October 1968: hammered, but the injustice still Hurst

me-in-als-top


Colin Randallremembers highs and lows from 40+ years of games between Sunderland and West Ham …

On the face of it, this does not look the worst line-up the English top flight has seen:

Montgomery; Irwin, Hurley, Palmer, Harvey; Suggett, Porterfield, Herd; Harris, Brand, Hughes

Nor, necessarily, does this have the appearance of a world-beating XI:

Ferguson; Bonds, Stephenson, Moore, Charles; Redknapp, Boyce, Peter; Brooking, Hurst, Sissons

King Charlie & co clearly had an offday.

The match, 41 years ago this month, ended West Ham 8 Sunderland 0. At least it was an away game, unlike this weekend’s encounter at the Stadium of Light.

Injustice? You get beaten 8-0 and cry foul?

Step forward Geoff Hurst. He later admitted that the first of his six goals that afternoon had been punched home. Who knows what might have happened if it had been spotted? A narrow away victory? A well-fought draw?

I am glad to say that i was nowhere near Upton Park that day. But I have been present for a lot of games between the two teams, and a few of them – plus, inevitably, others I missed – stick out in the memory.

The obvious one for Sunderland fans to recall was at Roker Park several days after the 1980 FA Cup Final had ended West Ham 1 Arsenal 0, the scorer one Trevor Brooking. Our last game of the season had been delayed by the Hammers’ cup run and we needed a win or a draw to go up from the old Second Division.

I drove from Bristol for the game, promised my wife – who loathes football – a curry in a highly rated Sunderland Indian restaurant afterwards if we were promoted, but suggested a Wimpy beforehand just in case.

After the Hammers had started as if intent on seriously spoiling our party, Stan Cummins and Kevin Arnott gave us the goals that took us up in style and Mrs R got the curry to ensure indigestion. She had complained in the Clock Stand Paddock of the lack of consideration shown by SAFC in scoring an unnecessary second goal and inflicting another severe buffeting on her as we celebrated.


The newsagent’s next morning was a treat: every paper gone except for a tall, untouched pile of copies of The Sun, which in those days sent early editions to the North East without trace of the previous evening’s football scores.

Nine years after the 8-0 drubbing, three years before that night of promotion euphoria, we even contrived to thrash the Hammers 6-0 and still go down (1976/77).

There have been plenty of games between our clubs I would sooner forget: that cup exit at some ghostly hour in the SoL snow, an abject 3-0 surrender at Upton Park in one desperate Sunderland season, a couple of 2-0s in others. There was the brilliant 2-1 win in our Mick McCarthy championship season, which I watched in an Irish bar in Paris, and an away win in the FA Cup on our way to Wembley in 1992.

Kevin Phillips scored his 30th goal of the season at home to the Hammers in one of our seventh top seasons under Peter Reid (1999/2000), winning the Golden Boots award and only a dreadful miss by Danny Dichio, set up for sitter by a bootless SuperKev if I remember correctly, had stopped us going briefly top with 10 men in the earlier game at Upton Park.

Tomorrow? I’ll be absent again, I’m afraid, and would love an emphatic home win to put Birmingham (City and Villa) depression behind us. But I will settle for a winner off any West Ham player’s backside,.

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Salut! Sunderland is written, illustrated and edited by - and principally for - supporters of Sunderland AFC. The site aims to be sufficiently literate and entertaining to appeal to people who do not follow SAFC but enjoy good football writing.

8 Responses to “October 1968: hammered, but the injustice still Hurst” Subscribe

  1. John Penman October 30, 2009 at 3:03 am #

    Although too young to remember the 8-0 drubbing at West Ham in 1968 I can remember a similar scoreline when we played Watford at Vicaridge Road in September 1982.

    I was in a pub in Edinburgh that day warming up for a Genesis concert that night.The lads with me that day had been down to the Hawthorns with me the previous season to see a glorious 3-2 win after which I had bored them senseless with my over-optimism for the years ahead.They took a smug satisfaction from seeing my almost bewildered face as the massacre became apparent.

    In these days before Jeff Stelling and SSN on a Saturday we had to make do with the vidiprinter.You knew your team had been gubbed when the letters came up after the score ( Watford 8 (eight) ).Totally humiliating.

    The concert however was probably the best I have ever been to and it was that night I saw for the only time Genesis play suppers ready live.

  2. Tony October 30, 2009 at 6:42 am #

    Danny Dichio has just retired and was loved by te fans of Toronto FC. At the 24th minuute, I think, of every game, whether he was playing or not, the fans would chant his name. That was the time when he had scored TFC’s first goal. I’m sure if I’m wrong about the time Bill will put me right.

  3. Bill Taylor October 30, 2009 at 7:36 am #

    No, 24th minute is spot on. Toronto FC has an amazing fan base; they’d be a credit to any club anywhere.
    I see Mark Lawrenson on the BBC website is predicting a goalless draw tomorrow. Given our injury list and the “doubtfuls,” I have a sinking feeling that he may be being optimistic.

  4. Tony October 30, 2009 at 4:09 pm #

    Unfortunately, I think you may be right.

  5. Eugene November 14, 2009 at 12:14 am #

    Never underestimate the effectiveness of a straight cash bribe.

  6. wenda November 18, 2009 at 7:56 am #

    People fail forward to success.

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