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On This Day: 1 September 1984 – Future SAFC striker bags hat-trick against Ashurst’s side

ON THIS DAY (1984): The first managerial meeting between Len Ashurst and Brian Clough ended in an away defeat for Sunderland. But who was the future SAFC striker who notched a treble?

Sunderland Photo by Staff/NCJ Archive/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

On this day in 1984, a future Sunderland striker bagged a hat-trick against us as we fell to a second defeat in three games to start the season.

Peter Davenport was the man in form, with his treble for Forest at the City Ground giving Brian Clough’s team a 3-1 victory – a Colin West goal from the spot our only reply.

Peter Davenport - Nottingham Forest FC 1984
Davenport was signed by Clough from Cammel Laird, and scored 54 in 118 for Forest. He was also capped for England later this season, coming on as sub for Mark Hateley and setting up Gary Lineker’s first ever international goal.
Photo by Mark Leech/Getty Images

It was a game that saw Len Ashurst give debuts to new signing Roger Wylde and young centre back David Corner, playing because of injuries to captain Ian Atkins, Gordon Chisholm and new signing, Gary Bennett.

Corner was subbed due to an ankle injury immediately after Davenport notched his third after 63 minutes, and only played another four games in all competitions through the whole season – one of which was, infamously, the Milk Cup Final.

In the build up to the game, all the talk was about Brian Clough facing his former club, and coming up against former teammate, Len Ashurst for the first time in their managerial careers.

Clough was still – just about – in his pomp, and Ashurst said, “As far as I’m concerned, he’s the best manager in the country. Bob Paisley was, but he’s no longer in operation.

“Brian Clough squeezes the last pips out of an orange. I sometimes don’t like him as a bloke due to his abrasive manner, but I have the utmost respect for him.

“He is single minded, and I feel we both have learned a lot from being under Alan Brown at Sunderland.

“I’m looking forward to pitting my wits against him for the first time.”

While Cloughie’s men did the league double over Ashurst – a 2-0 victory at Roker Park just before Christmas – Sunderland did defeat Forest over two legs on our way to Wembley.

Davenport, of course, went on to play for Manchester United and Middlesbrough before signing for Denis Smith’s newly-promoted SAFC team in 1990 as a replacement for Eric Gates.

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Liverpool v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium
Davenport was instrumental in getting Sunderland to the 1992 Cup Final.
Photo by Ross Kinnaird/EMPICS via Getty Images

While never the most prolific of strikers, Davenport was a smart, skilful player, who made a significant contribution during the FA Cup run.

And his lovely strike against Middlesbrough during that same season lives long in the memory... and its impact lasted for a few months on my ribs, too – thanks to being stood right in front of the barrier before one of those famous Fulwell End celebratory surges.