Bob Kyle’s mid-1920s Sunderland team were rightly considered one of the strongest in English football, consistently finishing in the top three, but never quite replicating the glory of the 1912-13, when a youthful Charlie Buchan fired them to the League title.
It may have been the mid-point of part of a barren two decades for the club in terms of trophies, but such had been the excitement on both Wearside and Merseyside at the prospect of two of the country’s most famous names fighting it out in the FA Cup Second Round Proper Replay that over 45,000 spectators had packed into Roker Park for a 0-0 draw at the end of January, and then around 50,000 watched on at Goodison as the Toffees progressed with a narrow 2-1 victory on 4th February.
The Valentine’s Day fixture in the First Division would be witnessed by a crowd of 6,000 who braved the driving rain to watch Sunderland reap their revenge. Kyle had selected the same team that had lost in the cup, and Everton sought to build on the previous result by hammering at the door of the Sunderland defence right from the off. The visitors should have taken the lead in the first minute as forward Jimmy Broad was played through on goal. His shot beat Black Cats ‘keeper Albert McInroy but not the post, and we were eventually able to clear our lines. Broad, however, was proving a menace and, on 11 minutes, showed his class to score after breaking clear of the Sunderland defence.
The game opened up after the deadlock was broken, but it wasn’t until the half-hour point that Sunderland really got going. Charlie Buchan, who had already seen one opportunity saved by Jack Kendall between the Everton sticks, didn't miss his second chance running through on goal.
The crowd had by this time swollen to 10,000, who were in raptures when Buchan struck again a minute later from a free kick just outside the box. But Sunderland’s forward play was described by the “Green ‘Un” football sheet as both “ragged” and “moving spasmodically”, and Broad was unlucky to slip when presented with a chance to equalise shortly before the break.
Sunderland took an undeserved 2-1 lead in at half time, but came out all-guns-blazing in the second period - leading to an injury to the Everton defender David Raitt, who - in an era before substitutes - continued on despite being tended to by the ambulance crew at the ground.
This created the space for Sunderland to go on to dominate and secure the game, adding a third goal on 58 minutes from Billy Ellis, after Jack Prior had been denied by Kandall. Everton offered little more for the rest of the game on an increasingly heavy pitch, and the two points were secured shortly before the final whistle when Bobby Marshall scored from a Sunderland corner. The game ended 4-1 to the home side, in what was described at the time as a “Galloping Victory”.
Marshall took Buchan’s mantel as leading goalscorer that season as Charlie Buchan would only score a four more goals for the club, making a total of 12 in a disappointing campaign. But the 33-year-old’s status as the greatest English footballer of his era was cemented, and he would leave to join Herbert Chapman’s footballing revolution at is boyhood club, Arsenal, at the end of the 1924-25 season.
In three terms at Highbury, the ageing Buchan would score a further 49 goals as Chapman took the North London club from relegation candidates to title contenders, re-founding both tactics and training along the way.
The club legend would go on to have a long and illustrious career in sports journalism, founding the Football Writer’s Association and creating and editing the pioneering Charlie Buchan’s Football Monthly periodical, without which the ever-expanding world of football media would be a very different place.
Starting XIs -
Sunderland: McInroy, Cresswell, Oakley, Clunes, Parker, Andrews, Prior, Buchan, Marshall, Ellis, Death.
Everton: Kendall, Raitt, McDonald, McBain, Reid, Chedgzoy, Irvine, Broad, Chadwick, Troup