Early in 1934, Sunderland had been dumped out of the FA Cup in the Fourth Round - humiliated 7-2 away at Aston Villa. Indeed, away from Roker Park, Johnny Cochrane’s Sunderland side’s form was abysmal - they’d only won two on the road all season - but at home they were indomitable.
Indeed, less than a week after being hammered by the Villains, they’d struck back - comprehensively beating them 5-1 at home. In total the Lads had scored 37 goals at Roker before this game against a decent Tottenham Hotspur side. They had won 3-1 in the reverse fixture and would finish the league in a very respectable third place.
Sunderland had warmed up for this one by beating the amateurs of the Corinthians 2-0 on the preceding Saturday in a friendly arranged to compensate fans for the lack of a cup tie, and this Wednesday afternoon game only attracted 16,000 through the gates - which is not bad considering it was a work day and crowds had been depressed all season due to a combination of our patchy form and the ongoing economic depressions that had seen Britain’s relative trade decline for the first four years of the 1930s.
However, Sunderland supporters could always rely on a local hero to cheer the mood, and Horatio Carter was that man. Argus in the Sunderland Echo describes how the dry pitch and therefore light ball - it’s weight having not increased due to the absorption of water - aided the skilful play of Carter and the four other forwards who took this game by the scruff of the neck in the second half.
Sunderland had taken the lead through another local hero, Bobby Gurney, on eight minutes, but didn’t add to the tally before half time.
In the second period, however, they were ruthless in front of goal despite playing into a strong wind. Yet it was Bert Johnson, a half back (or midfielder), who impressed the local reporter by controlling the play from the centre of the park - switching the play with long diagonal balls to the wings.
And this good play paid dividends in a four minute period early in the second half when a goal from Jimmy Connor and a brace from Carter took the game away from Spurs.
The whole team was credited with the win, Gurney put in a great shift, covering a lot of ground, and the backs and the ‘keeper were helped by the dominance of those in front of them.
Carter completed his hatrick on 73 minutes before Gurney’s work was rewarded on 80 minutes with yet another goal to make it 6-0 at full time. Argus thought it could easily have been 10-0 and it still wouldn’t have flattered the Lads, and almost nine decades later this scoreline stands as the record victory of Sunderland AFC over Tottenham Hotspur.
However, it didn’t change our patchy form - Sunderland could only muster a 1-1 draw away at struggling Liverpool the following Saturday, but the home form was maintained in the the derby match a week later as Sunderland took the local honours with a 2-0 win.
This wasn’t the most successful season for a team that would go on win leagues and cups, but stands out as a game where the class of Carter and Gurney was hammered home to our southern visitors.