Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 2: ‘how I spoke to Rod Stewart and hung my scarf on the FA Cup’

Jake remembers ...
Jake remembers …

In the second part of her reminiscences of 5:5:73 Jeanette Sutton (nee Coyle) recalls the game, the post match celebrations with the team and their wives, her brushes with the celebrities of the glam rock era and how she got to decorate the FA Cup itself with her red and white scarf. (Jeanette was talking to Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson)

MD – So we left our conversation with the victory at Hillsborough and the whole of the red and white supporting part of the North East excited by the prospect of The Lads running out at Wembley to face the might of Leeds United, who at that time were considered to be one of the top clubs. What do you recall about the build up?

Jeanette – Back in the 1970s there wasn’t the same degree of celebrity culture and saturation coverage of football. There were still only three television channels of course and the only time you got to watch league football on TV was Match of the Day on Saturday night and the ITV regional highlights the following afternoon. But in the context of the times there were plenty of off the field distractions for the team.

They had done some radio interviews, and a few of them bumped into Rod Stewart, who being a football fan and celebrity Scotland supporter took a great interest in the team. Glam rock band The Sweet had presented Billy Hughes with one of their gold discs for their recording of their hit “Little Willy”. Local comedian Bobby Knoxall and a choir of primary school children teamed up with the players to record “Sunderland All the Way” the obligatory F.A. Cup Finalists’ song.

The Sunderland lads were all down to earth people. Second Division players with no pretensions and it was like a dream come true when they were given sponsored cars to drive in the run up to the final. They embraced the limelight and enjoyed the moment for what it was but unlike present day footballers they were always accessible, in tune with the fans. We all felt that we all belonged to one big happy family, players, fans and club officials alike.

The atmosphere was electric in the run up to the big day and the town and surrounding districts were covered in red and white. People were desperate for tickets. Fortunately for us Dad had his season ticket allocation and I was given a chance to buy a ticket as a staff member for the price of £1. But even better, I was invited to travel to Wembley on the League Liner with other officials and members of staff.

MD – That must have been a great feeling. So what about the day itself, 5th May 1973, a date indelibly stamped on the heart of any Sunderland supporter alive at the time?

Jeanette – My two sisters Trish and Fiona had been planning to watch it on television along with my Mam and my Nana when just days before the Final I was able to get hold of another two tickets so they could also make the trip. They travelled with Dad on the train and then met me on Wembley Way as I proudly stepped off the League Liner. Just as it had at Hillsborough it poured with rain but we hardly noticed it. The nation seemed to have taken us to their hearts and people were shouting and wishing us luck as we walked to the stadium. Although we were the underdogs we were on top of the world and really felt it would be our day. The omens were good after all. We had last won the cup in 1937 and this was 1973. The last time Bob Stoke had met Don Revie at Wembley was in their playing days when Stokoe’s Newcastle beat Revie’s Man City 3-1. A team playing in stripes had never lost at Wembley. We couldn’t lose with all of that history behind us.

Jeanette's FA Cup Final Ticket and League Liner seat.
Jeanette’s FA Cup Final Ticket and League Liner seat.

This was the 70s and being a fashionable young lady from County Durham, I was wearing black trousers, a yellow jacket with black lapels and yellow platform shoes. I may have been showing the rest of the world that the North East knew a bit about fashion but my outfit afforded little protection from the rain!!!

Once inside the stadium we watched the ground fill and there seemed to be double the number of Sunderland fans as those sporting the colours of our rivals. As ever we were in fine voice. When Frankie Vaughan appeared on the pitch to lead the community singing we did him proud. The last song in the build up was always “Abide with Me” and for me it was so emotional I found it difficult to get to the end of the song. Somehow though I made it and then I knew it was almost time. A huge roar went up as the teams emerged Stokoe and Revie proudly leading out their respective teams. Don Revie was smartly turned out in suit and tie whilst Bob Stokoe was in his bright red tracksuit which a couple of hours later, combined with his raincoat and trilby, would provide the world with the iconic images we now associate with the full time whistle in that match.

Bobby Kerr won the toss and he chose to play towards our end. It couldn’t have gone any better for Dad, my sisters and me as we got a great view of the goal and Monty’s double save.

From kick-off the lads worked hard for each other, they challenged for every ball and took the game to Leeds who seemed troubled by the heavy pitch. Every single Sunderland player was a hero that day and the all star Leeds United team struggled to make an impact. Some resolute defending by the likes of Richie Pitt, Ron Guthrie and Dick Malone left Mick Jones with no space and the dangerous Lorimer and Gray were marked out of the game.

Billy Hughes got a knock early on which caused us concern but he ran it off and was soon moving much better. It was Hughes who took the corner which the pigeon chested Vic Halom brought down beautifully for Ian Porterfield who rammed it into the net from about 12yards. The whole place erupted. We were amazed ourselves as Porterfield, a left footed player had scored with his wrong foot.

The dream continued as Hughes and Tueart kept running at Leeds, causing them all sorts of problems. Kerr, Horswill and Porterfield were dominating the midfield and Dave Watson marshalled the defence which stood firm, apart from the one chance which fell to Leeds, bringing out the best in Jimmy Montgomery who accomplished what has been described by many as the save of the century. It was certainly at least on a par and maybe even better than Gordon Bank’s effort against Brazil in the 1970 World Cup.

He had already made a couple of good saves but then came the moment when time stood still for those of us behind the goal. First of all Trevor Cherry came in with a diving header which Monty cleared only to see Lorimer get on the end of it. His volley thundered towards goal but somehow Monty miraculously got a hand to it and tipped it onto the crossbar. Dick Malone swooped on the rebound and hoofed it upfield out of the danger area. Lorimer couldn’t believe it and at that moment I think everyone knew it was going to be our day.

But you could still feel the tension in the air and some Sunderland supporters who couldn’t stand to watch the closing moments went below the stands, anxiously pacing up and down, trying to guage what was happening from the noise of the crowd. As it happened in the last ten minutes Sunderland looked the more likely to score but we were all whistling, anxious for the game to end. I remember my Dad shouting “Play on we can score another here!” and he was almost proved right as in the dying seconds Hallom came close to bundling Harvey over the line and into the goal.

Then, to our great relief, the final whistle went and the dream had come true. The man next to us was in tears as “the little general” Bobby Kerr climbed the steps to the Royal Box. And as if ordained from above, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and the sun shone. We couldn’t contain our joy and we sang all the way to the first empty phone box we could find, so that we could share the special moment with our Mam.

The family were heading back to Sunderland but for me the night was just beginning. I jumped into a taxi to celebrate the victory in London, having arranged to meet Linda and Billy Hughes, as I was to be their guest at the winners’ banquet at the Park Lane Hotel. Once I’d met up with Billy and Linda whilst celebrating with a glass of something fizzy, we rang Rod Stewart, who at that time was one of the biggest stars in rock music. Looking back now it’s hard to believe but it really did happen.

Shortly after I left for my room at The Park Lane Hotel to change for the celebration.
At the time I thought that I was being ultra stylish and never even gave a second thought that my dress would be considered anything other than sophisticated and chic. So much so that I never realised that perhaps a black and white dress was not the best colour scheme to wear at a Sunderland AFC celebration. I have never been allowed to forget my choice that night and have never worn a black and white dress since.

Jeanette in the infamous dress with Billy and Linda Hughes
Jeanette in the infamous dress with Billy and Linda Hughes

The evening passed in a daze with champagne flowing like there was no tomorrow. I remember that Brian Connolly of Sweet was there as were Alan Price and Georgie Fame. Suzi Quattro was one of the artists providing the entertainment and I recall her leaving the stage in a huff because we wouldn’t listen to her. All we wanted to do was dance and enjoy the moment.

Next day, the wives, girlfriends and I got on the coach back to the North East.The team still had a league match to play so were staying in London. The cup was put on the back window of the coach and as I was the only one with a scarf we hung it between the handles. I still have that scarf and wear it to all the matches.
The team homecoming was fantastic, with the sea of red and white starting at Scotch Corner and the parade itself at Carrville. It was red and white all the way to Roker Park and the days ahead were fun filled with parties and celebrations which went on for months.

This young team, many who had come up through the ranks had had a tough road to Wembley. Great team spirit and with a philosophy based on hard work and togetherness they beat the mighty Leeds, every single one of whom was a full international. Whilst Ian Porterfield and Monty were of course heroes on the day it was a team performance that won the Cup for Sunderland.

Dave Watson had been superb throughout the earlier rounds, defending our goal but also scoring important goals that saw us through the earlier ties. And who knows what might have happened if Dick Malone hadn’t been there to boot the ball away after Monty’s second save?

The Wembley victory was especially sweet for Dad and me as we had endured the highly controversial meetings with Leeds in the cup run of 66-67. Having drawn at Roker Park then at Elland Road we journeyed down to Hull for a second replay. Leeds were given a penalty for a foul by Irwin on Greenhoff in an incident which occurred outside the penalty area. To add insult to injury Greenhoff had dived and was also offside.

On May 5th 1973 Reaney, Bremner, Hunter, Lorimer and Giles all took the field for Leeds and as we celebrated we remembered the old saying “EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY!!”

Jeanette on Jeanette.

I have lived in a leafy suburb in Birmingham for more than 30 years with my husband Michael (a Tottenham fan) and our 2 daughters Amy and Gemma. The girls were brought up to follow Sunderland and we have had some wonderful moments together following our team. Sadly my dad passed on a couple of years ago and my mam isn’t able to go to the ground any more but she still listens to the match on the radio every week. I still get to the matches with my sisters and their children who are all part of the red and white army. I am Secretary of the Heart of England branch of the Supporters’ Association.

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4 thoughts on “Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 2: ‘how I spoke to Rod Stewart and hung my scarf on the FA Cup’”

  1. Speaking a s a devoted Newcastle fan who’s always enjoyed crossing swords with makem mates at work, I’ve never “hated” Sunderland or wished them ill. Just that we beat them and finished higher. My son and daughter would have pleased my sister though – they can’t abide the red and white !
    But we’ve both had so little to cheer us over the decades that this was an enjoyable read.
    Hope you can back to the Prem eventually – we are as cursed as you especially with owners. Yours through incompetence and lack of knowledge ours with a greedy tight arsed parasite called Ashley
    One day we’ll get back to the late 60s and early 70s (and 90s in our case so much wiith nothing to show for it) and be a decent force in the land

    • Abide with me.
      You’re right Jeanette, apart from the final whistle, the singing of the traditional hymn was the most emotional moment of the afternoon; it brought tears to many an eye and anyone who remembers it from 5th. May 1973 can only be sad that it has to be sung these days by a celebrity pub singer.

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