They queued for two days to get a 1973 FA Cup Final ticket

Not long now until Sunderland are back at Wembley.

Wednesday, 27th March 2019, 10:00 am
Mary Dobbing provides a welcome cup of tea for (left to right) Neil Ruffell, Stephen Dobbing, Jeffrey Ruffell and Brian Newby.

But let’s continue our look at the cup fever which was mounting on Wearside before the Black Cats’ famous 1973 victory.

The whole town was cup crazy and made both front and back page news.

The queues for 1973 Cup Final tickets.

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There was Smyth’s confectionery shop in Blandford Street which had a giant Easter egg in the window.

And the image on it was a footballer in red and white stripes.

Elizabeth Carter from Town End Farm was planning to watch the match on her new colour television which she bought when she won £900 in the Echo’s Find The Ball competition in April 1973.

On April 16, 1973, the Echo told how Sunderland had already got one over Leeds United.

Part of the massive Sunderland following for the 1973 Cup Final.

Leeds tried to book a luxury train complete with disco, cinema and top-notch seating for 500 people, only to be told it had already been snapped up by Sunderland.

Meanwhile at the Fawcett Street branch of the Midland Bank, staff wore red and white boaters and rosettes while they served customers.

Manager Frank Caws said at the time: “The whole town has cup mania so we decided to join in.”

By April 25 – and with ten days to go to the final – fans who hadn’t got a Wembley ticket began queuing at Roker Park ... for tickets which would be on sale two days later. They brought sleeping bags, blankets, and settled down for two nights’ kip on the pavements.

They brought radios for entertainment, drank from flasks and had food brought to them by relatives who checked on their wellbeing.

Brian Newby, 13, queued with three mates and told the Echo in 1973: “Last night we heard a rumour that people were going down so we got our stuff and came down at 11pm.”

Stunned Arthur Parkinson couldn’t believe the way his FA Cup experience panned out. The ex-Wearsider was living in Toronto where he was chief night steward at the Toronto Men’s Press Club.

He kept telling members about his hometown club which had reached the cup final. Then, one night, he was called into the directors’ room to take an order of drinks.

Or so he thought. He was really there to find every member of the club in front of him. They presented him with two tickets for Wembley, a reservation for a hotel in London, a return plane ticket, money, a red blazer, white slacks and white shoes – and his journey started with a special mode of transport to Toronto International Airport ... a London double decker bus.

At 11.30am on Thursday, April 18, the last ticket for the match had been snapped up and it went to Kenneth Lightburn who had been queueing since 5pm the day before.

“I had my fingers crossed the whole time,” he said.

Saturday, April 28 – a week before the big day – and the Echo carried details of the pre-match TV entertainment.

Grandstand would be on from 11.45am and would include an It’s A Knockout special between Sunderland and Leeds. It would involve six games such as dribbling along an obstacle course, taking potshots at a cardboard keeper and a goalie being pushed in a wheelbarrow as they tried to keep out the opposition.

Remember who won? Email [email protected] if you do.

On Monday, April 30, the team left Sunderland for their base at Selsdon Park in Surrey. They were in tremendous spirit.

But they were also struck down by a sickness bug – and a couple of injuries – for the Monday night match at Orient six days before the final.

Trevor Swinburne was in for Monty, David Young in for Dennis Tueart and Mick McGiven for Ian Porterfield.

Fans were anxious but Bob Stokoe had good news. Monty’s ankle injury wasn’t going to leave him out of a cup final, Porterfield would be ‘ready for anything’ in a couple of days and Tueart’s severe bruising from the Blackpool match was easing off.

But the last mention must belong to Monty’s mum Eva Montgomery, who had never seen him play despite him making 466 appearances for the Black Cats at the time.

“I won’t go to see him unless he plays at Wembley,” she’d previously said.

She kept her word – and what a first match to see her son in.

Watch out for more 1973 build-up memories tomorrow.