Foul weather greeted the sides on Wearside on this day in 1910, but overall the scene was bright – unbeaten in their first 13 league games, Sunderland topped Division One as they welcomed Tottenham Hotspur to a damp Roker Park.
Despite the good form the ground was hosting its lowest attendance of the season so far, although this was down to the wretched skies as opposed to being any sort of reflection on recent performances.
This was clearly the hardcore that had turned out, and lining up in front of the sparsely populated stands was debutant Billy Cringan; the Scot would go on to play in several different positions for the Lads and enjoyed a solid start to his senior career in this fixture.
Cringan featured in the club’s 1912-13 title winning campaign and once he’d returned north of the border enjoyed further domestic success with Celtic, as well as representing his country. Playing for Spurs meanwhile was Jack Curtis, who had already shown that it was possible to leave Sunderland and impress elsewhere – the winger now being a popular figure at White Hart Lane. His solitary showing in red and white had been in 1906, whereas another of his teammates, Ernie Coquet, had also been on the books at Roker at the same time but didn’t ever make an appearance for the first team.
Coquet was involved in a couple of friendlies but that was as far as he got, and any hopes he’d once had of scoring for Sunderland were surely very different to how it eventually panned out - attempting to head away an early Jackie Mordue attempt, all he managed to do was divert the ball over goalkeeper Tommy Lunn for an unfortunate own goal.
It was a welcome boost for the home side, who then enjoyed another rub of the green just over 20 minutes later when they grabbed a second. On this occasion it was Tim Coleman that benefitted, turning the ball over the line after it had bounced kindly for him off the crossbar following Jack Cowell’s initial effort.
Cowell’s time with the Lads was short, yet he still managed to notch a handful of goals, and some reports on the following Monday credited him with Sunderland’s second.
Regardless of who had scored it though, it prompted a fight back from Spurs and stopper Tom Allan had to be on his guard. The keeper was starting in place of LR Roose, who had broken a bone in his arm during the previous match against Newcastle United; it wasn’t known at this point, but that would prove to be his last outing for the club and Allan would remain in the starting XI until the new year.
Half time gave the player a chance to refocus. They came out for the second half with renewed vigour and it wasn’t long before Arthur Bridgett extended the lead with a left foot shot after linking up with Jimmy Gemmell. That seemed to kill off the Tottenham rally, and although Curtis remained a threat, he was unable to bring about a repeat of the previous season’s opener between the sides at Roker that had finished 3-1 when Tom Morris scored a late consolation.
Instead, the final goal here was by Coleman when he wrapped things up from close range. 4-0 was about right too; Robert Kyle’s side had coped with the conditions better than their opponents and were it not for some wasteful finishing they would have been even more comfortable winners.
Still, they’d played some attractive stuff and remained top of the table, two points ahead of Aston Villa and the only team in the division yet to be beaten. Results slipped in the coming weeks, but for now, all the fans had to worry about was how long it would take to dry off.
Saturday 26 November 1910
Football League Division One
Sunderland 4 (Coquet OG 3’, Coleman 25’, 62’, Bridgett 52’)
Tottenham Hotspur 0
Sunderland: Allan; Troughear, Forster; Cringan, Thomson, Low; Mordue, Coleman, Cowell, Gemmell, Bridgett.
Roker Park, attendance c. 8,000