FANTASTIC crowd scenes were repeated outside Roker Park tonight two hours before the kick-off as fans formed queues up to 100 yards long to see their heroes in the last match of the season.
The streets were a mass of seething red and white and by 6.30pm the majority of fans were inside the grounds – and earning the praise of the police.
Inspector George Dougherty, in charge of match arrangements, said the police task had been made much easier by the crowd’s orderly behaviour.
The gates opened at 5.30pm and the ground was well on the way to its 50,000 capacity an hour later when a road greeted the arrival of Mick Horswill and Dennis Tueart to test the pitch.
The Roker Park crowd, which has earned national acclaim for its behaviour, good humour, and unfaltering belief in its heroes turned out in full force once more and a steady drizzle failed to dampen the fans’ enthusiasm.
After a pause for breath following last night’s rapturous welcome, thousands of Wearsiders were back in roaring form inside and outside Roker Park long before the kick off. One fan was even seen outside the ground this morning in a deck chair.
The mighty Roker Roar which threatened the foundation of Wembley was back home to make sure that the team finished their bread and butter League programme on high note – and the loudest.
Fans still recalling Ian Porterfield’s Wembley winner and demonstrating Monty’s celebrated double save, spoke on the way to the ground of the importance of tonight’s match for prestige.
And the main topic of conversation was what might have been had the team started the season as they finished.
A closing game against the Second Division runners-up provided the fans with a chance to compare standards and supporters causing traffic hold-ups through the town thronged the road the Roker Park.
Conscious that they can now hold up their heads high, fans made their way to the ground in a steady trickle which turned into a steam over Wearmouth Bridge and converged into the now familiar sea of red and white outside Roker Park.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on May 9, 1973.