Ritchie Pitt - Q&A

Living now: Sunderland
Born: 1951
Occupation now: Head of Year at Seaham School of Technology


As a youngster, who was the biggest influence on your career?
Probably Alan Brown who was manager of Sunderland when I signed as a professional, although Athur Cox later took me for some individual coaching sessions.

How did you come to join Sunderland?
Charlie Ferguson, who was the chief scout, approached my parents and I signed schoolboy forms as soon as I was 14.

How do you remember your Sunderland debut?
Not a lot, except it was at Coventry in a 3-1 defeat. I played against Neil Martin who later signed for SAFC. He gave me a pretty tough baptism.

What was your most memorable match as a Sunderland player?
Obviously the FA Cup Final of 1973 when we beat Leeds at Wembley, but the 5th round replay against Man City at Roker Park comes a very close second.

And the worst?
A 5-1 defeat at Stoke City in a League Cup match when John Ritchie, their centre-forward, scored a hat-trick. I learned more in that defeat than in any other game.

Which do you consider your best goal for Sunderland?
A goal against Bristol City at Roker Park. It was our only goal of a 1-1 draw.

Who was the best player you player alongside at Sunderland?
I didn't play alongside Charlie Hurley as I only came into the team when he was injured, but I have to say that Colin Todd was a great player. Later Dave Watson and I formed a good partnership.

Who was the best you played against?
Without a doubt, George Best. We played Man Utd at Old Trafford and he was fantastic. Best foreign player was Luigi Riva from Cagliari.

What’s the greatest moment of your playing career?
FA Cup Final, 1973. To win when we were so much the underdogs was a great achievement.

Who do you rate as the best manager you player under?
Alan Brown - although a lot of Sunderland fans will find that a surprise. He taught me so much (tactically) about how to play against each opponent.

What was the funniest incident you recall during a game?
During a match in Italy, six Italian players chased me after I'd make a chicken noise. They first ran for Joe Bolton who pointed them in my direction & they chased me round the back of the goal. It wasn't so funny at the time, but it is now!

What was the best part of being a professional footballer?
You mean being paid 10 times the national average, working 2 hours a day, travelling the world for free, being in the public spotlight and being invited to celebrity shows and the like? I don't know, really!

And the worst?
Being injured and having to finish at the age of 21.

Looking back at your playing career, any regrets?
Yes, I wish I'd played longer so that my children could see me play.

What did you do as your playing career ended?
Went to Sunderland Poly for 3 years to get a teaching qualification.

What are doing these days?
Teaching maths at Seaham School, as well as being Head of Year.

What’s the most important thing in your life at present?
My family. My daughter, Louise, lives in New York. My son and his wife live in Jakarta, Indonesia. Obviously, I don't see them as often as I would like but we travel every holiday to be with one of them.

Any other comments?
If only I'd been born 30 years later, then my knee injury would not have finished me as cruciate ligament injuries are now repaired so much better - but then I wouldn't have won the FA Cup winners Medal!
I know which one I'd rather have!!!

Favourites

Team (as a kid) - Sunderland
Boyhood footballing idol - Charlie Hurley
Best friend in football - Jim Montgomery & Mick McGiven
Favourite ground (other than Roker) - Old Trafford, Anfield, St James Park
Favourite current premiership player - John Terry
Favourite [former] premiership manager - Kevin Keegan
Singer - Celine Dion
Film star - Brad Pitt (my cousin!)
Film - Shawshank Redmption
TV programme - Any sport
Past-time (except football) - Golf
Food - Spare ribs at Houstons in New York
Holiday - New York

If you could meet one person in the world, who would it be?
Mohammed Ali.