Never mind the poor fare on offer at the Stadium of Light right now, today it is all about hailing The King.
Charlie Hurley turned 81 today and to celebrate, the Echo asked author Mark Metcalf - who wrote the biography “The Greatest Centre Half the World Has Ever Seen” - to reflect on the legacy of the Sunderland legend.
Here's six games the great man played in.
1. Outjumping John Charles
In the 1963-64 season, Sunderland came up against Cardiff City who had Ivor Allchurch, the one-time Swansea hero who had scored four at the Vetch Field back in September 1958 when Sunderland limped off beaten 5-0, and the Welsh legend John Charles in their team. This time Allchurch scored three times in 16 minutes as they overturned a two-goal deficit before being pegged back when Hurley scored Sunderland’s equalising goal after 64 minutes, out-jumping Charles. Don Murray, a Cardiff player that day, described the struggle between Charles and Hurley as “a clash of giants."
2. Manchester United FA Cup marathon
A fantastic trilogy though the first game was perhaps not Hurley's finest hour. Second Division Sunderland went toe to toe in the 1964 FA Cup quarter-final with the great Manchester United team managed by Matt Busby, boasting players such as Bobby Charlton, George Best and Denis Law. The first of three matches saw an epic 3-3 draw where Hurley, who had been a rock, scored an own goal, heading the ball past Jimmy Mongomery. Sunderland had thrown away a 3-1 lead and then also lost the lead in the 2-2 draw in the replay at Roker Park as Charlton scored in the 118th minute of extra time in front of an estimated100,000 fans. United’s quality eventually shone as they ran out 5-1 winners over the Wearsiders at the third time of asking, with a hat-trick from Denis Law.
3. Promotion in 1963-64 with victory over Charlton
Sunderland sealed their place in the First Division with a 2-1 win over Charlton. Hurley was seen running around interacting with the fans on what was a superb social occasion where
the Black Cats were at their finest.
4. Another memorable FA Cup tie
Sunderland set up their FA Cup tie against Man United by defeating first division champions Everton. Hurley marked the game with a rare goal as they recorded a 3-1 victory,
with Hurley being named man of the match.
5. Tottenham – 1961 cup tie
A defensive masterclass from Hurley earned Sunderland a replay against Spurs, the eventual cup double winner, after a 1-1 draw. However, they failed to match their defensive display
in the replay, losing 5-0.
6. West Ham revenge
After a crushing 8-0 defeat a few weeks prior with Geoff Hurst scoring six, Sunderland bounced back as goals from Calvin Palmer and Gordon Harris gave them an early
Christmas present in 1968 as the following morning’s headlines read “Super Hurley foils Hurst”.