In February 1964, Sunderland played league champions Everton in the FA Cup.
Going into the game as leaders of the second division, a huge crowd was in attendance with the official figure listed at 62,851 and many fans, including a number of visiting supporters, locked out.
We came out of the traps quickly and were rewarded with an early goal.
We forced a corner and Brian Usher delivered a cross into the middle of the box. An almighty scramble ensued and just when it looked like the ball was going to be hacked away, Jim McNab stepped up and planted the ball into the Toffees’ goal from close range.
Everton were rocked and Roker Park was rocking as the fans bayed for more.
On eight minutes, Jimmy Gabriel should’ve put Everton level but shot past the post- this was just about the Toffees’ only real attempt on goal in the first half.
With Sunderland moving the ball quickly and accurately down both flanks, it seemed like only a matter of time before we would score again.
Nick Sharkey and Johnny Crossan were coming in for some rough treatment from the Everton defence; Roy Vernon and Tony Kay were guilty of some particularly nasty challenges and were roundly booed by the Sunderland crowd.
On twenty six minutes, a good passage of play saw us force a corner, this time on the left.
George Mulhall swung a dangerous cross into the box. Gordon West flapped at it but missed and the ball landed at Charlie Hurley’s feet.
He scuffed his first shot off Everton centre-back Brian Labone, but managed to collect the rebound and poke it into the net to put the Lads two nil up.
They were two fairly scruffy goals, but well-deserved on the balance of play up to this point in the game.
The referee then turned down a strong penalty appeal as Mulhall was tripped in the box, and on thirty two minutes, the hardworking Sharkey found George Herd with an incisive pass.
Herd angled out to the wing before disguising a low hard cross that momentarily caused confusion in the Everton defence.
West moved late to collect the ball and Mick Meagan, who’d been caught flat-footed with the cross, stuck his left boot out and deflected the ball past his goalkeeper for Sunderland’s third of the game.
The fans were loving every minute as Crossan, Herd, Sharkey and Mulhall tormented the Everton defence, and we eventually left the field to rapturous applause at half time.
Harry Catterick, the County Durham-born Everton manager, must’ve roasted the league champions in the dressing room, because they came out fired up in the second half.
Jimmy Gabriel found Vernon scything through the home defence but he shot over the bar, and Jimmy Montgomery made a good save from Gabriel before diving bravely at the feet of Vernon, with Len Ashurst in close attendance.
However, Everton eventually got themselves on the scoreboard with a well-worked goal.
Alex Scott, who’d been fouled by Ashurst, sent an accurate cross to the far post and for the first time in the game neither Hurley nor Montgomery were anywhere near. Brian Harris arrived at pace and bulleted his header past the home goalkeeper for 3-1.
This prompted some renewed Everton pressure, but the home defence stood firm and the Roker Roar grew louder in support.
Hurley cleared two corners in quick succession and Montgomery made a good save from Vernon, as well as a timely clearance from a Gabriel break into the box.
As the final minutes elapsed, the crowd were belting out the ‘Blaydon Races’ after being treated to a scintillating first-half performance and a dogged defensive effort in the second.
The league champions were eventually beaten and we marched into the sixth round for a tie against the holders Manchester United at Old Trafford- and what drama there was to come!
Post-match, there was some sporting feedback from Everton fans about the quality of Sunderland’s play, which was gracious given that some of them had been locked out and had attempted to follow what was happening from the streets outside.
FA Cup fifth round,
15th February 1964,
Sunderland 3 – 1 Everton
Sunderland: Montgomery, Ashurst, Irwin; Harvey, Hurley, McNab; Usher, Herd, Sharkey; Crossan, Mulhall.
Everton: West, Brown, Meagan; Harris, Labone, Kay; Scott, Stevens, Gabriel; Vernon, Temple.