On this day in 1975, the P word was being mentioned in the Monday morning papers after Sunderland got the new season off to a good start with a 2-1 victory in front of over 28,000 at home to Chelsea.
“Right, here’s your starter for 10,” said the match report. “What word has nine letters beginning with P and ending in N?
“And here’s the clue: it concerns the passage of a football team to a higher division.
“Answers on a postcard please… but not to Roker Park! For the word in question is guaranteed to produce nothing but stony silence and icy stares around the ground which loins to act as host to the country’s leading teams.
“They’re not talking about you-know-what after two frustrating seasons of near misses.”
After failing to claim promotion by two points the season after winning the FA Cup, and by two points again the following season, Sunderland were determined to make certain this time around.
Starting the season at home, where the previous season we’d won 14, drawn 6 and lost only 1, scoring 41 and conceding only 8 goals, we faced up against a Chelsea team who’d come down from the top flight.
Bob Stokoe’s team had beaten Eddie McCreadie’s Chelsea thanks to a Pop Robson equaliser just before half time after keeper Steve Sherwood had caught Bobby Kerr’s corner, then ‘mysteriously’ dropped it at the feet of the Sunderland striker.
Dennis Longhorn’s second half goal secured the three points, and set the team on course for a third-time-lucky promotion. The title was claimed thanks to a remarkable home record of 19 wins and 2 draws in 21 games – which was just as well, given our away record of 5 wins and 6 draws in 21 games.
Pop would end the season as top scorer with 13, as Stokoe’s team went up – however the fragility that saw us struggle away from home would be exposed in the top flight the following year, and after 4 draws and 5 defeats in the opening 9 league games of the season, Stokoe left the club – a sad and anticlimactic end for the man now immortalised outside the Stadium of Light.