Ha'way back when: Gary Rowell recalls a stunning Sunderland derby day success 40 years on

There are very few dates that will stick in the mind of a Sunderland fan as much as February 24, 1979.

Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 11:05 am
Updated Saturday, 23rd February 2019, 11:07 am
Gary Rowell netted a treble in this Sunderland success

For this date was one of those which made up for days - perhaps even years - of disappointment. A day which erased bad memories, replacing them with a truly refreshing sense of pride in Sunderland AFC.

And so too fans should have been proud - it’s not every day you beat your bitter rivals 4-1.

Coverage in association with John Hogg

This particular derby day victory over Newcastle United owed much to a fine performance from club legend Gary Rowell, who netted a stunning hat-trick to seal victory over the Magpies.

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It was a game dominated by the Wearsiders, who took the lead after just six minutes.

Jeff Clarke launched a long free-kick into the box, with Roweel latching onto Gordon Chisholm’s flick-on to beat ‘keeper Steve Hardwick to the ball to touch it into the net.

A second came after 25 minutes, courtesy of some individual brilliance from Rowell. He picked up Kevin Arnott’s fine through ball and delicately chipped the ball home.

The deficit was halved shortly after the break, however, when Newcastle’s John Connolly powered home a header.

Any home of a comeback was extinguished when Rowell completed his hat-trick from the penalty spot.

The striker kept his cool to slot home from 12 yards - his composed finish defying his inner nerves.

“It was probably the most pressured penalty I ever took in my life when I think about it,” he said.

“I knew if I missed they’d get a massive psychological boost and they could go on and at least draw the game, because psychology in football is everything.

“But I knew if I scored - more than it being a hat-trick penalty - I knew if I scored the game was over.”

And while that penalty sealed the result, some gloss was added when Wayne Entwistle added a fourth with 19 minutes to play.

That sealed a Sunderland win which - even 40 years on - lives strong in the memory of every Black Cats fan.