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Happy Anniversary! 15 things you might not know about Sunderland’s 1973 FA Cup Final win

It has been 48 years since Sunderland won the FA Cup at Wembley. Think you know everything about it, and all that? Think again! Kelvin Beattie is here with 15 of his favourite facts about that famous day in 1973...

Photo by Don Morley/Allsport/Getty Images

Want to impress your mates in the beer garden as you raise a glass to the 48th anniversary of our famous FA Cup win?

Look no further...

1. At 5’4”, Bobby Kerr is the smallest captain to ever lift the FA Cup.

2. He did lift it, and promptly dropped it as he descended the steps - if you listen hard enough on your older recordings you will hear the clank of the cup hitting the railing as he turned sharply because he had forgotten to pick up his medal.

He’s here, here’s there, he dropped the cup on the stair...
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

3. Rodney Marsh once described Vic Halom’s goal at Roker against Man City, as possibly the best goal he had ever seen.

4. Vic Halom became an iconic figure during the ‘73-cup run, socks rolled down, barrel-chested, and hard as nails, he endeared himself to the Roker hordes with his never-say-die attitude and all-action performances. But, did you know that had it not been for a career-ending injury to John “Yogi” Hughes (brother of Billy) three minutes into his very first game for Sunderland against Millwall on 27 January 1973, Halom would have probably remained a Luton player, and played against us in the quarter-finals two months later?

Bob Stokoe was determined to have a rampaging centre forward and, having paid £35,000 to Crystal Palace for “Yogi”, he acted swiftly upon realising the extent of Hughes injury, with the £35,000 purchase of the like for like centre forward from Luton.

5. Having played most of his career for Newcastle (1946-1960), Bob Stokoe was considered to be black and white. He certainly had an understandable high regard for our near neighbours, but his father was a Sunderland fanatic, and Stokoe was a childhood Sunderland supporter, describing Sunderland as his “first love”.

6. Stokoe was not the only interviewee for the manager’s post when it became available in October 1972. Keith Collings, the Sunderland chairman, also spoke to two ex-Sunderland players who had gone into management. Don Revie and Brian Clough! That must have been some interview by Stokoe, and the rest as they say is history.

Soccer - Football League Division One Championship - Derby County - Baseball Ground
Derby’s Brian Clough was interviewed before Stokoe was appointed manager
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

7. Sunderland were the first Second Division team to win the FA Cup since West Bromwich Albion in 1931. Burnley in 1947, Leicester in 1949 and Preston North End in 1964 were beaten finalists.

8. Sunderland and Arsenal were piped onto the pitch in their semi-final at Hillsborough by the Dagenham Girl Pipers. The first all-female professional pipe band in the world…. bet you did not know that!

9. Nine of the eleven starting cup final players were given their Sunderland debuts by previous Sunderland manager, Alan Brown. Stokoe is credited with releasing the shackles on some exciting players who embraced his gentler discipline and more expansive style of play.

10. Richie Pitt was the only member of Sunderland’s Cup Final team to have previously played at Wembley. He appeared there for the England Under-15 and Under-18 sides.

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Sunderland v Leeds United
Richie Pitt (fourth from left) had previous Wembley experience
Photo by Peter Robinson/EMPICS via Getty Images

11. By the time Sunderland got to Wembley, Pitt looked a shoe-in beside Dave Watson in the heart of our defence. But earlier in the season he had been out on loan at Arsenal and was only recalled in response to an injury to David Young, whom manager Stokoe had bought in from Newcastle to play alongside Watson.

12. Dave Watson was never anything less than wholehearted in performing for Sunderland. He made 209 appearances for the Lads, scoring 33 goals. He earned 65 caps for England at centre half. This figure is remarkable given that he was bought to Sunderland by Alan Brown as a centre forward.

Coach Billy Elliott is credited with moving Watson back to centre half when Brown left in October 1972. When Bob Stokoe arrived, he took Elliott’s advice and kept Watson in defence, a great piece of judgement given Watson’s contribution not just to Sunderland but England. His form in the ‘73-cup run was majestic, as he played a pivotal role in stopping the best that Man City, Arsenal and Leeds could throw at us.

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Leeds United v Sunderland
Watson - majestic
Photo by Peter Robinson/EMPICS via Getty Images

13. Brian Chambers was an unused substitute for the Man City, Luton and Arsenal ties during our cup run. Having been listed against Arsenal in the semi-final, he has a unique distinction of then appearing for Arsenal in the 1973 losing semi-finalist game - fixtures that were played from 1970 to 1974. Arsenal were beaten 3-1 by Wolves. Chambers was transferred to Arsenal the week after the cup final. These games were scrapped in 1975 having failed to catch the interest or imagination of the football public.

14. Joe Bolton shared a room with Mickey Horswill for the Cup Final game at Wembley in 1973.

15. The night before the final, as Horswill lay on his bed chewing sweets, Joe had the unlikely task, alongside coach Billy Elliott, of dying the boots of all the first team players. The players had agreed a £250 per man deal to wear Stylo boots for the final. The players were not enamoured with the Stylo boots and preferred to wear their own. The Stylo boots had a distinctive White flash which had to be painted on.

Joe and Billy did a sterling job according to Bobby Kerr and all looked grand in the changing room before the game. Unfortunately, as many will recall, torrential rain greeted the players on their arrival on to the Wembley turf. If you look closely, you will see white dye running off their boots as they trot across Wembley. Needless to say, Stylo were not happy, and the payment went to dispute.

SPORT Remember 2
Can you spot the white flashes?
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Enjoy 5th May, my fellow fans. As we head into the unpredictable arena of the play-offs, it will do us no harm at all to recall a period in our history where we defied the odds, played with great skill and effort, and completed the unlikeliest of victories, sweeping up a whole new generation of fans, as well as enticing back many who had fallen by the wayside.


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