The Valley was the venue for this second division game on 15th March 1980.
I was lucky enough to witness this one, though I had travelled with hope rather than expectation given our away form to date that season. I was clutching somewhat at straws in thinking that I had been to Craven Cottage over the Christmas period and seen our first victory away from Roker Park as Claudio Marangoni scored an excellent winner for us.
Was London to be lucky again?
The writing was on the wall for Charlton even prior to the game, their 4-year-old mascot burst into tears in the warm-up and was carried from the field, though was given sympathetic applause by around 2,500 travelling fans in the pretty sparse crowd.
The Valley had always seemed a grand old ground to me, but looked in need of some care and attention on this day and Charlton were struggling at the wrong end of the table going into this game.
Marangoni continuing on from his exploits at Craven Cottage, provided an audacious dummy after some good work from Arnott and Whitworth in the very first minute. In what was to be a pattern during his time with us where the elegant Argentinian was concerned, it was not read by any of his teammates.
On eleven minutes Whitworth and Arnott combined again, leading to Sunderland’s first goal. Always an intelligent attacker for a full-back, Whitworth galloped forward and found Arnott in-field. The schemer speared a pass to Alan Brown, twelve yards out and with his back to goal. He swivelled and at pace he mishit his shot but it went in off the far post. What a start!
Recent signing Joe Hinigan then made a cracking tackle on Addicks dangerman Hales, as Charlton responded probably for the first time in the game.
On sixteen minutes, the creator turned scorer as Arnott wove a bit of magic for the boisterous away support. Brown found Marangoni with a good pass, who obliged the lively Cummins with another good ball. The little winger played a measured pass in-field to Arnott who struck a beautiful shot first time from the edge of the box that bent into the top corner of the goal. A superb passage of play finished off with a sublime strike. There were some incredibly happy travellers dancing around the Valley at this point.
Turner made good saves from Gritt and Hales as Charlton tried to respond. Charlton keeper Johns then made good saves from Cummins and Brown, who also saw an overhead attempt from an Arnott free kick just go by the post.
Just before half-time, Brown attempted to find Robson on the edge of the box. Gritt just got to the pass, but inexplicably played the ball to Robson lurking at the corner of the box. If there was a degree of fortuitousness about the pass, Robson added the skill factor with a marvellous arrowed shot that went in at the angle of the goal.
The Lads left the pitch at half-time to loud acclaim from the travelling support, as I quickly checked the fixture list to see when we were back in London!
The second half resumed with Charlton on the attack, Turner saving well from Hales and Robinson.
Gary Rowell came on for the injured Alan Brown just after the hour mark and was immediately into the action. First of all, teeing up Arnott for a good strike, well saved by the keeper’s legs and then having a corker of a volley from twenty yards out that was well saved by the over-worked Johns in the Addicks goal.
Arnott then set Rowell up with a lovely pass, it probably deserved a goal, but the mag-slayer’s shot produced another good save.
Just when we thought the scoring was done, the busy Elliott, who had played in front of the back four, galloped away down the right-hand side and held off two defenders to slide a great ball to Robson, who smashed his second goal of the game into the back of the net.
This was a cracking team performance and triggered an unbeaten away run to the end of the season as we won four and drew two on the road.
Robson scored his first goals for seven games and certainly deserved the plaudits. Arnott was at his prompting probing best and Cummins looked every inch the first million-pound footballer Jack Charlton always said he was going to be.
We of course finished the season in second place and went up with champions Leicester City. Our home form that season was phenomenal as we won 16, drew 5 and lost none.
Our away form up to this point had seen only one victory, but momentum was gathering and we remained unbeaten on the road as the season finished marvellously not only with promotion, but a Wembley victory in the Daily Express 5-a-side tournament at the Wembley arena. Happy Days!
March 15th 1980
League division two
Charlton 0 – 4 Sunderland (Brown, Arnott, Robson 2)
Charlton: Johns, Hazell, Walker, Tydeman, Berry, Madden, Powell, Hales, Robinson, Smith, Gritt.
Sunderland: Turner, Whitworth, Hinigan, Clarke, Hindmarch, Elliott, Marangoni, Arnott, Brown (Rowell), Robson, Cummins.