Bob Stokoe: 29 November 1972 – 18 October 1976
The revival that Bob Stokoe sparked on Wearside was quite astonishing and unprecedented in the club’s history.
After making a handful of shrewd signings, Stokoe turned an under-performing Second Division team into a side capable of beating three of the top sides in England.
That of course, was on the way to Sunderland lifting a memorable and historic FA Cup in 1973 which is still talked of today.
In doing so Stokoe became one of the few managers to play for and manage an FA Cup winning team and earn the nickname ‘The Messiah’ on Wearside.
The achievement was astonishing and as a reward Stokoe was handed freedom of the Borough of Sunderland, along with the whole of the Sunderland team in January 1974.
Stokoe spent four memorable years at Roker Park and while the FA Cup came as the biggest coup in the club’s long history, the Gateshead-born manager led the club to promotion in the 1975-76 campaign.
Despite being dealt a blow following the loss of Dennis Tueart and Dave Watson, Stokoe worked his magic and recruited Bob Moncur, Bryan Robson, Tony Towers and Jeff Clarke.
Those additions helped the club clinch the Second Division title for the first time in the club’s history and ensured a return to the First Division.
However, life in the top-flight didn’t begin well and following a nine -game winless start Stokoe stepped down as manager of Sunderland in 1976.
That wasn’t the last Black Cats saw of Stokoe as 11 years later he returned to the club for a second spell, this time as caretaker manager.
Chairman Bob Murray turned to the former hero for inspiration to help steer the club to safety in the Second Division in their final seven games of the season.
Unfortunately, Stokoe was unable to work his magic and following a two-leg play-off defeat against GIllingham, the Lads were relegated to the Third Division for the third time in the club’s history.