Hats off to Brian Leng and all others concerned with a website called The Roker End*.
Technically home to the Sunderland Former Players’ Association, it is packed with material of interest to every supporter of Sunderland AFC – and a good many supporters of other clubs, too, especially those our players also served.
There are interviews galore, proper features and Q&As, news of events and more besides. Try this list for size and quality: Len Shackleton, Johnny Crossan, Johnny Mapson, John Byrne, Nick Sharkey, Ritchie Pitt, Chris Makin. All of them – and more, yes King Charlie included (see comment) – have been interviewed or quoted. Some quotes are familiar – Shack’s “Listen, I’ve nothing against Newcastle – I don’t care who beats them!” – others less so (Mapson: “For the one and only time in my career, I received an approach to throw a game”).
Check out the site for yourselves but here are just a few extracts from the question and answer sessions:
Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland? – Arsenal at home in the FA Cup, we won 2-1
Who was the best player you player alongside at Sunderland? -Len Shackleton
Who was the best you player against? – Dennis Law
What’s the greatest moment of your playing career? – My first international cap.
Who do you rate as the best manager you player under? – Joe Harvey
What was your most memorable match as a Sunderland player? – I had quite a few memorable games. Milk Cup, FA Cup, Play Offs, Centenary Finals – all at Wembley. There was also the play-offs against Newcastle and the Gillingham game when we were relegated.
Scoring the winner in the last minute against Man Utd, scoring at Maine Rd in front of 16,000 away supporters and my testimonial against Glasgow Rangers.
And the worst? – Getting beat 3-1 by Newcastle at St James Park. And being relegated to the old Third Division.
Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland? – That one against Man United. My best save was against Spurs in the FA Cup – unfortunately I get sent off for it!
Who was the best player you player alongside at Sunderland? – There was a few – all for different reasons. The most exciting was Marco Gabbiadini.
Who was the best you player against? – Again, numerous. Gary Lineker, Ian Rush, Jurgen Klinsmann.
How do you remember your Sunderland debut? – A hostile crowd. Sunderland were going through a tough time … I was only 16!
What was your most memorable match as a Sunderland player? The 3 games against Man United in the FA Cup. We played against George Best, Bobby Charlton & Denis Law … Sunderland were equal to them all.
Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland? – My one and only, against Nottingham Forest! (Cec managed 4 own-goals during his 350 appearances for The Lads).
Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland? – That one I mentioned against Norwich (25-8-90 at Carrow Rd).
Who was the best player you player alongside at Sunderland? – Eric Gates – a legend at the top level who managed a few extra years which we both enjoyed for various reasons!
What was the funniest incident you recall during a game? – Gordon Armstrong trying to “moonwalk” after scoring at Leicester, not easy with studs on!