Back in 1980, England keeper Peter Shilton was found parked up in a country lane at 5am, with a woman called Tina. Unfortunately for Shilts, the person who found the couple was Tina’s husband, Colin, who discovered them in, let’s say, a ‘state of undress’.
Panicked, Shilts sped off – and drove straight into a tree.
One arrest and failed breathalyser later, a £350 fine and an 18-month driving ban soon followed.
As did the merciless chants ‘Does your wife know you’re here’, which followed him around the country for a while.
As these things do, time passed and fans everywhere in the country forgot all about Shilton’s indiscretion.
Everywhere, that is, but Sunderland.
Shilton famously commented that he couldn’t believe that every time he subsequently came to Roker Park, he was subjected to 90 minutes of ‘Tina!’ ‘Tina!’ chants – and, on this day 33 years ago, the now 41-year-old Shilton was still the focus of the Roker crowd.
Unfortunately for us, he rolled back the years with a sensational display that sealed a 2-1 win for a Derby Country side managed by Sunderland’s 1973 assistant manager Arthur Cox, and featuring perennial thorn in the side Mick Harford.
On paper, Derby had a decent team. As well as Shilton – who’d been a teammate of Denis Smith at Stoke – Derby had Mark Wright in their line up. The stylish defender had established himself as a key player in England’s Italia 90 team, marshalling a defence in which Shilton played behind that helped the country reach the semi finals. At the other end of the field, Harford was partnered by the excellent Dean Saunders, and former Sunderland player Nick Pickering – who had long been linked with a return to Roker Park – lined up too.
Despite a smattering of star names, the club wasn’t in the best of form, and going into the game sat two places and one point behind 15th place Sunderland. However, a highlight of the season for the Rams thus far had been a 6-0 league cup demolition of Sunderland – which included a Mick Harford hattrick.
After a run of only one win in ten – at home to fellow struggling side Luton – Sunderland had been buoyed by a 2-0 away win at Sheffield United, and that had lifted both confidence and expectation amongst players and fans alike.
And it seemed that expectation had been well founded, as Sunderland started the match with purpose, desire and intent, going at Derby from the off and looking capable of matching – or bettering – the 6-0 reverse at the Baseball Ground.
However, Shilton had other ideas, turning in a heroic display that rolled back the years, earned his team three points, and certainly dulled the home fans’ mood.
Shilton’s solo display started on just five minutes, tipping a powerful Gabbiadini header onto the bar and then blocking Davenport’s follow-up. Davenport then proceeded to hit the post.
Paul Bracewell flashed a 20-yard volley wide, and Shilton made a string of other saves in the first half.
Of course, as we’re prone to do in pretty much any era, too much possession and not capitalising on it can lead to gaps appearing, and on 36 minutes, that’s exactly what happened – a long through ball from Ramage was played into the direction of Saunders. Kevin Ball looked favourite to get there, but he failed to do so, Saunders’ pace getting him into position to put the ball past his Wales teammate Tony Norman.
That didn’t affect Sunderland’s stride, however, and the lads continued their one-way assault on the Derby goal. A few minutes after Derby’s opener, Shilton saved from Gabbiadini, and Pascoe was denied a penalty after being clearly bundled over when about to knock home the rebound.
The game continued in a similar fashion in the second half. Shilton dived full length to save an Owers shot, and saved from Gabbiadini again and again. However, just before the hour mark, Derby repeated the same trick. Saunders broke free again, and with Sunderland’s team out of position, he crossed for Harford to score a diving header.
On 68, Sunderland had a chance to pull on back from the spot, but Shilton denied Peter Davenport.
Sunderland did pull one back in the last kickings, with a Gordon Armstrong cross shot finally beating Shilton, but all in all, it was a disappointing end to a game that had promised so much.
After the game, Denis said:
If we create half that many chances next week, we will score five or six.
We came up against a world class goalkeeper, but we knew that before the game.
Our football was excellent most of the time, but I was not happy with the Derby goals.
But, if Shilton thought that would shut the Roker crowd up, he was wrong! Eighteen months later, as player-manager of Plymouth, he faced all of the usual chants. And, as usual, he turned in an excellent performance, keeping a clean sheet as the Pilgrims won 1-0.
Fortunately, that was the last time we came up against the legendary former England keeper!