SUNDERLAND, due to kick-off into their big week which builds up to Saturday’s F.A. Cup Semi-Final against Arsenal at Hillsborough with a trial strength at Roker Park tonight against promotion favourites Queen’s Park Rangers, find that it starts, after all, with a non-event. The game is postponed because of the waterlogged state of the pitch.
There were pools of water on the pitch to a depth of several inches this morning when club secretary Mr Ron Linney called the Football League for permission to consult a local referee. Mr Peter Baldwin, of Middlesbrough, was instructed by the League to examine the pitch and he had no hesitation over ruling that the game should be postponed.
Mr Baldwin was due to arrive at 10.30 and arrangements were made to flash his decision to the Q.P.R. party booked to leave London at 11 o’clock. Because of the referee’s late arrival, however, this was not possible and the news was passed on to Q.P.R. officials at Loftus Road, who arranged for the team party to be turned back at Peterborough.
The postponement was no disappointment to Sunderland, who would have their full Cup side on duty, apart from injured Ron Guthrie, but Rangers had hoped to make the start of their big push towards promotion as Second Division champions. A win tonight would have taken them into top position and within two points of assured promotion.
Guthrie, injured in his come-back game on Saturday was receiving treatment at Roker Park this morning when the postponement decision was taken, Manager Bob Stokoe had already indicated that Guthrie would be missing tonight’s match, but there seems little doubt about him being ready for the big game against Arsenal.
Vic Halom, who missed the Bristol City game is now fully recovered from injury.
Clear of the injury risks which would have presented a tough game under difficult conditions tonight, Sunderland have already started their count-down to physical and mental condition which they hope will produce them in match-winning mood at Hillsborough.
They slip away from home pressures tomorrow for a four day break at Buxton, where Mr Stokoe will be putting the finishing touches to his plan of campaign.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on April 2 1973.