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TALES FROM THE STANDS: Memories of Roker Park - the early days of becoming a Sunderland fanatic

We asked you, our dear readers, to share your earliest memories of Roker Park and watching the Lads. Today we’re reminiscing about the 50s, 60s & 70s... Here’s a collection of our favourite responses!

Tales From the Stands
Danny Roberts | Roker Report

Paul Lund

I was in the old Roker End - probably in the late 70s - and after a particular heavy tackle on one of our players down by the corner flag this young lad shouts out “kick the c**t in the knackers”, to which a wheel-heeled and educated chap standing behind me turned to his mate and said “well that’s a bit of a contraction in terms isn’t it!”

It made me chuckle.

He tapped me on the shoulder and he said “did you like that?” We all had a great laugh.

Brian Robson

My first match at Roker Park had very little humour and it was not until a few years later that I discovered the significance of the day. I was 6 or 7 at the time and a freezing cold Boxing Day was deemed by my father to be my first match at Roker Park.

I didn’t see much of the match as I was too small to see over the ocean of supporters in the Fulwell end where I stood with my dad and his mates. He would lift me up occasionally onto the red bars to see a little better, and I remember there was a long delay as someone was down and looked badly injured.

Not realising at the time the players by name I thought “get on with it, its bloody freezing!” It was around Christmas time, and if I remember rightly I think it was 0-0 at the time. Oh... the player down on that day as I was later to find out was Brian Clough.

God knows how I became a lifelong supporter - I can only think its in the blood.

PA Images via Getty Images

Geoff Storey

I was at Grange park junior school in the fifties, and a gang of us decided to watch the lads play a Wednesday cup replay against Sheffield United.

When the bell went at school we ran down to Roker Park to get in when the exit gates were opened. We got ourselves perched on the iron bar at the back of the fence at the Fulwell end, and watched on as Ray Daniel score a thirty-yard screamer. Good times!

Mel Bond

My first visit to Roker Park was on a cold November afternoon in 1958. It was my birthday present - I was four on Friday the 28th, and was taken to Roker the next day as a total surprise.

I put on my new grey duffle coat and shoes, and off we went.

When we got off the bus in the town centre I was given my first scarf, bobble hat and a red and white striped rattle - and boy did I make some noise all the way to the ground.

We grabbed a hot dog outside the ground for lunch and watched the players arriving, and then I was taken around the back of the Fulwell end and into the seats opposite the tunnel so I could see them come out.

We played Sheffield United and won 4-1, and though I cannot remember the team and scorers it was a brilliant birthday present.

Francis McCormick

I was around three at the time and can only remember bits.

I was in the Roker end with my dad and his friends. I’m not sure of the game and how it was played but dad thought I was the right age to start supporting the club.

He’d put me on his shoulders as I couldn’t see, and as it kicked off the roar from the fans was deafening. My dad had told me I’d not started really watching the game until around twenty minutes in.

At half time it was 0-0 and it was a scrappy game, and then they came out for the second half. Dad had turned to me and said “you’ll enjoy this half better, son”.

Then, five minutes in, it happened - I tapped my dad on the shoulder and said quite loudly “dad this is bad, can you turn it over so I can watch the cartoons” - his mates were in stitches, so he put me on the ground and said “just stay there, youngin.”

I didn’t get to see the rest of the game and was put to bed as soon as I got home!

Neill Thompson

I first attended Roker Park in the Autumn of 1970 when the opposition was Birmingham City.

It was a Second Division game, although Sunderland had been relegated from Division One the season before. We travelled (with my Dad and brother) from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the train, changing at Newcastle.

My Dad took us to a cafe in Newcastle near the station. Suddenly loads of Mags appeared, many of whom had just come out of the Barbers with Skinhead haircuts. I remember one aged about 16 shouting to some of the others “are ye gan tee the match?” and “are ye gan in the Fulwell?” Then about 150 of them proceeded to board the train to Sunderland chanting “City!” all the way.

As the train left Newcastle though and began to stop at all the stations in between Newcastle and Sunderland it quickly became packed with Sunderland supporters clad in red and white scarves.

I do remember some fighting at one of the stations and one of the Newcastle “Skinbirds” complaining that some of the Newcastle fans were taking a bit of a kicking!

Anyhow we got to Roker, walking from Seaburn, and as Roker Park came into view my Dad said “there’s Roker Park, lads”.

I was amazed at the immense concrete structure supporting the huge Roker End. We had seats and remember a huge punch up in the Fulwell where about eighty Mags had infiltrated but were given very short shrift.

Monty was in goal and Colin Todd and Dennis Tueart were in the team. Birmingham scored first but Sunderland fought back and two second half goals made the final score 2-1. The attendance was probably about 16,000 and as we walked back to Sunderland Station over Monkwearmouth Bridge my Dad reminisced about the days of 50,000 attendances - thankfully the Cup run in 1973 brought a glorious return to that! I was 12 years old.

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