THE waiting game is over for Bobby Park. The 20-year-old Scot, who received a double fracture of the shin after 21 minutes in the opening game of last season, starts his climb back to the top at Roker Park tomorrow night (7.30), when he will fill a midfield role in the Sunderland Reserves side to meet Middlesbrough Reserves in a North Midlands League game.
When this season started the most optimistic forecast was that Park might be ready for an outing by Christmas. But treatment, preparation and his own contribution as a model patient have hastened the process to renew his contact with competitive football well ahead of schedule.
His 14-month absence from the game has been as big a blow to the club as to the player himself. In First Division football he made his debut as a 17-year-old and scored goals to earn the rating of the brightest discovery in years. Last season was to be his big one, after being nursed along through a variety of positions, but in the early minutes of the first game against Birmingham City he was caught in a double block tackle and stretchered off.
His outing tomorrow night may not be extended to the full game, but supporters everywhere will welcome the news that he can take this first important step towards picking up the form which stamped his as star material in the making.
Park and his team-mates will know they are in a game tomorrow night, for Middlesbrough have won all of their four games so far and hit nine goals without making a single concession.
Sunderland will be meeting the challenge with an experienced side, for of the team on duty only Brian Thompson, Graham Southwick and Chris Kent have not played League football.
Mic McGiven, fit again after the knock which he received at Huddersfield, will have an outing in the No. 6, sharing the midfield with Park and Brian Chambers.
Richie Pitt and Joe Bolton will join John Tones and Thompson in the back four, with Jimmy Hamilton linking with Southwick and Kent in attack.
The line-up will be: Forster, Thompson and Bolton, Pitt Tones, McGiven, Park, Chambers, Hamilton, Southwick, Kent. Substitute, Hepworth.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on October 3 1972.