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On This Day (25th April 1936): Champions Sunderland finish the season with a whimper!

Despite winning the league title, Sunderland failed to turn up at Derby County in the final game of the season - losing 4-0 against the side who finished second in the table.

This was a truly magnificent season for Sunderland AFC. The team played extraordinary football at times, scoring a hatful of goals and displaying immense creativity throughout their side.

With players such as Raich Carter, Bobby Gurney, and Patsy Gallacher in the team, it was no wonder that they were the top scorers in the division. In fact, between the aforementioned trio, they scored 81 of the team’s 109 goals for the season.

As is usually the case with a lethal attack, something had to give at the back - and it did! Their concession of 74 goals was the highest in the top ten of the division.

One thing is for certain, this Sunderland team was one entertaining bunch of footballers!

On this day, the champions-elect traveled to play Derby County - who were attempting to secure second place in the division with Huddersfield Town hot on their heels.

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

The team went into this game on the back of a heavy defeat to Leeds United at Elland Road and hoped to make amends without their talisman, Raich Carter, who was unavailable for the game.

In truth, it was a disappointing performance from the away side as they went down 4-0 to a motivated Derby County team. However, the scoreline doesn’t tell the entire story as we missed two penalties through Jimmy Connor and James Russell and created enough chances on top of that.

Reports from the game suggest that the defending from the away side was abysmal. This particular writer seemed amazed that a team could win a championship with a defense like this.

The more one sees of the Sunderland defence the more one wonders how they managed to get so far, and the more one sees them without Carter the more one realises what he means to the team.

Derby was ruthless and efficient in how they took their chances. The home side was 3-0 up before halftime through goals from Gallacher, Halford, and Stockill. That being said, it is suggested that the Sunderland midfield was superior.

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

The superiority of Derby only lay in defence and finishing power and certainly not in midfield play where Sunderland were superior.

The midfield superiority that Sunderland displayed did offer an abundance of gilt-edged opportunities in this game. Poor finishing, along with poor defending, appeared to be the tale of the game.

The two penalty misses appeared to sum up the woes of the away side on this day.

Jimmy Connor missed the first penalty, blazing it over the bar. Connor himself had a poor record this season, by his own standards, with only 7 goals in 42 appearances. The match report in the Newcastle Journal described him taking the penalty as “bad captaincy.”

The second penalty miss was a harsh lesson for reserve player James Russell, who was making his first appearance in the first team.

Many appeared surprised that he was given the opportunity to take the penalty given he was badly injured twice in the minutes leading up to the team earning this spot kick.

All in all, it was a poor day for the champions-elect who went down with a whimper. Derby’s attacking play was exciting and fluid, with Hughie Gallacher standing out and “puzzling opponents,” according to reports.

It had been a bad end to the season for the Sunderland defence, who conceded ten goals in their final three games.

Sunderland: Mapson, Morrisson, Rogerson, Thomson, Clark, McDowall, Duns, Russell, Gurney, McNab, Connor.


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