Sunderland AFC club secretary who ‘locked FA Cup in police cell’ after 1973 triumph dies

SAFC club secretary Ron Linney with the FA Cup.
SAFC club secretary Ron Linney with the FA Cup.

The man who was Sunderland AFC club secretary at the time of the team’s 1973 FA Cup triumph has died.

Ron Linney passed away peacefully on November 10 at the age of 83.

Former SAFC club secretary Ron Linney with wife Sylvia, daughter Susan and son Peter.

Former SAFC club secretary Ron Linney with wife Sylvia, daughter Susan and son Peter.

Ron, who was originally from Birmingham, started his career as an accountant before becoming assistant secretary at Aston Villa.

He was appointed to the post of club secretary at SAFC in October 1970 and went on to work closely with various managers including Alan Brown, Bob Stokoe, Jimmy Adamson, Dave Merrington, Ken Knighton and Alan Durban.

During the glory days of the 1973 FA Cup run, Ron would be inundated with ticket requests and the night before tickets for the final went on sale he and his assistant left at midnight to a huge crowd queuing to be the first to get theirs.

He made sure before he left that all fans had their vouchers stamped to avoid queue jumpers.

SAFC club secretary Ron Linney, far right back row, with the 1973 FA Cup-winning team.

SAFC club secretary Ron Linney, far right back row, with the 1973 FA Cup-winning team.

They were back in the office at 7am the next morning.

His son Peter said that he always argued that if he had had the staff and the police presence, he would have opened up the ticket office there and then.

Ron enjoyed some memorable times at Sunderland and struck up many great friendships with both players and officials of the cup-winning team, with the late Ian Porterfield, who scored the winner in the final against Leeds United, his next door neighbour for many years.

After Sunderland won the cup he had the trophy locked in the police cells overnight for safekeeping, which at the time was a secret.

Sunderland captain Bobby Kerry after winning the FA Cup, May 5, 1973.

Sunderland captain Bobby Kerry after winning the FA Cup, May 5, 1973.

His wife Sylvia along with others decorated the team bus for the homecoming.

After the Second Division promotion winning season of 1975/1976 Ron was involved with making arrangements for and accompanying officials and playing staff on a world tour.

Ron’s son Peter, who lives in Farringdon, said: “My dad was a happy-go-lucky sort of person who had a big hearty laugh, which everyone knew him for.

“He always said that working at Sunderland were among his best days in football.

“We’ve had so many lovely messages to say what a great man he was, which we really appreciate.”

Popular Ron left Sunderland in 1981 and later took up the role of general manager at Hull City FC, before leaving in 1986.

Ron leaves behind Sylvia, daughter Susan, Peter, son-in-law Gary and grandsons Jonathon and Matthew.

A service will be held on Friday, November 24, at St Chad’s Church, Durham Road, East Herrington, Sunderland, at 10.15am followed by a cremation at Sunderland Crematorium.