Ian McColl made changes at both ends of the pitch as his Sunderland side looked to maintain their unbeaten home record on this day in 1965.
John Parke came in at left-back against Northampton Town as part of a defensive reshuffle that also saw Martin Harvey trade places with Jimmy McNab – the former moving into a more familiar role down the side of the pitch as a result. A week-long stomach complaint forced the manager’s hand up front too, with the unwell Mike Hellawell having to be replaced by Allan Gauden.
Earlier in the season Gauden had come on as a substitute for Hellawell to make his senior debut and become Sunderland’s first ever substitution, but he himself would have to come off against the Cobblers.
Replaced by Tommy Mitchinson in the final ten minutes, the County Durham youngster at least had the comfort of knowing he’d just made his mark with the final goal before limping off injured during what proved to be a comfortable 3-0 win for the Lads.
As routine as it was though, victory had not been a forgone conclusion before kick-off. The visitors were still finding their feet in Division One having been promoted over the summer, but were boosted a week earlier when they’d gained their first league win of the campaign against West Ham United and in defence included Joe Kiernan, a former Sunderland youth team captain and one time understudy to McNab.
Played amidst bright sun, the opening stages saw Sunderland come out of the traps quickly. Northampton were struggling to get to grips with the slippery surface caused by a rain shower earlier in the day and could have easily fallen behind when Gary Moore flashed a header just wide. Harvey then saw a delicate lob only just clear the bar – both chances coming in the first two minutes.
Harry Walden did fire a shot across the face of the Fulwell End goal soon after, but that was as close as the visitors got in the first half to beating Sandy McLaughlan; the Scot, who was in the side due to Jimmy Montgomery being in plaster, had a quiet afternoon in the main.
Montgomery had fractured his ankle in the previous home game against Nottingham Forest, where he was replaced in goal for the final minutes of that match by Harvey as the Rokerites held onto a 3-2 victory. Ironically, it was namesake Bryan Harvey in the Northampton net that was now on duty, and he was kept busy throughout.
When he was beaten, it was through good play. Having featured in Brian Clough’s testimonial three days earlier, new signing Neil Martin was making his competitive Roker Park debut and opened his account for the club with the type of classy finish fans would soon come accustomed to.
George Mulhall cut inside from the wing and past Theo Foley to fire in for 2-0 soon after and Gauden’s finish was a header courtesy of a lovely Jim Baxter cross.
The fixture was due to feature on Tyne Tees Television’s ‘Shoot’ programme later that evening, with the show starting at 23:35. Anybody staying up late enough may have been shown footage of Bobby Hunt hitting the bar in the final moments, but had the effort gone in it would have only given viewers an unfair recollection of proceedings. Sunderland controlled matters from the off and were without doubt full value for the points.
Saturday 30 October 1965
Football League Division One
Sunderland 3 (Martin 33, Mulhall 37, Gauden 76)
Northampton Town 0
Sunderland: McLaughlan; Irwin, Parke; Harvey, McNab, Baxter; Herd, Martin; Gauden (Mitchinson 81), Moore, Mulhall.
Roker Park, attendance 32,216