Bob Stokoe was the charismatic manager who led Second Division Sunderland to one of the biggest shocks in FA Cup history. Don Revie’s mighty Leeds United team were famously beaten 1-0 in the 1973 final by Ian Porterfield's goal and Jim Montgomery's incredible double save.
The pictures of Stokoe, dressed in a red tracksuit, mac and trilby skipping across the Wembley turf to embrace Montgomery at the final whistle are enduring images.
Born in Mickley, Northumberland, in 1930, the highlight of Stokoe’s playing career, which included over 250 appearances for Newcastle United, was the Magpies’ 1955 FA Cup Final victory over a Manchester City team with one Don Revie in the forward line.
Stokoe finished playing in 1961 and managed Bury, Charlton, Carlisle, Rochdale and Blackpool before arriving at Roker Park in November 1972. His mixture of old-school toughness and inspirational motivational methods made an immediate impact, turning a run of 10 successive defeats into a 10-game unbeaten run.
On the Wembley turf following FA Cup Final Triumph.
However, it was Sunderland’s exploits in the FA Cup that secured Stokoe's permanent place in the hearts of Sunderland fans. A 3-1 win over a Manchester City side that missed out on the previous season's First Division title by a single point has gone into Mackem folklore.
Legend has it the noise was so loud during the fifth-round replay that City assistant manager Malcolm Allison returned to Roker Park the following morning to check for artificial amplification. A 2-0 win over Luton brought a semi-final at a packed Hillsborough against Arsenal, who had won the double two years earlier.
After their tremendous 2-1 victory, Sunderland supporters refused to leave the stadium until their tearful 'messiah' returned to the pitch to receive their adoration. The miner's son later reflected that the acclaim he received at Hillsborough was the most moving moment of his life.
Stokoe led Sunderland to the Second Division title in 1976, promotion clinched with a memorable win 2-1 over Bolton in front of over 50,000 people at Roker Park. However, a poor start to the following season's First Division campaign saw Stokoe resign after nine games without a win. He returned in 1987 for the season's final seven games but could not prevent relegation to the third tier. His contract wasn’t renewed, and he retired from football.
Stokoe passed away in a Hartlepool nursing home in 2004 with dementia. His statue proudly stands at the Stadium of Light, capturing forever his iconic Wembley celebration.
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