Flu-hit Sunderland seek postponements

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SUNDERLAND A.F.C., hit by a flu outbreak which has reached epidemic proportions, is seeking Football League permission to postpone their game against Cardiff City at Ninian Park on Saturday and against Huddersfield Town at Roker Park on Boxing Day. They have 17 players affected by the outbreak and taking injuries into account no fewer than 21 players will not be available for either game.

The club’s medical adviser, Dr Jim Scott, has recommended that the ground be closed until Tuesday to prevent a further spread of infection, which has also claimed Vice-Chairman Jack Ditchburn, Director Maurice Bewick, Manager Bob Stokoe, and youth team trainer-coach Ray Yeoman.

First team trainer-coach Billy Elliott, who weathered a mild attack at the beginning of the week, found 13 players missing from training this morning and four who reported, Dave Watson, Dennis Tueart, John Tones and Graham Southwick, all had the symptoms of a developing attack.

Accompanied by club physiotherapist John Watters, Mr Elliott then went on a tour of the homes of the sick players and on their return to Roker Park reported: “It’s hopeless. There is no chance of any of them being able to play.”

Dr Scott helped to present the club’s case for postponements to the Football League, who have promised to give a ruling later this afternoon.

Players already ruled out through flu attacks are Bobby Kerr, Ian Porterfield, Billy Hughes, Keith Coleman, Jimmy Hamilton, Richie Pitt, Peter Stronach, Trevor Swinburne, John Blyth, Dave Shannon, Tom and Dave Callaghan and Keith Adams.

Mick McGiven and Maurice Hepworth are undergoing treatment for injuries and both Bobby Park and Bobby Mitchell are on long-term recovery programmes.

Sunderland’s home Northern Intermediate League game against Doncaster Youths on Saturday has already been postponed because of the flu epidemic.

Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on December 22 1972.