A CHAMPAGNE welcome awaited Sunderland’s conquering FA Cup-winning side when they attended a civic reception on Saturday night in their honour.
Sunderland Youth Concert Band struck up with “Congratulations,” as more than 600 guest applauded the players into the reception area of the Civic Centre and cheered Manager Bob Stokoe when he appeared.
The Mayor of Sunderland (Coun Leslie Watson) was among the first to raise the champagne-filled silver trophy to his lips.
He said: “In my year of office as the town’s first citizen, this must be one of my proudest moments. If the Corporation had spent £100,000 on publicity it could not put the town on the map the way the football team has.”
He said the town now looked forward to a successful season in Europe and – at home – in winning promotion.
This was echoed by Sunderland AFC chairman, Mr Keith Collings, who said winning the Cup was one of the most tremendous things which could happen to a football club.
“We could not believe it until we reached home and meet the 750,000 fans waiting to welcome us.”
He said the club had a tremendous responsibility to the town and its fan and he hoped the board would be equal to it.
“We are now going into Europe, but our main target must be promotion.”
Manager Stokoe thanked the board for placing its confidence in him but he stressed once again: “A manager is only as good as his players and the team has done us proud.”
Skipper Bobby Kerr thanked the fans for the marvellous reception at Wembley and then at the triumphal home-coming. “The lads were very proud on the 12-mile trip into Sunderland from the motorway.”
Ian Porterfield, scorer of the winning goal, said it had been the greatest moment of his footballing career. He hoped the team could match the Wembley performance next season by winning promotion and the European Cup Winners’ Cup.
After the speech players signed autographs for guests, including the town’s MPs and civic leaders from all over the North-East.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on May 14, 1973.