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Tales of Sunderland & Hull; the great Don Revie played for both clubs - here’s the story

The visit of Hull City to Sunderland this Saturday offers us a chance to reflect on the extraordinary life and career of a man who played for both clubs - Don Revie.

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Sunderland v Leeds United Photo by Peter Robinson/EMPICS via Getty Images

Don Revie is the best known player to have featured for both Sunderland and Hull City, where he moved to from Leicester for £20,000 in November 1949.

Sunderland legend Raich Carter had been appointed as player-manager at Boothferry Park in May 1948 and had captained the Tigers to the Third Division North title in 1949. Carter was assembling a combination of experienced and up-and-coming players and Revie, who because of an injury had missed out on an appearance in the losing Leicester City side at Wembley in 1949, was just 22.

Manchester City had tried to buy Revie in 1949 and they finally got their man when he moved to Maine Road in October 1951. City had won promotion back to Division One at the end of the previous season.

In 1953 Hungary thrashed England 6-3 at Wembley and 7-1 in Budapest in May 1954. Key to these successes was the tactic of drawing the centre-half away from his goal — and thus out of position — by the centre-forward dropping deep into the field to receive the ball before starting the Magyars’ attacks.

Soccer - Football League Division Two - Brentford v Hull City
Don Revie and Raich Carter of Hull City
Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images

The Revie plan used a variation of the Hungarian’s tactics to great effect and City twice reached consecutive FA Cup finals - in 1955 and 1956.

In the former, City beat Sunderland 1-0 in the semi-final at Villa Park before losing to Newcastle United in the final. Some consolation for Revie came when he won the Footballer of the Year Award.

The following season, Manchester City beat Birmingham City, who had thrashed Sunderland 3-0 at Hillsborough in the semi-final, by three goals to one.

The Revie plan worked to perfection and Birmingham City were well beaten 3-1 at Wembley by a Manchester City side that included former German paratrooper Bert Trautmann, who unknowingly played the last twenty minutes in goal despite having a broken neck.

Bert Trautmann

Middlesbrough born Revie moved back to the North-East to sign for Sunderland in November 1956. The fee was £30,000 and the Roker Park club were hoping his great distribution of the ball could be combined with Len Shackleton’s skills to help drag the struggling side out of the relegation zone.

The former Hull player initially struggled though in his new surroundings and he was dropped from the first team. He returned to the starting eleven in mid-February and was at his best as Sunderland beat Sheffield Wednesday 5-2 at home on 16 February 1957, with Revie amongst the scorers.

Sunderland ended up finishing just out of the relegation zone but suffered a big blow at the start of the 1957-58 season when Shackleton, for reasons never fully explained, announced he was retiring from playing.

Revie played 39 (out of 42) League matches in the season and finished as Sunderland’s second top scorer with 12 goals, which included crucial strikes in single goal victories against Birmingham City, Manchester City, Leeds United and Spurs. The player also scored against Birmingham City on Easter Sunday but the away side notched six and when Sunderland then lost the next two they fell to bottom spot. Despite victories in the final two matches of the campaign, Sunderland stayed in the relegation zone and thus dropped out of the top flight for the first time since the club had joined the Football League for the 1890-91 season.

Sunderland captain Don Revie shake hands with Leeds United legend John Charles

Revie remained at Sunderland until he was signed by Leeds United in November 1958 for a fee of £14,000. Leeds were relegated from Division One in 1960 and following the resignation of Jack Taylor in the following spring, Revie was appointed as player-manager at Elland Road. He retired from playing in May 1963 and contained as Leeds manager until he took over in charge of the England national team in April 1974.

Under Revie, Leeds won almost every major honour but their successes were marred by a win-at-all-costs attitude, which included unproven allegations of bribing opponents, which still means that even today fans refer to “Dirty Leeds.”

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Leeds United v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium
Don Revie and Bob Stokie lead out their sides in the ‘73 Cup final.
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

The Peacocks also had a reputation of losing finals they were expected to win and none more so than in 1973 when Revie’s former club Sunderland beat Leeds 1-0 in the FA Cup final. It was not the first time that Revie had been outsmarted by his opposing manager, Bob Stokoe having played and captained from centre half the Newcastle side that beat Manchester City 3-1 at the 1955 FA Cup final.

Revie’s time as England manager was not a success and he was condemned when he unceremoniously abandoned the post to take up a lucrative contract in the Arab Emirates.

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