It was on this day back in 1973 that Sunderland first ventured into Europe - taking on and successfully defeating Hungarian side Vasas Budapest by two goals to nil in the now demolished Ferenc Puskás Stadium - then known as Népstadion.
Bob Stokoe’s side did of course qualify for European action by virtue of winning the FA Cup Final against Leeds United at Wembley Stadium in May, though as a struggling second division side it was anyone’s guess how they’d fare once they got into it with some of the toughest teams in Europe.
The European Cup Winners Cup was then a prestigious tournament, and the 1972/1973 final was actually contested just eleven days after Sunderland’s famous Wembley win, with the losing side on that day - Leeds United - also losing out in the final again, this time at the hands of AC Milan in Greece. It was a tough couple of weeks for Don Revie’s side, suffering successive cup final disappointments by a goal to nil on both occasions.
Our game in the Nepstadion was a double header as, earlier that day, first up was the UEFA Cup tie between Ferencvaros and Gwardia Warsaw - a tie which was won by the Polish side.
Reports estimate that between four and five hundred mackems made the trip across - many by air, and others by train. Railwaymen in those days travelled on trains for free, so whilst the trip was arduous, they could at least take comfort from the fact they were getting there on a budget.
Venturing through the Iron Curtain wasn’t as easy in those days as it is now, and as such the fans who made the trip across were commended for their unwavering support of the team.
Sunderland were allowed five substitutes on the night - a change from the usual one - but opted to select only four. The same team that started and won the game against Leeds four months prior began the tie in Budapest, presumably as a reward for the hard work that got them there in the first place.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Guthrie, Pitt, Watson, Malone, Porterfield, Horswill, Kerr, Tueart, Hughes, Halom. Subs: Swinburne, McGiven, Young, Lathan.
Vasas: Meszaros, Torok, Fabian, Kantor, Lakinger (Gass), Vidats, Muller, Toth, Varardi, Kovac, Sipocz.
The Vasas team included a host of Hungarian internationals, and with 35,000 in attendance the Lads were up against it from the off.
But, the persistence which saw them through at Wembley eventually saw them emerge from their first ever foray into European action with a victory and clean sheet in tow.
After a bad foul felled Tueart on the right wing in the 67th minute, Dick Malone whipped in a free kick which was met by the head of Hughes to score one of the most famous goals in Sunderland’s history - the first ever by a Roker player on European soil.
Then came an outstanding goal from Tueart with just a minute left on the clock to seal the deal - picking the ball up inside the Sunderland half from an Ian Porterfield pass, Tueart danced his way around the Vasas midfield and defence before making his way into the box to double Sunderland’s lead.
The Lads, the underdogs once again, were victorious.
The return leg was set for a fortnight later at Roker Park, and taking the advantage into that game - the first foreign football action our famous ground had seen since the 1966 World Cup - would prove pivotal.
Stokoe’s men may not have been a successful league side, but they knew how to give it a good go in the cups!