It is 110 years since the culmination of one of Sunderland’s greatest-ever seasons, in which the club won a fifth Football League title and reached the English (FA) Cup final for the first time – with a second round game played on this day proving to be an important stepping stone towards the showpiece fixture.
Opponents Manchester City had been given a reprieve from the weekend when the tie had originally been attempted. Losing 2-0 to Robert Kyle’s men, the match had to be abandoned with half an hour to go following repeated incidents of encroachment on the Hyde Road pitch by home supporters, and whilst the hosts were handed a hefty fine, they were not yet removed from the competition.
Instead, the authorities quickly decided that the match should be replayed – only it was now to take place on Wearside. Scheduled for the coming Wednesday, traditionally a half day in the town, interest was high and so the directors felt they had to close the gates nearly an hour before kick-off. This was despite some areas of the ground still having plenty of space available, but after the issues in Manchester, the club were keen to avoid a repeat of the scenes that had been witnessed four days earlier.
Hyde Road’s official capacity of around 40,000 had been exceeded to a point where it became farcical, with some claiming there was anything between 10,000 and 20,000 more spectators squeezed in than there should have been. Around 1,000 ticket holders had been locked out as well, whilst Sunderland forward Jimmy Richardson, who arrived separately having not travelled with his teammates, was forced to climb a fence to gain access.
It was a goal from Richardson that then caused things really get out of hand. There had been several stoppages already due to the crowd spilling onto the field, and with the Lads now two up having already scored through Charlie Buchan, the commotion that followed amongst the locals saw referee Adams run out of patience and call an early end to proceedings. The Nottingham-based official was back on duty for the rematch too, and was about to oversee another eventful afternoon.
In trying to limit the attendance and keep a lid on things, the Sunderland board’s decision inadvertently contributed towards a potentially fatal incident. Dejected at being unable to get into Roker Park, around 50 fans elected instead to watch from the roof of a coal shed that overlooked the stadium - only for it to collapse shortly after kick-off. Whilst some people were able to get themselves out of the wreckage easily enough the 30ft fall left many others badly injured and once rescued by police officers and volunteers, around 20 people had to be taken to the nearby Monkwearmouth and Southwick Hospital for treatment.
A small handful had to remain there too, although by the end of the week it was being reported that those that were yet to be discharged were at least recovering ‘favourably’ – their mood improved further perhaps by news that this time the game was concluded, and Sunderland had been victorious despite everything that had gone on. It was not an easy win, however, and the players came out of it with plenty of bumps and bruises themselves.
Adams awarded the Rokermen an early spot kick when Buchan was bundled over by Tom Holford, and even though City got away with on that occasion their physicality continued thereafter. Jackie Mordue, described in one subsequent match report as ‘the prince of penalty takers’ was shocked to see his well-struck effort saved low down by Walter Smith; it was a good save as opposed to a poor attempt, but there were more headaches to follow.
Both Mordue and Buchan, while drawing praise for their attacking play, were ‘knocked out during the progress of the struggle’ according to The Sportsman’s write-up the following morning. Their reporter referred to a ‘good deal of rush-and-tumble work’, but Sunderland’s talented forward line was not to be bullied out of it; in the second half they began to shake off their markers, and in doing so secured a deserved victory.
Oddly, the goals came in almost identical points to the first game. Mordue responded to his earlier miss by striking a wonderful free-kick high into the net on 51 minutes, and he then turned provider for the second soon after when his cross was headed home by George Holley. It delighted those that had managed to get in, paying total receipts of £2,088 15s. 8d., and at last, after some unexpected delays, the march to the final was back on course.
Wednesday 5 February 1913
English Cup Second round
Sunderland 2 (Mordue 51, Holley 58)
Manchester City 0
Sunderland: Butler; Gladwin, Milton; Cuggy, Thomson, Low; Mordue, Buchan, Richardson, Holley, Martin.
Roker Park, attendance 27, 974