On the face of it, this does not look the worst line-up the English top flight has seen:
Montgomery; Irwin, Hurley, Palmer, Harvey; Suggett, Porterfield, Herd; Harris, Brand, Hughes
Nor, necessarily, does this have the appearance of a world-beating XI:
Ferguson; Bonds, Stephenson, Moore, Charles; Redknapp, Boyce, Peter; Brooking, Hurst, Sissons
King Charlie & co clearly had an offday.
The match, 41 years ago this month, ended West Ham 8 Sunderland 0. At least it was an away game, unlike this weekend’s encounter at the Stadium of Light.
Injustice? You get beaten 8-0 and cry foul?
Step forward Geoff Hurst. He later admitted that the first of his six goals that afternoon had been punched home. Who knows what might have happened if it had been spotted? A narrow away victory? A well-fought draw?
I am glad to say that i was nowhere near Upton Park that day. But I have been present for a lot of games between the two teams, and a few of them – plus, inevitably, others I missed – stick out in the memory.
The obvious one for Sunderland fans to recall was at Roker Park several days after the 1980 FA Cup Final had ended West Ham 1 Arsenal 0, the scorer one Trevor Brooking. Our last game of the season had been delayed by the Hammers’ cup run and we needed a win or a draw to go up from the old Second Division.
I drove from Bristol for the game, promised my wife – who loathes football – a curry in a highly rated Sunderland Indian restaurant afterwards if we were promoted, but suggested a Wimpy beforehand just in case.
After the Hammers had started as if intent on seriously spoiling our party, Stan Cummins and Kevin Arnott gave us the goals that took us up in style and Mrs R got the curry to ensure indigestion. She had complained in the Clock Stand Paddock of the lack of consideration shown by SAFC in scoring an unnecessary second goal and inflicting another severe buffeting on her as we celebrated.
The newsagent’s next morning was a treat: every paper gone except for a tall, untouched pile of copies of The Sun, which in those days sent early editions to the North East without trace of the previous evening’s football scores.
Nine years after the 8-0 drubbing, three years before that night of promotion euphoria, we even contrived to thrash the Hammers 6-0 and still go down (1976/77).
There have been plenty of games between our clubs I would sooner forget: that cup exit at some ghostly hour in the SoL snow, an abject 3-0 surrender at Upton Park in one desperate Sunderland season, a couple of 2-0s in others. There was the brilliant 2-1 win in our Mick McCarthy championship season, which I watched in an Irish bar in Paris, and an away win in the FA Cup on our way to Wembley in 1992.
Kevin Phillips scored his 30th goal of the season at home to the Hammers in one of our seventh top seasons under Peter Reid (1999/2000), winning the Golden Boots award and only a dreadful miss by Danny Dichio, set up for sitter by a bootless SuperKev if I remember correctly, had stopped us going briefly top with 10 men in the earlier game at Upton Park.
Tomorrow? I’ll be absent again, I’m afraid, and would love an emphatic home win to put Birmingham (City and Villa) depression behind us. But I will settle for a winner off any West Ham player’s backside,.