The Roker Roar Humbles The Mighty Spurs - Part 1

Written by Brian Leng

F.A.CUP Sixth Round - March 4th 1961

It is doubtful whether any match ever depicted the legend of ‘The Roker Roar’ more than the epic 1961 F.A.Cup quarter-final tie against mighty Tottenham Hotspur.

Top of the League and favourites for the Cup, Spurs were sweeping all before them in the English game. Second Division Sunderland, it seemed, would simply be another straightforward hurdle for them to clear on their relentless surge to the coveted League and Cup double. How wrong could they be!

The real drama came early in the second-half as Sunderland, trailing to a 9th minute goal from Spurs Welsh international winger Cliff Jones, and roared on by over 61,000 fanatical supporters, lay seige on the Spurs goal. Three corners were won in quick succession and with each one the intensity of noise grew as the Rokermen piled bodies into the penalty area in search of the equaliser and in the 50th minute it duly arrived. Spurs had brought back centre-forward Bobby Smith to mark Charlie Hurley but when Hooper’s final kick was floated in Hurley managed to wriggle free to hurl himself forward and send in a terrific diving header which goalkeeper Brown could only parry and, as the ball rolled agonisingly across the face of the goal, Willie McPheat (pictured, right) was first to get a touch and force it over the line.

The scenes that followed can only be described as pandemonium as hundreds of fans poured onto the pitch swamping the Sunderland players in what has gone down as the first spontaneous pitch invasion of modern times. The match was stopped for almost four minutes as delirious fans were cleared from the pitch – time which was to prove so vital to Spurs in the final analysis.

From the restart the ‘Roker Roar’ reached ear-shattering proportions and it continued for the remainder of the game as Sunderland surged forward in search of the winner. However, the pitch invasion had given Spurs the opportunity to re-organise and they were now defending in depth, relying on the occasional breakaway to ease the pressure.

Nevertheless, with 15 minutes to go, Sunderland were desperately unlucky not to take the lead when a brilliant move sent Dillon through on goal. He looked a certain scorer as he raced into the box but, stretching as he shot, he saw Brown go down to save on the line. Then, in the final minute, the home side won yet another corner on the right and when Hooper’s kick was forced out, Fogarty’s follow-up shot was blocked on the line.

Click here to go to Part 2