Sunderland reached the FA Cup final for the first time in 1913. The match was played at London’s Crystal Palace in front of nearly 122,000 fans. We had already won the First Division title, but Aston Villa beat us 1-0 denying us the famous league and cup ‘double’. Wallace scored for Villa, but he had earlier missed a penalty, the first penalty to be missed in an FA Cup final, an unfortunate feat not to be repeated until Dave Beasant saved from Liverpool’s John Alrdridge, helping Wimbledon win the cup in 1988.
It took Sunderland 24 years to get to their second FA Cup final, now staged at Wembley Stadium, where we beat Preston North End and lift the famous trophy, for the first time in our history, in front of 94,000 people. Although we were behind at the interval, goals from Bobby Gurney, Raich Carter and Eddie Burbanks secured the win. It was the first time the final had been played in May (1st), all previous finals had been played in April. Playing for Preston that day was the legendary Bill Shankly.
Then comes 1973, what a day, and a day I’ll never forget! The mighty Leeds United looking for the league and cup double This time it was our turn to deny them, as we’d been denied back in 1913. Porterfield’s goal, Monty’s ‘double’ save, Stokoe’s famous celebration at the end… dreams are made of this. There was also another first. It was the first and last time an ‘orange’ ball was used.
We got to the final of the League (Milk) Cup in 1985. Norwich City beat us 1-0 thanks to an own goal by Gordon Chisholm. Bizarrely however, both teams having finished in the bottom three of the First Division were relegated! Another first!
In 1990 we played Swindon Town in the play off final and although we lost 1-0, thanks to an Alan McLoughlin goal from a wicked deflection off Gary Bennett, we still got promoted to Division One because Swindon were found guilty of financial irregularities and we took their place.
In 1992 we managed to reach the final of the FA Cup. The great Liverpool were the opponents. We lost 2-0. Had Johnny Byrne scored that day he would have been the first player to score in every round, including the final, since Peter Osgood of Chelsea in 1970.
In 1998 we thought that The Premier League beckoned when we faced Charlton in the play off final. But it wasn’t to be. 3-3 after 90 minutes, 4-4 after extra time. Poor Mickey Gray missed his penalty and we lost. Clive Mendonca, born in Sunderland, and a lifelong Sunderland fan, scored the first hat trick in a play off final.
2013/14 saw us reach the final of the League Cup. Manchester City were our opponents. Despite scoring first after 10 minutes through Fabio Borini, and leading at half time, we conceded three goals after the break. In goal for City that day was Costel Pantilimon, who we signed for the following season.
And our next final appearance will be?