From WBA to Bolton, Sixer chooses his top 10 moneyback Sunderland games

Two Petes, Sixer and Horan, not feeling very saintly at St Mary's
Two Petes, Sixer and Horan, not feeling very saintly at St Mary’s

Pete Sixsmith will, for once, be absent when Sunderland take on Arsenal on Saturday. No boycott, just the competing lure of Shildon in the FA Cup. But the post-Southampton soul-searching and self-flagellation must have set him thinking. Here’s a dip into the archives of his mind …


It was an honourable decision
by the players to attempt to reimburse those of us who travelled on Saturday and it is to be hoped that Grace House will benefit by £50,000 as a result.

They will get my twenty quid and, I assume, that of Messrs Randall (see https://safc.blog/2014/10/refund-for-southampton-debacle-a-grand-gesture-but-let-grace-house-benefit/) and Horan. A gesture that is appreciated but not necessary; nobody forced us to go to Hampshire.

All the same, I can think of numerous other games where a refund would have been equally appropriate. Here are 10 of them.

1 West Bromwich Albion (H) Jan 1 1966. 1-5

The date tells all. Sandy McLaughlin. A Scottish goalkeeper of considerable agility, which made up for his lack of height, played like a man who’d been out on the hoy the night before. Jim Baxter was also in the team that day and it is unlikely that he had been tucked up in bed on Hogmanay with a glass of Irn Bru, an Andy Stewart LP and the Broons Annual. Sandy had an absolute shocker, missed the ball on several occasions allowing the Baggies to score and never played for the first team again. We beat Newcastle 2-0 two days later thanks to goals from George Herd and John O’Hare so maybe it was worth it. I didn’t think so at the time.

2 Bradford City (H) Sept 3 1969 League Cup. 1-2

A truly miserable performance from a team that were relegated at the end of the season. Dennis Tueart scored for us with City’s goals coming from a craggy centre forward called Norman Corner who was born and brought up in Horden. Calvin Palmer made his penultimate appearance in a Sunderland shirt and looked as if he didn’t have a care in the world. I don’t imagine Alan Brown was impressed with him. I wasn’t. Should have been a warning not to get too involved.

3 Orient (H) Jan 11 1972 FA Cup. 0-3

A game played on a cold Monday night in front of 18,065 and our second cup exit at the first hurdle, having lost at Lincoln in the League Cup – also a contender for this list. Orient were in the same league as us, struggling near the bottom, while we were stuck in mid table with a mix of promising youngsters and old pros, one of who was Gordon Harris. Brown inexplicably asked him to play at centre half, a decision as inexplicable as playing Liam Bridcutt at right back or giving Harry Redknapp a manager’s job. Poor old Gordon was made to look a right fool by Orient’s pacy forward Mark Lazarus who rattled in all three. A truly laughable performance which my college chums chuckled about for years afterwards.

4 Any game from November 27th 1976 to February 11th 1977

Starting at The Baseball Ground and ending at Highbury (such evocative names; I do miss them), we managed 1800 minutes without a goal as we opened, climbed down and almost shut the trapdoor to Division Two. It included feeble defeats at Birmingham City (where the Sunderland fans sang “Amy, Amy Turtle, Amy Turtle on the wing”) at home to Coventry City (a draw would have kept us up at the end of the season and confined Jimmy Hill to relegation and oblivion) and a mind-numbing goalless draw with our friends from The Potteries. When Mel Holden scored against Bristol City to end the drought we went on a spectacular run which ended in – relegation.

5 Blackburn Rovers (a) September 6 1986. 1-6

This was the day when Pete Horan and I realised that Lawrie McMenemy was like the Wizard of Oz; a small man making a big noise. This was his second season in charge and relegation had been avoided the previous one in the final game. Steve Hetzke had arrived to allegedly strengthen the defence but was injured for this one. McMenemy and his head coach Lew Chatterley inexplicably played with a back four of Agboola, Corner, Bennett and Gray (F), with poor old Reuben playing as sweeper behind the others. Simon(s) Garner and Barker and Noel Brotherston destroyed us and I informed Chatterley that he and his boss did not have a clue. He did not contest this point. McMenemy was eventually sacked by Bob Murray and we were relegated. Probably the game where we most deserved our money back. Ian Hesford did not organise a collection.

6 Leeds United (a) April 2 1991. 0-5

An awful day at Elland Road (is there any other) as we stumbled towards yet another relegation. I had to sit in the old Lowfields Road stand surrounded by Leeds fans whose idea of humour was to make monkey noises whenever Gary Bennett touched the ball. We were comprehensively beaten and six games later were relegated despite a magnificent show at Maine Road.

7 Notts County (a) May 8 1993. 1-3

Twenty years after the FA Cup victory and 12 months after the Liverpool final we went to Meadow Lane needing a win to guarantee our place in the second level. Managed ( a loose description) by Terry Butcher, we had stumbled into a potential relegation place despite thumping Portsmouth 4-1 the week before. There must have been 7,000 Sunderland fans there that day and they witnessed a performance so anaemic that they started fighting among themselves. Shaun Cunnington and Gary Owers played in central midfield, a combination even less effective than Larsson and Gomez on Saturday. Had Brentford not been walloped by Bristol City, we would have been in Division Three while the Black and Whites rejoiced in sweeping into the Premier League. This is the one I want my money back from; a truly awful afternoon.


8 Leicester City (a) March 5 2000. 2-5

This was the game where Ade Akinbyi scored a hat trick. Enough said. (Not quite enough – Ed: Stephen Goldsmith, once of this parish, points out: ‘Collymore scored the hat trick and Akinbiyi scored the scuffed winner season after’)

9 Millwall (at Old Trafford) April 4 2004. 0-1

All we had to do was to beat a limited Millwall side and we were in the FA Cup final and guaranteed a place in Europe. We outnumbered their fans by 3:1, had better players and finished 10 points ahead of them in the league. We lost. George McCartney gave away the goal, Julio Arca (so often the hero) missed a sitter and Tim Bloody Cahill won it for them. Oh how we laughed all the way home.

10 Bolton Wanderers (a) May 3 2008. 0-2

Our Premier League position had been secured the previous week with a rousing win over Middlesbrough, so 8,000 Mackems travelled to Horwich with many going on to Blackpool for drinkies afterwards. Unfortunately the team once again let them down turning in a performance that smacked of switching off early. El Hadj-Diouf played so well for the Trotters that day that Roy Keane went out and signed him. We deserve our money back for that alone.
There are some “good” ones that I have missed out. Other contributions welcome.

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10 thoughts on “From WBA to Bolton, Sixer chooses his top 10 moneyback Sunderland games”

  1. Leeds away on Easter Monday evening, I forgot all about that one. We where awful and the Leeds fans oozed class that night, Still I’ve seen us win a few times at Elland Road since then

  2. That Leicester game was the last time I had the pleasure of seeing Messrs Sixsmith and Horan.

    As Pete mentioned the Baseball ground, I have seen us conceded 6 on two occasions there. First time was a 6-2 in a League Cup game around 1992 when Mick Harford got a hat trick IIRC. The second time was about 95 when Marco got at least 2 against us.

    Am I due a refund? I must confess to also being at Pride Park on the day we won 5-1 after going behind. One of the best away performances if not the best that I’ve seen from us in the top division. On the second and third visit to Derby, I was in the home end. It was difficult sitting still when the goals were going in their net and the locals were lobbing their season ticket books over our heads.

  3. Considering I get to no where near the number of games Pete gets to, surprisingly I was at the Orient, Notts C and Leicester games.
    Re 76/77 the Everton game was a no show by the players. Lived in Sheffield at Uni , went to 13 out of 14 of the last games. To top it off with getting relegated, I had a final at 9 the next morning.
    Others which bring more pain;
    Swindon play off in 1990
    Newcastle home in 2006, the Chopra one
    Blackpool 1976, not just Walsh goal, but followed trips to home v Man U and Boro , all three on MOTD
    Any game against Boro when Souness was playing.

    Sure Salut contributors can offer much, much, more

  4. I still carry the scars from the Notts Co. game. Owers and Cunnington may have been even less effective than Larsson and Gomez, however, that would still make them more effective than Poyet’s replacements on Saturday, Rodwell and Johnson; the very epitome of anonymity.
    I remember chanting ‘we want our money back’ many times, all to no avail. If the fans at St. Mary’s didn’t ask, they shouldn’t get!

  5. Sunderland 1 West Ham 5, September 1967, Sunderland led 1 nil, looked okay, West Han ran in five, four in the second half. Abysmal.

  6. I remember that West Brom match very well. Monty had been out for some time with a broken ankle and had to be rushed back into the side for the Newcastle match before he was fully fit, so bad had been McLaughlin’s performance. All the Baggies had to do was get a shot on target and it was guaranteed to go in.

    On the subject of awful defeats, losing 5-0 at Portman Road on a bitterly cold night, having been destroyed by a brilliant performance by, of all people, Titus Bramble, stands out.

  7. Milwall cup semi. Jason McAteer should have refunded our money for such a stupid sending off. I still blame him for that defeat.

  8. If I remember correctly Montgomery was down to play against WBA in that January game. He must have been in a hell of a state given the way Sandy McLaughlin performed.

    • Sunderland started great and scorded early on.
      The goalie looked half drunk and let in the most rudiculous goal I have ever seen, until last Saturday and the greatest own goal ever.

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