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On This Day (24 March 1934): Sunderland just miss out in eleven goal thriller at The Hawthorns!

It was an epic game, and included blistering displays from Bobby Gurney and Raich Carter, but the lads lost out at the death.

There can’t be many people left around today who had the pleasure of watching Bobby Gurney and Raich Carter in their pomp. The duo are rightly remembered as being Sunderland legends, but bar the odd grainy film clip, all we have to go off are newspaper reports and stories that have been passed down and recorded through the ages.

I love getting the chance to delve into the archives and reading old match reports from games – and this one, 89 years ago today – sounded like one to remember.

Sunderland, who had finished midtable the season before, were 9th in the top flight, and were building a promising team. 20-year-old Carter and 26-year-old Gurney were, obviously, key players, and many of the team – including Bill Murray, Sandy McNab, Jimmy Connor, Charlie Thomson and Bert Johnson – would go on to claim the game’s top honours while at the club.

The game against West Brom was an absolute cracker – although manager Johnny Cochrane missed it as he was away on a scouting mission – and the intentions of both sides were clear from the off.

Soccer - Football League Division One - Sunderland Photocall Photo by Barratts/PA Images via Getty Images

GOAL! 2nd minute: West Brom, Billy Richardson 1-0
Harry Shaw’s hesitation let in Richardson with a powerful cross shot – keeper Matt Middleton electing to stay on his line rather than close down the West Brom forward.

GOAL! 7th minute: Sunderland, Bobby Gurney 1-1
Davis’s corner kick was cleared by West Brom, only as far as Thomson, who put the ball into the box. McNab touched it on to Gurney, who drove the ball home – despite suspicions of offside, the goal stood.

GOAL! 14th minute: West Brom, Wally Boyes 2-1
Tommy Glidden put the ball into the Sunderland box, two of our defenders missed it, and Boyes shot home.

GOAL! 21st minute: Sunderland, Raich Carter 2-2
A spectacular equaliser from Carter, who lashed the ball home after a great run from Connor.

GOAL! 22nd minute: Sunderland, Bobby Gurney 2-3
Gurney’s second, as a five-man attack saw the ball fall to Gurney, who drove forward and put the ball past the advancing Crowe.

GOAL! 27th minute: West Brom, Tommy Glidden 3-3
West Brom’s Carter dribbled the ball forward and passed to Glidden, who shot past Middleton to the keeper’s right.

GOAL! 42nd minute: West Brom, Joe Carter 4-3
Middleton failed to read a corner kick, and Carter tapped home.

Paul Days Collection
Sunderland’s 30-31 team. From left to right - Jock MacDougall, Bobby Gurney, Harry Shaw, Sam Morris, Jimmy Connor, Alex Hastings, Jimmy Leonard a.k.a. Hookey, Bob Middleton, Arthur Andrews, Bill Murray, Joe Devine, Billy Eden, Reid
Photo by ncjMedia Ltd/Mirrorpix/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

Half time: West Brom 4-3 Sunderland

The first half had been incident-packed apart from the goals. Gurney hit the bar with a header, West Brom’s Finch needed the sponge after a ball to the face led to copious amounts of blood to come from his mouth, while Davis almost scored another in interesting circumstances. Gurney kicked the ball out of goalkeeper Crowe’s hands as the West Brom keeper came to the edge of his box to kick the ball upfield. This was fair game back in the day, and the ball fell to Davis, whose first-time shot was cleared from under the bar by Ridyard. Towards the end of the half, West Brom were denied a penalty for handball against Shaw, as the referee spotted Glidden offside – much to the home side’s displeasure.

Sunderland were in great form, and reports said:

Sunderland’s passing was magnificent, and so accurately made that the opposing halves were continually on the turn.

The second half was played in more subdued fashion – which was no surprise after the all-action first 45, but sprang to life in style with 15 minutes remaining.

GOAL! 75th minute: Sunderland, Harry Shaw 4-4
Carter was brought down by Sankey and, from the resulting free kick, Harry Shaw scored directly to level the game.

GOAL! 80th minute: West Brom, Teddy Sandford (pen) 5-4
Bert Johnston fouled Wally Boyes, and Sandford scored from the spot.

GOAL! 85th minute: West Brom, Tommy Glidden, 6-4
Glidden took a shot from way out on the right hand side – Billy Richardson, the West Brom forward made to play the ball, but left it – deceiving Middleton who could only watch as the ball trickled into the net.

GOAL! 87th minute: Sunderland, Bobby Gurney, 6-5
A run by Davis saw the ball squared for Gurney, who drew the keeper and slotted past him.

While that was the end of the scoring, it almost wasn’t...

In the very last minute, however, the equaliser seemed inevitable. Carter crowned a truly magnificent display with a run which carried him up to the goalline and a little to the right. He lobed the ball into the goalmouth almost on to Gurney’s head, but the Albion goalkeeper's fingertips deflected it just that inch, which frustrated the centre forward’s effort.

Final score: West Brom 6-5 Sunderland
The Hawthorns, 11,889

West Brom: Crowe, Finch, Trentham, Murphy, Ridyard, Sankey, Glidden, Carter, Richardson, Sandford, Boyes.

Sunderland: Middleton, Murray, Shaw, Thomson, Johnston, Hastings, Davis, Carter, Gurney, McNab, Connor.


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