SUNDERLAND’S game at Hull City next Saturday is a fixture that holds great memories for me.
When your football career is over, you always remember the first time you achieved things.
And it was away to Hull at their old ground at Boothferry Park that I scored my very first Sunderland goal.
I was only playing that day because the captain, Tony Towers, was suspended.
I had only had a couple of games previously, but I wasn’t too nervous when I was told I was going to start.
However, when we ran out, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing - three sides of the ground were red and white, as about 16,000 fans had travelled to Hull.
The official attendance was more than double their previous best gate in that entire campaign.
What an experience and what an atmosphere as our fans roared us on to a 4-1 victory which all but guaranteed promotion to the top flight.
My goal was our second and it put us back in front at a crucial time just before the break.
There are so many reasons why this game is one of my personal favourites and not just because I scored my first goal.
There were still some of the ‘73 Cup winning heroes playing like Monty, Bobby Kerr and Dick Malone and for me to play in the same team as those guys was a dream come true.
As Towers was only suspended for one game, Bob Stokoe told me he was bringing him back for the next game.
But he told me I had performed well and was part of his future plans and that meant everything to me.
It was the right decision as Towers was club captain and a class act while I was an inexperienced player with a lot still to learn. However, my appetite had been whetted and that Hull game had given me the confidence to believe I could make it as a professional footballer and to play for the team I had always wanted to.