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On This Day: 22 August 1981 – Sunderland play lower-league friendly as Big Sam eyes move

ON THIS DAY (1981): After arriving at Sunderland a year earlier, Big Sam Allardyce was off – because the club allegedly wouldn’t finance his new house...

Soccer - Football League Division One - Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

On this day in 1981, we lined up against lower-league neighbours Newcastle in a Roker Park pre-season friendly.

A crowd of 10,332 watched on as Alan Durban’s team dispatched Newcastle, featuring a young Chris Waddle and under the management of Bob Stokoe’s 1973 assistant Arthur Cox, 2-1.

Scoring the only goal of the second half to secure victory was one Sam Allardyce, who was given a run out in the hope of securing a transfer away from Roker.

The newspaper also reported interest in St Johnstone striker Ally McCoist. Sunderland, Boro and Wolves battled for his signature – Durban would emerge victorious in the days ahead.

On the morning of the game, Durban, who’d been appointed that summer, said, “I can’t get the best out of Sam, due to the difficulties he’s had in selling his Bolton property. I also want to make room for other players.”

Durban was performing major surgery on the squad – intending, he said, to transfer list a further six or seven, and prepared to listen to offers for the majority of the rest.

“There are another ten players I’d consider offers for,” he said.

Soccer - Football League Division One - Tottenham Hotspur v Sunderland
Allardyce played 27 times for Sunderland after signing from Bolton Wanderers
Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

Allardyce, who had been captain the season before, had handed in a transfer request after chairman Tom Cowie refused to help finance the purchase of a property in Sunderland, and departed shortly after to Third Division Millwall.

That was the first of three times Allardyce departed Sunderland.

Watford v Sunderland - Premier League
See ya mk 3
Photo by Ian Horrocks/Sunderland AFC via Getty Images

He returned to the club as part of Peter Reid’s coaching staff in the 1996-97 season, prior to his appointment as Notts County manager, while we all remember too well the consequences of Roy Hodgson putting Harry Kane on corners.

In hindsight, Tom Cowie should have built him a house.