Saturday is debut day at Roker Park

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MANAGER Bob Stokoe, breaking records in the brevity of transfer deals, added another attraction to Sunderland’s upsurge last night by signing former Scottish international centre forward and winger John Hughes at a fee of about £30,000.

The big, bustling Scot, who became a Sunderland player little more than 24 hours after Mr Stokoe had made his first move, will wear the No. 9 against Millwall at Roker Park on Saturday.

Negotiations followed the pattern which the Sunderland manager set in the brisk deal which brought Newcastle defenders David Young and Ron Guthrie into the Sunderland pool.

And the fact that it will be debut day at Roker Park for both Hughes and Guthrie must ensure that the game will attract the biggest home League crowd of the season.

One of the first to greet Hughes on his arrival at Roker Park last night to talk terms with Mr Stokoe, was his younger brother, Billy, who has been on Sunderland’s staff since his school days.

They have never played together and John said that he had never seen Billy in competitive play, but is looking forward to the experience. Billy said: “It will be great and I hope he is pleasantly surprised.”

It is only 15 months since John Hughes left Celtic to join Crystal Palace in a deal which also involved Willie Wallace. The switch to North-East England takes him nearer home and suits him well.

A CHALLENGE

How does he feel about the new task which confronts him? “I regard it as a challenge,” he says. “Mr Stokoe tells me that Sunderland are basically a young side and that there is scope for an experienced player. That puts a certain amount of responsibility on me. I think that will do me good and I’m certainly looking forward to tackling the job.”

He made an early start to the task of getting to know his new team-mates by booking in at a seafront hotel and leaving their this morning to work through a full training session at the Washington New Town training complex. And this will be repeated for the rest of the week.

Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on January 24 1973.