At this stage in 1966 England was still revelling in a glorious World Cup, which had culminated a week earlier with the host nation winning the competition.
Reminders of the event were still apparent across the country, not least at Roker Park, which had staged four fixtures and still housed large sections of temporary seating that had been required for the tournament.
Work to remove these from the Fulwell End and Clock Stand had not yet been finished, meaning an unfamiliar backdrop for the Lads on this day as attentions turned back to the domestic scene with a first match of the preseason schedule.
Sunderland boss Ian McColl, himself a former international manager, was keen no doubt to move on quickly from the ‘Auld Enemy’ becoming world champions and had agreed to a doubleheader with Kilmarnock that was to start on Wearside before taking him back to Scotland for the rematch shortly afterwards.
Killie had done well the previous season, finishing 3rd in Scottish League Division One and drawing their European Cup first round first leg match with Real Madrid before then being eliminated by the eventual winners of the trophy.
They reached the semi-finals of the Scottish League Cup and quarter-finals of the Scottish Cup too whereas Sunderland had struggled badly – suffering early exits in both of their cup competitions and finishing just three points clear of safety in the topflight.
Fans may have been expecting a win for the visitors therefore, but Sunderland managed an entertaining draw following the type of second half performance that would have had fans up on their feet no matter what the arrangements in the stands were.
It was a Scot that was to be the main architect too, with Harry Hood pulling the strings despite him being transfer listed at the time by his own request.
Hoping for a change of scenery having endured a long injury lay off and finding he was one of many whose face didn’t fit with McColl, he certainly put himself in the shop window when he had a hand in all three of his side’s goals.
Hood came on after the opening 45 had ended 0-0 and was paired up front with his compatriot Neil Martin.
The duo had both been big money buys and despite this being their first outing as a centre forward partnership they immediately hit it off, providing a focal point for a team that had dominated possession before the break but been unable to force any clear openings.
Their link play soon paid dividends, with Hood putting Martin in for the opener and the pair playing a clever one-two that led to a penalty when the former was upended by Billy Dickson. Another Scot, Jim Baxter, put the spot kick past goalkeeper Bobby Ferguson (not the same one that would later become a coach at Roker during the 1990s).
Another perfectly measured Hood pass was clinically put away by Martin for his second of the afternoon but by that stage it was only enough to restore the lead.
Brian McIlroy and Jackie McInally had scored within a minute of each other shortly after Kilmarnock had first gone behind, and Danish cap Carl Bertelsen then produced another quick equaliser to peg Sunderland back once more.
In pushing forward to support their new strike force the Lads had left the back door wide open, with Sandy McLaughlan badly exposed against his former club as a result.
The goalkeeper would later move back to Rugby Park in a switch that mirrored the path taken by Hood, who despite his star performance also transferred back to his old employers Clyde after only a handful more appearances in red and white.
The Scottish contingent remained strong in his absence however; Jimmy McNab, George Herd and George Mulhall had all featured against Kilmarnock too, although the return trip to Caledonia four days later had not lived up to expectations, finishing 0-0.
Saturday 6 August 1966
Sunderland 3 (Martin 53’, 80’, Baxter 65’)
Sunderland: Montgomery (McLaughlan 46’); Parke, Ashurst; Harvey, Hurley, McNab; Hellawell (Gauden 46’), Herd (Hood 46’), Martin, Baxter, Mulhall.
Roker Park, attendance 10,003