Roker Park

Player of the Day: Ian Lawther


Former Northern Ireland international in the spotlight.

Ian Lawther spent two seasons with Sunderland between 1959 and 1961 and returned a goal ratio of better than one every other game.

The Belfast-born frontman began his career with his hometown club Crusaders and was also on the books at Manchester United.

However, Lawther suffered from homesickness and never completed the move to United.

Ian signed terms with Sunderland in March 1958 and by the time of the 1959-60 campaign he was a regular in Alan Brown’s side.

He scored the winner in his second game for the club as the Black Cats won 2-1 away at Swansea Town before he followed that goal up with a strike in his second game at Roker Park as Sunderland hammered Sheffield United 5-1.

Lawther went on to score 18 goals in 39 games during his debut campaign, including a hat-trick when Swansea visited Roker and doubles in wins over Portsmouth and Derby County.

It was during the 1960-61 season that the Northern Irishman made his mark on English football as he notched 26 goals in 43 appearances.

Highlights included his goal in a 2-0 FA Cup fourth round win over Liverpool at Anfield as well as his hat-trick in a 7-1 demolition of Luton Town at Roker Park.

Lawther also scored the Black Cats’ first-ever League Cup goal as Brentford defeated Sunderland 4-3 in London.

Blackburn Rovers paid £18,000 for Ian’s services in July 1961 before he enjoyed spells with Scunthorpe United, Brentford, Halifax Town and Stockport County.

He amassed a total of 598 Football League appearances and scored 178 goals as well as being capped by Northern Ireland on four occasions.