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Cup Final Count-Down: 1 Day To Wembley

Argus previews the big match

MONEY talks and bookmakers declare that Leeds United are hot favourites to beat Sunderland in the FA Cup Final at Wembley tomorrow. It is a state of affairs which will be readily accepted by Leeds, holders of the trophy, who would not expect it to be otherwise. But let sentiment take the place of money and Sunderland must be the hottest Wembley favourites in years.

Manager Bob Stokoe goes right to the heart of it when he says: “It is a good thing for the game that we have got though to Wembley and it will good for the game if we topple Leeds. We seem to have everybody rooting for us. All over the world outside of Leeds people would love to see us win.”

Will sentiment count for a great deal against the most professional side in British football? Perhaps not. But no one – least of all Leeds Utd – should make the mistake of believing that Sunderland have won their way into the show game of the season on a wave of hysteria. They are there on merit, having twice beaten reigning favourites in Manchester City and Arsenal on their way through. And such is their confidence in each other, so strongly do they believe in themselves, that they will be taking on the might of Leeds United with high hopes of playing winning football.

Mr Stokoe says: “Any player who goes to Wembley wants to play the game of his life. We have come this far by doing things the way we want to do them and we hope to play our part in producing as good a Final as there has been for years. We are going to try and win, not just stop Leeds United. I just hope we don’t let anyone down. We seem to have played our best football in the Cup and we will be hoping for something really special from this big game.”

And Mr Stokoe who will be scheming his 16th Cup tie of the season – he was in charge for seven with Blackpool before taking over as manager of Sunderland in November – is as confident as his players that tomorrow is going to be a great day.

After light training this morning Mr Stokoe made the expected announcement that he will be fielding the side which beat Arsenal 2-1 in the Hillsborough semi-final, except that Brian Chambers who has an Arsenal contract in his pocket and will sign it after the Final will be replaced as substitute by David Young.

Mr Stokoe yesterday referred to a recent statement made by Cup Final referee Mr Ken Burns that a good referee must have three qualities, integrity, personality to achieve respect and courage. “We applaud these sentiments,” said Mr Stokoe “and look for them being applied at Wembley. That is all we ask.”

He also commented on remarks made by Wolves manager Mr Bill McGarry who said: “I was staggered during our semi-final at the way Billy Bremner went the who 90 minutes disputing every decision given against Leeds.” Mr Stokoe said: “This has been my feeling about Bremner for some time now. He wears the black arm band which indicates captaincy, but there is no law which gives a captain any authority to dispute decisions. I hope Mr Burns will now allow him to do so tomorrow.”

“I have instructed my players not to dispute decisions. We had three players booked against Manchester City and three against Arsenal, but nobody can accuse us of being a dirty side. We do not have a dirty player in the club and I do not suggest that Leeds are any different, but we want Ken Burns to referee the Cup Final and not Billy Bremner.”

Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on May 4, 1973.