This is not intended as a breach of Salut! Sunderland‘s new commitment to get-behind-the-lads positivism in the run-up to the match (on the grounds that hostilities can always be resumed at 5pm). More of a general view on where we are as a club, what we actually want and whether it is time to stop harping on about past triumphs. And then, loyal readers and gloating visitors, it is over to you …
Much of Thursday passed without me realising the significance of the date: May 5. Then I remembered. And once reminded, I knew like everyone else what had happened on the same date 38 years ago. Did I say everyone else? Who else, apart from us, Leeds and a few football anoraks, actually feels any need to recall the 1973 FA Cup Final?
Very well, i probably underestimate the number of romantics out there who support neither club. And it is natural to look back on momentous events of the past, especially when we are old enough to remember them, and bask in the illusionary warm glow of nostalgia.
But is it time we came to terms with the the fact that celebrating the 38th anniversary of the last truly great thing to happen to Sunderland AFC is, in some ways, just a little bit sad?
Heaven knows Salut! Sunderland has been as guilty as anyone, to the extent not only of wearing 2-1 T-shirts marking a certain pair of victories at St James’ Park but writing for readerships stretching from Wearside to the Arabian Gulf and beyond about another slice of faded glory: Newcastle United 1 Sunderland 9 on Dec 5 1908.
Indeed, some of you may feel M Salut is the only one around here old enough to have been present at all those occasions. And you can bet that if I had been in the press box 102+ years ago, I’d have been boring other hacks before the game with behind-the-scenes tales about the 1890s Team of All Talents.
Let me throw the discussion open by repeating what has been said about it at the estimable Blackcats list. The thread began at about 10 to five and was entitled “38 years ago today, around about now …. ” and went something like this:
* Bobby Kerr was lifting the cup
– Stephen Worthy
** 38 years ago right now,I was sat on a bus going home with Patsy Gallacher (now deceased) who played for us in the 1937 Final.
– Jeremy Robson
*** 5 years ago today, I got married. Is the date a coincidence? I don’t think so.
38 year ago I was being pushed in a buggy around a deserted Barnes Park by my mam, so she could avoid the match. Not one for footy, my mam.
– Neil Chandler
And then the killer blow …
**** And we’ve had nothing to talk about ever since. I’m as proud as anybody about that day and that achievement – but crowing on endlessly about it, like the club and us fans continue to do, is really a sad indictment of the abject failure of SAFC..
– Mick Goulding
.***** a garbled, truncated message from …
– M Salut
****** That heap of garble was something I started to write in reply to Mick, thought better of and tried to kill but managed somehow to send. It would have been a ramble about having no tearing desire to be a top two, three, four club and therefore revelling in the glories of 1973 and even 1908 or the 1890s. But then I realised it isn’t true. I WOULD like to see real success. I know I never will but that’s different
– M Salut
******* So would I. 73 was great and all that. But it starts to wear really thin and look a bit sad when we are constantly harping on about one trophy 38 years ago – which seems like yesterday, but is actually a very long time in football. We have every right to be proud of it, but that’s very different from harping on and on about it. There was a new fanzine for sale at the ground last Saturday and it was called 73. The t-shirt stalls are still selling stuff related to 73 and players from the 73 team are still spoken of as giants of the game – when most people in the country have never heard of them.
It’s very sad indeed that a club like ours has absolutely nothing to show for 38 years, many of them spent in the top flight. Newcastle are the same, and that gives us a bit of respite, but it’s still comparing rubbish with rubbish. I’m just getting tired of it and wish we could win something, as smaller and poorer clubs than us have done (eg Birmingham this season).
– Mick Goulding
Having thought about it on the hoof, the way forward seemed clear.
If only we could be given just a hint of contemporary success – a League Cup trophy, maybe, as opposed to going out meekly in the early rounds – then we’d feel an awful lot happier about honouring grand achievements from history. Leeds and Toon fans – at least the former don’t have to go as far back in the record books to spot meaningful silverware – are welcome to join the debate.