Rowell Report: The day Sunderland blew away Arsenal

Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
Gary Rowell, former Sunderland player and now Echo columnist
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ARSENAL’S visit to Sunderland on Saturday gives me the chance to look back on games I played in my career against the North Londoners, and we had a pretty good record against them in the late 70s, early 80s.

Back then, Arsenal were the club who were recognised as having a real touch of class and style that not many others possessed.

They were the sort of club that whether they were having a successful spell or not, did things the right way.

As I said, we had a good record against them and something about Arsenal must have suited us as we usually got a positive result, whether home or away.

I particularly remember a game at Highbury when a young Tony Adams was making his debut and he won’t remember it as a good one as we played superbly well that day and won 2-1.

From a personal point of view though, I can’t look past a game at Roker Park in December 1982 that we won 3-0 and I grabbed all three goals.

We produced a top performance that day, a true team effort in a game we felt we had to win.

It was a bitterly cold day just before Christmas, with us at the wrong end of the table and we needed the points desperately to move us up and boost confidence with the busy holiday fixtures to come.

We did that and then some!

We blew Arsenal away and we went for the jugular as we sensed a couple of their players were not relishing the freezing temperatures and bitter wind blowing in off the North Sea.

As I scored a hat-trick in the 3-0 win, I made most of the headlines over the weekend – a fact that some of my team-mates didn’t fail to notice – and I got a bit of good-natured stick at training on Monday morning.

At least I think it was good-natured!

In any team sport, you need to help and support each other and two players from that particular game were outstanding, were Nick Pickering and Frank Worthington.

Nick was a superb athlete who could run his opponent ragged and he made a couple of my goals that day. Frank was a unique character and very popular with the lads in the dressing room, and while he was past his best when he joined us, he was still technically gifted and helped me enormously.

So a fine team performance, a great result and, on a personal level, three goals made it a perfect Saturday afternoon for me.

After all, a hat-trick is only worthwhile if the team wins and of very little value if you end up losing 4-3.