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PLAYERS OF THE DECADES: Sunderland’s greatest player of the 1970s - VOTE NOW!

We’ve looked at the 50s and 60s, but now it’s time for the 1970s - a decade which is still to this day roundly celebrated by Sunderland supporters. We had some good players then, but who was the greatest of them all?

The 1970s was a decade of strife on the terraces and on the pitch. The beginning of the decade saw us relegated to Division two, and as we were struggling financially we didn’t buy a single player between 1970 and late 1972.

This meant that we relied upon home grown players - players who were to become the immortals of the 1973 Cup Final team.

We built three popular and quality sides in this decade, 1972/73, 1976/77 and 1979/80, two promotion winning teams and one that won the FA Cup. Each of these teams had a core of players who had come through the system, and each of the sides had players who were to become all-time favourites who are still remembered fondly today.

But who is our favourite? Who is the player of this decade?

Read our suggestions below before voting for who you think deserves that mantle - the poll closes at 10pm BST on Tuesday 30th October.


Who was Sunderland’s greatest player of the 1970s?

This poll is closed

  • 36%
    Jimmy Montgomery
    (325 votes)
  • 47%
    Dave Watson
    (427 votes)
  • 4%
    Bobby Kerr
    (41 votes)
  • 9%
    Gary Rowell
    (89 votes)
  • 2%
    Shaun Elliott
    (19 votes)
901 votes total Vote Now

Jimmy Montgomery

Number 1 on the list of nominations must be Sunderland’s No.1 for most of the 1960s and 1970s. Jimmy Montgomery holds the record for the number of appearances for Sunderland and it is most likely that the record will never be beaten.

Monty was very unlucky not to go to the 1970 World Cup in Mexico and very unlucky not to win England caps during an era of great England goalkeepers. His double save in the 1973 Cup Final is the stuff of legend, and the embrace with Bob Stokoe an enduring image.

Sunderland born and bred, Jim has given most of his life to Sunderland AFC and will most likely continue to do so for as long as he’s able - he’s a real credit to the club and, in every sense of the word, is a club legend.

Dave Watson

Dave Watson was signed as a centre forward from Rotherham in 1970 for £100,000.

He wasn’t a young player at that time and had up until that point had a mixed career. After a period of alternating between centre forward and as a centre back, he established himself as a rock at the heart of the defence in the 1972/73 season.

He was 26-years-old in that final and at that time had not won an England cap, but he came of age and developed into a top class defender, winning 14 caps for England whilst playing for Sunderland in the second division. In total he won 65 full caps and remains the most capped England player never to have played at a major tournament.

Watson played 212 games for Sunderland scoring 33 goals. It has been discussed over the years as to whether Watson or Hurley was our greatest central defender.

Who knows - they were both truly great players.

Watson [left] is mobbed by Billy Hughes and Iain Porterfield after scoring against Luton Town in the FA Cup 6th Round in 1973.

Bobby Kerr

The Little General was the leader of the team for most of the 1970s. Who could ever forget his grin when he lifted the FA Cup in 1973, or the miles and miles that he covered up and down the right wing?

Bobby Kerr came to Sunderland in 1964 aged 17 from Alexandria in Scotland and has never left. As a young player he twice recovered from broken legs, which at the time would have ended the career of many. Despite this he scored 69 goals in 433 appearances, barely missing a game between 1970 and 1978.

In the 1970s everyone knew who Bobby Kerr was. Bobby Kerr lifted the cup for Sunderland.

Gary Rowell

In 1976, when we were struggling in the First Division for results and goals, manager Jimmy Adamson turned to 19-year-old Gary Rowell - and that started a period for the attacking midfielder/striker to score 44 goals in two and a half seasons.

Rowell, from Seaham, was a lovely footballer. Though not blessed with blistering pace, he would ghost into goal-scoring positions and his finishing was deadly. Rowell was an expert penalty taker, missing only one and scoring 22.

Not very many Sunderland supporters get the chance live their dream and play for their boyhood club - imagine doing that AND scoring a hat-trick for Sunderland against Newcastle at St. James’ Park? Rowell did when he was at his peak in the 1978/79 season.

If it wasn’t for a serious injury in 1979, Rowell would surely have gone on to play for England. He was a quality player who broke our post-war scoring record - a true Sunderland hero.

Shaun Elliott

Shaun Elliott came through Sunderland’s ranks with Gary Rowell and Kevin Arnott, changing tthe Sunderland team of 1976/77, and were fixtures in it for the rest of the decade.

Elliott was a classy footballer, starting as a midfield player before eventually excelling in central defence, forming a great partnership with Jeff Clarke.

Elliott was from Haydon Bridge in Northumberland but was always a Sunderland supporter. He got recognised at England-B level and, like his team mate Gary Rowell, would surely have graduated to the full England team had he not been cruelly injured by Graeme Souness.

Elliott would captain Sunderland for several years, making 368 appearances and scoring 11 goals - he was, without a doubt, one of the best Sunderland players of his time.

Elliott faces up Villa’s Des Bremner while playing for the Lads in 1981.

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