Salut! Sunderland presents: The best goal I ever scored/never scored

John McCormick writes: It was M Salut himself who got me going, but only after Malcolm had chipped in with his two-penneth (one penneth before, one penneth after). Both described goals they had or hadn’t scored in the “comments” area of a short post about the naming of George Honeyman as captain, and the spark behind their reminiscences was a phrase used by one of our readers, Brian,  in a comment of his own.

So I’ve chipped in with my best (almost only, though I did score twice in a University intramural league and had a third disallowed) goal and we hope you’ll do the same to liven up the dull days between the announcement of fixtures and the actual getting to them. No prizes, I’m afraid, just the honour, the glory and the adulation that will no doubt come from our readership as they recognise you as a true hero of football.

Read moreSalut! Sunderland presents: The best goal I ever scored/never scored

The First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Preston North End and a trip back in time

John McCormick writes: Tuesday morning, and I’m idly contemplating the weekend and Pete Sixsmith’s “first time” feature which will announce it. “Did I see Preston in our promotion year?” I thought to myself. So I got out my trusty promotion year souvenir brochure that my dad bought me (2/6) and had a look.

Preston were there, as I expected, but I remember nothing about the game, not even the very decent score, which makes me wonder if I went. Fortunately, Pete Sixsmith definitely did:

Read moreThe First Time Ever I Saw Your Team: Preston North End and a trip back in time

Head says Citeh, heart says Wigan

John McCormick: on a mild and bitter day
John McCormick: on a mild and bitter day

It’s a Friday evening during the football season , but here in the Northwest, from where two teams will shortly compete for the most famous knockout trophy in the world, things now seem very muted. What’s it like in the Northeast, where two teams have a really serious weekend coming up?

It’s an FA cup final weekend but not a proper one. How can it be? The league hasn’t finished. There will be Premiership games on the Sunday. The final itself kicks off at 5.15 on Saturday, to suit God knows who, presumably not the thousands of fans who will struggle to get back to Greater Manchester. Money, money, money, it’s a rich man’s world and bugger the poor supporters, as ABBA could have written.

Of course, it’s not just the timing of the final and the continuance of the Premier league. The Press and TV in the Northwest this week has been full of one manager’s resignation and another’s appointment, not long after covering a Merseyside derby which included a legendary player’s almost last appearance. It’s only now that the TV down here has turned to Wigan and Man City, and it feels quite exhausted in doing so, as if football has been done to death, which maybe it has.

Read moreHead says Citeh, heart says Wigan

Sixer’s Sevens: FA Cup Final 1973 (8): SAFC 1 Leeds United 0 turns world upside down

Jake poin Sixer to the wall
Jake captures Sixer’s wall of strength

Each matchday, Pete Sixsmith – or a supersub in his absence – summarises the outcome and/or performance with a seven-word verdict, invariably followed by his considered Soapboax report. Today, May 5, though not literally, he’s been up to London to see the … Team of All The Talents, Bob Stokoe’s valiant men in red and white stripes who defied logic and hierarchical wisdom to beat all-conquering Leeds United to the FA Cup. Savour the moment as, on another May 5 four decades ago, Pete did …

Read moreSixer’s Sevens: FA Cup Final 1973 (8): SAFC 1 Leeds United 0 turns world upside down

Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 7: when (nearly) all the world loved us

Jake remembers ...
Jake remembers …

Memories keep flooding back. If you’re old enough, they are your own, If not, you’ve had them handed down. Even Sunderland supporters well under 40 have a clear notion of what is must have been like – what it was like – 40 years ago today, Ken Gambles, from the first category, offers his own recollections …

Read moreSunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 7: when (nearly) all the world loved us

Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 6: May 5, our Agincourt

Jake remembers ...
Jake remembers …

You may have thought John McCormick stretched things somewhat when he wrote about his trip to the 1973 semi-final. He disagrees, having retained a fairly clear memory of that remarkable day 40 years on. When it comes to the final itself, John says, things are much more cloudy leaving his recall of that particular weekend full of holes …

Read moreSunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 6: May 5, our Agincourt

Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 5: Jimmy Montgomery ‘lived the dream’

Jake remembers ...
Jake remembers …

Continuing our series of reminiscences of May 5 1973, Salut! Sunderland talks – thanks to the excellent Jeanette Sutton (nee Coyle) – to Jimmy Montgomery.

Check out the generic link – – for commemorative items you may have missed. Monty was not alone; there were 10 other heroes that day against Leeds united – Dick Malone, Ron Guthrie, Richie Pitt, Dave Watson, Mick Horswill, Ian Porterfield, Bobby Kerr, Dennis Tueart, Billy Hughes and Vic Halom – plus the unused substitute David Young. But Monty was an obvious choice to speak to …

It was not, in Jimmy Montgomery’s view or mine, the best game he ever played.

But in the few seconds it took him to make his extraordinary double save from Trevor Cherry and Peter Lorimer, Monty ensured his place in the imaginary goalkeepers’ hall of fame that inhabits the minds of countless fans of every club in most countries where footballs are kicked.

Read moreSunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 5: Jimmy Montgomery ‘lived the dream’

Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 3: everyone knows where they were when …

From the wall of my bunker in France
From the wall of my bunker in France

I feel we’re on a roll and shouldn’t stop spinning. Maybe it has something to do with not wanting to think too hard about next Monday night. Maybe it’s whatever I’m taking. But the 40th anniversary of Sunderland 1 Leeds United 0 is a powerful reason for going over the top. So as well as producing fresh material – Malcolm Dawson’s wonderful conversations with Jeanette Sutton over the past day or so; Monty, John McCormick, Ken Gambles, Bill Taylor and Pete Sixsmith to come – I am dipping into the archive. This appeared here in December 2009 to coincide with publication of Lance Hardy’s book about that great cup run and Wembley triumph. I have corrected typos but all else is how it appeared, so specific references (such as Lance’s then BBC job) may be out of date …

Read moreSunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 3: everyone knows where they were when …

Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 2: ‘how I spoke to Rod Stewart and hung my scarf on the FA Cup’

Jake remembers ...
Jake remembers …

In the second part of her reminiscences of 5:5:73 Jeanette Sutton (nee Coyle) recalls the game, the post match celebrations with the team and their wives, her brushes with the celebrities of the glam rock era and how she got to decorate the FA Cup itself with her red and white scarf. (Jeanette was talking to Deputy Editor Malcolm Dawson)

MD – So we left our conversation with the victory at Hillsborough and the whole of the red and white supporting part of the North East excited by the prospect of The Lads running out at Wembley to face the might of Leeds United, who at that time were considered to be one of the top clubs. What do you recall about the build up?

Jeanette – Back in the 1970s there wasn’t the same degree of celebrity culture and saturation coverage of football. There were still only three television channels of course and the only time you got to watch league football on TV was Match of the Day on Saturday night and the ITV regional highlights the following afternoon. But in the context of the times there were plenty of off the field distractions for the team.

They had done some radio interviews, and a few of them bumped into Rod Stewart, who being a football fan and celebrity Scotland supporter took a great interest in the team. Glam rock band The Sweet had presented Billy Hughes with one of their gold discs for their recording of their hit “Little Willy”. Local comedian Bobby Knoxall and a choir of primary school children teamed up with the players to record “Sunderland All the Way” the obligatory F.A. Cup Finalists’ song.

The Sunderland lads were all down to earth people. Second Division players with no pretensions and it was like a dream come true when they were given sponsored cars to drive in the run up to the final. They embraced the limelight and enjoyed the moment for what it was but unlike present day footballers they were always accessible, in tune with the fans. We all felt that we all belonged to one big happy family, players, fans and club officials alike.

The atmosphere was electric in the run up to the big day and the town and surrounding districts were covered in red and white. People were desperate for tickets. Fortunately for us Dad had his season ticket allocation and I was given a chance to buy a ticket as a staff member for the price of £1. But even better, I was invited to travel to Wembley on the League Liner with other officials and members of staff.

MD – That must have been a great feeling. So what about the day itself, 5th May 1973, a date indelibly stamped on the heart of any Sunderland supporter alive at the time?

Jeanette – My two sisters Trish and Fiona had been planning to watch it on television along with my Mam and my Nana when just days before the Final I was able to get hold of another two tickets so they could also make the trip. They travelled with Dad on the train and then met me on Wembley Way as I proudly stepped off the League Liner. Just as it had at Hillsborough it poured with rain but we hardly noticed it. The nation seemed to have taken us to their hearts and people were shouting and wishing us luck as we walked to the stadium. Although we were the underdogs we were on top of the world and really felt it would be our day. The omens were good after all. We had last won the cup in 1937 and this was 1973. The last time Bob Stoke had met Don Revie at Wembley was in their playing days when Stokoe’s Newcastle beat Revie’s Man City 3-1. A team playing in stripes had never lost at Wembley. We couldn’t lose with all of that history behind us.

Jeanette's FA Cup Final Ticket and League Liner seat.
Jeanette’s FA Cup Final Ticket and League Liner seat.

This was the 70s and being a fashionable young lady from County Durham, I was wearing black trousers, a yellow jacket with black lapels and yellow platform shoes. I may have been showing the rest of the world that the North East knew a bit about fashion but my outfit afforded little protection from the rain!!!

Once inside the stadium we watched the ground fill and there seemed to be double the number of Sunderland fans as those sporting the colours of our rivals. As ever we were in fine voice. When Frankie Vaughan appeared on the pitch to lead the community singing we did him proud. The last song in the build up was always “Abide with Me” and for me it was so emotional I found it difficult to get to the end of the song. Somehow though I made it and then I knew it was almost time. A huge roar went up as the teams emerged Stokoe and Revie proudly leading out their respective teams. Don Revie was smartly turned out in suit and tie whilst Bob Stokoe was in his bright red tracksuit which a couple of hours later, combined with his raincoat and trilby, would provide the world with the iconic images we now associate with the full time whistle in that match.

Bobby Kerr won the toss and he chose to play towards our end. It couldn’t have gone any better for Dad, my sisters and me as we got a great view of the goal and Monty’s double save.

From kick-off the lads worked hard for each other, they challenged for every ball and took the game to Leeds who seemed troubled by the heavy pitch. Every single Sunderland player was a hero that day and the all star Leeds United team struggled to make an impact. Some resolute defending by the likes of Richie Pitt, Ron Guthrie and Dick Malone left Mick Jones with no space and the dangerous Lorimer and Gray were marked out of the game.

Billy Hughes got a knock early on which caused us concern but he ran it off and was soon moving much better. It was Hughes who took the corner which the pigeon chested Vic Halom brought down beautifully for Ian Porterfield who rammed it into the net from about 12yards. The whole place erupted. We were amazed ourselves as Porterfield, a left footed player had scored with his wrong foot.

The dream continued as Hughes and Tueart kept running at Leeds, causing them all sorts of problems. Kerr, Horswill and Porterfield were dominating the midfield and Dave Watson marshalled the defence which stood firm, apart from the one chance which fell to Leeds, bringing out the best in Jimmy Montgomery who accomplished what has been described by many as the save of the century. It was certainly at least on a par and maybe even better than Gordon Bank’s effort against Brazil in the 1970 World Cup.

He had already made a couple of good saves but then came the moment when time stood still for those of us behind the goal. First of all Trevor Cherry came in with a diving header which Monty cleared only to see Lorimer get on the end of it. His volley thundered towards goal but somehow Monty miraculously got a hand to it and tipped it onto the crossbar. Dick Malone swooped on the rebound and hoofed it upfield out of the danger area. Lorimer couldn’t believe it and at that moment I think everyone knew it was going to be our day.

But you could still feel the tension in the air and some Sunderland supporters who couldn’t stand to watch the closing moments went below the stands, anxiously pacing up and down, trying to guage what was happening from the noise of the crowd. As it happened in the last ten minutes Sunderland looked the more likely to score but we were all whistling, anxious for the game to end. I remember my Dad shouting “Play on we can score another here!” and he was almost proved right as in the dying seconds Hallom came close to bundling Harvey over the line and into the goal.

Then, to our great relief, the final whistle went and the dream had come true. The man next to us was in tears as “the little general” Bobby Kerr climbed the steps to the Royal Box. And as if ordained from above, the rain stopped, the clouds lifted and the sun shone. We couldn’t contain our joy and we sang all the way to the first empty phone box we could find, so that we could share the special moment with our Mam.

The family were heading back to Sunderland but for me the night was just beginning. I jumped into a taxi to celebrate the victory in London, having arranged to meet Linda and Billy Hughes, as I was to be their guest at the winners’ banquet at the Park Lane Hotel. Once I’d met up with Billy and Linda whilst celebrating with a glass of something fizzy, we rang Rod Stewart, who at that time was one of the biggest stars in rock music. Looking back now it’s hard to believe but it really did happen.

Shortly after I left for my room at The Park Lane Hotel to change for the celebration.
At the time I thought that I was being ultra stylish and never even gave a second thought that my dress would be considered anything other than sophisticated and chic. So much so that I never realised that perhaps a black and white dress was not the best colour scheme to wear at a Sunderland AFC celebration. I have never been allowed to forget my choice that night and have never worn a black and white dress since.

Jeanette in the infamous dress with Billy and Linda Hughes
Jeanette in the infamous dress with Billy and Linda Hughes

The evening passed in a daze with champagne flowing like there was no tomorrow. I remember that Brian Connolly of Sweet was there as were Alan Price and Georgie Fame. Suzi Quattro was one of the artists providing the entertainment and I recall her leaving the stage in a huff because we wouldn’t listen to her. All we wanted to do was dance and enjoy the moment.

Next day, the wives, girlfriends and I got on the coach back to the North East.The team still had a league match to play so were staying in London. The cup was put on the back window of the coach and as I was the only one with a scarf we hung it between the handles. I still have that scarf and wear it to all the matches.
The team homecoming was fantastic, with the sea of red and white starting at Scotch Corner and the parade itself at Carrville. It was red and white all the way to Roker Park and the days ahead were fun filled with parties and celebrations which went on for months.

This young team, many who had come up through the ranks had had a tough road to Wembley. Great team spirit and with a philosophy based on hard work and togetherness they beat the mighty Leeds, every single one of whom was a full international. Whilst Ian Porterfield and Monty were of course heroes on the day it was a team performance that won the Cup for Sunderland.

Dave Watson had been superb throughout the earlier rounds, defending our goal but also scoring important goals that saw us through the earlier ties. And who knows what might have happened if Dick Malone hadn’t been there to boot the ball away after Monty’s second save?

The Wembley victory was especially sweet for Dad and me as we had endured the highly controversial meetings with Leeds in the cup run of 66-67. Having drawn at Roker Park then at Elland Road we journeyed down to Hull for a second replay. Leeds were given a penalty for a foul by Irwin on Greenhoff in an incident which occurred outside the penalty area. To add insult to injury Greenhoff had dived and was also offside.

On May 5th 1973 Reaney, Bremner, Hunter, Lorimer and Giles all took the field for Leeds and as we celebrated we remembered the old saying “EVERY DOG HAS HIS DAY!!”

Jeanette on Jeanette.

I have lived in a leafy suburb in Birmingham for more than 30 years with my husband Michael (a Tottenham fan) and our 2 daughters Amy and Gemma. The girls were brought up to follow Sunderland and we have had some wonderful moments together following our team. Sadly my dad passed on a couple of years ago and my mam isn’t able to go to the ground any more but she still listens to the match on the radio every week. I still get to the matches with my sisters and their children who are all part of the red and white army. I am Secretary of the Heart of England branch of the Supporters’ Association.

1973 May 5See all Salut! Sunderland’s articles recalling May 5 1973 and the run that took SAFC to FA Cup glory:

Join the Salut! Sunderland Facebook group – click anywhere along this line

And follow us on Twitter: @salutsunderland … click along this line

Sunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 1: Meadow Lane to Hillsborough

Jake remembers ...
Jake remembers …

The mauling at Villa Park has cast a black cloud over what should be a great week of remembrance. But we need to forget it if we can, at least until Monday night. For now that we have reached May 2013, it is time for Salut! Sunderland to join the extended SAFC family and diaspora in commemorating a remarkable event in the club’s mighty history. Mighty as it is, 1973 did not begin as a year of glory. On May 5, exactly 40 years ago this coming Sunday, it became one when Bob Stokoe led his second-tier team to Wembley and came away with the FA Cup after humbling top-drawer Leeds United.

There will be plenty of articles to read, memories to relive, glories (for younger readers) to imagine. But let us start with this …

Back in 1973, Jeanette Coyle was a Sunderland-mad teenager with a part-time job at Roker Park. Her father Bill was a well known and respected local footballer either side of the Second World War, having played for Darlington and West Auckland as well as a host of other Northern League clubs as a guest during the years of conflict.

Jeanette became friends with many of the Sunderland squad and has her own special memories of May 5th 1973. Here in conversation with deputy editor Malcolm Dawson, she talks about the build up to the great day. Her experience of Cup Final day itself will follow shortly, in the second of this two part reminiscence …

Read moreSunderland, Leeds and Wembley 1973. Part 1: Meadow Lane to Hillsborough