The night a Roker legend came to life

editorial image
Have your say

A LEGEND came alive last night when the “Roker Roar” of yesteryear was revived and reverberated around Roker, Fulwell and Monkwearmouth to inspire Sunderland to a 3–1 win over Manchester City in their F.A. Cup-tie replay.

Two hours before kick-off fans were outside Roker Park waiting for turnstiles to open. Cries of “Programmes.” “Peanuts,” and “Popcorn” echoed in the streets around the ground, and the night air was scented with aroma of hot pies, meat beverages and hot-dogs.

As the early-comers took up advantage points inside Roker Park, the stream of supporters outside the ground grew to a flood. Traffic was reduced to a nose-to-tail crawl as the crowds came in from all points of the North East.


Came the kick-off hundreds of supporters were still struggling to enter the Roker End, but there was room for all, although there were one or two minor casualties who were squeezed against crush barriers and waves of supporters fell forward in their enthusiasm when Sunderland were pressing hard.

Throughout the 90 minutes play the crowd provided a “big game” atmosphere for Sunderland, but the Manchester City fans – their numbers depleted by the cancellation of their special train – were rarely heard.

Such was the enthusiasm than an impromptu appearance during the interval by Sunderland comedian Bobby Knoxall – in a white suit – earned a mini-roar.


And when the final whistle was blown, a couple of hundred youngsters evaded the policement lining the ground to invade the pitch.

Among the older supporters there was a reluctance to leave the terraces as they lingered for 15-20 minutes before going out into the crowded streets and traffic chaos to make their way home.

Warm words of praise for Sunderland fans came today from Supt. Jack Norris, who was in charge of crowd arrangement.

“Everything was first class, and because of the friendly co-operation they received from the crowd the police thorougly enjoyed their evening’s work,” he said.

Supt. Norris added that the only incident occurred about ten minutes from the end of the game when a man, who was “making a nuisance of himself,” was put out of the ground. “Apart from that it was a trouble-free evening.”

“Right from the start the supporters had done everything to make it a memorable evening,” he said.

“They heeded o ur advice to arrive early and although there was some traffic congestion there was never at any time a prolonged hold-up. The biggest traffic difficulties came at the end of the game, but with a crowd of that size some delay was inevitable.”

What the Echo says

What last night’s result shows is that Sunderland can win back their following overnight and hold it, provided they sustain the effort which lowered City’s colours. It is also a salutary reminder – were it needed – that in soccer, more than any other field of endeavour, nothing succeeds like success.


MANAGER Bob Stokoe paid his tribute to the Roker crowd by saying “They were wonderful. With all that enthusiasm going for us we could not go wrong. City are a great side and they have become a little more physical, but there is no bitterness left now.”

Voucher entitling the holders to tickets for the Sixth Round tie against Luton Town on March 17 are to be issued at the turnstiles before Saturday’s League game against Oxford United.

Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on February 28 1973.