Ha’way Back When: Mick Buckley the hero as Sunderland complete great escape against Man City on final day

Sunderland celebrate Mick Buckley's winner against Manchester City in 1982.
Sunderland celebrate Mick Buckley's winner against Manchester City in 1982.
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Sunderland 1 Manchester City 0 – May 15, 1982

Sunderland staved off the threat of relegation with a victory in the final Division One match of the season.

And, with five of their six rivals also winning, Mick Buckley’s 14th-minute goal was even more priceless.

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Ha'way Back When in association with John Hogg Funeral Directors

Although technically two of three other clubs could still equal Sunderland’s tally of 44 points, West Brom were still to play both Stoke and Leeds and one of these three would go down with Wolves and Middlesbrough.

At Roker Park, Sunderland achieved the vital early breakthrough they so desperately needed, but, with Joe Corrigan in inspired form in the City goal, Buckley’s fourth league goal was all they had to show for their first-half dominance.

The persistence of Nick Pickering on the left set up the chance for striker Colin West to roll the ball into the path of Buckley, whose crisp low drive had Corrigan well beaten.

Yet it was City who looked the more dangerous after the break and they certainly did not make it easy for Sunderland.

Chris Turner, who had saved well from Kevin Reeves in the first half, had to thank Stan Cummins for a goal-line clearance midway through the second half when City defender Kevin Bond out-jumped the goalkeeper from a right-wing corner and he knew very little about a fierce drive from Paul Power, which came back into play off the upright.

Corrigan, however, was by far the busier of the goalkeepers, denying Cummins a hat-trick with his acrobatic saves and, at the end of the day, the single goal margin was due mainly to his brilliance.

Victory was achieved by sheer team-work and graft which had been the hallmark of one of the most amazing comebacks to survive for a long time.

After losing at home to Middlesbrough on April 3, Sunderland’s chances of avoiding the drop were virtually written off, but they had proved the critics wrong with their refusal to throw in the towel.

“It wasn’t an achievement, but it avoided embarrassment for me,” said manager Alan Durban, whose side won six games and drew three others in the 11-game run-in after the Boro setback.

“You get in this game what you deserve.

“I am pleased that certain individuals have been rewarded.

“We have now got to keep our best players and add to it to win anything.

“Things will get better with a younger side as some of them have spent part of the season learning the game.

“Wolves have gone down with the most expensive centre-forward in the league (Andy Gray), and we have thrown a kid in who will get us goals (Colin West).”

Sunderland survived in fourth-bottom spot on 44 points from 42 games, two ahead of Leeds, with Wolves on 40 and Boro in bottom spot on 39.

Sunderland: Turner, Hinnigan, Munro, Hindmarch, Chisholm, Elliott, Buckley, West, Rowell, Pickering, Cummins. Sub: McCoist.

Manchester City: Corrigan, Ryan, McDonald, Bond, Power, Caton, Kinsey (Wilson 73), Reeves, Boyer, Hartford, Jackson.

Attendance: 26,167