MY FIRST TIME AND FAVOURITE GAME, GROUND & PLAYER. BY IAN MCNEE


With very little going on right now, we thought it would be nice for folk to look back on their time supporting the lads and name their favourite game, ground and player as well as remembering their first time watching the lads… Feel free to contribute yours to info@a-love-supreme.com FIRST GAME My first time was in Season 1960-61 and over the years I've convinced myself it was against Sheff Wed because the opposition was wearing blue shirts and white sleeves. It was night match and my footy daft Uncle (he used to go to Roker one week and St. James the next with his Mag supporting marra) took me to Roker Park and parked me on a barrier in front of him in the upper Clock Stand (the seats weren't put in until 1966 when the World Cup came to town). The only things I remember about it (I was only 8 years old) were the floodlights as we approached the ground (we could even see them from the coast road coming in from Seaham), the noise of the crowd, and the greenness of the pitch. The whole atmosphere had me captured from the first minute I set foot in the wonderful stadium. Strangely my one abiding memory of that game, no idea of the score, or even the opponents, was that the opposing number 7 came out after the half time break and lined up on our touchline and he had a fag in his hand. As the ref blew to restart, he took a last long drag and threw the cigarette on the running track. For years after that I wondered why more players didn't come on after the break still pulling on their tab.

MY FAVOURITE GAME It has to be the fifth-round replay at home against Man City. I never missed a game in the cup run and everyone was up for this. We should have won the first game at Maine Road, but the ref chose to look the other way when Rodney Marsh fouled Monty for their second goal. I have never experienced anything like the atmosphere of that replay. I was stood in the Roker End with my mates and when Vic hammered the first one in, it was bedlam, and bloody loud. When Billy Hughes scored an almost identical goal ten minutes later, the noise was really ramped up. You could hardly hear yourself think. In the second half Francis Lee pulled one back for them which got us all twitchy but then Hughsey put the game to bed in front of us and we'd beaten one of the best teams in England. The semi and the final were great games, but this was the one where we started to believe we could really win it. FAVOURITE GROUND Roker Park, no contest. FAVOURITE PLAYER I'm the same vintage as Sobs so Monty is also high on my list but there's only one player who can be my favourite, Charlie Hurley. The man was a colossus, both as a player and a man. One of my first memories is of the crowd calling Charlie, Charlie, Charlie, whenever we got a corner. When he left Sunderland and went to Bolton, he came back with them the following season and was named sub. In the second half he started warming up on the running track between the players tunnel and the Fulwell and you could feel the expectation, and the noise, rise in the crowd, he was revered so much. I experienced the measure of the man first-hand when we played away to Reading in the 1973 FA Cup 4th round replay of whom he was manager at the time. I'd hitched down but as it was a night match there was no chance of me hitching back after, so I saw John Tennick and paid 30 bob for a seat on one of his coaches with the instruction to be outside the main entrance at 10pm. After the game which we won quite comfortably 3-1, we gathered at the appointed place. We looked up to the director's lounge and saw Charlie, and also Ces Irwin who was manager of Yeovil at the time. The chants went up and Charlie came down with half a dozen bottles of fizz for us. He spent a good half hour talking to us and signing autographs. My admiration for this man knows no bounds and as good as Chris Maguire is, he's not fit to walk in the shadow of the only player who has earned the right to be called THE KING.


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