… in which Pete Sixsmith looks back on the good, bad and exceedingly ugly FA Cup 3rd Round ties he remembers with affection or disgust …
Excitement levels among Sunderland supporters, it has to be said, have not been high over the impending FA Cup tie with Burnley.
I have my ticket due to the Cup Ticket option but am considering missing out in order to watch a tasty FA Vase tie between Shildon and Atherton Collieries. But it did get me thinking about epic and disastrous third round clashes in the past.
* 1963: Preston North End (away). This was one of the few games played between January and March in the kind of Big Freeze that would have the Daily Express going off the Richter Scale. This was when I first took an interest in Sunderland, thanks (!!) to Monsieur Salut and, although not present at an arctic Deepdale, I remember listening to the second half on the Light Programme as Nicky Sharkey with two, Amby Fogarty and George Mulhall sent us into the Fourth Round and a clash with Gravesend and Northfleet. The game at Preston was the only one we played in January 1963.
** 1973: Notts County (away). The start of the FA Cup winning run but also a game which seemed to wake the club from its late 60s/early 70s slumbers. There was a good following of Red and Whites in a crowd of 15,142 (I expect about the same on Saturday) and we witnessed a Dave Watson equaliser and a save by Monty from a Les Bradd header that kept us in the cup. Come May 5, that save seemed even more important.
*** 1979: Everton (home). We were sat near the top of Division Two and Everton were going well in Division One. It would have been a TV game nowadays but this one took place under the Roker floodlights after the original game had been postponed on the Saturday. A Gary Rowell penalty (he was the Jermain Defoe of his day) and a Bob Lee tap-in took us through against a Toffees team that included Colin Todd, Martin Dobson and Micky Walsh, who had scored a stunner against us for Blackpool a few years earlier. Max Wall look-a-like Terry Darracott made his last appearance for Everton.
**** 1996: Manchester United (away). This was the day when the Peter Reid Revolution really made people sit up and take notice. There were 10,000 Sunderland fans at Old Trafford and they went wild as goals in quick succession from Steve Agnew and Craig Russell put us ahead. With minutes left, Alec Chamberlain dropped a corner and Eric Cantona poked it over the line. Two future managers played for United that day – Steve Bruce and Roy Keane. Alas, we lost the replay but went on to promotion.
***** 2004: Hartlepool United (home). A packed Stadium of Light with 12,000 Pools fans roaring their team on created a great atmosphere. This was Mick McCarthy’s first full season and he had us in the top group of the Championship while Pools under Neale Cooper, finished in the play-off places in the division below. They were probably the better of the two sides, but the game was settled by a Julio Arca finish in the 53rd minute. A day still talked about in Hartlepool.
* 1966: Everton (away). We lost this one 3-0 and failed to muster a single shot throughout. It was my first visit to Goodison Park and subsequent ones have been little better.
** 1969: Fulham (home). A crushing 4-1 defeat against a side in the lower reaches of Division Two. They had a pacy winger called Les Barrett who took us apart and a big Irish forward called Brendan Mullan and the great Johnny Haynes. We had Gordon Harris.
*** 1971: Orient (home). Poor Gordon Harris was asked to play centre half for the only time in his Sunderland career. He was utterly destroyed by the pacy Mark Lazarus as a game that was eventually played on a Monday night slid away. I remember Harris shrugging his shoulders at the abuse being directed at him fom the Clock Stand Paddock. A sad night.
**** 1990: Reading (away). We scored early one through Gordon Armstrong and then contrived to lose on my only visit to Elm Park. It rained all game, the car on the way back reeked of wet dog and Tommy Lynch made his final appearance for the club. He had a stinker.
***** 2011: Notts County (home). What would you expect from a team that included Marco Angeleri, Paolo da Silva, Cristian Riveros and Jack Colback? Well, you would expect them to beat a team two divisions below them. But we didn’t and goals from Craig Westcarr and Lee Hughes gave the Pies a two-goal lead before Darren Bent pulled one back from the spot. A dismal performance from a Steve Bruce side. He prowled the touchline like a caged hippo.
Feel free to add any more, dear readers.