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On This Day (31 Aug 1968): The Chester-Le-Street magslayer at it again as NUFC are pegged back

Despite the blight of hooliganism, the roof was lifted off the Fulwell End as Colin Suggett scored again in a derby to rescue a point for the Lads at a packed Roker Park.

The 49,428 crowd that crammed into Roker Park for this early-season derby were treated to a hard-fought affair.

With Newcastle 9th in the division one table and Sunderland 10th, on the day there was little to choose between the two teams.

Unfortunately, the game itself was not the only hard-fought affair, as sporadic fighting between supporters before and after the game made the press headlines. One particularly nasty incident prior to kick-off had seen a gang of Newcastle yobs running amok in shops on the way to the ground, terrorising local residents and families on their way to the game.

I got caught up in this as I exited my usual sweet shop with my essential bag of midget gems. In the ruckus that ensued, the bag was split, and I have nursed my wrath ever since!

I had experienced a marvellous introduction to derby matches in season 1966/67 witnessing the Roker Park game as we dished out a 3-0 hammering to our nearest and dearest, (we had also beaten Newcastle earlier that season at St James 3-0). In season 1967/68 from my Roker End perch, I had witnessed a pulsating 3-3 draw as Colin Suggett continued to haunt the Mags with two goals that day. Suggett had also scored in the game played 4 days earlier at Newcastle, nutmegging Frank Clark before rifling the ball into the Newcastle goal.

I was utterly convinced that day in 1968 as I made my way to the Fullwell End for the very first time (minus my midget gems) that “Toddo”, Hurley and “Monty” were going to stifle the Newcastle attack and “Suggsy” was going to put the Toon to the sword yet again.

Colin Todd did play well that day, but it was in midfield in particular that Newcastle struggled to contain us that day, with the elegant Porterfield giving us glimpses of his talent, Herd, Mulhall and Monty also had eye-catching games along with Suggett, who as usual scored a peach of a goal.

However, Newcastle had taken the lead midway through the first half with a well-worked and typical goal from Pop Robson - little did I realise then as my heart sank, that I would cheer this lad three times over as he would later make 164 appearances for us, scoring sixty-seven goals.

The game had continued to see-saw back and forth until midway through the second half and attacking the Roker End, Todd intercepted and headed an accurate pass to Harris just over the halfway line.

Belying anything I had seen from him previously Harris controlled the ball and turned his marker to slide an inch-perfect pass to Mulhall, who with typical tenacity got his foot to the ball and played it one touch across the Newcastle penalty box and the on-rushing Suggett who rifled the ball past McFaul in the Newcastle goal.

I really thought the roof was going to come off the Fullwell End when the ball hit the back of the net, (I had only ever watched from open terracing and as a youngster the noise bouncing off the roof was electrifyingly hair-raising).

Soccer - Football League Division One - Sunderland Photocall
Robson - who went on to play three times for Sunderland - was in black and white that day
Photo by Peter Robinson/EMPICS via Getty Images

The goal was no more than we deserved, although either team might have won it before the final whistle.

One of the biggest disappointments I have experienced following Sunderland was the sale of our young home-grown talent in this era.

Suggett who scored five goals in four appearances against Newcastle, became West Brom’s first £100,000 buy at the end of this season in July 1969. I had watched this lad play for our youth team and marvelled at his take-off speed, which in the blink of an eye would see him put clear daylight between his marker and himself.

He had a good eye for goal and a lovely touch and pass that saw him create as well as score. Suggett’s sale along Colin Todd in 1971 seemed to this young supporter at the time bonkers, (the passing of 50 years and more has not changed my view).

Nonetheless, the plaudits that day go to Todd and Suggett for rescuing a point against a Newcastle side that would go on that season to win their last piece of silverware to the present day, the Fairs Cup.

SAFC: Montgomery. Harvey. Ashurst (Palmer 46mins). Hurley. Todd. Porterfield. Harris. Herd. Stuckey. Suggett. Mulhall.

NUFC: McFaul. Burton. Craig. McNamee. Clark. Elliott. Gibb. Scott. Allen (Iley 72mins). Davies. Robson.

Scorers: Robson 20mins. Suggett 70mins.

Crowd 49,428

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