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Sunderland and Derby County - a look back in the history books at an ELEVEN goal thriller!

Ahead of today's game with Derby County, Mark Metcalf looks ahead by turning to the history books for interesting games between the two sides.

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The most amount of goals scored in a Sunderland game is twelve. They came in a match that took place on 2 February 1895 in the FA Cup with non-League Fairfield thrashed 11-1 at Newcastle Road in a season in which Sunderland won the League title for the third season in four.

There has been four occasions when eleven goals have been scored in Sunderland games.

On 6 December 1930 Roker Park hosted the Sunderland - Liverpool match that finished with the home side winning 6-5 with Bobby Gurney scoring three.

On 29 October 1932 Sunderland beat Bolton Wanderers 7-4 in a game that saw Gurney score four. On 24 March Sunderland lost 6-5 away to WBA, Gurney scored three!

Gurney had retired when Sunderland travelled to the Baseball Ground to face Derby County on 16 December 1950. The away side was packed with a string of expensive signings. Len Shackleton, who missed this particular game through injury, had cost a then club record fee of £20,050 when he was signed from Newcastle in 1948. Centre forward Trevor Ford cost the Wearsiders a British record fee of £29,500 when bought in October 1950 and £9,000 was also invested in winger Billy Bingham.

Despite such an array of attacking talent, Sunderland struggled to score goals in 1949-50 and were to finish the season scoring less than relegated Sheffield Wednesday.

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Sunderland had opened the season by beating Derby County 1-0 courtesy of a Len Shackleton goal before a Roker Park crowd of 52,452. Just one point from the following five games saw Bill Murray’s side slide into the relegation zone. They had - only just - moved out of it before they journeyed to the East Midlands and before kick off Sunderland had drawn two and lost three of their previous five games.

The match, played on a snow covered pitch, was watched by a crowd of 15,952. The treacherous surface was to help create an eleven-goal thriller. With defenders unable to turn quickly, the forwards held the advantage as both sides utilised the appropriate tactics of long balls and precise positioning.

The home side took an early lead through Jack Lee, who only weeks earlier had scored for England in his only International match in a 4-1 victory at Windsor Park against Northern Ireland. Hugh McLaren made it 2-0 on 27 minutes before Dickie Davis, who the previous season had become the fifth Sunderland player to finish as Division One top scorer with 25 goals, scored Sunderland’s first. On 35 minutes, Lee, who had cost £18,500 when purchased from Leicester City in June 1950, put Derby two ahead again before Ford cut the deficit to leave the interval score Derby 3 Sunderland 2.

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On the restart, Ford drew the teams level and Sunderland might then have taken the lead but Harold Brown in the home goal was in fine form and made a number of important saves. On 67 minutes Lee scored his third goal to put Derby back in front and then two minutes later McLaren scored his second to make it 5-3. Despite playing at outside left, McLaren scored freely for Derby and hit 56 in 131 senior games between October 1949 and January 1954.

Tommy Wright put Sunderland back into the match on 72 minutes only for Lee to score his fourth on 78 minutes. Lee was to end the season with 29 goals for Derby. He finished second to Blackpool’s Stan Mortensen at the top of the Division One scorers chart.

Sunderland though battled on bravely and with four minutes left Ford, who a minute earlier had hit the foot of the post, put his side in with a chance by scoring the eleventh goal of the game. Despite the cold no one was leaving early and Davis had a header tipped over the bar before right half Tommy McLain had a shot that went close.

At the end of the game all the players were warmly applauded by the spectators. The result meant that Sunderland had not won at Derby for 29 years, a poor run the Wearsiders ended on the first day of the 1951-52 season when just seven goals were scored with Sunderland scoring four of them.


(Lee 8, 35, 67, 78; McLaren 27, 69) - (Davis 29, 47; Ford 42, 86; T. Wright 72)

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

Derby County: Brown, Mozeley, Parr, Ward, Oliver, Musson, Harrison, Stamps, Lee, Morris, McLaren.

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