FA Cup fever hits Salut as Pete Sixsmith dredges through his memory bank to remember a cup run from long ago. A similar scoreline for the red and whites would entertain the ITV viewers on Sunday afternoon.
It’s a real pleasure to get to a place that we don’t often visit for a Third Round Cup tie. London Road, Peterborough is a place we have played at but twice in competitive football, losing one and winning one. I saw the 5-2 defeat in 1992, which came towards the end of Malcolm Crosby’s short time in charge and missed the 3-1 win the season after.
The game I remember most distinctly was the 7-1 hammering of The Posh in January 1967. It was a Fourth Round game at Roker Park as it was before the Roker End was emasculated, and it attracted a marvellous crowd of 43,998 who paid gate receipts of £10,600, which works out at a little under 25p a head.
We were going through a good spell at the time. Ian McColl had the team playing well (either that or Baxter was on the wagon) and we had a number of youngsters in the squad. Colin Todd played, as did Bobby Kerr and Colin Suggett was on the bench, while Billy Hughes was being touted as the new George Mulhall.
The old George Mulhall played on the left wing, next to his fellow Scot George Herd, with another Scot, Neil Martin at centre forward. In fact, it was an all Scottish forward line, with Kerr at No.7 and John O’Hare (later to become a team mate of Martin O’Neill at Forest) in the No. 8 shirt.
Add Jim Baxter and George Kinnell to that and you have a team made up of 7 Scots, a Northern Irishman in Martin Harvey (who may well have played in the same International line up as MON and is one of the most controlled footballers I have ever seen) and three Englishmen – Todd, Monty and Cec Irwin, all local lads and almost Scots, and you have a real Celtic connection.
I would have gone on the OK bus from Bishop Auckland with mates from school – Geoff Mangan, Colin Hurworth, Keith Judd and Roy Coatsworth were regulars – and probably tried to sneak into The Wolseley for a pint of Exhibition, purchased out of my paper round money.
I definitely stood in the Fulwell End, in front of where the banners and the singers were, and I probably wore a red and white scarf and a parka with a fur lined hood, every inch the trendy, fashion conscious, overweight 15 year old.
I do remember Peterborough being absolutely dreadful and looking as if they could concede double figures. John O’Hare opened the scoring in the 13th minute, and a quarter of an hour later we were four up, thanks to two from Neil Martin and one from Bobby Kerr.
Martin completed his hat trick just after half time and Kerr added a sixth, before Tommy Watson scored a consolation for Peterborough. His career slid even further downhill after this game when he signed for Newcastle. The seventh came from a typically thunderous Jim Baxter penalty and we went home happy.
We were on a very good run at the time. The previous two games had seen us beat Chelsea at home and Leicester City away and the next three saw draws at home to Liverpool (Hughes making his debut) and draws at the Wests of Ham and Brom, before we gave the Mags a good hiding at Roker, to complete the double over them. Bobby Kerr got two and George Mulhall the other as we extended the unbeaten run to ten.
Then came the games that Sunderland supporters of my generation remember so vividly. We drew Leeds United in the fifth round at Roker and I still think that had we got through that one, we would have gone on to win the cup.
The first game ended 1-1 and is well remembered for Bobby Kerr breaking his leg in a tackle with Norman Hunter. For once, Leeds were blameless, but I do remember Jim Baxter putting an absolute shocker on Johnny Giles. Unfortunately, Giles got up.
The replay at Elland Road also ended 1-1 in front of what is still United’s record crowd, 57,892. At least 20,000 of those were Sunderland fans and we witnessed John O’Hare putting us ahead. However, true to Sunderland form we conceded an equaliser to Giles a minute later, setting up a third meeting at Boothferry Park, Hull.
Were I to mention the name Ken Stokes (Newark) to those of a certain age, steam will come out of their ears, garments will be rent and there will be a wailing and a gnashing of teeth.
With the game poised at 1-1, Jimmy Greenhoff, yards offside, got into the box and dived over Cec Irwin’s outstretched leg. Mr Stokes gave a penalty and all hell broke loose. Giles scored from the spot and then Mulhall and Herd were sent off for questioning Mr Stokes’s ability to referee. Fans got on to the pitch and one lad hit Billy Bremner with his haversack to become an instant hero and earn a place in SAFC folklore.
Out we went and the season fell apart as we lost 5 of the next 6 games and ended up in our usual position in the bottom third. Leeds went on to lose a highly controversial semi final to Chelsea when a goal was disallowed because the referee had not signalled for a free kick to be taken. They received boatloads of sympathy on Wearside.
Poor old Peterborough were demoted to the Fourth Division for illegal payments to players and they languished in the bottom level for a number of years, failing to fulfil the promise they had shown when entering the league in 1960.
Here’s hoping there are no shocks on Sunday and that we come through safely.