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How Ian Porterfield’s 1973 FA Cup tracksuit came home from Ukraine – Fans' Museum's tribute features unique piece of SAFC history linking city and country

Sunderland’s Fans’ Museum is paying tribute to the people of Ukraine with a unique piece of footballing memorabilia linking the city to the war-torn country.

By Kevin Clark
Friday, 25th March 2022, 3:35 pm

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The museum has mounted a display featuring a framed Ukraine shirt signed by members of the country’s 2006 World Cup team; another worn by star player Andriy Shevcenko; yellow and blue Sunderland AFC away shirts from this season (like the ones the team wore at home against Crewe earlier this month) – and Ian Porterfield’s 1973 FA Cup Final tracksuit top.

Museum founder Michael Ganley acquired the top after being approached by a contact who knew he was collecting memorabilia and was particularly interested in anything with a Black Cats connection: “He said it had been found in Ukraine, in a charity shop,” said Michael.

"It was on the last rack, with the clothes that were ready to be distributed to the homeless.”

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Michael was initially understandably sceptical about the offer and assumed that even if the find was not a deliberate fake, it was almost certainly a replica – but close examination of the pictures he was sent persuaded him that further investigation was in order.

A quick call to the club saw him visit the Stadium of Light to compare what was in the photographs to Bob Stokoe’s original cup final top which is on display in main reception – and that was enough to convince him it was worth taking a chance.

But he still kept the deal a secret from family and friends for fear of having fallen for a scam: “There was a lot of online fraud about and I was worried, so I didn’t tell anybody,” he said.

Fans' Museum founder Michael Ganley with one of the yellow and blue SAFC away strips and Ian Porterfield's 1973 FA Cup tracksuit top

"I just kept it completely quiet, so when it finally arrived, it was like Christmas.”

Michael thinks the most likely explanation of how such a unique piece of Black Cats’ history found its way into a Ukrainian charity shop lies in what Ian Porterfield did off the pitch after he left Roker Park.

The hero of 1973 left the club four years later, moving to Sheffield Wednesday before pursuing a career in management. He earned the unwelcome distinction of becoming the first manager to be sacked in the Premier League era when he parted company with Chelsea in February 1993.

The Museum's display of Ukraine shirts

In 2003, he was appointed manager of South Korean side Busan IPark – and Michael believes this stint is the most likely explanation of the top’s journey from hallowed Wembley turf to Ukraine charity shop rail, with the club having a number of Ukrainian employees.

"It may just be that it was given to a member of staff who took it home,” he said.

The museum does a lot of work with the community across Wearside, and people have asked if it will be doing anything for Ukraine, but Michael has restricted himself to pointing potential donors in the direction of people who are better placed to help.

The new display is his way of paying tribute to Ukraine and promoting the role of football as a unifying force: “It is important that we, as football fans, take a stand,” he said.

Ian Porterfield's 1973 tracksuit top was found in a Ukrainian charity shop

"It is great to see the footballing community coming together to support Ukraine.”

For the latest news and information about the Ukraine invasion click here for NationalWorld coverage.

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The Fans' Museum's Ukrainian tribute display
Sunderland Fans Museum founder Michael Ganley with Ian Porterfield's tracksuit top