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On This Day (24 August 1963): Young winger Brian Usher makes his Sunderland debut!

Good pre-season form had seen Brian Usher force his way into Sunderland manager Alan Brown’s reckoning as he continued to change the guard at Roker Park.

Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images

Easington Lane lad Brian Usher had been spotted playing for Elmore Colliery Welfare Juniors, and joined the Sunderland ground staff in 1959.

He signed a professional contract in 1961 and with some excellent pre-season form, he found himself with the number seven shirt and an opening day debut at Huddersfield for the memorable 1963/64 season.

The dressing room might have been a tad intimidating for the young winger on that opening day, with the likes of Stan Anderson, Charlie Hurley, Jim McNab, Johnny Crossan, Herd and Mulhall established and experienced players in a team expected to challenge for promotion.

Thankfully, the young debutant had some company.

Manager Alan Brown was overhauling the dressing room and youth was being given its chance with Ashurst, Irwin, Sharkey, Harvey and Montgomery, as well as Usher set to make a real impact.

Soccer - Football League Division One - Sunderland Photocall
Alan Brown, Sunderland manager July 1969
Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

The team that won promotion that season had a remarkable continuity to it, with no fewer than nine first team players clocking up over thirty-seven league appearances - and a further two registering over thirty.

Usher made forty-one league appearances that season and a further seven cup games, including the epic three FA cup games against Matt Busby’s Manchester United (Bobby Charlton rated these as the most memorable of his career).

Sunderland achieved promotion in second place behind Leeds United with a team whose names trip off the tongue of supporters of this era, in the way the 1973 FA Cup team does for many of us.

Brian Usher was a tall winger who could play left or right wing (and later in his career played at inside forward). He played Sixty-one league games for Sunderland scoring five goals. He regularly took the corner kicks that Charlie Hurley caused so much havoc from, and was an integral part of the promotion-winning team of 1963/64.

Having made such an impact in his first season, he found his second season a bit more difficult.

Manager Brown had left before the season started following a dispute with the board. Initially, a combination of board members and Charlie Hurley oversaw team selection, then ex-England manager George Hardwick arrived - by which point Sunderland were in danger of being relegated from the top flight after only one season back.

Despite all the difficulties, the youngster would rack up twenty league appearances in 1964/65, but the purchase of England international Mike Hellawell in January 1965 saw his opportunities limited, and he played his last game for Sunderland on the 16/04/65 in a 2-1 defeat to Wolves at Roker Park.

In June 1965 he joined his former mentor Alan Brown at Sheffield Wednesday and stayed there for three seasons. He then went to Doncaster Rovers (in exchange for Alan Warboys) for whom he made one hundred and seventy appearances between 1968 and 1973, contributing crucially to their promotion in 1968/69 season.

For the record, Brian Usher’s debut was a 2-0 victory against Huddersfield at Leeds Road.

SAFC: Montgomery, Irwin, Ashurst, Anderson, Hurley, McNab, Usher, Herd, Kerr, Crossan, Mulhall. Scorers: Kerr & Mulhall. Crowd: 20,894

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