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On This Day (8 December 1934): Gurney bags a hattrick as Sunderland hit Birmingham for five!

Johnny Cochrane’s Sunderland side were top of the first division and knew that slipping up against Birmingham at Roker Park wasn’t an option - so they stuck five past them, with Bobby Gurney scoring three!

The 1934-35 season was a tremendous one for Sunderland.

According to people who watched the team at the time, The Lads played some amazing attacking football - scoring an abundance of goals and leading the charge at the top of the Division One league table for most of the season.

They came close to thwarting Arsenal who in the end deservedly took the league title for the third season in a row. Up until Christmas, things were going swimmingly, with Sunderland topping the league.

Unfortunately, it was four home defeats on the lead up to Christmas that would be to their detriment, with no further losses at Roker Park in the new year making it all the more disappointing.

On this day in 1934 was one of the many resounding victories that the Rokerrites would obtain in their quest for league success - with Birmingham on the receiving end of a 5-1 defeat.

Soccer - Football League Division One - Sunderland
Jimmy Connor was to the fore in this game
Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images

18,000 spectators turned up to witness the home team turn in a positive performance - which contained exciting attacking football, a new signing, and a striker in Bobby Gurney, who was one of the best around at this time.

According to the Sunderland Echo match report of this game, the 18,000 fans that turned up were in good spirits given the constant downpour pre-match.

Considering the early morning conditions, an attendance of about 18,000 at the start was very good, but the Roker Park ground was very soft down the centre as a result of the heavy rain.

The full time scoreline suggests that Sunderland were comfortable, but in fact things were anything but at the start of the game.

The visitors dominated the early proceedings and took the lead, with the Echo suggesting that the Sunderland defence were “in a tangle”.

Sunderland seemed to be beaten for pace and judgement and their defence was in a tangle on a number of occasions. A beautiful forward pass from Grosvenor put Jones through, and when he was less than a foot from the 18 yard line, Murray brought him down.

The resulting free kick led to the away side scoring through Birmingham’s Ned Barkas, who lifted the ball into the net to go 1-0 up.

Soccer - Football League Division One - Sunderland Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images

The lead didn’t last too long when the main man Gurney equalised after a shot ricocheted into his path, where he had an easy enough finish past Hibbs in the Birmingham goal. In the build up to the goal, the weather was clearly impacting the play as Patrick Gallacher slipped and missed the ball as he was about to shoot.

Gallacher made up for this when he added the second goal instantly after Gurney’s first - and Jimmy Connor added a third to put Sunderland 3-1 up at half time.

As the second half commenced, Sunderland’s attack were on top, and much of the good play in this game was attributed to their new signing George Goodard - who had joined the club from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

The match reporter from the Coventry Telegraph was impressed by Goodard and his teammates throughout the game.

Sunderland overplayed Birmingham in the second half, hard as the midlanders tried to keep going. With Goodard playing some good football on his first appearance, Sunderland’s forward line was moving brilliantly with Connor being outstanding on the left.

As the game started to get away from Birmingham, talisman Gurney added a further two to give him another hattrick, and Sunderland the three points after a good day’s work from the home team.

This result maintained their place in first position, and the Lads followed this up with a further goal-laden win against Portsmouth - before two home defeats eventually succumbed the team to second place when Arsenal went through the gears after Christmas.


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