TRAFFIC jams paralysed Durham City last night as thousands of fans joined an estimated million supporters who turned out to greet the conquering heroes of Wembley.
All roads led to the motorway interchange at Carville, where the Sunderland team was re-united with the FA Cup.
The Cup brought from a secret hide-out came with the players’ wives to Carville in the open-top coach.
The players turned off the motorway and made the changeover to the open-top coach in the safety of the motorway compound.
As the coach left for Sunderland thousands of fans surged forward.
More than 10,000 people decked in anything they could find that was red and white were positioned for the start of this historic journey.
There were as many people disappointed. They were trapped in the traffic jams that choked the area.
The turn-out in Carville alone was such that it reminded people of Durham Miners’ Gala.
Many of these people had waited since early afternoon just to catch a glimpse of the Roker idols. As the bus left on its route many drivers tried to follow on the congested dual carriageway. The whole of the route was lined with parked cars as fans cheered it on its way.
Houghton has never seen anything like last night’s triumphant drive by Sunderland’s Cup heroes. People are comparing it to Coronation and Victory celebrations at the end of the war.
And well-wishers from as far away as Berwick-on-Tweed and Gateshead were swelling the crowds in Houghton.
A police spokesman said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. I would estimate 25,000 people were at Carville and crowds lined the A690 right into Houghton as far as the Board Inn. There would be about 10,000 people at Rainton and 15,000 at Houghton itself.”
Stories taken from the Sunderland Echo on May 9, 1973.