunderland level.
The Rokermen would soon be ahead after Ken Chisholm - who'd only just joined from Cardiff City earlier that month - scored just before half time. Seven minutes into the second half saw the beginning of three goals in five minutes.
Angus Morrison found the net to make the game 2-2, only for Len Shackleton to go straight up the other end and put Sunderland back in front, one minute later. It wasn't to last though - Bobby Foster scored the final goal of the game to make it three goals apiece and both sets of players probably stood scratching their heads at what had just happened. Six goals in twenty-eight minutes - along with club legends in both sides - certainly earns this match it's place as an all time great SAFC cup game.
4. Newcastle United 0-3 Sunderland, 4th Round 2nd Replay, 1913
Even over one-hundred years ago we were still stuffing the mags 3-0.
That isn't the only reason I've included this game though, of course - I'm not that petty. This win was part of a cup run that saw Sunderland finish runners up, coming so close to being the first side to do the double as they claimed the First Division title that same season.
The 1913 final has been immortalised in the oldest football painting in the world, by Thomas Hemy, which adorns the Stadium of Light main reception. Hemy's painting wouldn't have been what it was had Sunderland not overcame their local rivals though at the third time of asking.
The Sunderland team that day contained two of the clubs greatest ever goalscoers, Charlie Buchan and George Holley, but only one of them would find the net that day. Holley got a solitary goal whilst Jackie Mordue, who made 262 appearances for Sunderland, bagged a brace to see off the Magpies. It had been an arduous task for The Black Cats to overcome their neighbours but, after two draws, they were back on track for a date in the final at Crystal Palace where Hemy's canvas was awaiting.
3. Wolverhampton Wanders 0-4 Sunderland, Quarter Final 2nd Replay, 1937
Another game on the road to a final, but this time it was a cup run that would end in success.
Sunderland were in danger of becoming the FA Cup's nearly men by the 1930's, due constant missed opportunities, despite them being one of the best teams in the country at that time. They had their all time top scorer, Bobby Gurney, and their greatest ever local hero Raich Carter in the side, so surely destiny would allow this fantastic Sunderland team to lift the FA Cup?
Carter's men put all the 'nearly men' fears to bed as they destroyed Wolves with Carter and Gurney getting a goal each, with Charlie M. Thompson and Patsy Gallacher grabbing the other two. Gallacher was also a prolific Sunderland goal scorer, with 100 in 273 appearances but the same can't be said of Thompson who only scored eight times in 264 games.
The victory over Wolves gave Sunderland the belief they needed to finally go on and lift the cup and, from there onwards, their name was always on it.
2. Sunderland 3-1 Manchester City, Fifth Round Replay, 1973
This was a game so loud that people thought there were speakers installed in Roker Park.There's a few mentions of name on the cup moments in this piece but this match goes straight into that category too.
Manchester City were a decent side at the time, having won the League Cup in 1970 and finishing an impressive fourth in the 71/72 season. Rodney Marsh, Francis Lee and East Durham's own Colin Bell featured in the City team which were overconfident of victory on Wearside. Mike Doyle, the Man City captain, had spoken of the good feeling in the City dressing room, whilst Bob Stokoe promised Sunderland fans a night to remember.
With only fifteen minutes on the clock Vic Halom put Sunderland on course for a memorable evening by firing a shot into the top corner from a tight angle, causing the Roker Roar to go into full swing. It would get better eleven minutes later, when Billy Hughes doubled Sunderland's lead by skipping through two Manchester City defenders and fired into the same area Halom had previously.
Roker Park was cauldren of noise, the second goal being celebrated even louder than the first. City couldn't believe it at half time, they were being dismantled and outclassed by a side a whole division below them. They needed to give Sunderland something to think about. Only six minutes into the second half, Manchester City dragged themselves back into contention when Francis Lee finished off a tidy move.
You'd have forgiven all corners of Roker for falling into silence such was the sheer tension, but the battle cry never wained and the Roker End helped to suck the ball into the net, giving Sunderland their two goal cushion back - Billy Hughes put the ball in the net but it felt like a goal created by the will of the terraces.
3-1 was enough, Sunderland were into the last eight and that was the moment where it started to feel like they could upset the odds and bring the cup back to Wearside.
The footage may not be the best but it doesn't matter. Just close your eyes and listen to the noise.
1. Sunderland 2-1 Chelsea, Quarter Final Replay, 1992
If there was any Sunderland game from the past I could travel back in time to attend, it would be this one. Yes, I could go all the way back to 1909 and watch us demolish Newcastle 9-1, or I could go to Wembley in 1973 and witness our last FA Cup win, along with Monty's double save. I could even, hypothetically, choose to go back to Gary Rowell's hattrick at St James Park in 1979, but this game against Chelsea, this was special. This was something that had be rising up in Sunderland and waiting to explode for a long time.
The 1980's weren't a great time for us, as most of you will know. The town was being decimated by the Thatcher government and the football team were yo-yoing between the top two divisions, until a relegation to the third tier in 1987. Thankfully, promotion to Division Two was instant and the club could return to mediocrity rather than downright shite. It was a bad time for the rest of English football too - European bans for English clubs had seen a lot of great players and managers head for warmer climbs in search of European Cup success. Basically, football and, Sunderland especially, was on its arse.
The 1991-92 season, in league terms, was nothing to write home about for Sunderland. Having just been relegated back to Division Two, they bundled around the league before finishing only five points above the relegation spots. There was pride restored after such a long spell in the dark, though. It came with a visit to Wembley in 1992 and the night that supporters started to dream that their name was on the cup was this one. John Byrne scored a late equaliser at Stamford Bridge and Chelsea would face a midweek trip to Roker Park. The Blues would be favourites, despite not being the force they are now, with names in their side such as Dennis Wise, Vinnie Jones, Tony Cascarino (who had scored the goal to relegate Sunderland to Division Three) and Andy Townsend.
It would be Sunderland that struck first though, Peter Davenport putting the ball in after Dave Beasant could only parry John Byrne's initial effort and the Fulwell End went wild. The lads dug their heels in and desperately hung on and just as it looked like they had, they were dealt a sucker punch as Dennis Wise leveled the scores with only five minutes remaining. Malcolm Crosby's men didn't just look distraught, they looked knackered and would surely be undone by Chelsea's superior fitness levels in extra time.
There was still time for one last corner though as David Rush mis-controlled the ball, allowing Frank Sinclair to slide the ball out for a corner. "It's been snatched, Malcolm Crosby might feel, from his grasp", said Martin Tyler in the commentary box, as Brian Atkinson stepped up to float an out-swinging ball into the penalty area. Just as the ball floated over the penalty spot, it was met by Gordon Armstrong who flashed the ball into the bottom left-hand corner.
Chelsea fans had barely finished celebrating their equaliser and Sunderland had gone back in front. Limbs. People lost shoes, keys and relatives in the celebrations and when the final whistle went not a blade of grass could be seen for bodies invading the pitch.
Many thought that the magic left Roker Park in the 80's, what with the relegations and the Roker End being cut down at the beginning of the decade. It couldn't hold as many supporters now and was starting to look outdated. Most knew that the old ground didn't have much time left in this world, as the Premier League was on the horizon and football was beginning to change. This night brought the magic back though, one golden memory for a generation of fans to treasure. Sunderland may have been down at that time, but Gordon Armstrong's header proved that the team, the town and the people were not out.
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