Sunderland’s League Cup hopes for 2023-24 are already long gone, with Tony Mowbray’s men out of the running following a defeat to Crewe Alexandra during the first week of the season. Back in 1962-63 when the competition was still in its infancy though, the early ties were still to find a regular slot in the schedules and Sunderland were well into their league programme by the time they entered at the second round stage on this day.
Under the tutelage of Alan Brown at that point and with ten games played already, the Black Cats were looking sharp in front of goal. A 4-1 friendly win over Standard Liege the week before had further underlined Sunderland’s attacking strength, and now it was fourth division Oldham Athletic’s turn to try and thwart a side that had already managed to rack up 20 competitive goals.
The visitors may have taken some hope from the fixture being scheduled for a Monday, seeing as it pitched them against a team that had just got back from a long weekend trip away at Southampton. The Lads travelled back in high spirits after securing the points in what was Joe Kiernan’s debut, but Oldham had been in fine form too and were undefeated in their last 11.
They were expected to put up a bit of a challenge therefore, but in the end it proved to be a convincing win for Sunderland – their shooting boots still well and truly in place as they completed what to date remains their biggest home margin of victory in the League Cup.
A mere glance at the scoreline however only tells part of the story, as Oldham did threaten on occasions and even took the lead. What’s more, Jack Rowley’s side went ahead following a Sunderland corner when they cleared the danger and countered with impressive speed and accuracy. Jimmy Frizzell ended up with the ball on the wing, and from his cross Bert Lister shot past Jim Montgomery to make it 1-0.
The Lads looked to make an immediate response to the setback and within a few moments Brian Clough had former Roker stopper Johnny Bollands at full stretch. If they didn’t know it already, Frizzell emphasised to Sunderland that they were in a game when he hit the post but that only seemed to up their intensity and once level there was no stopping them.
Jimmy Davison’s cross was missed by both Clough and Ambrose Fogarty, but George Mulhall was in space at the back post to equalise with 33 minutes played and that opened the floodgates.
Oldham will have been bitterly disappointed to have lost their advantage, but despite giving as good as they got, they couldn’t even make it to half time level. Fogarty made no mistake with his next opportunity, again from a Davison centre, and when Kiernan’s powerful shot deflected in a few minutes after the restart things were starting to look ominous; the Rokerites were already full of confidence, and now they were queuing up to take a pop at goal.
To make matters worse, Bollards was enjoying no luck whatsoever. After making a smart stop to deny Fogarty he saw the ball fall kindly for Clough to tuck away, and he had little chance when Kiernan took aim from distance and let fly. This was to be the left half’s second and final appearance for the club but he at least ended with a record of two goals in two games. Then, barely two minutes later, there was a repeat of the fourth goal when Clough’s poaching instincts once again found him on hand to finish from close range after Fogarty had been denied.
‘Amby’ was clearly frustrated by his former teammate Bollands’ efforts. He had twice seen the chance of a brace slip only for Clough to cash in instead, and there was some feeling behind his last minute strike that did see him finally get his second of the night to make it 7-1. The in form Davison, who had also put in the initial ball for Clough’s first, once against supplied the ammunition with Fogarty taking it down well and hammering his shot out of reach of a luckless Bollands.
The keeper had moved to Wearside from Boundary Park in 1956 and after a brief spell with Bolton Wanderers upon leaving Sunderland ended up back at his first club. He had somehow shipped seven on his return to Roker even though he had played well, whilst at the other end Montgomery – who in later years admitted he had been heavily influenced by his opposite number when he’d been coming through the ranks – also had to make several tidy stops even when his colleagues were on top.
Sunderland had been simply too hot to handle though, but it wasn’t just the red and whites that were celebrated that evening as up in Scotland on the same day the McCoist family were welcoming the birth of baby Alistair – better known now as Ally. A future Sunderland striker and ace marksman in his native country, it is perhaps fitting that he arrived at a time where the Lads were enjoying the goalscoring touch.
Monday 24 September 1962
League Cup, 2nd round
Sunderland 7 (Mulhall 34’, Fogarty 44’, 89’, Kiernan 52’, 82’, Clough 61’, 84’)
Oldham Athletic 1 (Lister 18’)
Sunderland: Montgomery; Irwin, Ashurst; Anderson, Hurley, Kiernan; Davison, Herd, Clough, Fogarty, Mulhall
Roker Park, attendance 15,742