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Soccer - FA Cup Final - Leeds United v Sunderland - Wembley Stadium

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Memories of 1973: What was it like to be a Sunderland fan at Wembley?

What was it like to be at Wembley 50 years ago? Andrew Thompson sits down with his dad to chat about how it felt to be a Sunderland fan at the FA Cup Final...

Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

Although I was a child of the 80s, I have always grown up with the knowledge of our famous victory in 1973. This has mainly been because of my Dad, who is a massive Sunderland fan, plus the fact that he was one of the lucky ones to be there on that day.

It has always been a source of mystery to me as to what it was like on the day to be there as a supporter on what was possibly the biggest shock in FA Cup history plus witnessing arguably the best save(s) of the century.

As today marks the 50th anniversary of Sunderland’s famous victory against Leeds in the FA Cup I thought, especially for our younger readers, it would be appropriate to share what the experience was like for fans that day.

I sat down with my Dad recently about that day and this was his experience of the day.

Soccer - Sunderland AFC Photocall - Roker Park Photo by PA Images via Getty Images

The FA Cup final then was one of, if not THE biggest game of the year that was watched by fans of football across the world. Tickets must have been like gold dust so how did you get your tickets?

Well I managed to get tickets for the Final but I had also seen the lads in the semis too.

I got tickets for the FA Cup Semi Final game against Arsenal in Sheffield as me and a friend, another SAFC fan, were on a field trip whilst at Uni.

We skived off and blagged a couple of tickets outside the ground to see the lads win. From that moment we just knew we had to be at the Wembley game.

At the time, I was living in Cricklewood, North London with my housemate, with whom I’d been at Hillsborough with. We managed to get a ticket through my oldest school friend from Middlesbrough, whose uncle got two tickets from North Riding FA and they gave them to him as he was also living in London in 1973.

What was the atmosphere like beforehand at the old Wembley?

We went to Wembley from Willesden Green station on the day and headed into the ground at the Sunderland end.

The atmosphere was genuinely fantastic.

We were optimistic but wary of “dirty Leeds”, as they were known as then.

They were one of the best teams in England and possibly Europe at the time. We were a second division team so on paper we had no chance but we were in the final on merit plus it was the FA Cup final; anything could happen, right?

Sunderland FC Champions Photo by Daily Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

We obviously know now that we won but when we scored and especially when Monty made THAT double save did the feeling change?

I can clearly remember that it started to drizzle just as Porterfield scored. The old Wembley was standing only at that time and the crowd swayed.

The crowd went wild and then when Monty made that fantastic double save the atmosphere definitely shifted.

After that save; optimism turned to belief.

The feeling that it was our day just rolled on and I clearly remember seeing the imposing figure of Bob Stokoe with his trilby hat running onto the pitch at the end to congratulate Monty.

All I can remember at this point is pure joy and the disbelief of our supporters that we’d actually won.

Soccer - FA Cup - Final - Sunderland v Leeds United Photo by S&G/PA Images via Getty Images

What are your lasting memories after the game?

Just the feeling that we witnessed something special.

What a moment and what a day it was.

It just felt like that that day, the stars aligned.

I do remember the atmosphere being one of shock after the game and the celebrations didn’t really start until we were back home.

When we eventually got back home to Cricklewood we celebrated long into the night on our day to remember.

I will never forget it!


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