Just a week away from Sunderland’s first pre-season friendly ahead of the 2017-18 campaign under new boss Simon Grayson, we look back to the Rokermen’s build-up in 1970.
Joe Baker stole the show as Sunderland completed a quickfire German double to end their pre-season programme on a high note in August 1970.
Alan Brown’s men struggled to record a 1-1 draw at Stirling Albion in their opening friendly, but Sunderland found their feet to beat Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 before edging Hannover 96 4-3 at Roker Park.
Sunderland – newly relegated from the First Division – showed their mettle, coming out on top after falling behind seven minutes before half-time.
Colin Todd and Brian Chambers both forced keeper Helmschrott into saves before the visitors stunned the tiny Roker crowd, gifted a goal by sloppy Sunderland play.
Martin Harvey’s poor clearance caused problems, with the ball coming back quickly down Hannover’s right, with Nafziger crossing.
Cec Irwin’s weak headed clearance flew straight to Keller, who had the simple task of tapping home from close range, with keeper Jimmy Montgomery helpless.
Two corners in succession led to Sunderland’s leveller, with Bobby Kerr’s deep flag-kick knocked back in by Billy Hughes for Baker to get in between two defenders to nod home.
Just before half-time, Ian Porterfield crossed to the back post and Baker controlled it well before beating Hellingrath on the turn and stabbing the ball over the line.
A third goal followed early in the second half, Bobby Park pulling down the ball after Hughes’s shot was charged down and beating Helmschrott with a fine strike.
Siemensmeyer cut the deficit to 3-2 on 72 minutes with a classy header from Keller’s cross, but Sunderland soon restored their two-goal advantage, with Park’s astute pass finding Baker in space to complete his hat-trick with a precision shot.
Hannover, though, had the last word, Keller beating Montgomery at the third attempt after the keeper made two superb blocks.
Argus, in the Echo, enthused: “Four goals in two games is more like the Baker of old and though he may never rescale the heights which he reached with Hibernian, Turin and Arsenal, he appears all set to command a sharp improvement upon the form which he displayed last season.”
But the other end of the pitch was a concern for Argus, who wrote: “Defence is the section in which greatest progress is needed, for slack moments in the middle of the game and towards the end enabled Hannover to fight back from what should have been a hopeless position.”
Argus was right to be worried, as Sunderland duly shipped four goals in a narrow opening-day Division Two defeat at Bristol City, then conceded three in a Roker draw with Watford before losing 2-0 at Swindon in a worrying start to the campaign.
Brown’s men rallied to finish 13th, with 42 points from 42 games.
Meanwhile, in the same week as the Hannover match, Newcastle United joined Sunderland in discussions over the possibility of sharing a £3.5million stadium halfway between the two towns.
Sunderland had been talking about a possible move from Roker Park for six months, and Newcastle chairman Lord Westwood put the proposal to a board meeting at St James’s Park.
Roker Park Estates Ltd, the company planning to develop a new stadium, made an approach to Washington Development Corporation for preliminary talks on the possibility of land being available in the new town – the first time a site had been specifically pinpointed.
The proposals followed surveys showing that 70 per cent of SAFC fans came from outside the borough boundary, while 65 per cent of Newcastle supporters were from south of the Tyne.
Sunderland: Montgomery, Irwin, Harvey, Todd, McGiven, Porterfield, Park, Kerr, Baker, Chambers, Hughes. Subs: Pitt, Tones, Tueart, Heslop, Harris
Hannover 96: Helmschrott, Stiller, Berg, Anders, Hellingrath, Nafziger, Bandura, Keller, Weller, Reimann Ref: D Mann.