FOLLOWING last night’s fine 3-1 win over Reading in the FA Cup fourth round replay at Elm Park, Sunderland supporter were today preparing for a mass invasion of Manchester for the fifth round tie against City on February 24.
Mr John Tennick, Transport Officer of Sunderland Supporters’ Association said that within a few hours of returning from last night’s game he had received at least 200 applications from fans wishing to make the trip to Maine Road.
“Enthusiasm has already been whipped up now,” he said. “I believe there will be the biggest exodus of Sunderland fans since the Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Villa Park in 1955.”
Although a firm decision has not yet been made, the Maine Road clash is likely to be all-ticket with a capacity crowd of 56,000.
Mr Tennick has already book a special train which will return from Manchester shortly after the game and thousands of fans will make the trip by car and coach.
Mr Tennick, who has followed the Roker team for more than 50 years, said he was confident that if the tie is made all-ticket, Sunderland would take up their full allocation which would mean they would have about 12,000 supporters present.
Sunderland had a big following at Reading last night with the North-East contingent being swelled by exiles from all over the Home Counties and Midlands. “They certainly made themselves heard,” said Mr Tennick “and I was delighted by their behaviour. The Reading police said there had been no trouble.”
After cheering Sunderland on to victory, the Roker fans had a special ovation for former Wearside idol Charlie Hurley, who is now Reading’s manager.
A large crowd gathered outside the players’ entrance after the match and chanted “Charlie,” “Charlie” until the big Irishman came to a window and greeted them. He then came out among the Sunderland fans and signed abut 200 autographs.
“There was a lump in my throat, it was just as though he was one of us,” said Mr Tennick.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on February 8 1973.