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On This Day: 26 August 1977 – Young striker set for call up after indifferent start to season

ON THIS DAY (1977): An injury to Bob Lee had Jimmy Adamson pinning his hopes on an 18-year-old Sunderland striker.

Soccer - Sunderland Photocall - Roker Park Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

On this day in 1977, Sunderland manager Jimmy Adamson was facing a selection dilemma for the following day’s fixture against Orient at Roker Park.

Having been relegated from the top flight the season prior, Sunderland had started the season in mixed fashion – a heavy defeat away at Hull on the opening day of the season had been backed up with a 3-0 home victory over Adamson’s former club Burnley three days later.

Bob Lee, who’d top scored the previous season with 13, had started the opening two games, but was a doubt for the season’s third fixture – 18-year-old Alan Brown in line to replace him.

Lee failed his fitness test and it was Brown – yet to score a senior goal for the club – who took his place upfront the following day.

Brown failed to score in the 1-1 draw; a Jackie Ashurst penalty rescuing a point for Adamson, who’d taken over mid way the season prior after Bob Stokoe’s departure.

In fact, it wouldn’t be until the next season that Brown did notch – an equaliser at home to Fulham after coming off the bench.

Brown went on to score 25 goals for the club in 127 games, and infamously had a short but successful loan spell up the road, when he scored three in five for our second division neighbours.

He left Sunderland after six years to join Shrewsbury and then Doncaster, where he was forced to retire in 1985 aged just 26 after a cruciate injury.

His son Chris, of course, went on to represent Sunderland, too – scoring 11 in 69 before being sold to Norwich by Roy Keane in January 2007.

West Ham United v Sunderland
Alan’s son Chris also suffered cruciate injuries which hampered his early career development
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

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