The day that Stokoe’s SAFC roared and reached the FA Cup Final

Setting off for the semi-final. These Sunderland fans could not wait to get to Hillsborough.
Setting off for the semi-final. These Sunderland fans could not wait to get to Hillsborough.

How the years have flown!

It was 45 years ago last weekend that Sunderland beat Arsenal 2-1 in the FA Cup semi-final.

The semi-final took place on April 7, 1973.

The semi-final took place on April 7, 1973.

The underdog from the Second Division overcame the team from England’s highest division, packed with stars such as Bob Wilson, Charlie George, Alan Ball, George Armstrong and Ray Kennedy.

It wasn’t the first time the Black Cats had done it in that FA Cup run and it would not be the last.

For drama, atmosphere and many amazing moments, some of you rank this match higher than the final which followed.

Goals from Vic Halom and Billy Hughes gave Sunderland a 2-0 lead before Charlie George got a late consolation for Arsenal. But what did you remember of that great day at Hillsborough?

At the end the Sunderland fans wouldn’t leave. ‘We want Stokoe’ was all you could hear. Deafening it was

Michael Nicholson

When we asked the question on social media, nearly 23,000 of you took an interest.

They included Michael Nicholson who said he was, “There with my old man in the seats. You could ‘hire’ a cushion for them. Final whistle, they got flung on the pitch. The sky seemed to disappear for a few seconds.

“Then at the end the Sunderland fans wouldn’t leave. ‘We want Stokoe’ was all you could hear. Deafening it was.”

Brian Hill commented: “Yep was there, just seems like yesterday. The best day by miles to be at a Sunderland match. Said at the time I would remember that day all my life.”

Billy Hughes scores Sunderland's second.

Billy Hughes scores Sunderland's second.

Michael Wintrip said he would “always remember that great day, including the torrential rain all morning, buying a Football Echo in London early evening after the game.

“Even though we were in the old 2nd division we had some great players. A goalkeeper who could actually make saves, a centre half who went on to be a regular England player, Denis Tueart, Billy Hughes, Vic Halom.”

Eileen Temple said she was there but “sadly in the Arsenal end which I discovered when Halom scored. Whoops”.

Janet Martin said: “I was there, getting squashed.”

Read more: Remembering Sunderland’s triumph over Arsenal in the 1973 FA Cup semi-final

And Yvette Boundy recalled: “I was there with my dad and brother x amazing day x.”

Malcolm Henderson remembered: “I was in the Sunderland end behind the goal. What memories that day had.”

Eighty of you liked the post on social media including Ethan Thoburn, Peter Mapstone, Kelly Abbott, John Barry Hinton, Malcolm Henderson, Joe Walt, Edna Peggie Britton, Julie Thirkle and Billy Robinson.

It was a spring day packed with memories, including a palpable feeling it was going to be Sunderland’s year.

The odds on them were tumbling and it reflected the football that Bob Stokoe’s men were playing.

By the time of the semi-final, 23,000 Wearsiders headed to Sheffield.

There was a feeling it was going to be Sunderland’s game, especially when Micky Horswill went so close with a spectacular shot early on which was just tipped over the bar.

And when Halom intercepted a poor back pass to round the keeper, that feeling only grew.

Sunderland were 1-0 up at half-time and Jimmy Montgomery had kept that scoreline with a brilliantly instinctive reaction save to twist back and divert a shot round the post.

It became 2-0 when a back-flick off a Billy Hughes header evaded the reach of Wilson in the Arsenal goal.

Arsenal pulled it back to 2-1 with six minutes on the clock and forced a late corner, but the referee blew for full-time before it could be taken.

Cue scenes of utter joy among the Black Cats fans, who refused to leave the ground until Bob Stokoe came to meet them.

He obliged, and there are reports that when he finally headed back to the dressing room, he did it with tears running down his cheeks.

Who remembers it – and who remembers that growing feeling that this was going to be THE year?

Were you there for that wonderful semi-final, and what are your memories of it ... and will we ever see the like again for Sunderland?

Who remembers the journey down to Sheffield in the cavalcade of 200 coaches and around 2,500 cars.

Or is there another part of Sunderland AFC’s history you would prefer to remember?

Perhaps another cup run, a memorable league match or one of the promotion years?

Send all of your unforgettable memories to chris.cordner@jpress.co.uk