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Fan Letters: “Trials and tribulations of the 1973 FA Cup final!”

Memories of 1973, and thoughts on fans leaving games early are our topics today! Got something to say? Email us: RokerReport@yahoo.co.uk

Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

The article by Bill Vaughan brought back a few memories of the 1973 Cup run and final, so thought I would add to them.

Unlike Bill, I was not at the final, having tried and failed to get a ticket. Mary and I were recently married and had managed to get to all of the games in the cup run, except for the final itself.

Demand for tickets had gradually increased, and it was disappointing to note that workmates who had not been to any of the previous games, and rarely attended a match, were off to Wembley.

On the morning of the game, we went off to collect our new car - a very old Land Rover soft top- and limped it home just in time to grab a case of beer and join the assembled family who had set up camp at an in-laws’ house in Chester-le-Street, and who happened to have a large screen TV!

Much beer was consumed during the game, and at half time we joined the queue at Corker’s newsagents for additional supplies.

The game was tense, and I don’t remember sitting down for any of it. It was a strange experience to be standing up in someone else’s lounge watching TV and slopping beer out of a can, but no one seemed to mind the discarded cans and damp carpet.

There were lots of hugs after the game and the party continued into the night, although Monday morning brought us back to earth with work at the offices of Gateshead Council.

The collective hangovers were immense, as were the stories from the guys that went to Wembley, one of which sticks in my mind.

My boss, who was drinking in London after the game, went to the loo, and was leaning on the urinal wall with his head (as you do when careful balance and aim is required). His false teeth fell into the trough and washed towards the drain. Although he tried to retrieve them, he missed, and off they went out to the North Sea, where a fish probably ended up wearing them.

When he shared the story in the office- without his teeth- it made it much more humorous and we laughed for a long time. Other guys lost items of clothing, and stayed in some very dodgy accommodation around Kings Cross, but they all made it home eventually.

Fifty years later, we are still married to the same people, albeit we moved to Oxford for work. As for the Land Rover? We returned it to the garage we bought it from the following Tuesday, and bought something more sensible, as it was not roadworthy.

Alan Blackburn

Ed’s Note [Phil]: Thank you for sharing your memories of the 1973 FA Cup final, Alan!

For younger fans, myself included, we’ve all discovered what a momentous occasion it must’ve been, whether it’s via stories from fans like yourself and Bill, interviews with players, or simply footage of the game itself.

Hopefully, we can make another fabulous memory at Wembley this Saturday, and the post-match alcohol will flow as freely as it did for you and your friends back in 1973!

Soccer - FA Cup Final - Leeds United v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Dear Roker Report,

As an exile for whom attending home games requires a six-hour round trip, I was amazed at the number of people leaving early during the home leg of the playoff semi-final versus Sheffield Wednesday.

I had a three-hour drive home after the game, and stayed beyond the final whistle to enjoy the buzz!

Do these people leave early in other walks of life? Departing the cinema five minutes before the end to ‘miss the traffic’, for example? It’s something I have never understood.

Walking out on poor football, or at the end of a pasting, is one thing (and each to their own on that one), but missing the end of the game often means missing goals, and the end result. Surely these are two main reasons for attending a match?

I think it is bizarre, but I’ll always stay to the end, and have moments such as a last-minute Mart Poom headed goal to show for it, amongst other memories.

Dan Sharer

Ed’s note [Phil]: Thank you for getting in touch, Dan.

This is a subject that is very familiar, and has often been quite divisive. The atmosphere during the first leg was absolutely electric, and it was one of those occasions where every second deserved to be savoured.

On the other hand, I do think that beating the traffic or catching the bus or Metro, particularly during night matches, is something that people are always considering, and this might be even more important for families who attend games.

As you rightly said, it is a case of ‘each to their own’, but as we’ve seen this season, leaving Sunderland matches early can often mean you miss late goals, last-gasp victories, and the celebrations that follow. I do wonder whether that might change if we are in the Championship next season, and we can turn our stadium into a real cauldron right to the very end.

Sunderland v Sheffield Wednesday - Sky Bet League 1 Play-Off S-F Photo by Will Matthews/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images
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