Amid all Sunderland’s more pressing problems, it seems almost incidental to reflect on how old you now have to be to have any dependable first-hand memory of May 5 1973: Porterfield’s goal, Monty’s double save, Stokoe’s sprint and our cup.
Never forget that the London branch of the SAFC Supporters’ Association voted years ago to change the name of its newsletter from 5573 to Wear Down South, an excellent title but the choice reflecting younger – and also some older – members’ reluctance to be reminded quite so regularly of how long had passed since the arrival of serious silverware at Roker Park or the Stadium of Light.
And we all know what has happened to the status and allure of the FA Cup in more recent times. It was different in 1973. And if Monsieur Salut’s younger daughter, Nathalie Randall, were somewhat older, enough to have seen that win against lofty, dirty Leeds, it’s a fair bet that the emotion and glory of that day – and her father’s celebrations – might have have steered her into lifelong support of Sunderland, not Liverpool.
But let Nathalie explain how her own feelings about the competition have been affected by two unexpected results, Wigan’s heartening act of giant-killing and Rochdale’s draw against Spurs to ensure at least one day out at Wembley …
John McCormick writes: I would have been at this game had it been played at the original time. I suppose I should be glad I missed it; I thought the first half was mind-numbingly boring and the second half was little better, plus we lost through a soft goal.
But I know nowt about football, so I have to refer to the letter which our manager writes to M Salut (and one or two others) after each game to find out what really went on:
Out of sequence as Pete Sixsmith has not yet been able to file his report from Swansea, but let’s crack on …
The win at Swansea was just what was needed. We all sensed defeat would send us scurrying to check out Championship street maps. Even a draw would have felt like a bodyblow but, this being Sunderland, none of us could be sure the Villa result would be repeated.
Despite and thanks to the worst officiating most of us have seen in a single match, we got the win. Not a penalty, not a sending off, offside questions raised about all Jermain Defoe’s goals … but, as Rob Hutchison put it in his one-word ratings, just what Swansea deserved for their wretched insistence on having the game put back because of League Cup commitments, only to make 11 changes to their team).
My daughter Nathalie, her of the disloyal Liverpool allegiance though she does like us too, applied spot of perspective:
Bet you were happy last night, Sam doing a good job … think you can stay up!
A few more signings needed though but nice to see Lens playing well again.
Only one of Defoe’s goals were offside by the way, watched MOTD last night and he just timed run for his second in time with an arched run, the first was off though, the last easily on.
Def non penalty and def no red – was barely a foul.
Now on to Spurs. Just for fun, have a go at guessing the score. The “just for fun” status will last until another kind benefactor comes along to sponsor a prize.
It’s a tougher ask than Villa at home and Swansea away. And Spurs fans will expect an immediate bounceback from the defeat to Leicester. We must rely on Sam to drum some belief into the squad – and to pick the right team to put Spurs noses a bit further out of joint.
Come back later for both Sixer’s Soapbox from the the Liberty Stadium – Pete was there and his report may be delayed by homeward transport plans – and, provided you’re not squeamish, the Spurs “Who are You?”. Be warned: the interviewee doesn’t like us at all. I can assure you that you won’t like him.
Ha’way the Lads.
Deadline day brought one last player to welcome. We wanted a full back and that is what DeAndre Yedlin, a USA international signed on loan from Spurs is. ‘I’m delighted to be given the opportunity to play for a club with such great history,” he says diplomatically to safc.com. ‘I’ve heard fantastic things about Sunderland and the supporters from Claudio Reyna and Jozy Altidore.’ Rob Hutchison finds more than his usual one word apiece to run the rule over the eight imports …
Bill Taylor came across a nifty new BBC tool allowing fans of all Premier League teams to calculate their clubs’ performance during their lifetimes. Fellow Sunderland supporters – and others – are invited to have a go and report back any interesting findings …
There’s no evidence to support this, but George Santayana, the Spanish/American writer and philosopher, COULD have been at Wembley in 1937 to see Sunderland clobber Preston North End 3-1 in the FA Cup. Santayana was certainly in Europe at the time.
And the saying he’s most famous for could well be applied to the Black Cats and their long-suffering fans: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
For those of us who have trouble remembering what happened last week, let alone a few decades ago, the BBC’s football website has unveiled a magical new tool to jog our memories.
Those who were there will be able to say “I was there” and those who weren’t there will be able to say “I wish I’d been there” but no one will be able to say how we came away with a point. Except, perhaps, our own Pete Sixsmith, who eschewed the triumphalism of the last night of the Proms to bring us this report:
We’re not sure Robert Graves had in mind an end-of-season encounter in an undreamed-of football league when he wrote his wildly premature autobiography in 1929 (he lived on for 56 years). Pete Sixsmith was there, not on May 4 1929 when Sunderland were on the wrong end of a 4-0 thumping by Sheffield United yet finished fourth, but to see our reduced ranks of tryers and trying narrowly fail to defy a Spurs side that narrowly failed in its own fourth-top ambitions. If Pete’s reference to ‘Good-Bye to All That’ – don’t blame him for Graves’s preferred spelling of goodbye – means he’ll be at Shildon games more often that Sunderland ones next season, we’ll know who to blame …
Despite surviving appeals for three penalties we would have been horrified to see denied to Sunderland, PDC’s team held out with great guts for 88 minutes, only to be beaten by a combination of David Vaughan’s stupid challenge, earning him a second yellow, and Gareth Bale’s magnificent finish 13 minutes later for the late winner. Danny Graham went close earlier for SAFC, Connor Wickham closer but do not get the idea this was more than a valiant backs-to-the-wall resistance. Pete Sixsmith, who captures the essence of most games with his seven-word verdicts, at least felt his long trip had been rewarded by a display of passion and desire …
Hardly the words Sunderland fans want to hear. Not the dreary north London bragging rights – life’s so much more exciting at the bottom – but we want Danny, Danny Rose to see his future with Sunderland and Spurs to let him move. Our final “Who are You?” candidate of the season, the Tottenham-supporting writer Dan Fitch*, founder and owner of TottenhamBlog (“the Spurs news site that expects the worst and is rarely disappointed”) wants him back and hints that Andre Villas-Boas does, too …
Either that or shattered nerves have sent Lars Knutsen round the bend. He expects Wigan to stumble at the Emirates tonight and we all know what that would mean, unless stumble were to equal draw and they then thumped Villa by a cricket score while we lost heavily at Spurs (a combination of 6-0 and 5-0, for example, and we’d go down on same goal difference, fewer scored). That’s clearly not a scenario Lars envisages, but he does expect a surviving Sunderland to reinvent themselves as punk’s footballing equivalent. Without, Monsieur Salut trusts, the music …