Sixer Says: thanks for memories of beating Arsenal en route to Wembley glory

Pete Sixsmith, minus the flares

Just when we’re all down in the dumps, Pete Sixsmith rides along on his white steer to cheer us up a little. A wave of nostalgia swept over Sixsmith Towers after Salut! Sunderland‘s associate editor John McCormick alerted him to a showing of the 1973 FA Cup semi-final at Hillsborough. Sixer revelled in the reminder of his best day out as a SAFC supporter …  …

Thank you John.

While contemplating the prospects of us falling even further behind after Tuesday night’s games (in the event Burton and Reading lost while Barnsley drew so it could have been worse), I received a text from John McCormick informing me that the 1973 FA Cup Semi Final was showing on BT Sport at 2pm.

I abandoned my visit to Ambridge and fired up the trusty Panasonic, having first put on my long scarf and dug out the flares that I may well have worn that day.

On went the fire and I sat down to watch a game that gave me what I regard as the best day I have had with Sunderland AFC – the sort of day that’s not going to return in the foreseeable future.

We all know what the result was but it was a fascinating watch for lots of reasons.

There was a fight between Ron Guthrie and Charlie George after George (or Charlie-George as Brian Moore called him throughout the game) put an awful challenge on him.

Charlie-George. Courtesy: Rob Mieremet / Anefo (Nationaal Archief Fotocollectie Anefo) [CC BY-SA 3.0 nl (], via Wikimedia Commons

Guthrie, as befits a Burradon lad, reacted strongly and punches were thrown. It would be a straight red card now for both of them but the 70s were more tolerant and it was a game for men rather than some of the pampered cissies we have now.

Dele Alli v Mickey Horswill? Deyan Loveren v Vic Halom? Andros Townsend v Dick Malone?

Peter Storey committed a horrible foul on Billy Hughes which the cameras and Moore missed but looked a real shocker and referee David Smith booked the future brothel keeper and counterfeiter when he should have sent him off.

Had the game been played 45 years later, Dick Malone would have joined Storey, Guthrie and Charlie-George in the early bath, as he pulled John Radford back as he was heading for goal. Again, these were more enlightened days and Mr Smith took his name. No red and yellow cards then either, but we all knew it was a booking.

The goals are forever etched in our memories: Vic Halom taking advantage of Jeff Blockley having the turning circle of a Hillman Minx and the balance of a one legged man on a tightrope and scoring the first; Billy Hughes directing a wonderful back header over the despairing dive of Bob Wilson.

But what we sometimes forget is the number of chances we had. If it had been 3-0 at half time, Arsenal could not have complained. Vic Halom missed a great chance and Wilson made a fine save from Dennis Tueart and we could have scored before Charlie-George got their goal with five minutes to go.

There were other things that I noticed;

Ian Porterfield was such a graceful mover and so much in control. He picked the ball up on so many occasions and rarely gave it away. A bit like Lee Cattermole only better.

Dave Watson read the game brilliantly and there was one tackle that summed him up perfectly when he slid in, won the ball, slipped on the turf and then got up and won it again. Young central defenders should use it as a master class.

Vic Halom could play as well. He had speed, strength and an ability to get the right side of a defender.

The stadium was a great sight. The Kop was huge and full of Sunderland supporters. There were a fair few in the Leppings Lane end as well, as you see when Hughesy scores the second goal. Lots of scarves and hats in evidence but no replica shirts and absolutely no half and half scarves.

The adverts down the side were mostly for Sunderland companies – all alas gone. Vaux Norseman Lager and Villa Lemonade never appealed to me but I did have an account with The North of England Building Society which was based in Fawcett Street.

Thanks John for a nostalgic afternoon in the midst of all this doom.

* See also: – website of the Sunderland Former Players’ Association at The association kindly permits reproduction of its images by Salut! Sunderland

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