A 15-hour trip to see Sunderland in the Cup - at home!

A Sunderland fan has shared his remarkable photographic history of growing up as a Black Cats fan.

Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 11:13 am
Updated Thursday, 3rd May 2018, 11:16 am
George Aitken is mobbed by young fans wanting autographs.

Roy Mills got in touch to tell us all about his beloved childhood days of watching his team.

What memories they are!

Len Shackleton signs autographs for the fans.

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Roy told us: “I took the photographs. My brother, who is in the photos, and I used to spend our mornings outside the ground in the summer holidays.”

He is now 75 and still a Roker man.

He never forgot his days as an enthusiastic young photographer, capturing stars going back to 1958-60.

He snapped Alan O’Neill, Reg Pearce, Billy Elliot, George Atkin, Stan Anderson, Colin Grainger, and Jack Hedley.

He got images of Len Shackleton, Don Revie, Cecil Irwin, George Whitelaw, Billy Frazer and Johnny Bollands.

“I lost a few others in a fire at our home. My brother and I used to spend hours waiting outside the ground for the players,” said Roy..

But Roy regards his best memory of them all as one particular game in 1961.

Sunderland were in the old Second Division at the time (what is known as the Championship these days).

It was the quarter-finals of the FA Cup and the Black Cats were up against Tottenham Hotspur.

“We were drawn at home to the mighty Tottenham who at the time were the top team around,” said Roy.

“Players like Danny Blanchflower, Dave Mackay and Cliff Jones to name but a few.

“I was 19 at the time and living on the Isle of Dogs, or Canary Wharf as its called now.

“When the draw was made I was determined to see the game and lucky for me so was my eldest brother and father.”

All three got tickets and planned their day with meticulous precision for the journey north.

“So off we set by car at around 11pm expecting to arrive around breakfast time,” said Roy.

“All went well until we got to Londonderry at about 4am.”

Disaster struck and Roy added: “That’s when we had two punctures in quick succession. With only one spare tyre we called out the AA.”

It was a six-hour wait for a patrol man to arrive but Roy said: “He came to our rescue and sent us on our way.”

Thankfully, the journey still got them to Wearside on time – and to a game which Roy will never forget.

He said: “We eventually arrived in Sunderland and just had time to get a bite to eat before we entered the ground.

“By 3pm the place was packed and the atmosphere was unbelievable. The lads gave their all that day and my all-time hero, Charlie Hurley, was outstanding.”

Spurs took the lead as early as the ninth minute when the international player Cliff Jones scored.

But Sunderland fought hard to get back into the game and a crowd of more than 61,000 passionate fans – including Roy – roared them on.

Roy added: “They equalised with a goal from Willie McPheat and that brought the house down. The noise was deafening, so much so that after the game Danny Blanchflower said he had never heard a noise like it.

“Pressure from the lads could not bring about a win so we had to settle for a 1-1 draw. This was a game that will forever stay in my memory of Roker Park.”

Sunderland’s achievement that day should be put into context. The Spurs team went on to complete the double and it was the first time any team had done that since Aston Villa in 1896-1897.

Sadly, the Black Cats could not repeat the performance in the replay and went down to a heavy defeat at White Hart Lane.

But for Roy, he got to see his heroes in action.

Which is your favourite match and what was the story behind it?

Have you faced an epic journey just to get to the ground?

Get in touch and tell us all about it.