The pairing of Sunderland and Leeds in this season’s FA Cup Third Round would have immediately revived memories of one of the great Finals.
I was one of those fortunate enough to be in the Wembley crowd that day. I had watched The Final on TV since Wolves v Blackburn in 1960, without ever thinking that I would get the chance to see one live, but a couple of Final tickets was a perk of working for The FA – I joined the organisation in 1970 – and Sunderland v Leeds was my third.
Sunderland v Leeds United
The FA Cup
Third Round Proper
1pm, Sunday 4 January 2015
Stadium Of Light
Winning club will receive £67,500
I’ve been to 42 Finals now and it’s still my favourite.
We had an Amateur International against Finland a few weeks before the ’73 Final and the interpreter provided by the Finnish Embassy became a good friend. He was married with a young daughter …and lived in Wembley!
Pepi was my guest for that Final. We had lunch and watched the Final build-up on TV until about 2.30pm and then walked down the road to the stadium.
We were at the Sunderland end, standing at the back, and expecting to see Leeds win easily.
Don Revie’s side, boasting 10 internationals and experienced in the conflicts of First Division and European competition, came to Wembley as Cup holders for their third Final in four years.
Sunderland came from Division Two, and when new manager Bob Stokoe took over during the season, they were third from bottom.
No Second Division team had won The Cup for more than 40 years, and very few people outside Sunderland gave them any chance of winning. Pepi and I certainly didn’t – but after they scored on the half-hour we became die-hard Sunderland fans.
The turning point of the match, as we all know, came in the 70th minute and it was at our end. Sunderland keeper Jimmy Montgomery dived to palm away a header across goal from Trevor Cherry – straight into the path of Peter Lorimer, one of the most powerful and accurate shots in the game.
Lorimer blasted the ball goalwards but Montgomery, miraculously, managed to divert the ball on to the underside of the bar. It bounced clear. At the time I wasn’t thinking ‘It must be a goal’ because it all happened so quickly.
A few years ago, when The FA’s offices were at Soho Square, I did a little interview with Jim about that Final. He must have described that double-save a million times!
After the match Pepi and I went back to his place for tea and biscuits and some more TV coverage on a wonderful Final. This weekend, though, Leeds will be the underdogs.