Sixer’s Soapbox: Roker erupts as Hughes and Halom rip Manchester City apart

Sixer by Jake
Sixer by Jake

We missed out on Reading and Notts County for the simple reason that the idea didn’t dawn until the 40th anniversaries of those games from the 1973 FA Cup run had passed. So we began this series at Maine Road and will continue it until May 5, the date of the Stokoe-Porterfield-Montgomery (and everyone else) glory in the final.

Pete Sixsmith was at both games against Man City. He was a student in those days and has had thousands of students of his own (ok, pupils) to contend with since.

We’ve already had a Sixer’s Sevens and a Sixer’s Soapbox from the first game, which ended 2-2. Malcolm Allison was still convinced after City’s lucky escape that his side would romp through to the 6th round. Many older Sunderland fans regard what actually happened – an emphatic SAFC win – as the best they’ve seen in all their years of unconditional (-ish) love.

And this Soapbox from the replay is written as seen through the young man’s eyes …

When, if ever,
has Roker Park seen a night like last night? In 10 ten years I have been following the club, I saw us put Everton out of the Cup, almost beat Manchester United and gain promotion in 1964. But nothing, nothing, the equal of this.

Television cannot have done this fabulous game justice. The atmosphere, the noise, the football played all took me to heights of ecstasy that not even a weekend away with Raquel Welch and a barrel of Samson could surpass.

The teams:
Manchester City: Corrigan, Book, Donachie, Doyle, Booth, Jeffries, Mellor, Bell, Marsh, Lee, Towers

Sunderland: Montgomery, Malone, Guthrie, Horswill, Pitt, Halom, Hughes, Kerr, Watson, Porterfield, Tueart

Referee: R Tinkler (Boston). Att: 51,781 plus Sixer

The goals were stupendous, particularly the first two. I have not seen a goal as good as Vic Halom’s and, as long as I watch football, I don’t think I ever will. The ball was moved across the pitch and ended up with Vic on the corner of the penalty box in front of the Main Stand.

It screamed past Joe Corrigan and we went bananas. The noise was even more than that caused by D4 at Broom Cottages Sec Mod and strangers hugged each other and cavorted around the packed terracing like Pan’s People on acid.

And then Billy Hughes almost trumped it 12 minutes later. He picked up a rebound from Donachie, weaved into the penalty area and slammed it into the same corner that the Magyar Magician had hit earlier.

The Fulwell End exploded; the Roker End moved and swayed like a huge wave while in the Clock Stand Paddock everyone moved about 10 steps forward. There we were, two up and playing football that we could only dream of.

That we continued to dominate is a testimony to the manager who carefully prepared the players for this one and to the players who showed that years of under achievement could be forgotten about in one game.

The second half was a bit nervy, especially when Francis Lee pulled one back – a goal without having to dive for a penalty, a rare occurrence for Franny. But as they pressed forward they left gaps and Billy Hughes wrapped it up with a side footed goal in front of a delirious Roker End.

So how come we were able to beat Manchester City a few weeks after we would have struggled to beat Silksworth Colliery Welfare?

Much of it is due to the wind of change brought in by Bob Stokoe. He wasn’t my first choice to replace Alan Brown and when we lost in his first game, I was contemplating journeys to Halifax, Shrewsbury and Bournemouth.

But astute signings – Halom was a master stroke – and what appears to be a decision to release the players from the strait jacket imposed by Brown has worked and how. We look like a side who could go all the way in this competition and although the two promotion places look beyond us, we could well force our way into the picture.

This game showed us that in Montgomery, Watson, Hughes, Tueart, Halom and Porterfield, we have players who would grace the First Division. Can anyone tell me that Booth is superior to Watson or that Corrigan is a better keeper than Monty? Over two games I would rather have Ian Porterfield than the overrated Rodney Marsh. Even Colin Bell looked pedestrian against Bobby Kerr.

Jake as Tony Roffe's caption writer
Jake as Tony Roffe’s caption writer
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Luton Town in the next round
is a winnable game. At home it is very winnable. But however dramatic it may be it will struggle to reach the heights of what some older fans are saying was the greatest game in Roker Park’s long and glorious history.

We dashed back to the Albion and quaffed our pints of Samson. Raquel, alas, didn’t turn up. But work the next day was almost (though not quite) a pleasure and it was good to talk to Peter Scott and compare notes about the reaction in the Clock Stand Paddock and the Roker End. He said he was on the move all night as the crowd heaved back and forth in tune with the wonderful rhythm our wonderful team beat out last night.


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