THERE will be no end of season atmosphere at Roker Park tonight when Sunderland bring down the curtain on the 1972-73 season against newly-promoted Queens Park Rangers.
Victory, or even a draw will put Sunderland in fourth position in Division Two – a tremendous feat for a side which a few weeks ago was still in danger of being relegated, technically at least.
But although two more League points will be more than welcome it is the magic of the F.A. Cup which will ensure Sunderland their biggest Division Three gate of the season.
The remaining seat tickets for tonight’s clash were snapped up on Monday and with all Wearside wanting to be part of Sunderland’s continuing Cup celebrations, a capacity crowd is certain.
Sunderland’s biggest gate this season was 53,151 for the F.A. Cup sixth round tie against Luton on Match 17.
But such is the enthusiasm among fans that this figure could be equalled or bettered tonight.
Sunderland will keep their fans happy by parading the Cup before the start and although Bob Stokoe’s men will be favourites to end the season with a win, Queen’s Park Rangers will be keen to impress too.
They cannot become Division Two champions even if they win tonight, but they will be going flat out to prove to the Second Division’s biggest crowd of the season that they are worthy of a Division One place next term.
And what better place to do that than at Roker Park against Cup winners, Sunderland.
Rangers’ visit tonight will give Sunderland a taste of what it in store for them next season when every team they meet will be trying especially hard to beat them because of their Wembley success.
As expected, Sunderland manager Bob Stokoe fields his Cup-winning team, with David Young continuing as substitute.
The best-known players in the Queen’s Park Rangers team are winger Dave Thomas, who moved to London from Burnley for a big fee earlier this season and another big money buy, Stan Bowles, the former Carlisle forward.
Another famous face is that of goalkeeper Phil Parkes who has been a regular in the England Under-23 team this season.
SUNDERLAND: Montgomery, Malone, Guthrie, Horswill, Watson (D), Pitt, Kerr, Hughes, Halom, Porterfield, Tueart. Sub Young
Q.P.R.: Parkes, Clement, Watson (I), Venables, Mancini, Hazell, Thomas, Francis, Leach, Bowles, Givens, Sub Delve.
Referee: Mr J T Reeves (Leicester)
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on May 9, 1973.