1936 - 2013
Everyone associated with therokerend.com and the Sunderland Former Players Association was saddened to hear the news that former Sunderland goalkeeper Peter Wakeham had died at the age of 76.
Peter was signed from Torquay United in September 1958 by Sunderland manager Alan Brown and soon established himself as a first team regular after making his debut against Grimsby Town a few weeks after arriving at Roker Park. An agile and highly-rated ‘keeper, Peter held the number one jersey for the best part of five seasons before losing his place to an up-and-coming Jim Montgomery. His most successful seasons at Sunderland were 1960-61 when they reached the 6th round of the F.A. Cup before losing to high-flying Spurs in a replay and the following campaign when the club came within a whisker of clinching promotion back to the top flight.
Whilst he produced many fine displays during his time at Roker Park, Peter is perhaps best remembered for one particular performance against Sunderland in April 1964 which could easily have denied his former club promotion.
Having joined Charlton Athletic two years earlier, he found himself standing between his former colleagues and a return to the top flight on the final day of the season at Roker Park. For almost the entire game Peter performed heroics in the Charlton goal, denying one Sunderland raid after another, before Johnny Crossan finally clinched victory and promotion for the home side with only minutes remaining.
Peter’s career at The Valley lasted another twelve months and in May 1965 he moved back north to join Lincoln City before finally ended his playing career at non-league Poole Town. At his peak, there were few better ‘keepers around and in 1959 Peter was on the verge of representative honours when he was selected as stand-in for Fulham’s Tony Macedo on an F.A. tour of Italy and Germany. Whilst he didn’t manage an appearance on that tour, he did play for an F.A. X1 against the Royal Air Force later that year.
In recent times Peter and his wife Anne lived near Bridgend in Wales and his funeral was held at nearby Coychurch Crematorium on Friday 8th March 2013.