Sunderland’s famous FA Cup winning squad of 1973 to be honoured with the freedom of the city

Sunderland’s famous FA Cup winning side of 1973 have been awarded the freedom of the city.

By James Harrison
Wednesday, 25th November 2020, 12:48 pm

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The Wearsiders upended the odds to beat reigning champions Leeds United in the Wembley final.

And as well as the starting XI, the honour, reserved for those who have served the city in an ‘exceptional capacity’, will also be extended to the overlooked heroes who helped steer the side through the contest.

“The achievement counts as one of the biggest shocks in the history of the FA Cup,” said Graeme Miller, leader of Sunderland City Council.

St Michael’s ward councillor, Michael Dixon

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“With the exception of achieving promotion by winning the league at the second tier of English football, this triumph remains the last significant trophy that Sunderland AFC has won.

“To be able to formally recognise the achievement of the players who brought the cup back to Sunderland in 1973 would be an honour for so many people.

“The enduring pride and respect the people of Sunderland hold for the team is a testament to everything they have done and continue to do for this city.”

Cllr Miller was speaking at last night’s (Wednesday, November 18) meeting of the full city council, which was held by videolink and broadcast via YouTube.

Sunderland's captain Bobby Kerr held aloft by his teammates Billy Hughes and goalkeeper Jim Montgomery after their FA Cup Final victory against Leeds United at Wembley Stadium. PA Photo. Issue date: Tuesday May 5, 2020. Sunderland defied the odds to beat Leeds in the FA Cup final on May 5, 1973. See PA story SOCCER On This Day Sunderland. Photo credit should read PA/PA Wire.

Original plans had only intended to extend the honour to the core team who clinched victory in the 92nd edition of the FA Cup final.

But following campaigning by opposition Conservative councillor Michael Dixon it was agreed to also include seven other squad players who featured in competition ties on the road to Wembley.

Cllr Dixon said: “It was a magical rollercoaster for those of us who were there and it all began in January at Nottingham when we drew with Notts County.

“Recognition hasn’t been brilliant over the years, but this is an opportunity to, if not put it right, show our appreciation for what these lads did.”

Sunderland City Council leader, Graeme Miller, at local elections count, May 2019

The proposals failed to gain universal support however, with the council’s Liberal Democrat group attempting to derail the plans after baulking at the estimated £35,000 cost and claiming the side had already been honoured when the club as a whole was given the freedom of the city off the back of the FA Cup victory in 1974.

The proposal was eventually approved with 54 votes in favour, seven against and a single abstention.

The starting XI who played in the 1973 FA Cup Final due to be honoured are:

Richard Philip ‘Dick’ Malone

Ronald George ‘Ron’ Guthrie

Michael Frederick ‘Micky’ Horswill

David Vernon ‘Dave’ Watson

Richard Ernest ‘Ritchie’ Pitt

Robert ‘Bobby’ Kerr

William ‘Billy’ Hughes (deceased)

Victor Lewis ‘Vic’ Halom

John Ian Porterfield (deceased)

Dennis Tueart

David Young

Squad players also in line for the honour:

Brian Chambers, who was listed in the final's matchday programme but did not take part

Jackie Ashhurst

Joe Bolton

John Latham

Mick McGiven

John Tones

Keith Coleman

Manager Bob Stokoe received the freedom of the city in 1974, along with the club as a whole, while goalkeeper Jimmy Montgomery was also granted the honour in 2016.

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