Retro: Argus on the attack

Sunderland FC team circa 1948
Sunderland FC team circa 1948
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THE 1946/47 season finally saw Sunderland back in fulltime action after the end of wartime restrictions on competitive games.

But, although the team finished in a respectable ninth place, the Echo’s football pundit Argus was in a critical mood when he summed up the season on May 31.

“Season 1946-47 has ended with Sunderland securing 50 per cent of the points at stake – and an inglorious defeat in the Durham Professional Cup Final against Darlington,” he wrote.

“I remember trainer George Gray saying to me last August: ‘A good start is half the battle, and I’m going to see they are physically fit to make that good start.’

“Well, George Gray did his job well and, if we had not got that good start, we might have been fighting to avoid relegation.

“On the other hand, the Sunderland manager, Bill Murray, expressed the view two years ago that, if he could hold the club’s place in the first post-war season, he would be satisfied.

“There is nothing in that view one can object to, providing preparation is made for building a team which will do something more than just hold its own.”

It was in this area, however, that Argus believed the club was letting themselves down – and the hopes of fans too.

“Can anyone honestly say that the Sunderland club has any reasonable prospect of gaining honours with the side as it has been mainly constituted this season?” he wrote.

“Analyse the team and its players, and if you can come to any other conclusion than I do – that the team may hold a league position – I should like to know the basis of your reasoning.

“The front line is not good enough, and the reserve strength is not there to give effective backing.

“Don’t tell me that the reserves have nearly won the North Eastern League Championship – that has been done with players just a little above North Eastern League standards.

“You have neither an outside nor inside right fit to go up and hold a place; you have not got an inside left either if Lloyd’s recent displays are any guide. There is no class centre forward either.

“These are the facts which 99 out of every 100 supporters will agree with.”

Argus used his sports column to urge Sunderland officials to scout out “half-made” players from local clubs to help bolster the reserve teams and build a brighter future for the club.

But he added: “I do not suppose for one moment that I shall be liked for expressing my views, but that has never deterred me from doing so.

“When you have a team like we had 12 years ago, you can afford to sit back knowing the skill was there and that there was reserve backing.

“When you know you have not, and recognised the weaknesses, you should be watching others play.”

Argus’ gloomy predictions for the impending 1947/48 season were to be proved right.

Although Dickie Davis was the leading scorer with 12 goals, the club finished in 20th position.