News of players switching from Newcastle United to Sunderland will always cause a bit of a stir in the North East, but a transfer confirmed on this day gained national traction, thanks to the move being sealed live on TV!
Bob Moncur had been a fine servant at St. James’ Park for well over a decade but by 1974 the former Scottish international was ready for a change.
With his countrymen competing in that summer’s World Cup in West Germany, he was invited to form part of ITV’s panel of experts for their coverage, but the studio stint was only going to keep him busy during the close season.
Moncur still had plenty to give on the pitch and had made an agreement with old pal Bob Stokoe to accept a contract on Wearside.
Mentioning it in passing to presenter Brian Moore, it was decided that concluding the deal live on air would make an interesting feature. There was no live action in the tournament that day anyway, so it would help the producers fill what would’ve otherwise been a rather dry summary programme.
However, there was just one problem: Brighton & Hove Albion boss Brian Clough was another one of ITV’s analysts and when he got wind of it, he tried to convince Moncur to head south and join him instead!
Clough and Stokoe had history, but Moncur knew Stokoe too and they were on much better terms.
Golfing buddies by all accounts, Moncur stuck to his word and signed up in front of the cameras, which ironically enough meant that like Clough before him, he’d swapped a local rival for Sunderland. As it happened, the former Roker favourite didn’t stay at Brighton for much longer and was soon making his own move for what proved to be an infamous spell at Leeds United.
Moncur’s final appearance for the Mags had been at Wembley, playing alongside Alan Kennedy and Frank Clark, who would both end up joining Sunderland later in their careers, with full back Kennedy playing for his hometown club and Clark joining Ken Knighton’s backroom staff.
They were skippered by Moncur for what proved to be a heavy defeat to Liverpool in the FA Cup final, but the new man was quickly handed the armband again once he’d joined the Lads.
It proved to be a shrewd decision, with Moncur providing invaluable experience at the back, and in his first season he didn’t miss a single game.
Bobby Kerr was also an ever-present during 1974/1975, even though he asked for a transfer when rumours first emerged of his fellow Scot’s possible arrival.
He had no issue with Moncur at all but was unhappy that as current captain, Stokoe wouldn’t give him the courtesy of keeping him informed about the situation – one aspect of the move that was perhaps not as well thought out.
Kerr later withdrew his request and admitted that he hadn’t really wanted to leave, but only after chairman Keith Collings reached out and smoothed things over.
By the time Collings was joined on the pitch by his Newcastle counterpart Lord Westwood, who was also president of the Football League, to present Sunderland with the Division Two trophy in 1976, Tony Towers had taken over as captain but both Moncur and Kerr were still around and had been integral to our success.
Things may have been different had Moncur got off on the wrong foot, and shortly after his televised transfer, an unfortunate slip could’ve made things tough.
Somewhat absentmindedly, he arrived for an early Sunderland appearance in his old sponsored United car, but once the black and white vehicle was sent off for a quick respray, the fans soon took to him.
It wasn’t to be the only unusual mode of match day transport he used, however. In 1994, he took sponsors to a game at Roker Park on his yacht!
By that point, Moncur was running a sailing school, having taken it up once he’d retired from playing.
Entering several high profile races around the world, he showed his competitive nature and desire to succeed – two traits that Stokoe had already identified many years before.
It wasn’t the only swoop the boss wanted to make in 1974, but more on that tomorrow…
Born: Perth, 19th January 1945
Sunderland 2 (Halom 50’, Kerr 65’)
Newcastle United 1 (Tudor 75’)
Texaco Cup group match, Roker Park 3 August 1974
Final Sunderland appearance:
Middlesbrough 2 (Willey 51’, 63’)
Sunderland 1 Greenwood 31’)
Football League Division One, Ayresome Park, 11 September 1976
Total appearances/goals for Sunderland: