Ahead of the 1993-94 season, Bob Murray got his chequebook out and produced funds never seen before by a Sunderland manager.
It is said that the closeness of Sunderland’s near relegation the previous season sparked the chairman into life - and spending - with up to six new players joining the club.
Murray dipped his hand in his pocket, and around £2m was spent on transfers.
It was all looking promising until a few days before the big kick off when a car crash injured four of the new players at the worst possible time. The accident caused much angst amongst the players involved with Ian Rodgerson, Phil Gray and Andy Melville threatening to sue driver Derek Ferguson.
The bad feeling was noticable on the pitch, with the team losing their first game of the season 5-0 to Marco Gabbiadini’s Derby County - and Sunderland only winning oncee in the first seven games, leaving them stuttering and languishing near the bottom of the table.
Terry Butcher was struggling and his team needed a distraction from league matters. As it happened, this day in 1993 was a very welcome distraction for the under-pressure manager - where Sunderland secured an unlikely victory at Elland Road against Premiership champions Leeds United in a cup competition.
After winning the first leg 2-1 at Roker Park, the lads arrived at Elland Road hoping to repeat the victory to ensure progression in the Coca-Cola Cup.
Howard Wilkinson was in the Leeds dugout, and Brian Deane led the line for the home side - two men who would go on to represent Sunderland in some shape or form.
As early as the eighth minute, Deane almost gave the home team the lead from a header that was saved superbly by Alec Chamberlain after a cross from Gordon Strachan.
Chamberlain became one of the storylines of the night. Minutes after saving Brian Deane’s header, he had to dive fully across his goal to prevent a Gary McAllister free kick from going in, repelling another attack from Leeds, whose pressure was building by the minute.
Against the run of play we got a goal to give us a three-goal cushion. Leeds’ bright play ultimately came to nothing - and in the 17th minute, Don Goodman scored against his hometown team with a header from a hanging Gary Owers free kick.
This appeared to calm Sunderland into the game and they showed great persistence and pressure after this point - and this pressure told, with the away side scoring a second in the 33rd minute.
Phil Gray epitomised the pressure that was shown on the night when he charged down an under-hit backpass to Leeds goalkeeper Mark Beeney and slid it into the net.
Sunderland looked comfortable. Leeds looked shell-shocked, and knew they were facing an uphill battle at home to a side they shouldn’t really be losing to.
In fairness to Leeds, they put some pressure on in the second half and got a goal ten minutes after the break through Noel Whelan. Having said that, it was as good as it got for the home side as Sunderland held strong and never really looked in major trouble.
In what was a disastrous early season situation for the club, this was a short positive moment. It only got worse from here and Butcher wasn’t sacked long after this with Sunderland sitting bottom in the table.
It took an internal replacement - with Mick Buxton taking over to steady the ship.
And as for the next round of the cup? Sunderland lost 4-1 at home to a Mark Bosnich-inspired Aston Villa.
I did say the success was short-lived...