WHILE 23,000 football supporters were on their way today from Wearside to join a contingent from the London branch of the Supporters Association and Sheffield Wednesday supporters with keen Sunderland sympathies, the Sunderland players were taking it easy at their Buxton headquarters before leaving for their F.A. Cup semi-final clash against Arsenal at Hillsborough.
The Sunderland Cup squad cut out breakfast, took an early lunch, and then went into another huddle with Manager Bob Stokoe to go over the points which have already been brought out during the week to prepare them for the club’s biggest Cup occasion in 17 years.
Their mood continued to be one of supreme confidence. “Everything has gone smoothly for us,” said Mr Stokoe, who repeated his promise that club supporters will be proud of the effort put out by every Sunderland player.
“This is a day we have all been waiting for,” said club captain, Bobby Kerr, “it is the day of a life-time for all of us and we are ready for it. Arsenal will be more tense than we are and this could make a difference. We feel just great.”
On leaving Buxton the team coach picked up a police escort for the 20-mile trip to Sheffield. The players were given a warm send-off by the hotel staff who have all become staunch Sunderland supporters.
Before the game Sunderland directors and their wives were the guests of host club Sheffield Wednesday at a luncheon given to the competing clubs and civic dignataries.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on April 7 1973.