Sunderland 1976

Sunderland Tour of Australia 1976.

Bob Stokoe
Shortly after winning the (old) Second Division title for season 1975-76, Sunderland embarked on a six match tour of Australia under the guidance of legendary manager Bob Stokoe. The tour, which included two matches against the Australian national team, remains the only official visit to Australia by the Black Cats. The playing staff included four survivors from Sunderland's famous 1973 FA Cup winning side. These players were the FA Cup winning captain Bobby Kerr, midfielder Billy Hughes, defender Dick Malone and the hero of the 1973 cup final, goal keeper Jim Montgomery. The tour squad also included a young Bryan Robson. Ian Porterfield, who scored the winning goal in 1973 at Wembley, was still signed to Sunderland in 1976 but did not tour.

The Australian squad included a handful of players from the 1974 World Cup campaign in Germany. Jimmy Shoulder was in his first season as Australian coach after Brian Green had quit earlier in the year, having fled to England in disgrace after being found guilty in court of shop lifting - coaching the Socceroos was apparently not a well paid job back in the 1970's. The same could also be applied to the top Australian players of the day, all based at home and semi professionals only. The migration of top Australian talent to European clubs was still years away.

The first match between the Socceroos and Sunderland took place on 19 May 1976 at the now defunct Sydney Sports Ground. Sunderland ran out winners 4-3. Robson (2), Gary Rowell and Roy Greenwood scored the goals for Sunderland. Dave Harding (2) & Atti Abonyi scored for Australia. The second fixture, played at Melbourne's Olympic Park six days later before 17,000 fans, resulted in a 0-0 draw. This was the only match that Sunderland did not win on the entire tour. Sunderland's other matches were all against Australian state sides. The results were: Sunderland 6 Queensland 0 in Brisbane; Sunderland 5 Tasmania 0 in Hobart; Sunderland 4 South Australia 0 in Adelaide and Sunderland 2 Western Australia 1 in Perth.

At the same time two other British clubs, Tottenham & Scottish club Hearts, were also touring Australia – their respective itineraries included one match each with Australia. On 16 May 1976 Tottenham defeated the home team 3-2 while Hearts drew 2-2 on 2 June 1976. Both fixtures were played in Sydney.

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