Despite playing for the club less than 100 times and leaving nearly 50 years ago, Micky Horswill remains instantly recognisable to Sunderland supporters and continues to be a popular presence around the area.
He turns 69 today, and so Roker Report pays tribute to the ultimate local lad done good…
Hailing from Annfield Plain, Horswill showed talent from an early age and first linked up with Sunderland whilst still a schoolboy. He quickly rose through the ranks and in the aftermath of Martin Harvey’s career-ending injury was handed his debut by Alan Brown in April 1972.
Brown was always keen to give youngsters a chance and with Horswill looking like a natural fit for Harvey’s number 4 shirt he immediately became a first-team regular.
He played the remaining six fixtures of the 1971-72 season and was a mainstay throughout the following campaign, during which he only missed three league games.
Although one of the youngest members of the squad his lack of experience was never an issue; his energy and ball-winning capabilities in the middle of the park proved invaluable, and his reading of the game was like that of a seasoned pro.
Horswill’s first goal came in a convincing 4-0 win over Middlesbrough in February 1973. Seven days later he scored at Maine Road against Manchester City in the FA Cup, and it was his performances in that competition against some of the best teams in the country that saw him start to gain recognition outside of the area.
Barely 12 months after making his senior debut he played a pivotal role at Wembley as Sunderland beat Leeds United to win the trophy, but less than a year on from that he was sold to City alongside teammate Dennis Tueart.
Various reasons led to Bob Stokoe’s cup-winning side being dismantled and one of the first to leave was Horswill, whose star had burned brightly at Roker but in doing so had burned quickly too. In his final season, he had got three more goals, and for now, he remains the last person to score for Sunderland’s first team in European competition after he got the second in a 2-1 Cup Winners Cup victory over Sporting Lisbon.
Whilst in Manchester he shared a house with George Best and the pair became good friends. Horswill grew up as a Sunderland supporter however and hadn’t wanted to leave the club, so did not enjoy his time in the North West.
He quickly moved on, therefore, playing for Plymouth Argyle next and then going to Hull City. In the early 1980s he went to play football in Hong Kong, this time meeting up with another giant of the game in Bobby Moore.
Injury brought an end to his career following just one appearance for Carlisle United, after which Horswill went into the pub trade before becoming a kitchen salesman. Following that came a successful career on the radio, where he was a forthright member of the seminal Three Legends show alongside Bernie Slaven and Malcolm MacDonald before then going to work on Sun FM in 2013.
Although his place in SAFC history was already assured alongside those of his 1973 colleagues, Horswill’s time as a pundit introduced himself to a new generation of fans and he remains an active supporter of several local charitable causes.
He served the community even further from May 2018 to 2019 as he undertook the role of consort to the Mayor of Sunderland Councillor Lynda Scanlan, a family friend with whom he had done charity work before, and he is still a welcome guest at functions, events and matches. Hopefully he has something suitable lined up for today too – all the best Micky!
Annfield Plain, 6 March 1953
Preston North End 1 (Young 17)
Sunderland 3 (Watson 8, Porterfield 24, Tueart 58)
Football League Division Two Deepdale 4 April 1972
Final SAFC appearance:
Middlesbrough 2 (Mills 17, Foggon 47)
Football League Division Two Roker Park 2 March 1974
Total appearances/goals for SAFC:
92 (+ 1 as sub)/5