FA Cup preview: Peterborough United have only ever played Sunderland once in the FA Cup, but it was a dramatic game which had serious repurcussions for the club.
Alan Swann recalls some of the darkest days in Posh history with the help of club historian Mick Robinson.
THERE was plenty of excitement at London Road after Posh were rewarded for a third round FA Cup win over non-league Bedford with a trip to First Division side Sunderland in round four.
It was 1967 and Posh had failed to build on the brilliance of their first season as a Football League club, but they were safely established in Division Three.
Sunderland was the home of Scottish international legend Jim Baxter, future England defender Colin Todd and a couple of emerging stars in goalkeeper Jim Montgomery and midfielder Bobby Kerr, two names who would lead the club to one of the greatest FA Cup Final shocks of all-time a few years later.
So a good day out at Roker Park was guaranteed. There was also the chance of adding to the Posh reputation of giant-killers as two years earlier they had knocked mighty Arsenal out of the competition at London Road.
It didn’t quite work out like that as Robinson recalled.
“As a 13 year-old the thought of travelling all that way north was quite exciting. I went with my dad on a coach organised by Perkins where he worked.
“In those days it was almost compulsory to take booze on coach trips and the boot was loaded with supplies for the trip.
“Before we got to the A1 the first crates were passed around and bottles were emptied.
“After what seemed forever to a bored 13 year-old, and a couple of stops to change the empty crates for full ones, we found ourselves on the outskirts of Sunderland.
“The mood on the coach was upbeat and there was singing and chanting on the way across town to Roker Park. Once the ground was located the coach was parked up and dad and his mates made their way to a nearby pub.
“I was made to wait outside with a bottle of Vimto and a packet of crisps.
“We finally made our way to Roker Park and we were on the open terrace behind the goal. Being a little over four foot tall myself I was amazed by the size of the ground and couldn’t get over the fact that the stand had more than one level.
“When the game started dad lifted me on to a crash barrier so I could see. The game was as good as over in 20 minutes as Posh were 3-0 down and by half-time it was 4-0.
“Tommy Watson did score the goal of the game with a screamer from the edge of the box to make it 6-1. Posh had a couple of half chances, but Sunderland made chances at will so Posh did well to hold it to 7-1.
“The other thing I remember from the game was continually being pelted with peanuts by the Sunderland fans.
“The thing I remember about the trip home was my dad’s mate mixing up the sugar and salt cellars’ and covering his ham, eggs and chips with sugar.
“The 43,998 in Roker Park is still the seventh biggest crowd to have ever watched Posh, but little was I to know what effect this game would have on Posh history.
“Some say we are still paying the price.”
Match stats: 18 February, 1967
FA Cup Fourth Round - Sunderland 7, Posh 1
Match receipts: £10.600.
Posh: Millington, Johnson, Crawford, Cooper, Wright, Kirkham, Watson, Beesley, Mason, Byrne, Conmy. Sub Adams (for Johnson).
Sunderland: Montgomery, Irwin, Harvey, Todd, Kinnell, Baxter, Kerr, O’Hare, Martin, Herd, Mulhall. Sub Suggett.
Goals: Posh - Watson (55 mins).
Sunderland - O’Hare (13), Martin (14, 27 & 47), Kerr (18 & 50), Baxter (pen, 74).
Match report snippets from The Evening Telegraph of the time:
“Peterborough United suffered their heaviest defeat since joining the Football League when losing 7-1 at Sunderland.
“There was never any doubt Posh would be beaten for they were jittery at the start, failed to weather the all-important opening 20 minutes and found themselves 4-0 down at half-time. It was a miracle Sunderland didn’t go on to score 10.
“The First Division masters toyed and carved up the upstart Third Division club.
“The Posh defence hasn’t a streak of ruthlessness about it. The Posh attack wastes chances as though they believe they are already 5-0 up.
“Posh have the haggard look of a Fourth Division side about them.”