We Deserve The FA Cup That We Get

It is forty years ago this year that Sunderland AFC had one of its finest moments. Bob Stokoe’s team had finished the 1972/73 season in sixth place in the Second Division of the Football League, but had improbably battled their way to the FA Cup final to play Leeds United. They were massive underdogs, of course. Don Revie’s Leeds team were the giants of the era, a team whose failure to win more trophies than it did was a constant source of bafflement amongst the general public. They weren’t much liked outside of Leeds, but their abilities were seldom doubted. The mental images of that match linger long in the memory. Ian Porterfield’s close range goal, which gave Sunderland an unlikely first half lead. The Sunderland goalkeeper Jim Montgomery throwing himself into one of the greatest double saves that football has ever seen. And at full-time, with Leeds having been reduced to speculative long distance punts towards the Sunderland goal in a desperate attempt to break down this obstinate defence, the television producer left the camera on Stokoe, such an unlikely figure to be standing on the touchline for a cup final in a trilby, a raincoat and red tracksuit trousers, as he galloped across the lush green pitch to jump into the arms of the goalkeeper who had won him the cup. It’s likely that a few of...

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