Leeds United fans hate us mentioning it, just as Newcastle United supporters mock us for referring to Dec 5 1908. But since Leeds still have a good chance of following the Toon example in gaining promotion from a lower division, we’re sure they won’t mind another gentle reminder of the day every football fan (apart from them) smiled …
Sunderland fans, especially those who go back a bit, never tire of remembering, on May 5 of each year, a certain event that occurred at Wembley stadium on that date in 1973.
Today, we mark the 37th anniversary of the fabulous 1-0 FA Cup Final conquest over Don Revie’s swaggering Leeds United. United fans of 1973 would not have believed you if you’d told them then that by the time the game’s 37th anniversary had been reached, they’d be fighting another desperate battle to get out of what we knew as the Third Division.
The figures 3 and 7 have great resonance for SAFC, partly as a result of our own record of underachievement over an even longer period than that endured by Leeds.
Our only other FA Cup Final win was in 1937, when we beat Preston North End 3-1. Many of us sometimes wear replica Sunderland shirts commemorating that era and that honour (mine had its latest outing at the Stadium of Light on Sunday).
Switch the last two digits and you get 1973, not quite 37 years later (OK, clutching at straws a little there) which is, in turn – as we began by noting – also 37 years ago.
The lack of serious success since Ian Porterfield’s goal and Monty’s saves won the game for us at Wembley is emphasised by the fact that for several years, the newsletter of the London branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association was 5573. It was a great name but was replaced by the even better Wear Down South as younger fans grew weary of having to hark back so long, in many case to before they were born, for a spot of club glory.
In the intervening period, we have had lots of promotions (necessitated by lots of relegations), one Milk Cup Final and one more FA Cup Final (both as losers), one semi-final (beaten by Millwall), two seventh top finishes in the Premier and, um, some trophies for the Reserves.
Salut! Sunderland is confident we won’t have to have a further 37 years for the next time our captain hoists a meaningful trophy. Feel free to write if I get that wrong …
Further reading – and more historic pictures (with thanks to the Sunderland Echo) …