Greatest Away Days

by Stuart Vose

Long-serving trainer Billy Williams leads Sunderland to safety in 1928.

Sunderland avoided their first-ever relegation to the second division with a sparkling last-day victory over Tees-Wear rivals Middlesbrough at Ayresome Park.

A tight and tense final afternoon of the season saw just two points separating the bottom 11 teams in the First Division.

Middlesbrough went into the game knowing a draw would be sufficient to relegate their rivals, with victory the only option for Sunderland trainer Billy Williams, who had been placed in caretaker charge following the departure of the long-serving Bob Kyle.

Williams had been a faithful servant of the club since 1897 and was faced with the task of securing top-flight survival without the services of injured star Bobby Gurney.

Goalkeeper Albert McInroy was Sunderland’s hero on the day, pulling off save after save to frustrate Boro in the early stages.

The away side broke away to take the lead after 12 minutes through David Wright, but the one-way traffic was quickly resumed as The Teessiders bombarded the visitors’ goal.

However, McInroy held firm and first Dave Halliday and then Wright netted in the early stages of the second half to condemn Middlesbrough to relegation, with Sunderland eventually finishing 15th in the 22-team league.

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