Sunderland set to bid for Derby star

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SUNDERLAND Manager Bob Stokoe, back on the job again after being knocked-out for a fortnight by an attack of flu, aims to make 1973 a year of action and achievement. He has already set the ball rolling by declaring interest in former Sunderland leader John O’Hare, who is now with Derby County and hopes to carry it a stage further after a lunch-time meeting with his chairman and directors tomorrow.

“I am not going to deny my interest in O’Hare,” said Mr Stokoe. “Bringing him to Roker Park is something I would very much like to do. I much prefer keeping these things quiet until everything can be announced officially, but Derby don’t seem to mind, so there is no point in tyring to hide anything. I’ll be meeting my chairman tomorrow to discuss one or two things and afterwards I hope to be in a position to make an offer for O’Hare.”

Mr Stokoe began his move on Friday, while still housebound in St Anne’s. He instructed chief “scout” Charlie Ferguson, who brought O’Hare to Sunderland as a 15-year-old in 1962, to sound Derby County on the player’s availability.

Manager Brian Clough’s reply to Mr Ferguosn was: “All Derby players are available. it depends on what offers are made.”

Mr Stokoe plans to take it from there, though he is well enough aware of the kind of fee Derby will have in mind for O’Hare, whom they “stole” from Sunderland at a fee of £22,500 in August, 1967.

O’Hare was the unlucky victim of a disciplinary purge order by the Sunderland board after the close season tour of America. He was disciplined over a triviality, placed on the transfer list, and snapped up immediately by Derby County.

Two months later, Liverpool, who were not given the same early tip-off about the player’s availability were prepared to pay Derby a £100,000 fee.

Speaking from Washington New Town, where he had been taking his first look at the situation since his return to duty, Mr Stokoe said: “I am just on the point of leaving now. I’m going up to Scotland with Charlie Ferguson to take a look at another centre forward. I’ll not mention any names, but it is all part of the search. I hope we will be able to take things a stage further tomorrow.”

First team in Reserves

All the Sunderland first team pool are back in action again and looking well, with the exception of Ian Porterfield and Keith Coleman, who appear to have had the more severe attacks of flu.

“I would like to give team match practice by fixing up a frame with either Hartlepool or Darlington for tomorrow or Wednesday,” said Mr Stokoe. “If we cannot manage that, then I’ll be giving the first team a work-out in the North Midlands League cup game against York City Reserves on Wednesday night.

Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on January 1 1973.