Pete Sixsmith takes us on a journey into the past as he reports on a derby match played long, long ago yet which has not been forgotten and probably, for some reason, never will be
There are few better days than this for a Sunderland partisan. To enter the lion’s den at St James’ Park and not only tweak the tale of the aforementioned beast, but to ruffle his mane, extract his molars and end up occupying his part of the veldt, is an accomplishment which is unsurpassed in the history of Association Football and will surely never be equalled no matter how often gallant Red and Whites overcome their Black and White neighbours. Men like LR Roose, the Welsh international custodian, Arthur Bridgett, a Potteries man who moved from the beehive ovens of his native Stoke to the clank of the Wearside shipyards and Shildon’s finest, Tom Daykin, a splendid left back are others for whom a glass of Major Vaux’s Finest Ales will not see the transfer of pennies across the bar.
The game has been well documented in the Sunderland Echo and Shipping News and the Newcastle Chronicle. Suffice to say that the hat tricks scored by Holley and Hogg (veritable Howitzers of names) were splendid.
Former Ibrox Park man Hogg, who has played in the tempestuous games between The Rangers and The Celtic clubs in his native Glasgow, opened the scoring to send those who had made the journey from Wearside cheer loudly.
Fine saves by Roose and resolute defending by Thompson (a Hercules of a player and a man surely destined for the heights of Mount Olympus in the Roker Park Pantheon) kept the Magpies at bay until Mr Farrant awarded a penalty kick to the home team for a hardly discernible handball. Shepherd, who had been given some rough but fair treatment by Thompson scored in his inaugural game for Newcastle.
Stirred by this dubious call from the referee, our gallant lads took the bull by the horns in the second half and hit the net eight times in a thirty minute spell that reduced the home followers to tears and placed the visiting fans in a state of euphoria which has never been matched before and will probably never be matched again.
Holley and Hogg (they sound as if they should be top of the bill at The Empire – “a laugh, a song and a hat trick”) scored in quick succession and then Holley wrapped up his hat trick, leaving Hogg to wait for his.
Bridgett scored twice in equally quick succession, the outstanding Jackie Mordue scored the eighth and Blasting Billy Hogg finished off the scoring in the 77th minute.
Our group, stood in the Gallowgate End of the stadium, hoped for a tenth but it was not to be and we had to make do with one over the eight – an apt number as we imbibed in the hostelries of Tyneside later on.
The Newcastle fans, who had roared their heroes onto the field and who packed out the terraces and stands, drifted away in the second half, leaving pockets of Wearsiders in the standing areas. A few toughs snarled and shook their fists, but the majority of those who followed the home team shook our hands and complimented us on the play of the Sunderland men who were clearly superior on that day.
And so, we left the ground and walked back to the Central Station to catch our trains. Good Tyneside Ale from the Newcastle Brewery and Tuckers was taken before we clambered aboard the train to take us home to Wearside and all points in County Durham. There were some harsh words exchanged in the station portico between rival partisans, but a member of the Newcastle Constabulary, astride a fine horse, calmed the situation and the splendid creature was fed sugar lumps by those from the banks of the Tyne and the banks of the Wear.
A splendid day out in the city of Newcastle and hopefully there will be many more victories at the home of our nearest and deadliest rivals. But there will never be another one quite like this; the number 9 will forever be in the minds of Sunderland supporters.
*With thanks to Rob Mason’s excellent book Sunderland’s Greatest Games
On a sad note, I attended the funeral of Stuart Green on Tuesday. Stuart, a Seaham lad long domiciled in Hartlepool, was one of those people that you saw on every away ground and at a large number of Northern League grounds, as well as at The Riverside, Chester-le-Street. A conversation with Stuart was always a pleasure and he will be sadly missed. It would be most fitting if we were to get within two of that remarkable 9.