'73 hero: 'We were relaxed because there was no pressure.'
Sunderland legend Dennis Tueart warmed up for the club’s FA Cup Final appearance in 1973 in a most unconventional way – with a trip to Top of the Pops!
Tueart played a key role in the famous 1-0 win over Leeds after enjoying an evening out at a recording of the popular music show.
I don’t recall being particularly nervous, it was all exciting
- Tueart on '73 build-up
The players spent the week leading up to the final in London and Tueart felt their laid-back preparations were key.
Tueart, 63, will return to the Stadium of Light this Sunday as a guest at a sold-out dinner to mark the 40th anniversary of the magnificent victory.
The former England international, who made 214 appearances for the club between 1967 and 1974, said: “I don’t recall being particularly nervous, it was all exciting.
“We went down on the Monday beforehand for an away game at Leyton Orient, where Bob left myself, Jimmy [Montgomery] and Ian [Porterfield] out of the side.
“On the Wednesday he took us across to Wembley so we took our boots and had a walk on the pitch in our day clothes.
“In the evening most of the players had a restaurant appointment in London but myself, Billy Hughes and Ian went to Top of the Pops!
“We were dancing at the back! Then it was on to training on Thursday.”
But Stokoe wasn’t done and took his side out for a slap-up dinner on the Thursday evening alongside journalists from around the country at the Football Writers’ Awards in London.
“It was unheard of for a cup team to disrupt their preparations and go off to dinner, but we did!” Tueart said.
“On the Friday we started talking about Leeds and before long we were at Wembley ready for the game.
“Nowadays no-one preparing for an FA Cup final would have a week like that!”
No-one expected us to win...In a two-horse race we were something like 6/1 – pretty severe odds
- Tueart on expectations
But, of course, Stokoe’s unconventional approach paid off and delivered a cup triumph for the then-Second Division side.
Ian Porterfield lashed home the only goal of the game and a double stop by Jimmy Montgomery – often referred to as simply ‘The Save’ – helped Sunderland home.
The game remains one of the biggest cup shocks of all time – and Tueart admitted his side were happy to play the role of underdogs against a Leeds side loaded with stars, including the likes of Billy Bremner, Norman Hunter and Peter Lorimer.
“No-one expected us to win,” Tueart said. “In a two-horse race we were something like 6/1 – pretty severe odds.
“Even the pundits up on the TV gantry – Brian Clough and the like – didn’t think we had a chance.
“We were relaxed because there was no pressure. Leeds were the best team in Europe at the time and expected they were going to win.
“What people didn’t consider is that we had some good players in that time. There were about seven internationals after that game.
“We were maturing as a team and individuals and we were ready.”