Video of The Day: Meanwhile Back In Sunderland, 1973

by | May 21, 2016

Late this afternoon, Manchester United play Sunderland in this year’s FA Cup final, and for our video this morning we’re going back more than four decades for a documentary detailing how a town many miles from London watched their team in a Cup Final whilst many, many miles away from it all. In 1973, Sunderland reached the FA Cup final from the Second Division, where they had to face off against Leeds United. Leeds were the defending holders of the competition and had been pushing hard at the top of the First Division, despite having been edged out of winning it since 1969 by Everton, Arsenal, Derby County and Liverpool. Sunderland, meanwhile, were hoping against all odds for a first major trophy since winning the Football League Championship and FA Cup in successive years in 1936 and 1937. This was a town desperately wanted a return to those glory days.

Meanwhile Back In Sunderland was produced by Tyne-Tees Television for ITV in 1973, and it took the somewhat unusual move of watching how the town of Sunderland enjoyed Cup Final day that year. Rather than following supporters that are making the long trip to London, director Ken Stephinson waves those supporters off from the railway and spends the day in the company of those watching at home. Some of the shots are straight from our collective shared nostalgia from this competition, from the deserted streets as the teams take to the pitch to the crowds of people gathered around the window of a television rental shop watching the match and the outpouring of self-restrained joy at the final whistle. It’s a wonderful and original film which perfectly captures the relationship between a town and its local football club, as well as being a reminder of the fact that even the recent past can be a truly foreign country.