SUNDERLAND have decided that the Blackpool manager Bob Stokoe is the man they want to fill the managerial post vacated by Alan Brown nearly three weeks go. Later this afternoon they will know whether they are going to get him, for Blackpool chairman Mr Frank Dickinson has promised a statement from a board meeting at which Sunderland’s request for permission to approach Mr Stokoe will be considered.
Roker chairman Mr Keith Collings, determined not to stray from chairman-to-chairman level, offered only a terse “no comment” on the subject today, but there is no such reticence at the other end, where Mr Dickinson had made no secret of his sense of shock and disappointment at the prospect of losing the man who has them going well in the League and challenging for a place in the semi-final of the Football League Cup tomorrow night.
The first official intimation Mr Dickinson had that Sunderland were interested in Mr Stokoe came in a telephone message yesterday, when he was asked for permission to approach Mr Stokoe.
“I turned this request down,” he said. “I would not give permission because we are a nine-man board and this permission must come from the board.
“We are having a board meeting today and this matter will be on the agenda. I do not want to pre-judge the matter and can only say that it will be discussed.
“Obviously it has come as a shock to me. There has been a lot of talk in the Press, but it was pure speculation, because we had no approach until yesterday.
“Mr Stokoe did not apply for the job and he still has 12 months to run on his contract with us. I am disappointed, because he has done well for us and we should be loath to see him go.
Mr Stokoe trained with the Blackpool players as usual this morning and would make no comments at all about the situation. His three-year contract with Blackpool is due to expire in January, 1974.
Born in Mickley, Northumberland, Mr Stokoe took his first steps to football fame when Newcastle snapped him up as a youngster from Spen Juniors. With them he enjoyed the thrill of a Wembley F.A. Cup Final triumph over Manchester City in 1955 and became a favourite with the St James’ Park crowd, before eventually moving on to Bury as a player.
He stayed on at Gigg Lane to launch himself into football management and had considerable success with revival tasks at Charlton, Rochdale and Carlisle before being called into First Division football by Blackpool two years ago.
Blackpool’s safety chance had disappeared before Mr Stokoe arrived and he has since reshaped the side by judicious selling and buying.
There is reason to believe that he will welcome a return to his native North-East.
Story taken from the Sunderland Echo on November 20 1972.