On this day 28 years ago, ex-Sunderland legend and Chelsea manager Ian Porterfield was lining up Sunderland’s 34-year-old goalkeeper Tony Norman as a replacement for the out-of-form Dave Beasant.
The goalkeeper crisis at Stamford Bridge had become critical after reserve stopper Kevin Hitchcock sustained an injury, leaving Beasant as the only senior keeper available for first team duties.
The Welsh international, who only had five caps to his name by the end of his career due to the monopoly Neville Southall had on the Welsh goalkeeper jersey, had impressed over the course of the two games between the sides in the FA Cup quarter-final, six months prior to the Chelsea manager’s interest.
Sunderland manager Malcolm Crosby was approaching a dilemma of whether to stick with current No.1 Tim Carter who had shown good form after Norman had dislocated a finger in the previous weeks, with the Sunderland manager admitting that Carter could keep the jersey even when the Welshman was ready for action.
Signed from Hull City in 1988 in a then record fee that saw Ian Hesford and Billy Whitehurst move in the opposite direction, he is well remembered with Tigers fans and as part of the club’s centenary celebrations was voted at number six in a poll of the 100 top players to have played for the club in its history in 2005.
Despite Chelsea’s interest in 1992, Norman would stay at Sunderland until the summer of 1995 after seven years with the club where he would make 227 appearances and was the first goalkeeper to play at Wembley twice for the club.
Having missed out on Norman, Ian Porterfield would end up with being sacked from his role at Chelsea five months later in February 1993, which came with the added distinction of being the first ever Premier League manager to be relieved from his duties. He would be replaced by Dave Webb until the summer when Chelsea appointed then Swindon player-manager Glenn Hoddle to take the job.