SUNDERLAND did more, much more, than win the FA Cup in a highly emotional final – they gave football a shot in the arm, heart to the Darlingtons and Newports of the Football League and proved, as they did also in wins over Manchester City and Arsenal, that there is still no substitute for effort and heart.
And in headlines like “Triumph for the game and romantics,” “The team that beat the computer age,” and “Break-out from England’s sterile shackles,” the national Press acknowledged Wearside’s inestimable contribution to football.
“Sunderland’s triumph not only ended the First Division monopoly of the FA Cup,” says Donald Saunders in the Daily Telegraph, “but further discredited the cautious, jargon-ridden philosophy that has inhibited English soccer for are too long.
“Public acclamation of an outstanding victory was tinged with relief at the survival of football as a game in which people still matter more than tactics.
“Sunderland have also emphasised, by beating Leeds, the apostles of cold efficiency, that there is no substitute, even in the commercial world of modern soccer, for flair, imagination and spirit,” he says.
Describing Sunderland as the team that beat the computer age, the Daily Mail’s Ronald Crowther comments: “Sunderland, the team who laughed all the way to Wembley, gave English soccer a timely heart transplant when they emerged as the most popular FA Cup winners of the post-war age.
“Playing with a fire and passion that made a mockery of pre-match planning they gave a lifeline to which to cling in this computerised age.
“Bob Stokoe’s unlikely lads from Division Two trampled like a troop of cavaliers all over the time-honoured tradition superstitions of Wembley.”
Frank Clough writes in The Sun: “Sunderland’s victory will do as much for football as the 1966 World Cup did.
“And if Sunderland through victory have now made a whip for their own backs next season, you still won’t hear Bob Stokoe and his lads moaning about it.
“When they turned Wembley upside down and the form inside out, they proved to the world that they have the character, the skill, and the resilience you look for as the basis of a team,” he says.
The Daily Mirror’s Frank McGhee believes the win could have done deep damage to Leeds’ confidence. “Sunderland smashed the most consistent team of the last decade, such a shattering blow to pride, composure and self respect, that the cracks will not be easily repaired.
It may well be that Leeds can never completely recover this time; can never climb back to where they were, what they were,” he says.
“Sunderland played with their hearts – and in this game hearts trumped all the Leeds aces,” says McGhee.
“For me, the real stars of the day were red and white – and despite how well they fought, how magnificent they gave everything, I don’t mean the Sunderland players. The hordes who follow them, lift them, and love them, are the reason I remember this game,” he says.
“It was an all round team effort, skilful, spirted and free from fear,” says The Times. “With nothing to lose, Sunderland, keeping the ball on the ground handsomely, actually seemed to enjoy themselves in the way football should be enjoyed.
“But at the heart of it all was Watson, the pillar of authority, and behind him Montgomery, a goalkeeper of instinct. Each earned an extra medal.
“It was Sunderland’s hour, after hour, after hour. As far as Leeds, tired but unbowed, they move on to another final in the European Cup Winners’ Cup feeling perhaps that nine times our of ten they could have kept their trophy won last spring. But this was the tenth time and it is good for the game that these things should happen.”
Eleven names for the history books, says Alan Thompson of the Daily Express – “Montgomery, Malone, Guthrie, Horswill, Watson, Pitt, Kerr, Hughes, Halom, Porterfield, Tueart, are their names and that team will be remembered for the rest of time wherever football is played,” he says.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on May 7, 1973.